Why Do Cats Sleep On You?

Cats sleep on you
© Lapina/Shutterstock.com

Written by Dayva Segal

Updated: November 14, 2022

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Every night, around midnight, my cat meows until I join her in the bed (even though she also sleeps all day). Then, she will dutifully crawl on top of me and happily curl up on my stomach, purring the whole time. We both love this little ritual, but it did get me thinking…why do cats always sleep on you? I’ve even heard of cats that try to sleep on your head!

Why Cats Sleep on You or With You

Cats sleep for 15-18 hours per day, and sometimes more. So, they get plenty of sleep time without you, even if they are your faithful sleeping companion during the night.

So, what’s the deal? There are actually lots of reasons your cat might want to sleep with you. First and foremost, they may do it because they like you. Also, sleep is a vulnerable time, so your cat is showing that he trusts you and feels content and safe with you.

While cats are sometimes known for being aloof and fickle friends, they generally have a great appreciation for the people who care for them. Curling up with you is their way of showing how much they love you!

It’s Warm

Cat body temperatures are higher than humans. They generally clock in at 102 degrees Fahrenheit. They are also less sensitive to heat. For example, humans feel pain if they touch something that is around 112 degrees Fahrenheit, but cats don’t feel that until it is 126 degrees Fahrenheit.

Modern house cats are descended from African wildcats that lived in the desert some 12,000 or more years ago. Their distant ancestors lived in a very warm environment. Some experts believe this is why they love sunbeams, heaters, heated blankets, and anything that puts off heat, including your body.

You Give Them Food

Is your cat food motivated? If you’re the one who feeds your cat, it may sleep near you so they don’t miss a meal. Some cats definitely let you know when it is feeding time each morning!

They’re Marking Their Territory

When your cat sleeps with you, they leave their scent all over you and your bed. Some cats like to stay close to you at night to make sure any other cats who come along know that you are their person and this is their bed.

They Feel Safest With You

Cats rarely go into a deep sleep. They take several “cat naps” throughout the day. They easily wake to sounds and other stimuli. This is because they are natural hunters and have instincts that helped them to survive in the wild. So, they like to choose a spot where they feel safe.

When they sleep, they may make sure to sleep somewhere where they can quickly get away, or where danger is least likely. If your cat sleeps with you, that means they think you are a safe person to be around.

Persian sleeping on countertop

Persian cats are a high-maintenance cat breed.


They may also feel comforted by your scents and sounds since they are used to being around you. Much like a cat’s purr is comforting to you, hearing the snores or breaths of their favorite person may be comforting to a cat while they sleep.

Why Do Cats Love to Sleep on Your Head?

Some cats insist on sleeping right on your head. Why do they love to do this?

First, your head releases a lot of heat throughout the night. So, your cat may think it is the warmest spot to settle in for the night. Your head may also be the most stationary part of your body while you are sleeping. So, your cat might have learned too many lessons by sleeping next to your feet and thinks your head is a safer option. Finally, your cat may love the scent of your shampoo or conditioner. In general, they love the scents of the people who take care of them!

Why Do Cats Sleep on Your Chest?

Some cats prefer to sleep on your chest instead of your head. Some experts believe this may be because they are comforted by the rhythms of your body. They may enjoy the feeling of your heartbeat through your chest, and may even find it calming and relaxing.

Why Do Cats Sleep Facing Away From You?

Many people think their cats are giving them the cold shoulder when they sleep with their rear towards your face. However, cat owners should see this as a sign of great respect. In the wild, cats are predators, but they are also potential prey for larger animals. When they sleep facing away from you, they are showing that they trust you. They are also showing that they plan to keep an eye on the surrounding environment for both of you.

The Benefits of Letting Your Cat Sleep With You

Did you know that sleeping with your cat also has benefits for you? Petting your cat can release the hormone oxytocin. This is known as the “love hormone.” When your body releases it, you feel good. Petting your animal can also lower your cortisol levels. Cortisol is a stress hormone, so lowering it can reduce anxiety and blood pressure.

Sleeping with your cat is also the prime opportunity for bonding with your furry friend. If you’re feeling a little lonely, sleeping with a cat can give you a sense of comfort. Plus, it helps to keep things cozy and warm.


Kittens sleeping


Are There Any Downsides to Sleeping With Your Cat?

The only people who should never sleep with a cat in the bed with them are children under the age of 5 years. For young kids, there is a small suffocation risk.

Otherwise, it’s your choice whether you want to sleep with your cat. There are a few potential disadvantages.

  • They may track kitty litter into the bed.
  • They may wake you up if they move around at night.
  • If they sleep on your chest or head it can get uncomfortable.
  • Some cats develop annoying nighttime behaviors like toe-biting, mewing, or “making biscuits” (kneading motion on your body).

If your cat has undesirable nighttime behaviors, there are some things you can try to fix the problem.

  • If your cat wakes you up in the middle of the night, don’t reward them. Just ignore them. If you pet them or give them cat food, they will continue to wake you up expecting their “reward.”
  • Play with your cat right before bed and then give them a few cat treats or a snack to tire them out and make them feel satisfied so they’ll be more likely to sleep the whole night.
  • Use an automatic feeder or leave some food out for your cat at night so they will leave you alone if they wake you up because they are hungry.
  • Leave your bedroom door open so your cat can escape at night without bothering you.
  • Get a heated cat bed. Your cat might prefer that if it is warmer than your own bed.
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If all else fails, you may need to kick your cat out of your bedroom. If they meow all night long, talk to your vet about anxiety medication or supplements that can help them to calm down.

If your cat always sleeps with you, there’s really nothing to worry about. However, if your cat usually prefers to sleep on their own, and then suddenly starts sleeping with you, keep your eye on them. The same is true if your cat always sleeps with you and then suddenly starts to sleep somewhere else.

Many animals go into hiding when they are sick. Sometimes a change in behavior can indicate that something is wrong, so if you notice a change in their sleeping spot, look out for other behavioral changes.

The Verdict on Sleeping With Your Cat

Many cat owners love sleeping with their pets. It’s a great way to bond with your furry BFF and increase the love between you two. Plus, when you wake up, it’s convenient to reach over and pet your cat. It’s a great way to start your day!

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About the Author

Dayva is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering astrology, animals, and geography. She has over 12 years of experience as a writer, and graduated from Hofstra University in 2007 with a Bachelor of Science in Music and a Minor in French. She has also completed course work in Core Strengths Coaching, Hypnotherapy, and Technical Communication. Dayva lives in the SF Bay Area with her cute but very shy cat, Tula.

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