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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 pet cat, and the cat likes to snuggle up to something warm when he’s taking a nap. Additionally, 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 the cat feels protected and safe when he’s close to you.

At some point during the night the cat makes his way to his preferred sleeping position, between 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, just plain doesn’t work.

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 legs on a bed
Are you coming or going kitty?

1. Cats Seek Warmth When Sleeping

Cats 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. A small patch of sun is where the cat will be found. We have come to know those places too and can find him cuddled up in one of those places during the day. As the seasons change, so do the warm places.

At night when it is colder, the cat will naturally gravitate to a place of warmth. Jumping onto the bed to sleep between your legs makes perfect sense to the cat because he already knows it is 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, while the average temperature of a human is around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Cats do have lower temperatures than humans.

why does my cat sleep between my legs

However, it’s important to keep in mind that there is some variation from cat to cat. Some individual cats may have temperatures that are slightly higher or lower than the average. In addition, 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 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 main reason the cat likes to sleep between your legs.

The cat can hunker down 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.

So comfy and good to feel warm and relaxed!

2. Cats Like Security and protection

When your cat is sleeping on your legs or between your legs, he is usually at a high vantage point. He can check for any potential disturbances and be ready to dash off at a seconds notice.

Cats Like Cardboard Boxes – It’s Official

He feels secure. It is a similar reason to why cats like sleeping in cardboard boxes. A study into why cats like to sleep in cardboard boxes is published in Science Direct. The research concluded that sleeping in cardboard boxes offers both security and protection and a reduction in stress in Shelter Cats.

Shelter Cats and wild cats need to chose the best protection that is available to them. Often the protection is from other cats. An indoor cat also likes the security and feel good hormone that comes from sleeping in place that the cat prefers.

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.

Your domestic cat has this same protection when he sleeps between your legs, in addition to feeling warm and 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 possible danger.

Why do cats sleep on our legs?
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!

why do cats like to sleep on your legs
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 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.

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.

ginger cat stretched out between owners 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. Cats sleep 16 -18 hours a day.

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 cat is not sleeping the entire night. You are probably aware of this already as the cat is often on the prowl at night.

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

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


6. 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 Often Means A Stressed Owner Too!

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 be guaranteed to disturb your sleep.

Even if your cat is not stressed, he may not like being moved from his favorite sleeping spot, between your legs and 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 womans legs
Everyone is happy at the moment! That could change at any moment!

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 take possession of and will get to 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.

Snuggle Safe Pet Bed Microwave Heating Pad

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 where there is room for the cat.

Another idea is to place a cat bed on your bed with the heated pad.

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

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. You benefit from not having the cat sleeping between your legs but 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 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.

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 cat chooses and importantly to live in harmony.

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 behavior.

More reading about the behavior of domestic cats …

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? Have you gone to check out a wall because the cat is intently staring at the wall? I think we have all done that. Why kitty why?

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