Have you ever seen a cat hop on top of its human companion's shoulders? These so-called "shoulder cats" are more than just tricksters; they're exhibiting behavior that can tell a lot about a cat's thinking and feeling.
Cats are fond of heights and may spring towards a shoulder perch. Find out what it means if your cat is prone to this behavior and whether you should encourage it.
Here's what to look for…
1. Cats Like Heights
Cat's attraction to heights is programmed into cats' biology, as early felines used tall places for hunting and protection.
While domesticated cats may not need to worry about predators and only hunt the occasional mouse, they still feel a sense of security from the height.
But why would a pet cat hop on a person's shoulders instead of sticking to its cat tree?
Shoulder cats use this behavior to be at the same height as a human without the restraining feeling of being held by them. This way, they can leave at any point without struggling out of someone's arms.
2. Why Only Some Cats Sit on Shoulders
This often has to do with a cat's physical abilities and limitations.
Young, energetic cats will quickly spring themselves onto someone's shoulders, while older, more lethargic cats won't be interested.
That said, keep in mind that each cat is different. For some, jumping and resting on your shoulders will be a natural move.
However, not every cat with the physical ability will have the desire. Cats can be trained to do this as a trick, but only if they are receptive to it.
3. Should Cat Owners Encourage Shoulder Sitting?
For starters, if you train or encourage your cat to leap onto your shoulders from the floor, there is a chance you'll be startled by this, which may create a negative experience for the cat. To avoid the fright, keep an eye on your cat when it looks ready to leap.
Taking your cat for a ride on your shoulder outside is not recommended. If startled, the cat could pounce off and run away. If you insist on taking your cat for a stroll outside, ensure it wears a leash and harness.
If you take the appropriate measures, you and your shoulder cat can enjoy spending time together in this quirky way.