So you just woke up, and there happens to be a ball of fluff comfortably lying down on you. What fluff, you say? Well, it’s none other than your adorable cat who has decided to sleep on your chest for the time-being, like you’re their favorite pillow.
If you’re a cat owner, this might be a familiar scenario. And isn’t it such an aww-moment whenever it happens? Meanwhile, this leads you to a curious question — "Why does my cat sleep on me?"
Yes, you might have bought your cat a comfy bed. While your cat does sleep on it, she sometimes prefers to take naps on shelves, boxes, tables, or most especially...on you. So, why do cats sleep on you?
Apart from the reason that they love you, this behavior may also be linked to a cat’s natural instinct of taking care of their kin as well as how they interact with each other when they’re out in the wild.
It may also provide added context to learn about a cat’s sleeping patterns, and how it’s different from ours. While humans usually sleep continuously during the night, cats take several naps in a day to regain their energies. These catnaps however are often in a light sleep mode.
The reason for this is because cats are natural-born hunters who are always ready to fight or defend themselves from predators. In relation to this, the behavior of lying down on you is a way for them to feel more secure, especially when they’re taking a nap.
5 Reasons Why Cats Sleep On Their Owners
So, what does it mean when your cat sleeps on you?
They want to bond with you
Cat owners can attest to the fact that cats really are sweet creatures. Don’t be fooled by their reputation of being standoffish. Yes, cats want to bond with their owners in their own unique way.
One of their ways of showing their affection is to sleep with you. It’s your cat’s way to show how much they want to be near you. It also brings your cat a sense of comfort to hear the sound of your breathing or your beating heart.
This can be likened to a cat’s behavior in the wild where they show much affection to their kin. They bond by grooming and rubbing each other as well as by pillowing together when they sleep.
They like the warmth
Do you notice that your cat likes sunbathing by the window where the sunlight passes through during the day? This is because cats love warmth as it helps them relax and have restful naps.
But why do cats lay on you specifically? Because your body is warmer than most spots in the room, they like it when they’re resting on you. Warmth also induces better quality of sleep in cats and so keeping themselves warm while sleeping on you is good for their health.
They want to feel secure
Because cats are natural hunters in the wild, they look for secure places when they can rest and recharge in between hunting. In the domestic setting, you are that safe haven for them. Cats are vulnerable when sleeping, so this behavior suggests that they trust you and feel secure when you’re there.
This behavior can also be traced back to kittenhood when litters would pillow on each other and on their mothers as they sleep. They are raised this way during their peak development weeks as they learn about social skills and other skills that they bring with them into adulthood.
They’re marking their territory
Cats are territorial in nature. In the home setting, they release pheromones produced by their scent glands to claim their territory. So when they sleep on top of you, they are indeed marking their scent on you. This is actually a compliment.
It’s a way for them to say that you’re a part of their tribe, similar to how cats in the wild mark cats of the same group. The act of your cat rubbing their heads or bodies on you is also a part of this process of marking their scent.
It may be due to hormones
In a test by neuroscientist Paul Zak, he studied 10 cats and examined their saliva samples while they were playing with their owners. The results show that there was an increase in the cats’ oxytocin levels by up to 12%.
A study by Behavioral Processes even shows that cats may actually like interacting with their owners more than their love for food. In relation to this, the act of your cat sleeping on you may also be a sign that they produce happy hormones when they bond with you.
Why Cats Sleep on Certain Parts of Your Body
You may be wondering — Why does my cat lay on me? — particularly on my chest, lap, or head? Below are some of the reasons why.
Why does my cat lay on my chest?
Because kittens may have spent a large part of their formative years pillowing with other kittens and their mothers, veterinarians believe that the sound and rhythm of your heartbeat can be associated with the bonds they have made with their mothers and siblings. Because they now see you as their family, it’s highly likely that sleeping on your chest helps keep them calm and at ease.
Why does my cat sleep on my legs?
Cat owners may probably have a good idea why their cat jumps towards their lap to sleep. Their body language says it all — they are motioning for you to pet and bond with them. Laps not only give them warmth, but it’s also a perfect spot for unlimited petting.
Why does my cat sleep on my head?
Apart from the fact that your head is warm, it is also the most stationary part of your body whenever you sleep. Since there’s a possibility for you to twist and turn during the duration of your sleep, your cat might be cautious so as not to be hit by your arms or legs.
Another possible reason is that they have a thing for eye contact. They often communicate with their eyes, so laying on your head may give them the advantage of being near your eyes.
Lastly, they may be drawn to your head because of the smell of your hair. Cats have a heightened sense of smell, and if they like the scent of your hair, they probably want to stay near it.