What Does It Mean When a Cat Sleeps on You?

Many cats are particular about their behaviors. They have specific ways they groom themselves, what they like to do for entertainment and yes, where they like to snooze. Cats are infamous for napping and you may have noticed that there are many rituals about how they do it. One of the more common questions we get from cat lovers is how do cats choose who to sleep with.

They are a crepuscular species, which means they nap intermittently throughout a 24-hour period, but are mostly awake at night (mostly around dusk and dawn). Lets face it, most pets are motivated by food, and they tend to pal up with the one who brings home the bacon, so to speak.

They crave warm and cozy spots, so if your bed is something they find comfortable, theyll likely choose you to snuggle with.

Does a cat sleeping on You mean they like you?

According to The Nest, cats show their love for you by sleeping with you. They also share warmth and affection with other cats by cuddling and sleeping with them, so if they do the same with you, it’s a safe bet that they think of you as someone important.

What does it mean when your cat rests on you?

In addition to trusting you and wanting your attention, a cat sitting on your lap usually means that they like you! Lots of cats choose a favorite human. Cats have many ways of showing their affection, like purring, nudging you, and sitting in your lap. It’s high praise coming from a cat.

Many cats love their owners just as much, if not more than we love them and they like to show it. But how a cat shows their love and gives affection is very different from how humans display love. In the cat world, there are many ways to express oneself, including these 12 displays of love.

Kitten paws knead against the mother cats breasts to induce milk to be released. Kittens play out of pure enjoyment and their most favorite playmate is typically a trusted and loved companion.

Since they are the most vulnerable while sleeping, the place your cat chooses to snooze must be a secure and trusted location. There is no greater loving compliment than a cat picking your lap as their favorite sleep spot. Cats that place their faces and wide-open eyes near a person are expressing great trust and love.

If you‘ve ever petted a cat, you‘ve probably encountered the elevator butt pose which invites you to pay particular attention to the base of the tail. When a cat approaches you with their tail held straight up and the end slightly tipped over, it‘s a sign of love. Kittens greet their mother with tails flagged high in respect and adult cats continue this behavior with their favorite people.

Cats that groom their favorite people , by licking their skin or hair or even nibbling or sucking on their clothing, indicate great affection.

For cat owners its a familiar scene: youre in your jammies, youve finally gotten into the optimal position for sleep, and here comes the family cat to join you. A brief scan of the area is all he needs to determine that your face is the perfect place to park his furry tush.

Cats replenish their energy with several naps throughout the day as opposed to one long block of sleep like humans. Unlike humans, cats are always ready to attack prey or defend themselves against a larger predator.

Even when they may appear to be out cold, their senses of hearing and smell are still sharp enough to spring them into action if necessary. Since cats are always poised for action, it makes sense that theyd seek extra protection by curling up next to their owner. Cats are typically at the top of the food chain, but even still, they have to keep a watchful eye out for danger, explains Dr. Zay Satchu, the Chief Veterinary Officer at Bond Vet in NYC.

Sleep is a vulnerable time, so your cat is indicating that he trusts you and feels content and secure with you. Cats are raised in litters, and when theyre very young until theyre about 12 weeks of age, sleeping usually means piling onto one another near mom, says Dr. Satchu. Its how they are raised during their peak socialization weeks and similar to other things they learn during this time, this translates into lifelong habits.

Your head releases steady heat throughout the night, making your pillow an attractive place for your cat to hit the hay. To avoid being jostled all night by your restless arms and legs, a cat will gravitate towards your head. They may lay on your chest because theyre comforted by the sounds of your rhythmic heartbeat and your steady breath.

Cats likely find some benefit to our very slow and calm respiratory patterns while we sleep, she says. This is when we are at our most calm and most cats tend to echo those same sentiments, even though they get to sleep for a good 18 hours each day! If he turns his back on you as he settles down, hes showing he trusts you and maybe even that hes going to watch the environment for both of you.

One thing to note: Cats shouldnt be allowed to sleep with children under the age of five, and NEVER with a baby because of the risk of suffocation. A jumpy or easily frightened cat may even lash out and scratch a child if startled during sleep. There are, of course, negative bedtime habits your cat may be doing that keep you from getting some quality shuteye: toe-biting, howling for attention, kneading your chest, etc.

Another tip is to sleep with your bedroom door slightly ajar so your cat can slip out without waking you.

After all, cats average between 15-20 hours of sleep a day. Some of them spend part of that time sleeping in closets, on windowsills, and behind laundry baskets.

Theres a lot we dont know about cats, says Dr. Laura M. Holland of Circle of Life Veterinary Clinic in New Britain, Pennsylvania. If youre wondering why your kitty chooses your chest, head, or legs as prime sleeping zones, read on.

Think of a basket of kittens, says cat behaviorist, Dr. Marci Koski of Feline Behavior Solutions in Vancouver, Washington. She says that it comes down to a cats thermoneutral zone, which is a temperature range where the body doesnt need to expend energy to heat or cool itself. Napping in the summer sun, curling up next to the fireplace in winter, or lounging on a pile of clean laundry are all warm spots where cat parents often find their pets snoozing.

Koski explains that if you give your cat a good workout for 15-20 minutes prior to bed followed by a small snack, theyll be more inclined to wind down for the night. If youre having difficulty with your kitty sleeping on your head, chest, or otherwise disturbing your rest, try talking with your veterinarian or a cat behaviorist for guidance.

