The thought of a cat on shoulder brings into mind James Bowen, a top-selling author walking through Manchester Arndale Centre with Cat Bob sitting in on his shoulder or Misao Ihara with her beloved cat Fukumara.
You may also have seen FOX-17’s reporter Nicole DiDonato who continued talking after a random cat leaped on her back and went up to her shoulder and perched there. She was doing a live teasing of forthcoming microbrewery show.
Also, there are countless people with pictures of kitties perching on their shoulders on the internet. You will find them on Flicker, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, Imgur, personal blogs, among other places. They are an incredible sight to see.
Reddit has more images.
How and when does it occur?
Different kitties will do it differently. For instance, while a few may alert you by first seeking your attention with meows while in a pre-jump posture before leaping to your shoulders, others will take you by surprise by suddenly landing on you without warning. Don’t be surprised if kitty, which doesn’t allow you to pick it if she climbs to your shoulder and sits there.
While agile, athletic, or younger felines may leap directly to your shoulder, some will climb up if you offer them your hands. Furthermore, they can also jump onto you from a perch, condo, your dresser, windowsill, and so on.
When on your shoulder, your cat may sit or stand on the left or right side or wrap themselves around your neck. Some may even snuggle while curled on your shoulder, especially if you are sitting.
On when it occurs, most cats will shoulder ride you while you are at home sitting, standing, doing something such as scooping litter (especially kittens), talking, reading something, and so on. However, it can also occur a walk in nature, city, or anywhere.
Kittens are known to sit on their owner’s shoulder more often. However, as they grow, most stop or reduce this sitting behavior.
On the other hand, older cats will hardly perch on your shoulder since it is harder for them to balance climbing or leaping. However, some retain their agility and can maintain balance so well.
Finally, some people noting that the Abyssinian cats and Maine Coons as the notorious when it comes to perching. We cannot confirm how accurate this observation is.
Why does my cat sit on my shoulder?
We all know that cats love perching in high places, a reason why there are cat perches, including window cat perches. It instinctive ancestral behavior that may make feel safer, show status, stalk prey, get some privacy, etcetera. What about kitties sitting on their owner’s shoulders?
Since they don’t talk, we may not know the real reason why kitties may do some weird things, including perching on your shoulder. However, some of the reasons it happens may include the following:
1. They want a higher viewpoint
Unlike dogs that are earthbound, felines evolved as skillful climbers who like heights. They want to watch everything from above as it makes them feel safe. A higher place is a vantage point from where they can see everything. For instance, they can easily see their predators and decide on their next course of action or to effectively scan preys thoroughly.
Besides your shoulder, it is common to see them picking various elevated points like on the highest point of their cat trees and perches or dressers, cabinets, refrigerator, and so on.
Therefore, these pets can go to your shoulder if you are the highest point in the house or around. They don’t have height phobias like most of us.
Although it makes them safe, don’t try to restrain since it will make most want to escape or wiggle away, but if left alone, they will stay and go whenever they want.
2. They want some privacy
A second reason why your cat may love perching your shoulder is to have some privacy if they don’t get enough private space while on the ground or if you have other cats, dogs, or children.
If you are the tallest in the house, your shoulder as an appealing and ideal place, they can have some personal space where nothing will disturb them. They are only trying to be territorial and to have their own private space.
3. Attention seeking
Sometimes, shoulder-sitting seeking may be a way to get your attention as it helps them come to your level. If you like it and reward them, they will make it a habit, hoping the praises, treats, and rewards keep coming.
However, not many cats seek attention this way. Instead, they will paw, meow, run or walk around your legs, know things from the table, surf counter, follow you everywhere, sit on your laptop, and so on.
While trying to seek your attention, it is unlikely that they want your petting, cuddle, or a snooze.
4. Is it a sign of affection?
Some experts say it is a sign of affection from cats together with others like grooming you, head bunting, following you, kneading, bringing you gifts, and so on. If your cats love perching or curling on your shoulder and don’t need attention, it is possible they love you.
5. Are they just being weird?
Cats and other house pets may show some weird behaviors whose reasons we don’t know. Haven’t you seen your cat knocking things off a table, ledge or shelf? Some will even get into a tiny box that is uncomfortable. It is possible that sitting on your shoulder is one of their weird behaviors.
Can I train my can to sit on my shoulder?
Not all cats sit on shoulders. Most don’t. Some do it instinctively and start this behavior while still kittens. Therefore, if your kitten or cat loves to sit on your shoulder, don’t discourage it.
Kitties are brilliant, and you can train them to do many things, including giving high-fives, skateboard riding, use litter trays, walk on a leash, and so on.
Therefore, you can train yours to sit yon your shoulder. However, it would help if you were patient, begin when still kittens, and don’t force them. Also, if you train them to jump from your shoulder, they will learn to leap to it.
Note that as you train your feline friend, expect it to unexpectedly leap to on you, don’t get startled as it will get a negative training experience.
The video below shows a dad training his cat to sit on his shoulder. While it needs patience, it is doable.
What not to do to shoulder cats
Having a shoulder cat may seem a trendy thing. However, if you go your kitty outside, ensure she has her harness and leash. If startled while you have a walk in the city, they may bolt and get lost. Something like Escape Proof Cat Harness with Leash will do the work.
A cat’s strong hindquarters and back muscle allow them to leap horizontally or vertically while their very flexible musculoskeletal system makes it very easy for them to balance. However, they do use their claws in anchoring themselves.
If your kitty has long nails, it may scratch you as it tries to land on your shoulder. Always ensure you trim their nails regularly. Alternately, go for cat nail caps like YMCCOOL 100pcs Cat Nail Caps. We don’t recommend declawing
It is unwise to deter or stop your cat from sitting on your shoulder since it’s such a great thing. Furthermore, if your kitty seeks your attention first, you can lean for it to jump or ignore her if you are not interested.
However, sometimes it can be so much and disrupt your activities such as going to the bathroom, reading newspapers, or eating. Also, you have a demanding or very heavy. In such a case, consider training to stop the habit. You shouldn’t give in to every demand that your kitty has.