Why Does My Cat Sleep Between My Legs? A Helpful Guide To The Reasons Why

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Why does my cat sleep between my legs?

6 Reasons Cats Sleep On Or Between Our Legs

Why does my cat sleep between my legs?

Firstly, it’s a warm spot. Your body temperature is several degrees higher than your cats. The cat likes to snuggle up to something warm when he’s taking a nap.

Secondly, the large blood vessels in your legs emit a lot of body heat, which is extra attractive for cat snuggles on a cold day.

Finally, it’s comfortable. The soft fabric of your clothing or sheets provides a cozy resting place for him to curl up and sleep, your pet cat feels protected and safe when he’s close to you.

In our house, at some point during the night the cat makes his way to his preferred sleeping position, to sleep between my legs or on top of my legs.

That’s it, claiming ownership has happened. He is seeking warmth and he has found it!

This means I can’t move or perhaps I can try to move a little bit and see what happens.

As we cat owners know, moving a little bit, even waiting a little while, plain doesn’t work.

Some people are able to let the cat sleep there but for me, it disturbs my sleep.

1. Cats Seek Warmth When Sleeping – The Main Reason
2. Cats Like Security and Protection
3. Ownership – Do I Own The Cat or Does The Cat Own Me?
4. Scent – Marking You as Their Human
5. Sight – The Cat Is Keeping An Eye On You
6. Stress And Cats Sleeping Position
An Alternative Sleeping Place For Kitty
cat lying between the legs of a person
Yup, looking happy! Going nowhere!

1. Cats Seek Warmth When Sleeping

Cats love any form of heat and have an uncanny knack for seeking out warm places to hang out.

Our cat has the house heat mapped, I’m sure.

A small patch of sun is where the kitty will be found. We have come to know those places too and can find him cuddled up in one of them during the day.

As the seasons change, so do the warm places.

At night, when it is colder, he will naturally gravitate to a place of warmth.

Jumping onto the bed to sleep curled up between your legs makes perfect sense because he already knows it is a warm place for him.

Temperature Differences In Cats And Humans

When it comes to temperature, cats and humans are quite different.

The average temperature of a cat is around 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit.

The average temperature of a human is around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cats do have lower temperatures than humans.

cat asleep on a warm radiator
I think you are dozing there kitty! Sweet Kitty Dreams!

However, it’s important to keep in mind that there is some variation from one cat to another Some individual cats may have temperatures that are slightly higher or lower than the average.

The cat’s temperature can vary depending on the time of day and the activity level of the cat.

This temperature difference is due to a number of factors, including the fact that cats have a higher percentage of body fat and a higher metabolic rate.

Cats also have more heat-generating tissue, such as in their liver and muscles, and they are better able to conserve heat.

As a result, cats are able to maintain a constant body temperature, even in cold environments. So if you’re ever feeling chilly, just snuggle up to your feline friend—they’ll be happy to warm you up!

The dip between your legs generates plenty of heat, as there are major blood vessels that transport blood to the area. This is the most important and main reason why the cat likes to sleep between your legs.

Normal cat behavior is for the cat to hunker down and make himself comfortable. He doesn’t like to be unsettled from this spot. He would need to seek out another place of warmth.

cat on back lying between legs
I’m in Heaven. My eyes are closed, so go away anyone else!

2. Cats Like Security and protection

When your cat is sleeping on your legs or between your legs, his body position, is usually at a high vantage point.

He can check for any potential disturbances and be ready to dash off at a moment’s notice.

Cats Like Cardboard Boxes – It’s Official

He feels secure. We know cats like sleeping in cardboard boxes.

A study into why domestic cats like to sleep in cardboard boxes is published in Science Direct.

The researchers concluded that sleeping in cardboard boxes offers domestic cats both security and protection and reduces stress in shelter cats.

Shelter cats and wild cats need to choose the best protection that is available to them.

Often the protection is needed to ward off other cats.

An indoor cat also likes the security and feel good hormone that comes from sleeping in places that the cat prefers.

With the sides of the cardboard box for protection on each side of the body, and maybe a blanket covering them, they are “boxed-in” and they feel secure and safe.

Your domestic cat has this same protection when he sleeps between your legs in your large bed, plus he feels warm and likes being near you. Why would he want to leave?

Sleeping In The Wild!

In the wild, feline species will often seek a sleeping spot in a high location. It provides cover from as many angles as possible, to guard against larger animals and possible danger.

cat sleeping in a cardboard box
I am trying to sleep in here ya know!

3. Ownership – Do I Own The Cat or Does The Cat Own Me?

As cat owners, I think we all know the answer to that one. Officially and on paper and in any other official records, yes, we own the cat.

However, it is important to remember that according to your cat, it is he that owns you and not the other way around.

Sleeping between my legs is a way for the cat to project this ownership over me. He will resist any movement from me once he has taken up position.

Who’s The Boss?

From the point of view of a cat, it is you that is being allowed to sleep next to them.

You should feel honoured that they have chosen to sleep between your legs.

Okay Kitty! We do love you!

cat waiting to jump up onto the bed
Will I jump up? She’s lying on her side! I think she’s awake!