The Advantages of Kitty Zzs

Unlike us, cats don’t just go to bed at a set time in the evening and sleep for the duration of the night. They are a crepuscular species, which means they nap intermittently throughout a 24-hour period, but are mostly awake at night (mostly around dusk and dawn). They may change where they sleep and with whom often, so it’s unlikely that one specific place or person will be “the one”.They do have some considerations about where and with whom they snooze, though.

1. They’re seeking warmth

Ever notice how your cat seeks out a heat source when he’s ready for his midday siesta? Perhaps you’ve found him cozied up next to the radiator or burrowed in a pile of laundry.Simply put—cats like it warm.A cat’s normal temperature falls around 102 degrees Fahrenheit, according to PetMD. By snuggling up to you, they’re able to maintain that temperature without much effort. This explains why cats like to snooze in sunny windows or crammed into boxes. When it comes to sleep, warmth is more important than comfort for cats.

2. They’re marking their territory

PetMD also points out that cats are territorial creatures. They claim their turf by marking it with their scent. So when they sleep on top of you, they’re actually marking you—and your bed—as theirs. We should be flattered by this behavior, apparently.

3. Cats look for security

In the wild, a cat will seek the safest place to rest in between hunts. In the home, that place is with you.“Cats are typically at the top of the food chain, but even still, they have to keep a watchful eye out for danger,” explains Dr. Zay Satchu, the Chief Veterinary Officer at Bond Vet in NYC. “Being around their humans, they can rest easier knowing there is some safety there.”Sleep is a vulnerable time, so your cat is indicating that he trusts you and feels content and secure with you. This behavior begins in kittenhood.“Cats are raised in litters, and when they’re very young until they’re about 12 weeks of age, sleeping usually means piling onto one another near mom,” says Dr. Satchu. “It’s how they are raised during their peak socialization weeks and similar to other things they learn during this time, this translates into lifelong habits.”Your cat sleeps with you for comfort and security. After their mother, you’re the next best thing.

4. It’s a bonding exercise

Cats have earned an unfair reputation as being aloof and unfriendly. But as cat owners, we know this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Our cats are as affectionate as they are social. They want to bond with us.Cat behavior consultant Mikel Delgado, PhD, told Catster that it’s not unusual for cats to engage in “pillowing” at bedtime. This is when they use another cat as a pillow (adorable!) If they’re the only cat in the house, they love to use you as an alternative.This tactile component to the feline/human bond is your cat’s way of saying, “I love you. I want to be near you and spend time with you.”It’s hard to argue with that.

5. It may be hormonal

Research has shown that dogs release the feel-good hormone oxytocin when they’re in contact with their owners. According to VetStreet, it’s unclear if this applies to cats as well. But it’s not a farfetched theory.

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Cats and their sleeping positions give plenty of food for thought (and entertainment.)After all, cats average between 15-20 hours of sleep a day. Some of them spend part of that time sleeping in closets, on windowsills, and behind laundry baskets.However, some cats enjoy sleeping on your chest, between your legs, or even on (or near) your head. While some people don’t mind this closeness, others would appreciate a bit more space. And some cat parents are simply perplexed and amused by these seemingly odd sleeping choices.“There’s a lot we don’t know about cats,” says Dr. Laura M. Holland of Circle of Life Veterinary Clinic in New Britain, Pennsylvania. “It’s a complicated question of why they want to sleep with or on us.”If you’re wondering why your kitty chooses your chest, head, or legs as prime sleeping zones, read on. Additionally, if their sleeping habits are interrupting your sleep, then you’ll find ideas for retraining below.

Why Do Cats Lay on You?

If you imagine kittens sleeping together, then it may make sense that cats like cuddling. “When cats are born, they pile together. Think of a basket of kittens,” says cat behaviorist, Dr. Marci Koski of Feline Behavior Solutions in Vancouver, Washington. “They’re warm and secure and the scent is there. It’s natural they’d seek out their family members to sleep with.”Laying on you also provides cats with a sense of security. As predators, there’s a natural sense of safety to sleep near others in their family for protection. “When they’re asleep, they’re vulnerable. They want to sleep in a safe area. So, what could be safer than sleeping between their human person’s legs?” says Koski. “Plus, the bed smells like you. Smells are important to cats. It helps them feel secure.”Koski also explains that cats sleep on humans because they want to get warm. She says that it comes down to a cat’s thermoneutral zone, which is a temperature range where the body doesn’t need to expend energy to heat or cool itself. In humans, the thermoneutral zone ranges between 64-72 degrees but for cats it’s 86-100 degrees.“Cats really like heat,” she says. “At night, they seek out the warmest spots, so they’ll often seek their human companions.”

Is This a Sign of Affection?

Holland looks at cats sleeping with you as a bonding signal. “If you let your cat sleep with you it’s a bond. We’re part of their colony,” she says.Since it’s not uncommon for cats to sleep on one another, they’re simply treating you as one of their own. “If you have a loving relationship with your cat, they’re going to come to you for pets and to snuggle,” says Koski. “It’s a rewarding behavior.”But what about snuggling up on top of your head, against your face, or on your chest? Is your cat trying to tell you something when sleeping in these positions?