If you’re a cat parent, you know that a cat’s favorite thing to do is to sleep, sleep, and sleep some more. They’ll find the most absurd spots, curl up, and sleep. It could be on or under the table, in your wardrobe, on the windowsill, just about any place they see fit.
And sometimes, your cat will plop itself down on you. Having your cat cuddle with you might be one of the best feelings you experience as a cat parent. Read on to understand “why does my cat sleep on me”.
How Does Cat Sleep Differ from Human Sleep?
While we have responsibilities and obligations to attend to, cats don’t have to deal with any of that. You might have noticed that your cat is only awake for a few hours a day.
As they grow older, cats tend to sleep a lot more so they can conserve energy.
Cats do have a similar Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep and non-REM sleep as humans. What differs in the sleep behaviors of cats and humans is the circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is a 24-hour cycle that determines when you’ll sleep and when you’ll stay awake. Humans are up and about during the day and sleep at night.
Cats, however, are crepuscular. This means that their circadian rhythms instruct them to stay awake during dawn and dusk and sleep during the day and night.
This is why you’ll find your cat up during odd hours, being active when it’s generally your sleeping time. When they do find you available, they may snuggle into your arms or simply lay on you.
5 Reasons Why Your Cat Sleeps on You
Cats are as unpredictable as they can get. And they are undeniably mysterious creatures. You might be amused by how your feline friend has a personality that you don’t exactly understand.
But if you’ve been asking yourself, “why does my cat sleep on me?” there are quite a few theories floating around.
#1. They’re Just Seeking Warmth
Cats love places that are comfortably warm. Their normal body temperature ranges between 99.5℉ and 102.5℉. While our thermoneutral zone is around 64 to 72 ℉, for cats, it’s 86-100 ℉.
Your body warmth attracts them to sleep on you, especially if you live in a colder climate. Your cat may even be drawn to you if you have a fever.
And if they don’t have access to you, you’d probably find them curled up in the laundry basket or sleeping right next to the radiator.
#2. Marking Their Territory
You should be flattered.
If your cat decides to sleep on you, it means they’re marking you as their territory. This normalizes the notion that your space is theirs as well, and your body is also an appropriate place for them to perch on.
Their view of the world is their home, their range, and the foreign world outside. Anything inside their home is fair game and they have access to it.
They mark you with their distinct scent, just as they mark about everything else in their home territory, so no other feline or predator would find their way in.
Simply put, you belong to them just as much as they belong to you. Isn’t that utterly adorable? And not to mention, peak cat behavior?
#3. They Want to Feel Secure
Cats are predatory creatures, despite how domesticated they may seem.
Given that you’ve established a routine of caring for them every day, they will trust you enough to get some shut-eye and sleep on you.
This interaction allows them to sleep while knowing that someone is available to protect them in case of danger.
This feeling of security begins when they’re kittens. Piling up with the rest of the litter next to the mother is their definition of security, and they’re doing it with you after they’ve been separated.
#4. Helps Form a Bond
The infamous reputation that cats have for being cold and unfriendly is a bit of a stretch. Cat parents will disagree. Cats are known to get incredibly loving once they trust you.
Dr. Laura M. Holland, from the Circle of Life Veterinary clinic in New Britain, Pennsylvania says, “If you let your cat sleep with you, it’s a bond. We’re part of their colony now”.
#5. It May Be Hormonal
A recent study revealed that dogs experience increased oxytocin levels while positively interacting with their pet parents.
Although there is speculation that this may extend to felines as well, there’s no evidence confirming it.
Why Does Your Cat Love Sleeping on Specific Parts of You?
If you’ve spent enough time around cats, chances are you’ve noticed how they prefer snuggling up to specific parts of your body.
Some places in your body are a lot warmer than the rest.
This might be one of their favorite parts of you to snuggle into, because they find comfort in hearing the sound of your beating heart.
BRB, cannot stop aww-ing.
Our thighs are soft and comfortable.
Not to mention, the warmth radiating from the core of our bodies and the clothes we wear makes our laps the perfect place for a cuddle session. It is the ultimate sign of trust.
Make sure you never force your cat to sit on your lap though; they should have the freedom to move away when they feel like it. This will help improve their level of trust.
According to PetMD, cats love sleeping on your head because your body heat escapes from your head.
Or, you may have hair that smells great.
Or, you’re a restless sleeper who tends to move your limbs a lot so your head might be a reliable place to snuggle next to.
Why Does Your Cat Sleep Facing Away from You?
Thankfully, there is a rather wholesome reason for cats to sleep with their backs toward you.
Cats want to remain alert of any predator that may be dangerous to both of you. Sleeping with their backs towards you allows them to be alert and shows that they trust you enough to get some sleep.
Is It a Good Idea to Allow Your Cat to Sleep with You Every day?
That’s a personal choice.
If your cat wants to sleep on top of you every day, there is little you can do to change that except constantly get up in the middle of the night to move him? Might as well accept the snuggles.
To help you decide, here are some pros and cons of letting your cat sleep on you.
1. Relieves Stress
Having your fur friend right by you when you sleep is the coziest way of sleeping soundly. Both of your heart rates get reduced, and there is an increase in your oxytocin levels. The sense of security and affection that comes with snuggling up to your cat is amazing.
2. Feeling Closer
If you’ve moved houses, or are going through some significant change that has impacted your cat, let them sleep next to you.
Or, if you suffer from nightmares or other mental health conditions, the unconditional love of your cat cuddling with you might help a lot. This would help form deep bonds with each other.
Cats need all the comfort they can get during distress. And so do you.
As mentioned earlier, cats are vulnerable when they sleep.
Sleeping on top of their human relaxes them considerably and will help them feel very secure.
1. They’re Erratic Sleepers
Cats only sleep for short periods of time at once. They move around a lot and may nap at different places in a single night.
If you’re a light sleeper, this will disrupt your sleep schedule and make you cranky in the morning.
2. Exposure To Unhygienic Conditions
If your cat spends time outdoors, letting them sleep on top of you could be risky. They may be carrying harmful bacteria or other disease-causing agents.
Even if your cat doesn’t really go outside, they might carry their litter to your bed from their litter box.
3. Asthma and Allergies
If you cannot stand fine hair, having your cat on your bed can become an immediate health issue. It can lead to uncontrollable sneezing, allergies, and other skin problems. If you have asthma, cuddling with your cats is off the table.
A Few Parting Words
It’s an unspoken rule — never move when a cat has perched itself on top of you or fallen asleep on you.
As long as you’re comfortable with having them close to you whenever they want, letting your cat sleep on you is a loving, rewarding experience.
Now you never have to think “why does my cat sleep on me?” again.