Waking up in the middle of the night with a 10 pound weight on your chest is never fun.
Unless that weight belongs to a cat.
Cats are notorious for sleeping on people, whether at nighttime or when you’re lounging around the house in the middle of the day. While some cat behavior can be, well, complex, the reason why your cat sleeps on you may actually be very simple! Which of the five reasons below do you think applies to you and your cat?
1. They feel safe.
When a cat sleeps on you, there is a good chance they do it because you make them feel safe. Cue the “Aww!” But in all seriousness, cats gravitate toward people who make them feel comfortable and calm, especially when it comes time to take a nap.
Cats are unique in the fact that they are both a natural predator and prey. This means that they always have to be alert and aware of what is going on around them. If your cat chooses to sleep on you, or even next to you, it could easily mean that they feel like you are going to protect them while they rest.
2. They are protective of you.
On that same note, cats can also choose to sleep on you because they want to take care of you! For many cats, their human is their closest companion and the one they want to protect at all costs, which means never leaving your side. After all, you’re the one who knows how to open those cans of wet food they love so much.
Be aware that, even though it is sweet, this behavior can become problematic if your cat is feeling the need to protect you from other pets—or humans—who are cohabitating in the household. If your cat is so aggressive that they won’t let anyone else near you or they begin to attack anyone on your behalf, take your cat to the vet to rule out any medical issues that may be going on and address whatever emotional challenges they may be having.
3. They want to be warm.
Let’s be honest. This is probably the real reason your cat wants to sleep on top of you. Cats love to absorb heat from external sources, and that includes you! Whether on your lap while sitting on the couch or on your chest while laying in bed, your cat may be curling up on you for some extra warmth!
This sweet gesture may seem like they are just using you, but take it as a compliment! Even if they do have ulterior motives, there’s nothing nicer than the bonding time that comes from your cat laying with you. Simply sitting with them can help make your cat happier and build trust between your kitty and you.
4. They have separation anxiety.
Another reason that many cats sleep on their humans is because they have separation anxiety. Separation anxiety in cats is a serious behavioral challenge that, if left untreated, can have complications for both you and your furbaby. Anxious cats can become destructive to both themselves and their environment when the stress of being away from their guardian becomes too much.
Many cats who have separation anxiety will always be sleeping on you—or at least sitting very closely nearby. They’re worried about you leaving, so they’ll do everything in their power to keep you near. This excessive stress can be treated with the help of a cat behaviorist or vet.
5. They love you.
Yes, that’s right, your cat may be sleeping on you simply because they love you! Just as we love them, cats can reciprocate their appreciation and affection for the people who take care of them.
There’s nothing sweeter than climbing into bed after a long day and having a purring cat jump up to lay with you. My cat, Belle, does this every night! Our kittens want to spend this uninterrupted time with us, similar to how we want to spend it with them. Appreciate those purrs and snuggles—they really do mean that your cat loves you!
Not every cat will choose to sleep on their guardian, and that’s okay! Give your cat the time and space to make their own choice, and respect whatever they decide.
And don’t forget to obey the golden rule of cat guardianship—never get up when a cat is sitting with you, no matter how badly you need to go to the bathroom.
I know a lot about cats, but I’m not a veterinarian. Please don’t take any of the statements I give as medical advice and do always consult your trusted vet, especially if your cat is experiencing behavioral challenges.