Why do cats walk on people, Thomasina? My cat walks across me like I’m not even there. He’s so rude!
— Stepped On
Hi Stepped On!
I don’t think your cat’s being rude. I walk across our human all the time! When my feet are wet, I sort of regret getting muddy paw prints all over her. But I guess that’s why humans have those noisy machines that wash their clothes.
Cats walk on people because the people are in the way. Usually, when cats walk on people, they’re taking a shortcut. Strolling across your lap, or your back when you’re in bed, is a fast and efficient way of getting from point A to point B.
When Cats Walk On People, It's All About Efficiency, Not Manners
Even when we’re indoors, instinct tells us to conserve energy as much as possible. We never know when we’re going to have to make a quick getaway or hunt for something to eat. We need to be well-rested and ready to go at a moment’s notice.
So think about this from the cat’s point of view. When he’s sitting beside you on the sofa and he wants to move to the other end, it’s more efficient to walk across you than to get down, walk around your legs and feet and get back up on the sofa again.
Honestly, I don’t how you’d keep cats from walking on people without totally alienating them or making them think you don’t like them.
I suppose you could sit at the end of the sofa instead of in the middle so getting down would be easier than walking across your lap. If you put s flat cat bed or mat on the sofa beside you, that might make him think that spot’s his special place.
The bed’s a bit more challenging. Could you sleep close to the middle of the bed so he can come and go without disturbing you? Or, he probably always gets on your bed from the same side. Maybe you could get used to sleeping on the other side, so he could get up without walking across you if he wants to get up and wander around the house during the night.
Cats' Good Manners Aren't Like Humans' Good Manners
To be honest, I don’t know much about what humans consider good manners. But ours are based mostly on instinct and territory.
It would be very bad manners for me to take Sizzle’s spot on our human’s bed when he wants it or to walk across Rocky’s patio, which is his personal territory. He doesn’t like to share!
While it doesn’t seem rude to us to walk on people, it seems very rude for cats to walk on other cats. That’s just begging for a fight!
I hope this helps, Stepped On. If you have more questions about cats and manners, feel free to ask!