Why Do Cats Sit or Sleep On You?
Cats are Kings and Queens of their own little universes, no question about that. Any life that has a cat in it never has a dull moment and bedtimes are no different, right? Most cat owners are familiar with the sensation of waking up in the middle of the night to find a furbaby purchased on top of their chest and purring away.
Perhaps even sleeping directly on your face. As a cat, they sleep where they want and rarely allow anyone to tell them no. But why do cats feel the need to sleep on top of their owners?
You’re Totally Warm!
Even though you may feel normal and not notice a difference, your body temperature is warmer than your surroundings and even warmer to the cat. Cats are extremely sensitive to cold, especially around their face and whiskers. Their natural instinct is to search out a warm place, but when the sun goes down the air naturally gets colder and it’s hard for them to find the warmth they need. This is why you should consider getting a heated cat bed!
You are the next best thing to the sun for your kitten when they need to sleep at night. In fact, pay closer attention to your fur-friend during the day and you will notice they often rest in the warmest place in the room. They seem to shift and wonder every hour or so as they follow the rays of the sun through the house, looking for the warmest spot.
They may even choose to slumber next to heaters in the winter. When they don’t have access to those warmth resources your body is the next best option.
Instincts Seek Comfort
Cats may think they are royalty, but deep down they are very picky children. From the moment they are born, their instincts are to seek familiar comforts. One of those comforts includes sleeping next to their mothers and listening to the familiar sounds of the hearts beating.
When taken from that comfort, they will seek out something that looks and sounds similar to what they have learned from birth. When they sit or sleep on you, they recognize this same comfort that they learned by instinct as a kitten and choose to return to it whenever they need or want to. They instinctively know if they are sleeping next to or on top of you they won’t be hurt and you will make sure they are safe no matter what happens. Because of this, they may also feel a need to make sure you are safe and secure as well to return the favor.
You’re Incredibly Familiar
According to this article in Nature, cats really bond with their owners. Aside from recognizing you as their parent, they become accustomed to your scent. They associate your smell with safety, protection, and companionship. So when they are stressed out or just want to feel safe, they can seek out your scent in the room.
They may choose to lay on a piece of clothing even when you aren’t wearing it because your scent lingers on the item and they feel as safe as if you were there in person. It makes sense that when you are there, they’d chose to lay on or beside you to be closer to the strongest scent they are familiar with. This is especially helpful if you are gone for long periods to help reinforce that secure and familiar feeling, especially with young kittens new to the home. Because of this, cats choose to sleep in a place that smells as familiar as you feel.
You’re Clothes Are Comfortable
Do you spend your nights cuddled up in furry pajamas or with smooth, cotton blankets? As much as you love the feel of a warm blanket against your skin, so do cats. Animals, in general, are drawn to things that mimic their own abilities.
Cats are used to curling up next to plush, furry fabrics of animal fur, this is no different when it comes to those stretchy, comfortable blue jeans you love or that fuzzy homemade blanket laying across the back of your couch. Essentially, if your cat finds it comfortable and easy to relax on, they will at some point claim it as theirs and there is nothing like a warm, fuzzy blanket to doze off too when it’s cold outside.
A good cat bed or cave should be warm and snugly, and that is why caves make a good choice.
Even Royalty Just Needs Love
Cats may be moody, but they also need attention and love. If they have been cooped up in a house all day with no form of interaction, then cuddling with you or roaming around your lap or chest may be one of the ways they find comfortable interaction.
It may also be a way they are trying to show you they need extra affection for the time you missed at work or running errands. On the same note, if they are an outdoor animal, they may be reconnecting with their familiar scents after they return home from a long day of whatever it is cats do.
Here’s a cute video on why kittens sleep on your chest:
Cats Claim Whatever They Want
When a cat chooses where to sit it’s hard to tare them away from it. Cats are naturally territorial just like most animals, but unlike most animals, cats can be very stubborn. And why When they have spent time rolling around and seeking out the perfect level of warmth and comfort to lay in, don’t they deserve it?
After all, how would you feel building the perfect bed and then having someone come and carry you away from it without your permission? That’s probably exactly how cats feel. Naturally, cats come from hunters who are groomed to both defend and attack with equal measure, so there should be no surprise when they lash out for removing them from their safe space.
Sometimes It’s Just Bonding
Much like they learn the sound of their mothers from birth, cats learn to bond with those who take care of it. Because of this, they choose to return to that bond and reinforce it when necessary. This is not only beneficial to you, but a necessity to them to reassure that they know where to find comfort and trust if there were ever anything to go wrong.
Bonds shared between humans and animals are unlike anything else on the planet, when a cat bonds with you, it sees you as a true friend. It shows that security by choosing to sleep nearby or on top of you.
It’s Just Basic Instinct
As this article from pet central says, “Cats love unconditionally….they just have their own way of showing it.” Cats have their own body language and often use sleep as a way to express love, trust, and ownership of their own or person. If a cat sleeps on top of you, consider it an honor that they trust you enough to do so.
If this becomes a problem for you, don’t refuse the cat the warmth and connection it seeks, but try to teach it a different way to receive that warmth if necessary. So remember that cats sometimes just love to sleep with their owners to show affection, sometimes it’s because they want to reinforce bonds and feel secure.
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