Why does my cat sleep between my legs? Because…cats love heat and the hotter the spot, the the more likely they are to be attracted to that area.
At some point during the night the cat makes his way to his preferred sleeping position, between or on top of my legs. He is seeking warmth.
This means I can’t move or maybe I can move a little bit and see what happens. As we cat owners know, moving a little bit, just plain doesn’t work.
7 Reasons Cats Sleep On Or Between Our Legs
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1. Cats Seek Warmth When Sleeping
Cats do love any form of heat and have an uncanny knack of seeking out warm places to hang out. I’m sure our cat has the house heat mapped.
The dip between your legs generates plenty of heat as there are major blood vessels that transport blood to the area. This is the main reason the cat likes to sleep between your legs.
Plus the cat can settle in and make himself comfortable. He doesn’t like to be unsettled from this spot as he will need to seek out another place of warmth.
Cats love sleeping with their owners. Their owners however can weigh more than 13 times their own weight so there is the risk of getting squashed.
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. The cat can be gently dislodged in the process of turning over. You are more likely to be aware that the cat is nearby if he is sleeping on or between your legs rather than next to you.
It is important to remember that according to your cat, it is he that owns you and not the other way around.
Why does my cat sleep between my legs? 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.
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. Hmm!
A recent study into why cats like to sleep in cardboard boxes was published in The Independent. The research presents the same reason, in terms of security, for the cat – it offers the cat a sense of security and protection.
With the sides of the box 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 high location. It provides cover from as many angles as possible to guard against possible danger. This provides safety while the cat sleeps.
When your cat is sleeping on your legs or between your legs he is usually at a high vantage point to check for any potential disturbances. He can be ready to dash off at a seconds notice.
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, they are essentially marking their territory. By rubbing up against you, your cat is basically marking you as their human.
Cats rub up against your legs before falling asleep to further claim you as their human as well as claiming 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.
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. Cats sleep between 16 – 18 hours a day.
Domestication has also altered their sleeping patterns over time.
Cats are 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 spot to keep an eye on things while his human sleeps.
7. Stress And Cats Sleeping Position
Cats are very easily stressed and show this in many types of unwanted behaviors such as 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 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.
You may want to move your legs but there is a weight (the cat) that is resisting all movement. The alternative of the cat swiping and scratching is a non negotiable. That will disturb your sleep.
While this behavior is quite common among cats there are some steps that you can take to alter the behavior. 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
Try placing a heat pad (these pads are heated in the microwave) in an area that the cat can take possession of and will get o know as his own. Add some of your bedding, or a
t-shirt or piece of clothing which will have the same scent your cat is used to associating with you.
The sleeping area should ideally be higher than your bed. A nearby chest of drawers would be ideal or a chair near the bed. It will then provide 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. If the area is to be on your bed, try placing the heat pad at the end of the bed or somewhere there is room for the cat.
It is best to introduce these alternatives slowly so as not to stress the cat unduly. As with any cat behavior it is persevering that wins in the end.
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.
Answers For Your Cat Behavior Questions
This book from the master of cat behavior, Jackson Galaxy 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 reading about cat behavior…
Why do cats lick each other? Is is part of grooming?
How to keep cats away from houseplants.
Why do cats stare at the wall? There doesn’t seem to be anything there.