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12 Reasons Your Cat Sleeps On Your Legs That Might Surprise You

reviewed by a veterinary box

Have you ever sat on the couch, bed, or perhaps at your desk with a furball purring peacefully on your lap and wondered to yourself, “Why does she do this? Why does my cat sleep on my legs?”.

Well, you’re not alone. While many cat owners are more than happy to curl up with their kitties, there is often the mystery of why cats enjoy sleeping on their human’s legs. Often, your cat will have a beautiful, comfy bed all to itself but would instead join you in your bed and stretch out over your legs.

So let’s dig deeper into why cats do this and whether it’s something you should be concerned about, or just thankful for.

Grey lazy cat sleeping on woman's knees in the room, close up


So My Cat Sleeps on My Legs – Is it Normal?

If you’re concerned about your cat’s behavior, rest assured that sleeping on your lap or legs is purr-fectly normal. They would pick this specific sleeping position for many reasons, but regardless of the motives, it’s a habit many felines have and is not a cause for concern.

NB: Individual cats may have different preferences for sleeping on legs and not all cats exhibit this behavior. 

However, if your cat seems unwell and is much more needy than usual, keep an eye on her to see if a vet is needed. A quick home check up should help you know if it’s something serious or just an off day that requires extra loving.

Woman and cute cat sitting on rocking chair with blanket why does my cat sleep on my legs

Reasons for Why Do Cats Sleep on Your Legs?

Some kittens will start sleeping on their owner’s legs early and may continue with this habit into adulthood. Other cats might start up the habit later on in life.

Here are a few reasons why your kitty would be sleeping on your limbs or why does my cat sleep between my legs.

1. Your Legs Provide Warmth

The thighs are one of the closest places to the body’s core, providing a comforting warmth. Your cat may be cold or seeking that comfort to sleep.

When you find human babies sitting and sleeping on their mother’s laps, this is often for the warmth and comfort your cat is looking for.

 Kitty’s fall asleep by your feet for the same reason, only this time you also benefit from warmer furry feet.

Happy young woman swapping the TV channels , relaxed on the bean

2. They’re Looking for Safety and Security

As their human, your cat will often look to you when they’re not feeling well or things are uncertain. Sleeping on your body can make your kitty feel safe and secure. When sleeping on your lap, they’re able to register every movement and change in your location.

If they’re looking for a spot to sleep soundly, knowing that nothing can hurt them, you’re their best bet.

3. They’re Comforting You

It’s been found that cats can sense their human’s emotions, which means happy, sad, and even sickly. If you’re ill or not feeling great, your cat may pick up on this and want to cheer you up.

By laying on you and purring they’re trying to comfort you and make you feel better.

Grey lazy cat sleeping on woman's knees in the room

4. They Want to Be Close to You

Like humans enjoy the feeling of their loved one nearby, cats do, too, and that loved one is you. Often, just the feeling of being near their human can make a cat feel snug and content.

Sleeping on your legs allows them to feel your presence while peacefully napping. 

5. It’s a Good Viewpoint

Cats have instincts that make them wary of any dangers, and falling asleep requires a feeling of security. From your lap or legs on the bed or couch, they have the perfect view of the room around them.

If something were to startle them awake, they’d be able to see if it was a danger to them almost immediately.

Cute blonde woke up in her bed, comfort of home, bedroom and the cat

6. Your Legs Are the Most Accessible

It makes sense that your cat would want to sleep on or near you, but why your legs? This is often the most accessible part of your body, no matter the circumstances.

If you’re sleeping in bed, your legs provide a good space that probably doesn’t move as much as your head. And when you’re seated, your legs are the most level space for a ball of fur to curl up on.

7. They’re Used To Being Lap Cats

Sometimes the simple answer to why a cat sleeps on its human’s legs is: habit. If you used to pick your cat up and put it on your lap when they were young, it would typically continue to do this as they get older.

And if you’ve adopted them as an adult, perhaps their previous owner sat with them on their laps.

