why do cats like to sleep on your legs

Why Cats Sleep Between Your Legs

Updated

Why does my cat like to sleep between my legs every night?  

​​At some point during the night the cat ​​makes his way to his preferred sleeping position, between or on top of my legs.

This effectively means I can't move​ and begs the question, Can I move? or I can't move​ or I will move a little bit and see what happens? As we cat owners know, moving a little ​bit, ​just plain doesn't work.

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​7 Reasons Cats Sleep On Or Between Our Legs

1.

Warmth

Cats love heat and the hotter the spot, the more likely they are to be attracted to that area. The​ ​dip between your legs generates plenty of heat as there are major blood vessels that transport ​blood to the area. Plus the cat can make himself comfy.

2.

Safety

​Cats love sleeping with their owners, however as their chosen sleeping partner can weigh more than 13 times their own weight, there is ​the risk of getting squashed by you when you turn over. ​ ​However, proceed at your ​own risk as the decision to turn over​can be a minefield if the claws come out. Sleeping between or on your legs means ​kitty ​is less likely to get ​squished when you roll over during sleep.

Cat is sleeping between legs
3.

Ownership

It is important to remember that according to your cat, it is he that owns you and not the other way around. Sleeping between your legs may be a way for the cat to project this ownership over you and he may resist any movement from you once he has taken up position.

From the point of view of a cat, it is you that is being allowed to sleep next to them and you should feel honored that they have chosen to sleep between your legs.

why do cats like to sleep on your legs
​4.

Protection

A recent study into why cats like to sleep in cardboard boxes published in The Independent may also present the same reason for sleeping between your legs - it offers them a sense of security and protection.

With​ the legs for protection on each side of the body and maybe a blanket covering them, they are "boxed-in" and feel safe.

In the wild, feline species will always seek out a sleeping spot in a higher location that provides cover from as many angles as possible ​to guard against possible danger.

Why do cats sleep on our legs?
​5.

Scent

Ever wonder why your cat loves to rub against you all the time? ​

Cats have scent glands situated under their whiskers that release pheromones when they rub up against objects, essentially marking their territory. By rubbing up against you, your cat is basically marking you as their human. ​

​Cats will rub up against your legs before falling asleep to further claim you as their human as well as their sleeping spot.

cat sleeping on bed
Tabcat Pack

from: About Time, Inc
​6.

Sight

Nocturnal animals are awake when we are asleep.  Cats are not​ nocturnal although they are particularly active at dawn and dusk ​and do have a tendency towards being awake at night.

They are also able to see very well in the dark. Sleeping at night is an adaptive behavior but you may find that your cat is not sleeping the entire night.

He may have chosen the spot between your legs as a good vantage point from which he can keep an eye on things while his human sleeps.

cat sleeps on bed
​7.

Stress

Cats are very easily stressed and show this in many types of unwanted behaviors. The more stressed your cat is, the more territorial and therefore possessive he or she may become.

A stressed cat is more likely to require the safety and security that sleeping between your legs provides. Stress may result in the cat presenting with aggressive behavior (biting and scratching) should you try to move him from his chosen sleeping spot.


​​You may want to move your legs but there is a weight that is resisting all movement plus you don't want to be swiped by cross kitty.


While this behavior is quite common among cats there are some steps that you can take to alter the behavior if it becomes too irritating. Simply removing the cat from the area between your legs will not work.


No matter how many times you move ​him, ​he will simply return and may even get stressed and angry at the eviction.

An Alternative Sleeping Place For Kitty

Give kitty an option he can't refuse.

Try placing a  he​​​​at pad  (these ​pads are heated ​in the microwave) in an area that the cat can take possession of.  Add some of your bedding or a shirt which will have the same scents your cat is used to associating with you. 


​The area should ideally but not necessarily be elevated higher than your bed because it provides the same vantage point as sleeping between your legs. This area may still be on your bed as let's face it some kitties are going nowhere. It is best to introduce these alternatives slowly so as not to stress the cat unduly.


​The cat will now have irresistible warmth plus safety from having your scent in the bedding. Happy Cat!

​Making an effort to understand our cats behavior means that we are in a better place to provide what he needs and importantly to live in harmony.

cat sleeping on bed
Tabcat Pack

from: About Time, Inc

Answers For Your Cat Behavior Questions

book about cat behavior

This book is about the total care of the cat, physically and emotionally.

You will gain so much more from ​the interaction with your cat when you understand some ​reasons for their behavior.

More Cat Behavior Antics

​Is Your Cat Scratching Your Leather Couch?

​I think it must be built into their DNA. Read how we (eventually) coped ​with the issue.

​Why Is Kitty Pooping Outside His Litter Box?

​It happens! Kitty may not know it but we are on to that little problem.

​​Is Your Kitty Now A Senior?

​What signs do you need to look out for when your cat starts to age. Extra attention is needed at this stage of life.

Why do cats like to sleep between your legs

About the Author Rebecca Parker

Hello! I am Rebecca Parker, the content editor of this site. My kitty cat contracted diabetes at age 14. This means twice daily injections and to his dismay, no snacking in between meals. This gorgeous and very loved kitty is sadly now deceased, old age caught up with him.

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