Cats can be the best of companions and the worst of workmates. They can simultaneously brighten your day and destroy your productivity. They’re also pretty good at destroying your office equipment and expensive tech products.
They love laptops, and they love to distract you while you’re working. The worst part is that you’re completely unable to resist. Would you really be reading this article if you weren’t?
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to reduce feline interference, whether you’re sitting on the sofa or in your home office.
1. Quickly Lock Your Keyboard
I’ll say it again: cats love laptops! The primary reason is that your laptop’s keyboard also functions as a heatsink. Even MacBooks and ultrabooks, with their sophisticated cooling mechanisms, still get hot on top.
The other reason your cat sits on your laptop, especially when you’re using it, is the same reason they sit in front of your TV at night. There’s every chance Mr. Tickles is bored and lacking in attention (I don’t have a cat called Mr. Tickles, for the record).
The quickest remedy for sudden assault by a cat is to lock your keyboard and limit the damage. You don’t want to send a half-written Facebook status or garbled email to your boss, so install an app that will let you lock the touchpad, keyboard, and mouse with a shortcut of your choice.
For Mac users, there’s MollyGuard, a small menu bar app that works with macOS 10.6.8 and above. If you’re using Windows then you want KeyFreeze, which works with everything from XP to Windows 10. They’re both free and very lightweight (unlike your cat).
2. Cover Your Laptop or Keyboard
Keyboard covers are a bit annoying, but if you’ve got cats or children then they could save your laptop. Both children and felines tend to knock things over, and the latter shed fur which works its way into your keyboard.
Not only can this stop your keys from working properly, it will also reduce your laptop’s cooling ability. That affects airflow which can put undue stress on the fans, and the resulting heat won’t do the internal components any favors.
The solution is to get a keyboard cover. Some of the best keyboard covers are meant for MacBook owners, but Amazon has a whole shop dedicated to keyboard covers. If you own a fairly popular HP, Alienware, or Dell laptop then you should have no issues finding something that fits.
Your best bet is to find your laptop’s model number and append the search with “keyboard cover” or “keyboard skin.” Make sure you check the reviews before you buy so you know it’ll be a snug fit.
3. Consider a Laptop Stand
Depending on your cat, a laptop stand might be a better choice while working at your desk. The drawback is that you’ll need to find an external keyboard so you can still type properly (and an ergonomic mouse of your choice too).
Many of these stands elevate your laptop at an angle, which your cat is unlikely to want to deal with. You might find they prefer to sit beneath your laptop in future instead. Look for something like this six-level adjustable aluminum stand on Amazon, which puts your laptop at a 45-degree angle.
If you want something you can clamp to your desk, the EZM laptop stand clamp will do the trick, and it’s fully adjustable with a 90-degree tilt to boot. It even comes in a version that lets you mount a monitor on there too.
4. Deter Your Feline Friend From the Desk Area
If you want to take things to the next level, you should deter your cat from approaching the desk area entirely. Make sure you’re happy turning your desk (or laptop itself) into a no-go area before you proceed!
Cats hate sticky surfaces, so double-sided tape is your friend. Simply place a few strips down along the desk edge, on your laptop, around your work area and anywhere else you don’t want your cats to be. You can buy products like Sticky Paws, or use something cheaper from the supermarket instead.
These are short-term measures, and soon your cat will learn to associate the area with the unpleasant sensation of walking on a sticky surface. Once you’ve made the association, your cat should remember not to go there. You can always reapply a few strips from time to time to jog their memory.
5. Protect Your Cables (And Your Cat)
Kittens chew on everything, and cables are no exception. This can be incredibly dangerous for your cat, leading to electrocution and severe burns. It’s also quite annoying having to replace cables, which have a tendency to break on their own anyway.
Cable covers work wonders for this, particularly hard plastic ones that are unappealing to chew on. One such product aimed at cats (also dogs, rabbits and other small mammals) is CritterCord. You can also try the double-sided tape trick, but hiding cords and covering them is a less messy solution.
For phone chargers and cables that simply have to be on display, consider making them distasteful with a safe spray or dabber. Cats especially dislike bitter tastes, so something like Grannick’s Bitter Apple Spray for Cats will do the job just fine.
Make sure you avoid anything spicy that could harm you or your cat (especially chili sauce), and that anything you use is approved as safe for cats. Avoid “traditional” solutions like garlic, since garlic is highly toxic to cats and dogs.
6. Provide Other Distractions and Cat-Friendly Areas
If your cat is vying for your attention, that probably means they’re bored. If you haven’t got a good selection of toys around the house, take a trip to the pet store and open your wallet.
Pick up a few and see what your cat likes: balls, small mice, kicker toys like this catnip giraffe, scratching posts, and catnip toys will help distract their attention.
There’s a growing number of more sophisticated cat toys in the market, if you have more to spend. This includes automated laser toys, KONG’s Eight Track, Glide and Seek, expandable circuits, and tower toys to choose from too.
Catnip spray can also pique their interest, and you can apply it to other toys when your cat decides it’s play time. Combine a few of these with cat activity tunnel and watch the sparks fly!
They may also want to be close to you, or yearning for a warm place to curl up and nap. Cats sleep on average 18 hours a day, so bedding is pretty important. A heated cat igloo will hopefully cause kitty to forget all about your laptop, or try suspending a strong cat perch in a nice sunny window instead.
I’ve found even a plain old cushion on the desk will do the trick in the colder winter months. Or a box, since cats love boxes.
7. Take Preventative Measures
Some of these tips may seem a little overkill, and that depends on what kind of working relationship you have with your cat. A few preventative measures can go a long way, so make sure you cover the basics to keep your cat and technology safe from each other:
- Close laptop lids when they’re not in use. The force of a cat lying backward on your screen could very easily break your laptops hinge, and that’s something you want to avoid.
- Keep your office door shut when you’re not using it, or invest in a desk that can be shut away and hidden completely when work’s over.
- Play with your cat when you have the time! If you can tire them out, they’ll leave you alone for a few hours and love you all the more for the attention.
- Cats hate citrus, so eat an orange if you can’t deter your cat from your laptop!
Beyond cat-proofing, you may also want to look into these awesome gadgets that can make you a smarter pet owner.