Home Cats My Cat Sleeps on Me – What’s Up With That?

My Cat Sleeps on Me – What’s Up With That?

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A cat sleeping on a woman

We share almost everything with our kitties. Meals, selfies, bouts of play and affection. We give them free range of our hearts and homes. Since cats are predisposed to sleeping upwards of 16 hours a day, a lot of their time is spent all snuggled up! And, cats take all sorts of liberties when claiming prime napping locations: windowsills, computer keyboards, the comfy chair and that fresh pile of laundry. For many cat parents, they are their cat’s favorite bed! My cat sleeps on me and yours probably does, too. So why are they doing it?

Why do our cats love to sleep on us?

An older cat sleeping or lying down.

Why do cats love sleeping ON you? Photography © Ulianna / Thinkstock.

The first thing that comes to mind when thinking “My cat sleeps on me” is “Why?” Whole schools of thought and science are currently touting the importance of sleep in humans. Our bedrooms have become isolation chambers of solemn slumber. We’re taking sleepy time supplements, turning to blackout drapes and eschewing digital devices at bedtime to ensure sleep. Guess who didn’t get the memo?

Allowing cats access to our bedrooms should be a personal choice. However, closing my bedroom door when it’s time to go to sleep, sounds an alarm that has my cat making a beeline for it. He’ll meow loudly, put his paws underneath it, scratch at the crack and when all else fails, throw his body against it. Once inside, he makes his move to get a strategic spot on me!

Your cat sleeps on your because you’re warm

There are a few reasons at play when wondering “Hmm, my cats sleeps on me.” A cat’s normal body temperature is 102.5 degrees, and maintaining it can take work. Sunny spots during the day, hunkering down in cupboards and linen closets, and squeezing into boxes, are just a few of the places kitties like to rest.

Community cats (a.k.a. feral) are also known for sleeping in car engines — warmth trumps soft for many kitties. Their heat-seeking missile approach to nap time includes you! They often choose to share your pillow because that’s one of the warmest areas (your head is releasing steady heat throughout the night).

Your cat sleeps on you because she wants to bond with you

“For some kitties, I think they really enjoy sleeping with their humans, both for warmth/comfort and because it’s a social behavior,” says Dr. Mikel Delgado, Ph.D., and Certified Cat Behavior Consultant at Feline Minds. “You’ll see cats sleep with other kitties, doing what we call ‘pillowing’ which is using the other cat as a pillow. They’ll do the same thing to us sometimes! Especially for cats who need a lot of attention, they might really love to be laying right on top of their human. They can’t get close enough.”

Many cats love cuddles and finding you in a prone position gives them ample opportunities to snuggle and bond with one of their favorite family members. The cat and human bond has a tactile component as reported in an article from Smithsonian.com – this would naturally include your cat sleeping on you.

What about a cat who sleeps on you and won’t move?

Maybe you got here because you’re thinking, “My cat sleeps on me — and won’t move.” If your cat has gotten all cozy on his favorite mattress (you!), it could be hard for you to get up. Gently moving him to the side (I like to do the comforter conveyor belt) can get him off of you but still near you when you have to get out of bed.

My cats are also accustomed to the two-handed crane maneuver – just place your hand under his tummy, one hand under the tush and straight up and over. Usually they don’t even re-position themselves when I place them gently next to me.

Why wouldn’t your cat sleep on you?

So, with all these good reasons behind “My cat sleeps on me” — why wouldn’t your cat sleep with you? “Some kitties are not so interested in sharing a bed with us,” says Dr. Delgado. “That might be because their human moves around too much in their sleep, or there might be something about the bed that is not so inviting or safe for the cat —  this can be due to other animals, the bedding or even the size of the bed.”

If your cat was sleeping with you and suddenly stops — look around at anything that might be different. A rearranged room, a new hamper or even a change in laundry detergent can cause a kitty to avoid getting into bed with you.

How to encourage your cat to sleep with you / on you

What if instead of “My cat sleeps on me” you’re saying “I want my cat to sleep on me and he doesn’t”? Well, Dr. Delgado has some advice. “If you’d like to encourage your cat to share the bed with you, try placing a heated bed that is only on at night at the foot of your bed. And if you’d rather your cat sleep elsewhere, that heated bed can be placed in a different location to encourage your cat to sleep there. Kitties are very attracted to warmth when they sleep!”

As a proud pet parent, saying “My cat sleeps on me,” is a sure sign of the human-cat relationship going great — it could be for warmth or it could be for affection, but it’s really going well!

Thumbnail: Photography ©IvanJekic | E+ / Getty Images.

About the author

Denise LeBeau is a writer, editor and photographer with almost 20 years of experience of creating content for animal-related issues, endeavors and events. She worked at Best Friends Animal Society for 12 years where she had two columns in the Best Friends Magazine, and held multiple content creation roles including web managing editor and outreach campaign editor. Denise has been an ongoing contributor to Catster since 2014, writing for the magazine and website. The self-professed poet laureate of the pet set is currently the manager of development for an animal welfare agency, where she works with a team to create content across media platforms. She lives in Hampton Bays with her two rescue Siamese mixes – Flipper and Slayer, and her LBD (little brown dog), Zephyrella.

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