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Why Does My Cat Sleep on Me?

By Cuteness Team
published: June 6, 2018 - updated: January 3, 2024 • 4 min. read
gray cat sleeping on woman

Key Takeaways

  • There are lots of reasons a cat may choose to sleep on their humans’ laps or chests.
  • Among the reasons cats sleep on people: warmth, comfort, affection and soothing sounds.
  • Cherish the moment when they do as they like to switch up their routine and may find another place to nap.
  • For most people, sleeping with their cat is perfectly safe if they choose to.

If you’re lucky enough to have a cuddly cat, you’re probably familiar with that feeling of waking up to a warm, furry lump on your back or stomach. (Life could be worse.) So, why is it that so many cats like to lay on their humans’ laps or chests and purr themselves to sleep? Let’s find out.

They Just Want to Be Warm

Have you ever noticed how your cat loves to catch the first ray of sunlight in the morning? Whether it’s on the floor or in the window box, your cat is right there soaking it all up. This is because cats prefer resting in warm places—and who doesn’t? When the sun sets and that warmth is gone, a cat could find some heat alongside a radiator, but it’s far comfier on top of you when you’re in your favorite recliner or when you’re snuggled beneath the bedcovers. So, these are the moments when your feline friend will most likely seek you out. I remember in my youth how my cat would nestle up against me in my bed; he felt safe with me and I felt safe with him. A wonderful feeling, indeed!

Protect your pet

Humans Are Actually Quite Comfortable

Cats sleep around 15 hours a day or more, so naturally, they’re looking for a comfortable spot to catch 40 (or 400 winks!). Whether it be on a sofa or stretched out in a laundry basket, cats require a soft and cozy place to relax. Imagine how cozy you feel to a cat who discovers you in bed under plush blankets. Your belly immediately becomes the coziest place on earth, far superior to a mere pillow or cat bed.

It’s About Affection…

If you’re like most people, you’re typically out most of the day (or night) working. When you finally return home, all your fur-ball buddy wants to do is be by your side and follow you around until you sit or go to bed so he can climb on top of you. Why? Because your cat loves you. All that head butting of your face, all those purrs and kisses; they add up to one thing—adoration! So when your cat shows these signs of affection (because most cats cannot speak…yet) and when he jumps on you to make his bed, give him a little pat and a pet to lull him to sleep and return the affection.

As Well as Safety

Everyone and everything craves and needs security. Your cat is no exception! When your cat is in search of a place to sleep, he not only wants comfort and warmth, he also wants a place that is secure—and that place is YOU! No dangerous predators are around when his master is there, so kitty dreams come easily for your cat when he has nothing to fear.

Some Cats Love the Sounds Your Body Makes

The natural sounds of your body may be soothing to your cat when he sleeps on top of you. The steady rhythm of your heartbeat and breath, as well as the rise and fall of your inhaling and exhaling, help lull your cat to sleep. Your smell is also pleasant as your cat associates it with you and the care, companionship, and safety you provide him. In short, many of your natural bodily sounds and smells may be relaxing to your kitty—though perhaps not ALL of your sounds and smells.

Your Cat Plays Favorites

It could be that you move less in bed while asleep than other family members. Or, your cat may feel particularly safe from harm around you. Whatever may be the reason, your cat loves sleeping on top of you, so cherish the moment while it’s here. Cats are known to switch up their routine, so they may look elsewhere for some other warm, comfortable pillow on a bed that is not you.

Why do cats like to sleep on certain body parts?

Not surprisingly, cats tend to seek out people’s heads, necks, chests, and laps for settling on, as these areas have the most real estate.

Here are the reasons they might choose these body parts:

  • Head and neck – People’s heads release heat throughout the night, which keeps your cat cozy and warm. Your head is also more stationary than other parts of your body when you sleep, making it a preferred sleep location, according to Perfect Fit, a cat food company.
  • Chest – Kittens spend a lot of time when they are young sleeping on or near other kittens, leading cat behavior experts to theorize that the sounds of regular breathing and a beating heart nearby may comfort cats and help them sleep more easily.
  • Lap – Your lap, with its accessibility, levelness, and warmth, is a natural landing spot for your affection-seeking cat. Laps are the perfect spot for pet parents to stroke their cats and give them loving attention.

Should you let your cat sleep with you?

Whether you allow your cat to sleep on the bed with you is a matter of personal preference, but for most people, it is perfectly safe and healthy for you and the cat.

Many pet parents see benefits to sleeping with their cats, including lower stress and anxiety and stronger bonding with their feline. Some say it also provides a nighttime structure that helps their cats calm down.

If your cat chooses to hop up on the bed, they want to be close to you. They may cuddle right next to you or some distance away to avoid any movement or restlessness from you disturbing them.

There are a few exceptions where you might not want your cat sleeping with you:

  • You or your partner have respiratory issues or allergies to your cat that could be worsened by being in close proximity.
  • Your cat has fleas or parasites that could spread. If your cat spends time outdoors, they could contract a parasite called Toxoplasma gondii. This parasite is most commonly contracted by humans when they cuddle up with their cats during bedtime and can cause an infection.
  • You are a light sleeper and may be disturbed by your cat’s movement.
  • Some cats may track kitty litter into the bed, which raises hygiene concerns.
  • Cats should generally not sleep with young children, as they could startle the cat and get scratched.

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By Cuteness Team

Cuteness is the place for pet people. Whether you’re looking for adoption guides, in-fur-mation on your pet’s weird habits or showcases of pure pet cuteness, we’ve paw-sitively got it all. At Cuteness, we’re committed to working only with experts we’d trust with our own pets. We’ve done the legwork for you so you can focus your energy on loving and caring for your furry friends. We’re passionate about all things pet and fostering a community of pet lovers. Caring for pets isn’t always a walk in the park – but we’ve got you covered! Cuteness and Healthy Paws Pet Insurance had a content sharing agreement until 2021.

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