Why Does My Cat Sleep Between My Legs? Feline Behavior Explained

Behavior December 21, 2021



Why Does My Cat Sleep Between My Legs? Feline Behavior Explained

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People who own cats know that their feline pet will lie pretty much anywhere when they’re up for a nap. From the radiator to the top of the kitchen cabinets, cats have no problem with sleeping in the weirdest of places.

However, when the cat dozes off in your lap, this is a significant event. In fact, there is more than one reason why your cat would sleep between your legs but don’t worry too much, as most of them are a display of affection for their owner.

Sweet Dreams

Although the myth of a single chunk of sleep (eight hours a day, ideally) is more of a myth than reality for humans, cats do tend to squeeze in a patch of deep sleep. Furthermore, whenever cats grab the opportunity, they take a beauty nap, even if it lasts only 10 minutes.

However, nestling between its owner’s legs allows the animal to enter the deep sleep phase without worrying that something will wake it up. You can tell that a cat is fast asleep by frequent twitching of its hind legs, which is an indication that it’s dreaming.

They Wish To Feel Secure

Security seems to have become the leitmotif of modern society. On the other side, cats have been seeking security for millennia and they have found in the laps of their owners. Namely, it is highly unlikely that anything bad is going to occur to them while they are resting on or between your legs.

You might overlook this piece of information but cats have many natural predators, so safety is paramount for them. This rule applies to domestic cats as well, even when they live inside a house or an apartment. They don’t have to fear a dog but there is still the danger of electrocution or falling from height.

Moreover, animals feel vulnerable when sleeping alone, so your cat is also looking for safety in numbers. Of course, they are not counting on the fact that you might fall asleep as fell, letting safety levels drop and cuteness levels increase, as they assume various sleeping positions.

Cats Are Territorial

By nature, cats are more territorial than dogs. Cats can also be a loner.

When you own more than one cat, then safety becomes even more important for the animal. One way they avoid mutual bickering is by dividing up the territory. In this sense, a cat’s sleeping spot is much like its base of operation, regardless of the fact that you and your lap aren’t inanimate objects.

For your feline friends, all goes when it comes to territorial disputes, so your legs are just another piece of desirable “land” to claim. The furry “conqueror” will, therefore, rub its face or cheeks against your legs to mark its newly acquired territory with pheromones.

In Search Of Warmth

The radiator we’ve mentioned in the introduction is the cats’ favorite place for sleeping place because it’s warm. In fact, cats choose where they are going to sleep based on the temperature. The average human body temperature is 37°C, which is the ideal sleeping surrounding for cats.

The cat’s search for warmth is the reason why they like to bask in the sun during the day or lie on the radiator. In the evening, when the heating is usually off, they turn to their owner’s lap for the requisite dose of warmth.

When you come to think of it, the space between your legs is perfectly insulated, so cats are warm on two sides. Kittens are used to sleeping huddles together and your lap is the perfect recreating of this innate drive for closeness, comfort, and warmth.

Bonding With Your Cat

The easiest way to bond with your pet cat is to find out what your cat likes and enjoys.

Speaking of closeness, nestling in-between your legs isn’t only a great way for a cat to stay warm but to strengthen the bond it has with its human owner. As mentioned earlier, your cat usually has several “heat sources” to choose from, so it’s no small thing when she decides to curl up between your legs.

This practice is known as “pillowing,” as your body turns into a proper cat pillow. Of course, this bonding can be painful for you, as the animal can hurt you with its extended claws after it wakes up, so be careful and react to the first sign of pain, so your cat learn to retract its claws. 

What To Do When A Sleepy Cat Becomes A Nuisance?

We cat owners cherish our four-legged furballs dearly and we are generally happy when they crawl in between our legs for a prolonged nap. However, as the hours pass, our legs start to cramp, we need to use the toilet, or it’s impossible for us to fall asleep, thinking we’ll hurt our cat when we turn.

If this is the case, try providing your cat with an alternative. Everything from a heated sleeping pad, across cozy carriers, to an old T-shirt should do the trick.

Although we want to think that our cat sleeps between our legs because it loves us, there is more than one reason for such behavior. They also wish to feel warm, safe, and sleep uninterrupted.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do cats choose who to sleep with?

Cats balance between safety and comfort, so whose ever legs fit the bill, they will snuggle in their lap. In most cases, this is going to be their owner, as cats use the opportunity to bond as well.

What does it mean when your cat sleeps by your feet?

When the cat curls between your legs and dozes off, this means she feels safe sleeping there. It is usually warm by your feet and the spot cats have picked is safe enough for deep sleep.

What does it mean when your cat sleeps next to you?

When a cat is not after warmth and safety, then it wants to bond with you by sleeping next to you. This means it trusts you will keep it safe throughout the night.

Why does my cat sleep in my bed when I'm not there?

If the cat jumps into your bend right after you get up, then it’s after the heat off your body. Another reason is that the feline sense of smell is powerful, as cats associate the bed with the presence of their owner, which means two things: safety and warmth.


Stefan is a writer for Cat Mania and an owner of the family cat, Spotty. He likes to interact with all animals, showing them the love and care they deserve. Stefan holds a PhD in English language and literature and works as a freelance writer.
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