As only a cat owner can truly appreciate, our feline friends can exhibit some odd behaviour. One minute they are squeezing into the tiniest of spaces and the next they are bouncing off the walls or off to steal a sock. While these beloved pets of ours can be quite the fearsome predator, they also have an adorable, soft side and feel very vulnerable when they are relaxing.
One common and adorable habit is to curl up on our chests and fall asleep. Here we’ll look into a few reasons and assumptions as to why cats love sitting and sleeping on their owners’ laps and chests.
Cats Love Warmth
A surprisingly few actually know that cats originate from the desert, and consequently they are built for warmer temperatures and tend to seek it out. Cats love warmth and can often be found soaking up the sunshine, lazing next to a fire or cozied up in a warm spot. It’s also one of the reasons that they love snug, small spaces to retreat and sleep in, like our cat caves - specially designed as a self-warming bed for cats to feel optimally snug and safe in.
Your Heartbeat Is Soothing To Them
Much like human babies, one of the reasons that kittens love to sleep near their mothers is because they can hear and feel her heartbeat and this soothes them. Even as adults, cats can still find your heartbeat reminiscent of the comfort and safety of lying close to their mother. Interestingly, this is also good for us as humans, as research has shown that a cat’s purr has a therapeutic and calming effect on our health. Petting a purring cat is a form of stress relief for many, including the cat!
Your Cat Loves You
As independent and sometimes aloof as your cat may seem to be at times, they still exhibit behaviors that can make you feel loved by them. When they lick your hand, rub their head against your leg or knead on your lap, they are letting you know that they trust you and love you. So, it's reasonable to draw the conclusion that when they seek to curl up on your chest, it’s another sign of trust and love - and the desire to strengthen the bond that you share.
Cats Seek Security
Cats should have their own bed that they can retreat to for comfort and safety anytime. That said, they will often have the run of the house and sleep wherever takes their fancy, so why your chest? Similarly to the way in which your heartbeat gives them a sense of comfort and safety, it is reasonable to presume that they also feel more secure resting close to you because you represent safety for them. Cats may seem strong and tough when they are out chasing birds or mice, but when they are resting, they feel particularly vulnerable and the protection of having you close by makes them feel safer to relax.
You Are Comfortable
When your cat feels warm and safe, they also feel comfortable - and there’s a good chance that they think that you represent a pretty comfy spot! Especially if you are wearing something soft, like comfortable pajamas or a nice, thick sweater. Also, familiarity can feel comforting in itself, so your scent may play a part, too.
Your Cat May Be Trying To Claim You
While it is lovely to think of all the adorable and lovable reasons that your cat may want to sleep on your chest, there is one that isn’t so smoochy - your cat may be trying to claim you! Though, many would think this as kind of adorable too! Cats are ultimately very territorial creatures and much like they do with toys, couches, clothes, etc., your cat may be covering you with their scent by lying on you, which, in a way, is your cat claiming you as their own.
Things To Consider
A heavy cat laying on your chest may not always be ideal - and that’s understandable. Being in such close proximity to your cat’s dander (dead skin cells) and furr may not completely agree with you and could potentially cause allergies. Also, it isn’t often the most comfortable position for you, causing your breathing to be more shallow than it otherwise would be.
It’s also important to consider the risk of crushing your cat if you let them sleep in your bed with you. Unless they are at the foot of the bed, there is a significant risk that during the night, you or your partner could turn in your sleep and squash your cat. It’s highly unlikely that you would kill them (unless they were either very young or very old), but they may be injured.
These are some of the reasons why it is so important to provide your kitty with their own bed. Somewhere, comfy, cosy, warm and safe that is filled with their own scent for maximum comfort.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I get my cat to fall asleep myself?
If you want to influence your cat to fall asleep yourself, it’s best to prepare for it. Alert, playful or hungry cats won’t settle no matter how much to entice them. So, have some play time first and give them a big feed before you settle in for a nice, smoochy petting session with them for your best bet at getting them to nod off. Also, avoid any sudden, loud noises or movements, as once they are startled, you may not get them calm again before they are off wandering.
Why does my cat sleep with me and not my husband?
There are several reasons why this may be the case. Firstly, they may feel a closer bond to you in general - perhaps you are more affectionate with them, or have had them longer. Otherwise it is quite possible that they are choosing the person who moves around the least in their sleep, so as not to disrupt their own!
How many hours does a cat sleep?
Cats typically require an average of 15 hours’ sleep per 24 hour period - sometimes snoozing for up to 20 hours a day! The only animals that sleep more than cats are possums and bats. Cats have a predator physiology and require a lot of energy conservation before hunting behavior at night.
Why does my cat sleep on me when I’m sick?
As lovely as it is to think that it’s because they care, the most likely reason is that they are taking advantage of the opportunity for extra warm, day-time coziness. When we are sick we are often warmer than usual which is heaven for our cats to snuggle up to. That said, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that they are sensing that you are unwell and staying close to provide comfort and protection.