The premise is certainly interesting, but not quite scientifically accurate. “The study that people are referring to — and I’ve seen it referenced in several cat articles over the past year or two — says that ‘human personality may substantially affect the nature of care provided to dependents,’” explains Best Friends cat expert Samantha Bell. “The study explores cat owners’ personalities as they relate to reported cat behavior and well-being, and it found that neurotic owners most often reported having cats with behavior problems, and conscientious, agreeable and/or extroverted owners more often reported having gregarious, happy and healthy cats. So saying that cats ‘mirror our behaviors’ is a very loose interpretation of this study, but it’s not totally incorrect.”
What might be more correct, though, is that your cat wants food or attention when they sit on your keyboard while you work. “The reason that some cats sit on their favorite person’s keyboard is for the attention and to be closer to their person,” says Marilyn “The Cat Coach” Krieger, author of Naughty No More!. “And the behavior is commonly reinforced. The typical response from people who love their kitties is to pet and/or talk to the cat when she’s camped out on the keyboard. So, the cat has learned that if she sits on the keyboard, she gets what she wants: Attention from her favorite person.”
If you want your cat to move, you could give them another laptop, and they may find it interesting, especially if you give them attention — for instance, by filming a TikTok — or food. “If you provide another laptop, the cat may go explore and enjoy the other laptop,” Bell confirms (if you go this route, might I suggest a laptop-inspired scratching pad instead of the real thing). “If you try this and they do, reward them with something that makes them happy, and they’ll continue to gravitate toward ‘their’ laptop. Everything we do is training our cats: If they sit on our laptop, and we talk to them and pet them before we remove them, we’re simply reinforcing the behavior of sitting on the laptop. The cat thinks, ‘Oh, if I get on the laptop, I get attention and love,’ and will continue to get on the laptop.”
But as Krieger points out, “Giving them their own laptop is expensive. Instead, give them another place to sit that’s in reaching distance — a comfortable spot, such as next to the computer, where the kitty can be petted, given treats and reinforced whenever she hangs out in the more convenient, alternative spot.”
Playing off that idea, Jane Ehrlich, founder of Cattitude Feline Behavior Counseling, suggests scooting a cat perch near your desk, preferably at the same height as your desk, and rewarding your cat with treats when they hang out there. That way, your cat will still feel included but not literally on top of you. But make sure not to force your cat onto the perch, which would likely lead them to detest that area. In essence, Ehrlich says, “You make where you are less appealing, and you make where you want Noodles to go more appealing.”
Besides that, Ehrlich says actively playing with your cat for about 20 minutes, where they jump, chase and prance, should leave them feeling satisfied enough to go off and do their own thing for the rest of the day. (And if they seem uninterested in playing, they may just want a quick snack, like we all do from time to time.)
Good luck getting your work done.