For animals with the reputation of being cold and independent, many cats are surprisingly cuddly when it comes to bedtime. Most pet owners don’t question this too much — after all, who doesn’t want a real-life teddy bear?
However, there are specific answers to “why does my cat sleep with me,” and it’s 100% worth learning about these. Understanding why they indulge in this behavior will help you to better care for and bond with your feline.
Many factors that drive your fur baby to sit on your lap are the very same ones that lead him to curl up beside you in bed. Let’s take a closer look at this kitty behavior.
- 1 Why does my cat sleep with me?
- 2 Why Do Cats Sleep on Particular Body Parts?
- 3 Should You Sleep Next to Your Cat?
- 4 Final Thoughts on “Why Does My Cat Sleep with Me?”
Why does my cat sleep with me?
Cats are creatures of comfort. They want the snuggliest spot in the house. It doesn’t matter if that’s you or your overheating laptop — they want in! They have a natural inclination towards comfort and coziness.
Warmth is the most significant indicator of comfort for a cat. Felines experience heat differently than we do. While human body temperature rests around 98°F, theirs is at 102°F. To maintain that temperature without working their bodies too hard, these animals seek warm places to relax.
Additionally, cats can withstand intense heat that we can’t. Other factors behind heat-seeking behavior include age, illness, and breed. Kittens need lots of extra warmth, especially.
2. Territorial Behavior
Like their cousins in the wild, cats are territorial. In fact, many of your cat’s seemingly affectionate behavior is driven by a desire to mark you as theirs.
Territoriality is about claiming an area (and a human) for themselves and telling other cats to stay clear. While this can turn to aggression, mostly it involves the feline leaving its scent around the area.
This consists of rubbing their heads against the walls and their owner’s body and kneading.
So, by sleeping next to you in your bed, your cat leaves her mark all over you and the bed. She is claiming you and your bed as hers. Some cats may sleep with their owners as a form of territorial behavior, as they consider their owners and bed part of their territory.
In rare cases, cats may also sleep with their owners to stay informed about their owner’s movements and activities (controlling behavior).
Establishing a territory makes cats feel safe. However, they still want to find the most secure place in that area to doze off because this is when they are most vulnerable to attack.
Therefore, curling up next to you means your feline feels protected when he’s near you. Aww!
Cats grow up in litters, instinctively cuddling up on top of mom for protection. There’s safety in numbers: at least one of you will wake up in a dangerous scenario, and two is better than one in a fight.
Cats are highly observant animals and learn by watching and mimicking the behavior of others. If they see their owners sleeping in a certain place, they may perceive it as safe and comfortable and will be more likely to sleep there. This can be especially true if they see their owner displaying relaxed behavior in that spot.
Further, cats may also associate certain places with positive experiences, such as being petted, which can also make them more likely to sleep in that spot.
4. Trust and Love
Your cat trusts you to protect her when she is most vulnerable. That’s incredibly heart-warming. More than that, though, your fur baby is using snuggle time as an opportunity to deepen your bond.
Cats are social creatures, so they often cuddle with other felines in the house. Alternatively, they come to you. In both cases, it’s a means of reinforcing social ties.
Also, consider the above reasons in reverse. Your cat loves you and is showing you the way she knows best. She is keeping you warm and protecting you. Isn’t that adorable?
Why Do Cats Sleep on Particular Body Parts?
So, kitties love to sleep with their owners, but why choose the weird and wonderful positions? I’ve heard pet parents complain about everything from sleeping on your face to sleeping with their back toward you.
As always, there is a reason behind the strange things your cat does. Once you hear what they are, you’ll probably be much more patient and indulgent with your whiskery companion.
1. Why Does My Cat Sleep on My Head?
This is a common question, and three straightforward explanations actually make a lot of sense.
First, your head emits the most heat, and we know how much felines love being warm. Second, your head is the one part of your body that is least likely to move. No one wants to be tossed around in their sleep, especially a finicky cat.
Third, your head has a strong scent that appeals to the animal. Maybe it’s your shampoo or your unique smell, but your cat associates that with you and wants to be as close as possible.
NB: In some cases, a cat sleeping on or near their owner’s head or other body parts may be a sign of controlling behavior or an attempt to assert dominance. Suppose a cat becomes aggressive or territorial when their owner moves. In that case, it is usually better to remove the cat from the bed and provide a separate, cozy sleeping area for them…
FYI: aggression or territorial behavior can also be caused by various factors such as medical conditions, stress, or lack of socialization.
