Is Your Kitty A Shoulder Cat?


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By Samme


Some felines are born to be shoulder cats. They don’t always need your approval or an invitation. One “anonymous” cat owner wrote a blog post recently about her shoulder cat: “I have one cat that likes to ride on my shoulders occasionally. I didn’t train her. She, as many kittens do, liked to climb up there. I just didn’t discourage her. She’s ten now and still likes a shoulder ride once in a while. She solicits it. She meows and gets into a pre-jump position. If I’m agreeable, I bend over and she jumps up. If I’m not I walk away.”

(Picture: Miyoko Ihara)

Shoulder cats tend to have distinctive, big personalities, like Bob the Cat, who felt himself right at home on the shoulders of author James Bowen. They attract attention. Japanese grandmother Misao and her cat Fukumaru are famous around the world for their special bond. Then there was the stray cat who got lots of attention when he climbed up on the shoulders of HLN reporter Nicole Didonato while she was doing a live report on the street.

(Picture: Reuters)

Some prefer to drape themselves on your shoulders, while others like to stand. Some even ride on their owners’ shoulders while they walk down the street or ride a bike.


And photos like this one, in which a wild cat drapes itself on the shoulders of his companion, an unidentified Aboriginal woman of Western Australia, suggests there’s something innate about this particular bonding behavior.

(Picture: Kate Crossing/Invasive Animals CRC)

Shoulder cats tend to be outgoing and confident. They like a ride, and they may sometimes use you as a convenient perch to get a better look at the world. Most are profoundly affectionate. They love intimacy and can’t get enough of you; kitty Mary Jane is one of those. She likes to ride on Rudi Saldia’s shoulders while he works as a bike courier.

(Picture Caters News Agency)

If you have a shoulder cat, consider yourself lucky. If your cat acts like it has shoulder cat tendencies and you want to encourage her, there are many sites that offer how-to tips for living with or training a shoulder cat. Most recommend you start when your cat is a kitten. But cats have a way of training we humans, so just go with the flow. Here’s what the anonymous blogger says about her relationship with her shoulder cat. “I never pick her up and put her on m;y shoulder. And I never show her off to visitors. I admit I tried once and she promptly jumped down and moved away. Except when it’s time for a vet visit for rabies and distemper shots, I don’t force my cats…it really doesn’t work and is a recipe for clawed hands. I invite them to sit on my lap or cuddle by patting my lap or the place near me where I’d like them to land. Sometimes, quite often they come, but sometimes they look away. In that case I don’t push it.”

If you have a photo of you and your shoulder cat, please share. We’d love to see it.

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4 thoughts on “Is Your Kitty A Shoulder Cat?”

  1. Invasive Animals CRC should be a tip-off that the cat on the Australian Aborigine woman’s shoulders is not a pet…

  2. Shoulder cat training: have you thought maybe using a device that would help to keep the cat on your shoulders? Like a backpack of sorts for support?

    I have a new shoulder cat by the name of Bronco. He’s great! I use the device that helps to keep him stable on my shoulders.

  3. Love those pics! For some reason a few months ago our 2 year old Russian Siberian, who btw is 15 pounds and super long started climbing up our shoulders and doing this! Its kinda weird cause all he does is just hang in there. Sometimes he does a scarf wrap around but most of the time he lays over our shoulder, half his body facing our back and then his little legs dangling over our chest, funniest thing ever!

  4. I recently adopted two kittens and discovered they were both shoulder cats. It gets hard a times since they both perfer my left shoulder and like to race to it. Most of the time it’s cute, though!

  5. Our kitten Tiddles loves nothing more than to fall asleep on my shoulder, he spends most of the day there! Too cute ???

  6. My cat Misty will sit on my lap then stand on her hind legs to either decide if she’ll jump on my shoulder or lay back in my lap.

  7. I have a kitten who is about 2 months old now. He still doesn’t have a name but we got him from a person who was giving away kittens for free. When we got him, he seemed so scared and wanted nothing to do with us. When my mother or my siblings walked up to him, they were always rough because, I mean, who would ‘t want a kitten smothered onto their face. I always approached him calmly and gave him time to climb on my lap and sniff around. Now, whenever i’m around him, he will start purring even before i’ve touched him and climb onto my lap for cuddles or rubs. Now, everytime he does that, he climbs onto my shoulders. He’s still weary of it because he is always clinging for his life while I walk around the house for what I need to do, but when i’m on my phone or in bed, he usually falls asleep. Me and him have a special bond and my other kitten does too. Only, I spent more time with our boy than the others. He is still cast out by my mom and siblings most often so i’m usuallu his only company. I love our bond❤️

  8. I’ve just got my kitten Blackjack, about a week ago, and he absolutely loves to sit on my shoulders or chest and nuzzle his head into my neck, and fall asleep. Unfortunately he was the runt of the litter and is very tiny for 9 weeks old. But he is a very affectionate Tom cat. Blackjack, has also started to lick my face, and rub his face up against me. I hope that he continues to sit on my shoulders, as we have made a special connection with each other in the last week.

  9. I recently got a kitten, Bean. When she’s ready for a nap, she’ll start climbing up my leg. I pick her up and put her on my shoulder and she’s asleep in seconds. When she wakes up, she’ll usually start grooming my facial hair.

  10. My daughter has two cats named Mittens and the other one is named Midnight. Midnight is the shoulder cat while Mittens rarely does so. Mittens likes sitting near us while Midnight loves being on our shoulders and will start to purr and just relax. It surprised both of us the first time he did it, too. LOL!

  11. We just rescued a new kitten (2 months old) from the humane society yesterday. I knew he was the one when he perched on my shoulder and proceeded to climb onto my head. We named him Dusty. I would post a photo, but no option to. He is like the cat in the hat when he sits on top of my head. What a funny boy.

  12. Could you please remove the photo with the dead cat draped across the Aboriginal woman’s shoulders? It’s disturbing and doesn’t fit into the other photos. I wonder, why some of the users find that funny. Besides, I’m definietely against “trophy hunting”. To bring species close to extinction is humans’ doing. And I wouldn’t suggest hunting humans. The cats, like in Australia can be neutered.

  13. When I first got pumpkin she was very tiny and sick for a while. She was thrown from a car. It took aBout two days before she got comfortable enough to sleep with me . But on my face… and since she’s gotten healthier she always on my shoulders. In public she sits on my shoulder and wraps her tail around my neck. And it’s the most comforting thing in the planet.

  14. My cat Peanut loves to get on my shoulders and watch exactly what I’m doing and be included. I always ask him if he’s helping me. He will also get on my shoulders and take a nap. Plays fetch, will roll a ball back and forth with me and even play monkey in the middle with my son. Of course peanut is the monkey always trying to get the ball. My cat and I have a special bond and he’s got the best personality.

  15. Our black cat was born to be a shoulder cat. He started when he was a kitten and 3 years later its one of his favorite ways of cuddling up with us. The article was spot on about his personality. He is highly confident, super affectionate and has a big personality. But at the same time he is very considerate. He has NEVER used his claws to climb on us despite the fact that he was “super claws” (we don’t trim any of our cats claws and leave them natural).

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