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Why Does My Cat Sit on My Shoulder? 6 Reasons & What to Do

Written by: Melissa Gunter

Last Updated on March 23, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

cat on woman's shoulder by head bite hair

Why Does My Cat Sit on My Shoulder? 6 Reasons & What to Do

If you’re lucky enough to have a cat in your home that craves attention and likes being around you, count yourself lucky. There are cats out there who aren’t big fans of cuddles or being held. Then again, you have cats that can’t get enough of their owner and want to be with them constantly. Sometimes, that need for togetherness brings your kitty best friend to perch on your shoulder.

While most cat owners adore this action, it may not be the most comfortable position to find yourself in, especially if you’re the owner of a larger kitty with a bit of weight on them. Let’s learn why your cat may be interested in sitting on your shoulder so you can decide whether you should stop this behavior or encourage the closeness.

divider-catclaw1 The 6 Reasons Why Your Cat Sits on Your Shoulder

1. They Feel Safe

In the wild, cats are known for climbing high when they feel they are in danger. This is their way of protecting themselves from the advances of a potential predator. As cats were domesticated, their instincts weren’t taken away, they simply adapted to their new environments. When your kitty shows up and climbs on your shoulder to hang out, they could simply feel safer there.

It doesn’t mean there’s a predator in the house. Instead, it’s them showing off their love of high places and the safety they feel on the highest spot they can find, your shoulder.

cat on shoulder
Image Credit: Olga Visavi, Shutterstock

2. Your Cat Wants Your Attention

When dealing with cats that want something, it’s hard to sway them. This happens with food, treats, play, and even your attention. If your kitty wants a little time with their person, they may climb on your shoulder to get it. This puts them on your level and helps them grab your attention, especially if you’re doing something besides giving them your undivided attention as they demand.

If you find this attention-seeking behavior cute and want to encourage it, praise your kitty when they do it. You’ll find seeing you happy may keep them coming back to your shoulder perch.

3. Your Cat Needs Space

Cats love to be independent and have their own space from time to time. If you don’t have things around the house set up where they can climb to a perch or find a nice hiding spot when this need arises, your shoulder may act as the perfect choice in their mind. As we’ve mentioned, cats feel safe up high.

If they are looking for a space made just for them, and can’t find it anywhere else, the height of your shoulder will make due when needed.

pergnant woman with cat using smartphone
Image By: Vlada Karpovich, Pexels

4. “You’re In My Spot”

Sheldon Cooper of The Big Bang Theory isn’t the only being out there who feels they have a particular spot. It’s very possible that your cat feels the same way or simply wants the one you’re using at the time. If your kitty decides your spot is the perfect one in the house, don’t be surprised if they attempt to take it, or even share it, by hopping in your lap or even on your shoulder.

5. Separation Anxiety

There are cats out there that simply can’t stand to be away from their owners. They learn their owner’s routine and try to come up with ways to stay near them if they think they are leaving. If your cat is suffering from separation anxiety, it may decide to perch on your shoulder, especially when they know it’s time for you to be leaving the house.

When your cat does this at the same time each day, this is the most likely culprit. Using calming sprays or speaking with your veterinarian may help your kitty with this issue.

woman hugging a cat
Image By: Alek_B, Pixabay

6. Showing Off Their Skills

Certain cat breeds enjoy showing off their agility. Even large breeds like the Maine Coon. You’ll even find that younger cats enjoy showing you what they’ve learned and what they can do. As we mentioned previously, if you like this kind of interaction with your cat, feel free to encourage it by praising them.

If not, it’s best to stop the behavior as soon as it starts or you may become a springboard for a rather large kitty at some point.

Cat ball divider 1Should I Let My Cat Sit on My Shoulder?

It’s normal to want to do only the best for your cat. This may leave you curious about whether allowing them to sit on your shoulder is the best behavior for them. In all honesty, if your cat likes being on your shoulder, and you like having that connection with your kitty, there’s really no issue with allowing this type of behavior to continue.

However, if your cat is sitting on your shoulder due to separation anxiety, you may need a little assistance. Speaking with your cat’s veterinarian can help you determine the best way to help your kitty feel less anxious.

hugging an adorable bright orange cat stress_RJ22_shutterstock
Image By: RJ22, Shutterstock

How Do I Stop My Cat from Sitting on My Shoulder?

Unfortunately, not everyone enjoys having their cat on their shoulder. Perhaps it’s uncomfortable, or simply not the type of behavior you want to encourage. No matter your reasonings, there are a few things you can try to discourage this type of behavior and help keep your kitty more grounded.

Here are a few things you can implement:
  • Do not encourage or praise your cat or it will think it’s doing something you like
  • Offer your cat another perch, perhaps a cat tree, where they can climb and relax
  • When your kitty tries to get on your shoulder redirect its attention with a toy or play

divider-catclaw1 Conclusion

If your cat is a shoulder lover, then most likely one of these reasons is why. Whether they are a lover of you, heights, or your spot deciding whether this is a behavior you can tolerate is important. Once you start encouraging your cat to sit on your shoulder, it could become a habit and we all know those are hard to break.

Knowing your cat is the main thing. This will help you determine its reason for sitting on your shoulder and whether you should allow things to continue. Either way, be thankful that your kitty sees you as its safe space. There are diva cats out there that wouldn’t give their owners the time of day if they tried.

Featured Image Credit: lenina11only, Shutterstock

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