2. Why Does My Cat Doze Off on My Chest?
The owner’s chest is another popular naptime spot for felines. This is mostly because this is where they can feel our breathing and heartbeat.
Just as we are comforted by a cat’s purring, they find our breathing soothing. When we sleep, we are most relaxed, and our breathing’s slow and steady pattern is comforting to our pets.
3. Why Does My Cat Turn His Back to Me?
Let me be clear: it’s not a sign that your cat is cross with you. Instead, this is yet another sign of deep trust.
Turning his back to you means that your pet trusts you (he doesn’t need to “keep an eye on you”). To interpret further, this behavior may indicate that your cat will protect you. By facing outward, he will be on guard duty for any incoming dangers.
⇒ Getting a new kitty? Check out my guide to How to Look after a Kitten, 6 Best Kitten Wet Food Options and 8 Best Kitten Dry Food Options
Should You Sleep Next to Your Cat?
While your cat’s choice to sleep with you may make total sense, that doesn’t mean you’re okay with it. There are some disadvantages to this conduct, so you may want to do a pros-and-cons analysis.
The advantages of sleeping next to your cat are huge — not just for the pet but for you, too.
Petting our pets releases happy hormones in us, so it makes sense that we derive stress-relief from snuggles, too. Their cat’s rhythmic purring soothes many cat owners.
You’re also gaining a warm, cuddly companion, which can improve your comfort levels when sleeping. And, of course, this is prime time for bonding with your beloved pet, especially if you’re very busy during the day.
Cats are nocturnal animals. While they may cuddle for a bit, they’re likely to get up and go hunting at some point during the night. This could be a disturbance for owners.
Your movements may be limited if your cat lays on any part of you. However, you can, of course, push your cat off, and he may settle in a spot that’s less uncomfortable for you.
There is also a hygiene aspect to consider since cats may carry diseases or parasites from their litter trays or the outdoors. The best way to protect yourself is to ensure that your feline is up-to-date on his vaccinations and flea and deworming treatment. You could also get a litter trapper mat.
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You may find that your kitty wants to sleep with the family‘s littlest members. This is probably because she sees herself in the mommy role. However, this is inadvisable with such vulnerable humans.
Cats, like all animals, have their own unique personalities and can react differently to different stimuli. Infants and young children may make sudden movements or loud noises that can startle or scare a cat, leading to aggressive behavior. Supervising interactions between children and cats is important to prevent accidents or misunderstandings.
If you decide that sleeping together isn’t for you, provide a resting spot with similar benefits.
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Final Thoughts on “Why Does My Cat Sleep with Me?”
While there are disadvantages to having a cat climb into bed with you, it’s essential to see the behavior from a feline perspective. This knowledge will help you to understand and care for your cat.
If the answers to “why does my cat sleep with me” prove anything, it’s how much cats crave love and comfort. Whether it’s because of your warmth, scent, or protection, it’s totally natural for your kitty to want to curl up with you at night.
Please Note: This Why does my cat sleep with me post contains affiliate links. That means if you click through on most of the links and end up making a purchase I will receive a small commission. This will not affect the price that you pay. I wanted to make sure that you were aware of this.
Meet our Veterinary Expert
Dr. Julia Brassel studied in Giessen, Germany and later completed her PhD in Ireland, where she also lived and worked. She has a 17-year-old Dachshund called Paula, who she adopted from a local shelter during her first semester at university.
Sunday 18th of September 2022
My 17 year old Ragdoll (who I have have owned since she was 12 weeks old) religiously gets into bed with me, every time, without fail. I even have a word for it "bedaments" (because somehow cats love three syllable words...). As soon as I say that word, she goes into the bedroom, gets up on the bed and is ready for me. Without fail her preferred sleeping position is between the legs which is obviously much warmer than my head, though she will sometimes emerge from under the covers to on top of the covers in Summer. So let's just be realistic here - the "inside the bed" thing is probably 40% because she actually wants to be under there and 60% of the reason is for the heat!!
Tuesday 27th of September 2022
That is so sweet! I wish my siberian cats would do that!
Saturday 25th of September 2021
Now you make me feel like I am missing something in my life and tat is a CAT
Monday 4th of October 2021
Avnish you are correct - if you don't have a cat you are missing out!