8. They’re Territorial

Cats rub themselves on humans and furniture to mark their territory, so they may also be laying on their human servants to claim what’s theirs. You may find this more when multiple cats are in a household, and one is a bit more possessive.

Beautiful young woman holding cat isolated on white

Or maybe your feline can smell that you’ve been a little too friendly with the office cat. Your cat may also lick your nose to mark its territory.

9. They’re Stressed

If your cat doesn’t usually jump on you and they’ve started to, it could be that they’re experiencing stress. This can come from being sick, in pain, or having something disrupt their daily lives. Other signs of stress might include excessive grooming, hiding or aggression.

It’s essential to make your kitty feel safe and loved in these cases and give them the security they need.

10. They Like You

This seems obvious, but it must be noted that if your cat, or any feline, sleeps on top of you, they must be quite fond of you. This can be a major badge of honor, and is big if you’ve just brought a kitten home, adopted an older cat, or are cat-sitting for a friend.

Beautiful asian girl kissing american shorthair cat

11. They Want to Have a Deeper Sleep

A cat sleeping on your legs may be craving a deep sleep. Even domesticated cats are incredibly light sleepers, as it’s natural to be always alert. However, snuggling up against your legs may give your cat enough security and comfort to silence those survival instincts. 

Deep sleep is essential to cats’ well-being, allowing them to grow, heal and regain energy. That feeling of vulnerability goes away when kittens sleep close to their mothers or when adult cats cozy up with other cats or, in this case, sleep next to their owner.

12. They Want to Bond With You

Your kitty wants a moment to bond with you (aww). They’re trying to connect with you due to a behavior called pillowing. Pillowing is when cats snug up to each other to sleep, and their purring ends up being in sync, further strengthening their bond. 

Now, If you only have one cat, it simply means they’re using you as a substitute for pillowing—which is about the sweetest thing a cat could do.

I Don’t Want My Cat Sleeping On My Legs– Alternatives

Not everyone enjoys sharing their bed with furry family members. It might be too hot at night, or you’re a rough sleeper worried about accidentally hurting your kitty. And even if you don’t mind your cat sleeping in bed with you, they still need a bed of their own. 

Cats have a polyphasic sleep schedule meaning they sleep for shorter periods multiple times throughout the day. So providing a comfy spot will prevent them from ceaselessly wandering through the house to find a sleeping space. 

So these wonderful alternative sleeping places for your cat might be your solution.

Cat Beds

A dedicated sleeping spot with a bed should be standard for creating healthy sleeping habits. This will also help set boundaries if your cat is misbehaving at night. Cozy cat beds such as caves and nest-like bedding are fantastic options, and there are many to choose from. 

You can treat your pet with a snug cat bed to provide a similar safe nest-like area for when you’re not around. Adding something with your scent, like an old t-shirt, to your cat’s bedding will remind them of you and make them feel safe.

Heated Pads

By now, you know that warmth is one of the reasons why cats sleep on your legs. So why not provide them with a clever alternative? Heated pads will keep your kitty warm and off your legs. They’ll start opting for these in no time. 

You can also place these heated pads on or inside their bedding to make them feel more comfortable and cozy. 

Wall-mounted Beds and Shelves 

Wall-mounted beds or shelves are an excellent option if you don’t have enough space for cat beds. You can create a lovely space by adding heated pads and bedding. This will also double as a climbing place and give them a good view of the room.

Final Thoughts

Consider yourself lucky if you’re reading this with a purring ball of fluff fast asleep on your legs. No cat would feel comfortable doing this with someone unless they truly liked them and felt safe with them.

Reach down and give them a loving stroke on the head – just for being their cute and cuddly selves.

If your cat has been sleeping on your legs more often, and it’s becoming a problem, hindering your work or causing leg cramps at night, try to give them affection while they sleep next to you instead.

woman asleep with grey cat in arms

Find them a soft toy to sleep next to, or putting one of your old T-shirts in their bed could also help.

But if it’s not causing any inconvenience, then the only advice I can offer is to savor the love that you’re getting from your finicky feline.

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