Lap Bag

When it’s clear that the cat is friendly and wants to step on my lap, and the cat’s unsecured ride down on my lap is not appropriate, then I love using the lap bag technique to secure him. Before I allow the cat to step on my lap, I simply spread the bottom of the cat bag flat over my lap and gather the sides of the bag in a ring around my lap in such a way that the drawstring top of the bag is visible and easy to grab. Once the cat steps on my lap, I make sure all four of his feet are placed on the bottom of the bag and then pull the sides of the bag up around him while gathering the neck of the bag in one hand to secure him inside. There is no forcefulness or trauma to the cat at all. It all happens while he stands or sits in place, and the bag simply rises and envelopes him. The bag does not even need to be pulled upward particularly fast, because the cat has no reaction to it.

For those cats who do not voluntarily step on my lap, I may still use the lap bag if I can lure him there with food, or I am reasonably confident that the cat will allow me to pick him up and place him on my lap. It is for this reason that I always ask the owner beforehand if the cat is comfortable being picked up and held. I also ensure that the cat is comfortable sitting on their lap. Some cats do not like being picked up, and in the tree is not the time to learn that. Of course, the cat needs to be relaxed and comfortable with me before I will consider it. If I can successfully lift the cat and place him on my prepared lap, then the process is the same.

Once the cat is secured in the bag, I will continue to talk to him and pet him through the bag to reassure him and make sure he stays calm. I usually leave him on my lap as I cinch the neck of the bag with the separate cinch cord. The cinch cord is still attached to my harness and is barely long enough to place over the neck of the bag without removing the cord or moving the cat off my lap. Sometimes, I will descend with the cat and bag still on my lap, but I usually need to hang the cat off to the side for descent.

While I have never dropped the bag with the cat inside, it’s a frightening possibility which motivates me to prepare a backup cord. The bag has a drawstring at the top opening that is unsuited for securing the cat due to the opening which remains even when the drawstring is completely pulled taut. However, it might be a suitable backup in case I drop the bag or my primary cinch cord fails in some way. When I secure the cat in the bag with the cinch cord, I do not pull the drawstring tight. Instead, I leave the top opening fully open and attach an elastic tool lanyard to the drawstring. The other end of the lanyard is attached to my harness. If I drop the cat bag or the cinch cord fails, the backup lanyard attached to the drawstring will catch the bag and do so gently with the aid of the elastic lanyard and the tightening of the drawstring. Thankfully, I have never needed it.

For a cat that is willing to step on my lap, this method is as risk-free as possible. I have never had any close calls or failures. Sometimes, I have troublesome cats who step on my lap outside the boundary of the bag and need to be repositioned back inside, but that is the most trouble I have ever encountered with this method.

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