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This Is Why Your Cat Sleeps on Top of You
CatsBehavior

This Is Why Your Cat Sleeps on Top of You

Critter Culture Staff
Updated May 9, 2022

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Cats are commendable spooning partners. They're fabulously fluffy and much better than a fading water bottle or an energy-consuming electric blanket. So, that explains why you might want your cat in your bed. But why is your cat so amenable to the idea? Cats like human co-sleeping arrangements for various reasons.

1

They're territorial

cat and owner lying in the sofa elenaleonova / Getty Images

Cats don't just mark their territory by peeing on objects. They have scent glands on their cheeks, feet, and tail and can impart their scent by rubbing. When your cat sleeps on you or next to you, it's declaring that you and your bed are part of its worldly belongings, and it's the ultimate sign of trust.

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2

They like your body heat

Close-Up Of Cat Sleeping On Man Lap Anton Tyagniy / EyeEm / Getty Images

Cats have a slightly higher temperature than humans, and maintaining it involves finding cozy nooks and toasty crannies like cramped boxes. In place of a sun-kissed spot, your sleepy body works just fine as a cat heater. And your snuggly blankie and duvet are the cherry on top of the cake.

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3

They feel safer

Cute smiling happy cat lying on the man's shoulder taniche / Getty Images

Cats are hardwired to be light sleepers. They have frequent cat naps, but they never sink so deep into a slumber that a loud sound or interesting smell can't rouse them. This is rooted in solid hunting instincts. But it also stems from a self-protective instinct in case larger predators are around. Your cat sees you as an extra layer of protection against potential threats, and that's why it heads straight for your bed when you do.

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4

They want to bond

Woman at home resting with cat and cup of coffee martin-dm / Getty Images

Some may scoff at the notion, but it's true! Cats are social and affectionate in their own way. If they have feline friends in a household, these cats may use each other as pillows. But solo cats will happily opt for you as a way to spend more time with a family member and feel a sense of community.

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5

They're reliving their childhood

Sleeping young man with fluffy red cat

Kittens spend the first few weeks of their lives nesting with their mom and siblings. The litter is crowded, but it's oh so comfy. The first 12 weeks of a kitten's life are formative, so it's no wonder the socialization they learn and habits they pick up during this period stick around. Cats might not have their moms and seven other kittens to cuddle, but they have you, and you're pretty big in comparison.

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6

Hormones could be at play

Young woman with cute cat sleeping in bed

Cats are domesticated animals and have been for close to ten thousand years. That's a long time, and dogs have had an even longer symbiotic relationship with people. Studies show that cats' canine counterparts release the love hormone oxytocin when around their human family members. Sleeping around humans makes a dog feel good. More research is needed, but it's plausible that cats and dogs are similar in this way.

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7

Why is my cat on my head?

cat sleeps on top of owner's face ktaylorg / Getty Images

Your cat chooses to sleep on your head because it stays more still than your limbs which move about during sleep cycles. Kitty doesn't want to be disturbed, so it proactively places itself on your face, the most stable and reliable perch on your body. Your head also attracts your cat by smelling familiar and pleasant.

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8

Why is my cat on my chest?

cat sleeping over a kid at night in bed Os Tartarouchos / Getty Images

Cats may like the sound of your breathing or the way your heart calms to a soothing beat when you're gallivanting in dreamland. If your cat sleeps on your chest with its behind facing you, a) it's a sign of faith in you, and b) it might indicate a protectiveness towards you.

A spot next to your chest may be ideal for the occasional sleepy stroke of your hand. After all, cats can't resist a good pet.

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9

The benefits of co-sleeping

woman in bed with her cat

Some cat and dog owners refuse to banish their pets from their beds, even when the cons seemingly outweigh the pros. Why are feline parents so adamant about co-sleeping? When people live alone, cats are the best substitute for the tactile comfort humans seek. These nocturnal hugs with pets lower stress levels and are perfect for winter or summer with the AC on. Cats end up in marital beds, too, which can sometimes be a source of conflict.

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10

The pitfalls of co-sleeping

Close up portrait of a beautiful sleeping baby and kitten petrenkod / Getty Images

Aside from coming between couples, cats can be heavy, and this might be uncomfortable for you and dangerous for an infant or toddler in your bed. A cat that's disturbed during sleep may react unpredictably. Kittens, in turn, can suffocate if they're in the same bed as you. There's also the fact that many cat lovers are allergic to their fur babies. Between the dander and the saliva, you may end up with constant congestion, watery eyes, and other annoying symptoms. Lastly, cats may be a little dirty by the end of the day, but this is a problem you can solve by wiping your cat's paws and rear end before it settles down for the night.

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