4. Scent – Marking You as Their Human

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

This is a comfort and security factor for the cat and is tied into the warmth, ownership, safety, and protection factors mentioned.

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

I’m Yours Or Are You Mine?

Cats have scent glands situated under their whiskers that release pheromones.

When they rub up against objects, they are essentially marking their territory. By rubbing up against you, your cat is basically marking you as their human.

cat sleeping between owner's legs
Settled in. I hope you don’t need to get up because you are stuck!

5. Sight – Cats Are Keeping An Eye On You

Nocturnal animals are awake when we are asleep. Cats are not nocturnal, although they are particularly active at dawn and dusk.

They do have a tendency towards being awake at night. They sleep 16–18 hours a day which is why the kitty seem to be asleep most of the time.

Domestication has also altered their sleeping patterns over time.

Cats Don’t Need A Night Light!

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

You are probably aware of this already as the cat is often on the prowl at night, even sometimes doing ridiculously crazy things.

He may have chosen the spot between your legs as a good spot to keep an eye on things while his human sleeps.

cat on one side of the bed
I might look like I’m asleep but I’m just waiting for you.

6. Stress And Cats Sleeping Position

Adult cats are very easily stressed and show this in many types of unwanted behaviors. These may include avoiding the litter box, aggression, pooping randomly everywhere, or excessive grooming to name a few.

The more stressed your cat is, the more territorial and therefore possessive he or she may become.

A Stressed Cat Often Means A Stressed Owner Too!

stressed cat is more likely to need the safety and security that sleeping between your legs provides.

If you try to move him from his sleeping spot, he may show aggressive behavior like biting and scratching.

In between his owner’s legs is where the cat wants to sleep.

You may want to sleep or move your legs, but there is a weight (the cat) that is resisting all movement.

The alternative of the cat swiping and scratching is non-negotiable.

That is guaranteed to disturb your sleep.

Even if the cat sleeps and is not stressed, he may not like being moved from his favorite sleeping spot, between your legs.

He may swipe to let you know his displeasure. If you do need to move, move slowly so that the cat has the opportunity to jump down or move on his own.

cat sleeping on the bed
Everyone is happy at the moment! That could change at any moment!

Do Cats Have A Favorite Person To Sleep On?

Some cats may prefer to sleep near on or near their favorite person

That person may be the one who gives them comfort, attention, and affection. The cat often has a special bond with that person or family member.

Yet, we do know that our furry friends has their own unique personality and preferences.

Not all cats will have a favorite person to sleep on.

I think people like the fact that their cat’s preference is to sleep on them, even if they don’t admit that fact. Do you know someone like this?

An Alternative Sleeping Place For Kitty

A heated pad For The cat

Try placing a heat pad (these pads are heated in the microwave) in an area that the cat can get to know as his own.

Add some of your bedding, or a t-shirt or another piece of clothing which will have the same scent your cat is used to associating with you.

Cats curl up on their owners, shoes, clothes and other possessions.

Snuggle Safe Pet Bed Microwave Heating Pad

The sleeping area should ideally be higher than your bed. A nearby chest of drawers or a chair near the bed would be ideal. It will then provide the cat with same good 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. If the area is to be on your bed, try placing the heat pad at the end of the bed.

You could try or a single room somewhere where there is room for a cat’s bed and the cat will not disturb anyone.

Another idea is to get new cat bed and place a cat bed on your bedside table with the heated pad. The cat will love this – warmth, he can see you and is still close to you.

The Cat Will Let You Know What He Thinks About Your Ideas!

It is best to introduce new cat food and other alternatives slowly so as not to stress the cat unduly. As with any cat behavior, it is perseverance that wins in the end.

The cat will now have irresistible warmth, plus safety from having your scent in the bedding.

You benefit from not having the cat sleeping between your legs but feel secure in deep sleep knowing that he is happily sleeping (or not) nearby.

Cat Wall Shelves

Cat wall shelves are exactly that, shelves on the wall that are just for the cat or cats. It can be any shelf that may already be in your bedroom.

You can install an alternative bed with a purpose built cat wall shelf. At night, a heated cat pad with some comfy bedding will make this an irresistible sleeping place for your cat. Cats use these wall shelves during the day also. They are a great space saver.

Where Is The Cat? He’s On His Shelf!

There are some examples and reviews here. You may never see the cat again as these shelves are insanely popular.

They are also brilliant if the space is limited at your place.

Utilize the wall space.

Cats love height so it is a real win! win!

7 Ruby Road Cat Hammock Wall Mounted Cat Shelf with Two Steps - Cat Wall Shelves and Perches for Sleeping, Playing, Climbing, and Lounging - Modern Cat Bed & Furniture for Large Cats or Kitty


We Do Try To Understand You Kitty!

We try to stay one step ahead and make an effort to understand the cat’s behavior and the cat’s preference for things to be a certain way. This means that we are in a better place to provide what the cat needs or what the sometimes more than one cat chooses, and importantly to live in harmony with multiple cats.

Sleeping between your legs is pretty easy to understand but it doesn’t mean we want that to happen.

We gain so much more from the interaction with cats when we understand some reasons for their instinctive behavior.

cat sleeping between legs
Really Dear! I don’t think they can dictate our sleeping terms!

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