A purring cat that is comfortably lying on your body with its eyes closed is a common scenario for many pet owners. This 1:1 cuddle session can be a special time for you and your feline companion, but have you ever stopped to wonder, "why does a cat sleep on me?” According to Dr. Laura M. Holland, from the Circle of Life Veterinary Clinic in New Britain, Pennsylvania, the answer is surprisingly complex! “It’s a complicated question of why they want to sleep with or on us.” In this article, we will dive into exactly why cats sleep on us and what this behavior says about their personality and health.
Why Do Cats Sleep on You? 4 Reasons
More than half of cats sleep between 12 and 18 hours a day, and nearly 40% of cats sleep more than 18 hours per day. So, felines do sleep a lot! They can nap on their favorite perch or a cozy couch in weird sleeping positions, but sometimes they prefer to sleep on their owners. Why? Let’s find out below.
Cats seek warmth
It may sound trivial, but cats love their comfort and often use humans as big warmers. Cats prefer to sleep on various parts of your body:
Cats lie down on your chest to feel warm and safe. They are social sleepers who used to snuggle up to their family members. Kitties associate your heartbeat with the bond they shared with their siblings and their mother-cat when they were kittens.
Cats sleep on your head because the brain is constantly warmed by the body, and blood flow increases during sleep. This warmth attracts the cat.
Your lap is not only a safe and warm place for a four-legged friend but also a great spot where unlimited petting is offered.
Cats show their superiority
All cat parents know that sometimes they act like rulers of the modern world. There are always exceptions, but many cats can be bossy, and unlike dogs, do not intrinsically live to please their owners. They prefer to flex their independence instead. When they lie down to sleep on a certain part of the body, they leave their scent there, marking you and ensuring that you belong to them.
Cats express their love and affection
Depending on the breed, cats either may be more clingy or less affectionate, but it is undeniable that they sincerely love their owners. When a cat sleeps on top of you, they want to show how much they love you and to strengthen the bond between you. Our four-legged friends cannot talk, but they have mastered nonverbal communication. Making eye contact is one of the ways a cat demonstrates that they feel comfortable and safe, and express their affection. On top of that, cats are very cautious animals, and their love and trust are not easy to win. By sleeping on you, they show that they trust you.
Cats are influenced by their hormones
Kitties spend time with their owners because, during a cat-owner interaction, animals produce the "love hormone" oxytocin. Spending time with a person helps reduce stress and increases attachment. In fact, a study by Behavioral Processes shows that cats may actually enjoy interacting with their owners more than their love for food. For cats who are known for being picky eaters, that’s a real accomplishment, isn’t it?
Should you let your cat sleep with you?
Sleeping with your cat atop you can offer a ton of benefits, including stress relief, bonding improvement, and bringing comfort. However, don’t forget that cats are extremely active at night, so they can disturb your sleep. Besides, if your cat has taken a fancy to places like your head or chest, co-sleeping can be uncomfortable due to your cat’s weight. Remember that cats should not be allowed to sleep with toddlers due to the risk of suffocation or sudden injury.
There are a plethora of reasons why cats prefer to sleep on their owners! Often, the feline is guided by its instincts and is looking for a secluded place to sleep. You can either share this magical time with your pet or create a comfortable place where your furry friend can snooze near you. Whichever you choose, we're lucky to share such a special bond with these beautiful creatures.
Andrew Guerra is a proud pet parent, avid traveler, experienced content writer, and editor-in-chief of CatsPurfection. Andrew writes articles on a variety of pet-related topics, including cats' well-being.