Cats need a lot of sleep and can even sleep up to 15 to 20 hours per day. Because cats don’t usually sleep for long periods, like humans, that’s a lot of naps and snoozes.
Most cats have their favorite places throughout the house to get some shut-eye. Often that place happens to be on top of you, whether you like it or not.
So, then why does my cat sleep on top me?
Cats choose to sleep on top of us because they feel a bond with their owner, and it offers them some form of comfort—for example, warmth and security. Cats will usually sleep on their owner or someone they know very well because it is a way for them to bond, to show love and trust, or to mark you with their scent and thereby designate you as their territory.
Sleeping with you makes them feel good
The most obvious reason is that it makes them feel good. Cats are our companions, and they enjoy spending time with us.
Research shows that playing with or petting your pet releases the “feel-good hormone”, oxytocin in your body. The same might be true the other way around. At least, this study referred to by Hill’s Petfood certainly suggests so.
So, your cat might want to sleep with you because she needs to spend some quality time with you.
For bonding and security
Allowing yourself to fall asleep when with someone else expresses trust in that person.
Your cat shows you that it trusts you because while asleep, it depends on you to watch out for her and keep her safe from possible predators and other threats.
Because of the warmth and sounds of your body
Cats like it warm, especially when they’re sleeping. For this reason, they will always try to find a warm and cozy spot to lay their head down.
Apart from that, the sounds from your heartbeat and your breathing may be soothing to your cat. Like the rocking from a crib helps babies fall asleep, your body sounds have that effect on your cat as well.
According to Dr. Satchu, cats like our calm respiratory patterns when we sleep. This is when we are at our most calm and unlikely to disturb our cat while asleep.
They trust and love you
Cats have several ways to show us that they care for us and love us. Sleeping in your vicinity and even ‘on’ you spells ‘I love you’ like nothing else.
From a cat’s perspective, they show that they trust you completely to keep them safe while they take their nap.
They are marking their territory
Cats are obsessive about marking their territory. Although cats are known to be fine with spending time with other cats that they know, they won’t easily allow strange cats into their living space.
That goes for the actual space they live in and things or beings that belong to them.
Your cat sleeping on top of you is also leaving its scent on you. In cat-language, this means, “this human belongs to me” and is a clear sign for other cats to stay away.
Cats sleep with you for comfort
As it turns out, our human bodies are quite comfortable for cats to sleep on.
They’re warm, generally soft, and they have good spots to snuggle into like our arms, laps, and shoulders.
Cats like the way you smell
Another lesser-known reason is that cats may actually like the way you smell. That is especially true if a cat prefers to lay on top of your head.
The smell of your hair is often something they like, and it’s also a very personal smell that they associate specifically with you.
As long as you don’t use strong perfumes or smelly shampoos, cats could snuggle up to you because of your scent.
Why do cats sleep on your face?
Cats wanting to lay on your face or near your head while you sleep a very common thing. The reason for it a combination of several things.
Cats don’t like to be disturbed when they are sleeping.
When they choose to sleep with you at night, laying near or on your head is relatively safe because you won’t move your head as much as your other body parts. When you do, there is less risk for them to be kicked or shoved off the bed.
Another reason is that our heads are warm, and cats love warm spaces to sleep on. Lastly, cats are drawn to the smell of our hair (they might lick your hair when sleeping on your head), and our respiratory rhythms soothe them.
Why do cats sleep on your chest?
Cats who prefer sleeping on our chest do this primarily because they like the sound of our breathing and our heartbeat.
Sleeping on top of us also ensures them that you’re not likely to get up and walk away. It’s a way to secure their nice and warm sleeping-buddy.
Many cats enjoy looking at their owners being asleep. Laying on top of your chest gives them a good opportunity to look at you while you sleep. It’s creepy, I know.
Why do cats sleep in our lap?
As with any place on our body, sleeping in our laps provides a warm and cozy place to take a nap. It’s comfortable for your cat to rest its back against your belly and get snuggled in.
Sleeping in your lap also provides safety because you’ll be on the lookout for dangers while they get some shut-eye.
Finally, laying in your lap is the ultimate opportunity for them to receive some extra petting.
Should you let your cat sleep with you?
Apart from the odd nap that your cat may take in your lap or when you’re napping on the couch, there is some debate over whether or not you should let your cat sleep on your bed at night.
If you search for this online, you will find people who advocate for both sides, and the truth of it is that it’s your choice entirely.
Sure, there are pros and cons to both choices, but neither of those reasons is particularly convincing in deciding to either allow it or not.
Although there might be compelling reasons for either one in your specific situation and your specific pet, you should decide based on what you and your cat prefers.
Pros of letting your cat sleep with you
- Bonding – we live busy lives, and when you work outside of your home, your cat may not see you during the day. Sleeping together is a bonding activity between you and your cat.
- Stress relief – Studies show that petting cats release oxytocin into your bloodstream, which is called the feel-good-hormone. It will help you sleep at night and wake up well-rested, possibly after some nice dreams.
- Cozy and warm – what’s better than to have a soft and warm bed-partner, especially if you happen to live alone, your cat might be the perfect sleeping mate.
- Alarm clock – while this may also be a disadvantage, your cat will gently wake you up in the morning when it’s feeding time, depending on how you look at it.
Cons of letting your cat sleep with you
- Hygiene concerns – Cats may have litter on their paws, which would transfer to your bed, and if your cat also goes outside, they might carry germs or disease with them.
- Stray hairs – There’s no denying that cats can shed a lot of hair, and a good portion of that may end up on your sheets. If you’re sensitive to cat hairs, letting them sleep with you might not be a good idea.
- May disturb your rest – Some cats can be quite active at night and may jump on and off your bed several times a night. If you’re a light sleeper, that’s something that could disturb your night’s rest.
- Discomfort – if you happen to have a face or chest sleeper, this might not be very comfortable, especially if your cat is on the heavy side.
It’s essential to note that you should not let your cat sleep with small kids, especially never with babies. There is a real risk of suffocation. On the other hand, a child’s sudden movements during their sleep might scare your cat, and it might latch out and hurt them.
If you prefer your cat not to sleep with you but in her own cat bed, look at this article to get some tips on convincing your cat to sleep in her own bed.