Why Does My Cat Lay on Me?
Have you ever woken up to find your cat sleeping on your chest or curled up on top of your legs? Or maybe your kitty likes to nestle on your lap while you're watching TV. Whatever the case, you've probably asked at some point, "Why does my cat lay on me?" Cats generally snuggle up with you because they love you and you help them feel warm, safe, and secure.
Cats Lay on You for Love and Bonding
Cats can be very affectionate. Sometimes they'll figure out what time you come home from work and be waiting at the door for you, wanting pets and scritches. They may bump you with their heads, rub against your legs, or meow for a snuggle. Some cats follow their owners from room to room like a little duckling. And they may lay on you out of love too.
There's also a social bonding element at play. Some cats yearn for snuggles and cuddles, which is why you might see two cats sleeping together or lying on each other. That same bonding translates to humans too.
They Need Warmth
Cats' normal body temperatures can range from 99.5°F to 102.5°F, and maintaining that temperature takes work.1 Cats seek sunny places and even warm vents to stay extra toasty. So of course, your cat will be drawn to your body heat.
Cold cats are even more likely to seek your body for some extra warmth. That's why your cat might sleep on you more at night during the winter. If you're running a fever, you might also notice your cat seeking you out more because your body heat is a little higher.
Have you ever wondered, "Why does my cat lay on my face or sleep on my chest?" Well, warmth can play a big role in this too. The warmest parts of your body are your head, armpits, and chest.2 So those might be the parts your cat seeks out. Your cat might also just love the sound of your beating heart.
If your cat is trying to lay on you a little too much, you can tempt her away with a heated cat bed. The warmth from the bed mimics your own body heat, offering a comforting alternative.
You Help Them Feel Secure
Your cat may lay on you at night or sleep on your chest for security. A recent study found that cats are emotionally attached to their owners in ways that mirror how babies are attached to their parents.3 In the study, kittens felt distress when their owners were gone, and more security when their owners came back. With that kind of relationship, it's very likely that your cat sleeps on you because he sees you as a source of security and you make him feel safe. It's a huge compliment: your cat sees you as a parent he wants to snuggle up with.
They Want to Show that You Belong to Them
Cats rely a lot on their sense of smell. It's one of the main ways they communicate.4 Your cat may rub her face on you to deposit pheromones and oils, showing comfort and marking ownership. And because your smell is familiar, it's comforting and secure. By sleeping on you, she might be marking you as belonging to her.
If your cat doesn't like laps or lying on you, don't be discouraged or take it personally. Some cats simply aren't lap cats or snuggle cats, though they may change their preferences later on in life. In the meantime, you can help him feel warm and loved with a heated bed. Your cat will love being toasty and may stretch out on his back, belly in the air, in appreciation. That's another sign that he's very secure and trusts you.
- Pet MD. "Fever in Cats." PetMD.com, https://www.petmd.com/cat/conditions/immune/c_ct_fever.
- Reference. "What Is the Warmest Part of the Human Body?" Reference.com, https://www.reference.com/science/warmest-part-human-body-695ba4238470f352.
- Pearson, Jordan. "Your Cat Thinks of You Like a Parent, Study Suggests." Vice, 23 September 2019, https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/pa735v/your-cat-thinks-of-you-like-a-parent-study-suggests.
- Banks, T.J. "How Do Cats Communicate with Each Other? (It's Complicated.)" Petful, 13 May 2019, https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-do-cats-communicate-with-each-other/.