Why Do Cats Insist on Walking Across Keyboards and Books? November 30 2018, 1 Comment

Cats are wonderful, mysterious creatures. As caretakers and companions to these fluffy enigmas, us humans are often left scratching our heads wondering, why do cats do that?” Some cats yowl in the middle of the night. Others give weird nibbles to show signs of affection or bring us gross gifts in the form of tiny dead animals.  

If you’ve ever picked up a book and tried to read it in front of your cat or even sat down at your computer to type up a quick email, your cat has probably taken it upon themselves to walk all over said book or keyboard. Here at the Meowingtons office, many of our emails have fallen victim to our office foster cat’s paws.

So, why do our cats have this weird habit? Are they trying to sabotage our emails?

Attention-Seeking Behavior

One of the biggest motivators (besides food) for cats is getting attention from their humans. Surprising? Not really, when you think about it! While cats act aloof and independent, cats are actually social creatures that crave attention. Especially if they are the only cat or animal in the house, they rely on you for entertainment and affection.

Whether it’s sprawling across your keyboard or planting their butts on the book you’re reading, these behaviors are often rooted in a desire for attention. What better way to get the human’s attention than by literally stopping them from typing or reading? The cat logic is pretty sound here, actually!

They Think It’s A Valuable Resource

Interestingly enough, according to veterinarian Dr. Kathryn Primm, your cats may think that you view the object (keyboard or book) as a valuable resource. Cats depend on the accessibility of their resources, they must be able to prioritize its value. “If there is an object that is valued enough to attract you, it becomes instantly higher value to your cat because you are the trendsetter in your home. After all, you do provide food, shelter and protection to your cat and she knows it.”

It’s Warm

We all know that one of the ultimate goals in a cat’s life is to find the warmest possible place to sleep. They spend up to 70% of their lives sleeping, ultimately in search of the warmest sunbeam or heated blanket.  If you’re typing on a laptop, your cat has probably learned that the keyboard is a comfortable source of heat … and pets. It’s a two-in-one combo, and it can’t really get better than that! This habit for seeking out warmth likely evolved from our cat’s desert ancestors.

It’s Entertaining

As entertaining as computers can be for us, they can be entertaining to cats, too! For different reasons, of course. Your fingers flying across the keyboard, the fun, enticing noises the keys make as they clack--to a cat, this looks and sounds just like the perfect toy! And don’t forget about all that fun stuff darting around on the screen - was that a bird? Or a mouse?! Your cat has probably learned that when you use the computer, it comes with a bunch of fun sounds and an open invitation to play.

How to Break the Habit

If you’re wondering how you can try and break your cat of this sometimes pesky behavior, it’s a pretty simple fix! Provide your cat with their own comfy place to sit and sleep that is next to your computer, like a cat bed. Every time they choose to lie in the cat bed or comfy spot instead of on the keyboard, reinforce and reward this behavior with affection and attention.