It’s a scene that cat lovers know all too well. You’re just getting settled in for the night, feeling a little cozy – and your cat decides that they’re going to join you. And, of course, once a cat sleeps, you don’t want to disturb them! If you’re concerned about your cat sleeping on your chest, then feel safe in the knowledge that your qualms are about to be quashed.
So, why do cats sit on your chest? Well, there are a few reasons – all of which we’ll delve into, here. Whether you’re concerned about your cat’s behavior or want to be sure that feline friends are perfectly safe, we’ve researched everything you need to know from the right sources.
Why Does My Cat Lay On My Chest
If you’ve found yourself asking “why do cats lay on your chest?” then you’re not alone. Indeed, with so many cats behaving in this way, take comfort in knowing that your feline friend is in the majority! Whether it’s multiple cats vying for space or your only cat becoming extremely clingy, here are some of the reasons that the average cat behavior expert can agree on.
Cats Love Warmth
It’s no secret that your cat loves warmth and will happily seek this out at every opportunity. Given that cats tend to have a drop in body temperature once they’re sleeping, it’s often a natural instinct for most cats to seek out a warm spot.
Even their thick coats don’t always keep them comfortable, as the natural body temperature of most adult cats usually sits higher than ours. Equating roughly between 101.0 to 102.5°F (38.3 to 39.2°C)!
As such, cats enjoy sleeping anywhere they can get the extra level of comfort and security cats enjoy feeling in these warm places. Usually, this will come in the form of the standard warm place – such as a sunny windowsill or around warm electronics (which is why you can often find them nearby when you’re watching tv).
But, you’re wearing a thick sweater, or just run warmer than they currently are (cats body temp can fall to 99F/37.2C degrees), don’t be surprised when a cat seeks out their comfortable human’s chest to snooze on. It’s all just part of your cat seeking warmth and sleeping on you, since the human body temperature is just right for these purposes.
Cats Are Territorial Creatures
If you have outdoor cats, you may be well aware that your cat likes their own area and their own space. Having a distinct territory is makes sense, since cats are natural hunters and, as such, your cat prefers to have an area in which they can source resources. However, even indoor cats have a sense of territory as well – which comes in the form of you.
Relying mainly on scent, cats love sitting on their owners as a way of dousing you in their own scent. When your cat lays on your chest, they’re marking you as their own and potentially even warning other cats to stay away. So, in a way, it’s your cat’s way of telling you they love you, in the most feline way you can imagine.
The Human Chest is Full of Familiar Scents
Just as your cat sitting on you helps to inform the world of their ownership of you, a cat parent is also likely to be full of comforting scents. Lap cats often love to sleep on your chest as a way of getting close to you, and having your scent added to theirs. Not only this, but your cat will take comfort in the familiar smells, which add to their overall happiness.
This is also why, when you’re not around, your cat may opt for sleeping on your usual spot on the couch, having a sleep on your bed instead of their own bed or even your clothes. If it smells of you, and your cat is sleeping on it, then it’s because they want to be close to you.
To Seek Extra Protection and Stress Relief
Cats seek security in much the same way as us humans do – by turning to those we love and trust. Your cat is likely to feel especially vulnerable while sleeping, as this is when their guard is down and they’re less likely to be able to defend themselves against potential predators.
So, if your cat is feeling a little insecure (often caused by a change in routine, setting or familial change) your might find that your cat wants to sit near or on you, more than usual. If you’re also feeling the strain of change, then it might be worth letting your cat sit on you, so you can both enjoy the benefits.
As expected with most cats, one of the most common reasons why your cat may enjoy having a sleep on your chest could be to do with attention. Cats are creatures of habit – but don’t like to make a big show of their reliance on humans. As such, you might find that your cat decides to take a kip on your chest (or several naps throughout the day) if they want something.
The most common culprit here is when your cat wants feeding. It may seem counter-intuitive to sleep on you while hungry, but it’s the best way for your cat to check if there’s any movement – and therefore any likelihood of the bowl being filled, any time soon.
For Human Health
Many aren’t aware that a cat’s purr has healing attributes. In fact, when in pain, your poor kitty may purr more than normal – and this is a sign that they are self-comforting. In which case you should always seek veterinary guidance if you’re worried about your purring cat.
Interestingly, however, cats also like to use these self-comforting tactics with their humans. If your cat senses that something is wrong, then there’s every chance your cat will sit on you and have a hearty purr. In fact, cuddling a purring cat is even said to reduce the risk of heart disease and strokes!
Indeed, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that animals (cats in particular) will often sense a pregnancy before their humans have even done a test – and their cat will sit on them or try to be as close as possible! So, don’t get annoyed by a cat that likes to sleep on you – they may be doing it for the good of your health.
Why Do Cats Sleep On You?
So, the answer as to do why do cats lay on you – as you can see – can change for a variety of reasons. All of which depend on what’s going on at home, what kind of environment they live in and the comings and goings of various health concerns.
Of course, for most people, having a cat sleep on you is a lovely experience. There have many times when I’ve seen cats happily having a sleep on their owners laps and felt a tinge of jealousy that my cat has no interest in sleeping on me! But, if you have any qualms, read to see if there’s any risks involved with letting your cat sleep on you.
Should You Let Your Cat Sleep On You?
Understanding whether it’s bad to let your cat sleep on you is an important factor in putting your mind at ease. The good news is that there is a range of pros to letting your pet sleep on or around you – but the bad news is that there are some cons to letting your cat sleep on you, too.
Pros of Being One of Your Cats’ Favorite Sleeping Spots
Easily one of the biggest pros and having a cat sleep on you is that it’s a lovely bonding experience for your and your puss. Indeed, being able to stroke your feline furry friend can help to reduce the stress levels of both of you and releases the love hormone of oxytocin. Which makes for an overall happier and more comforting home.
Similarly, it’s cozy and comforting to have cats sleep on you. Especially if you’re undergoing a stressful period, as you can feel that you and your pet are working through the kinks of life, together. Letting your cats have a short sleep on you can make you both feel better about unexpected changes.
Cons of Letting Them Nap on Your Chest
The biggest con of letting a pet sleep on you comes from the dander your pets naturally shed. Every pet – regardless of how well-groomed they are – has dander, which is made up of dead skin cells and fur. Inhaling cat fur can exacerbate current health conditions, such as asthma. If you can’t breathe deeply when your pet is sleeping on you, then you need to move them.
It’s also important to note that human babies should never be accessible to pets without your supervision. In particular, sleeping babies need to be kept far away from pets, as your furry friends may seek out their warmth and the deep sleep of your baby means you may never be aware that they’re suffocating from the closeness or pressure on their chest.
When To Worry About Cat’s Sleeping on You
If you start to develop breathing problems, then it’s time to cut your sleep time short. As much as it’s lovely to have a pet snuggled up close to you, it’s important to place your health first. So, if you or your loved ones have any of the risks mentioned above, then it’s time to discourage your pet from falling asleep on you.
How to Stop Your Cat Sleeping on You
The best way to stop your cat from having a sleep on you is to find the main cause. For example, if your cat wants to sleep on you as a way of getting attention for food, then you may want to invest in an automatic feeder. This way, your cat will have their basic need fulfilled without pinning you down to the couch as they sleep.
Similarly, if your pets are bored, you can always do something simple to keep them entertained. One such example is to place a bird feeder just outside of your window. Just be sure that your furry friend can’t actually reach the birds – or you may end up providing them with their own dinner.