Cats can sleep for nearly 20 hours a day, as they tend to dose (cat nap) rather than get a full block of deep sleep, as we do. They always seem to search out the most comfortable spot they can where it is warm and safe.
Cats are social creatures and like to have company. To wonder why my cat sleeps on my legs, we have to look at this from the cat’s perspective. They are looking for a warm surface, where there is a high possibility of being fussed over, tickled and petted, while catching a cat nap at the same time – what better place than a human’s lap.
If only they stay sitting there long enough! Sometimes though, cats prefer just a quiet sleep, with no interruptions, so they may rather sleep elsewhere, but if your cat is company-loving, then chances are your lap is a great place to settle.
Why does my cat sleep on my legs and not other humans, could be as they only trust you? Some cats do not trust people they don’t know. Perhaps their experience is that other people may be more fidgety, or the way they pet the cat may not be so comforting.
Reasons your Cat Sleeps on You
Cats are believed to be entirely independent animals and aloof toward humans at times. But are they? Here we look at some reasons why your cat chooses to sleep on you.
Warmth and Security and Bonding
If you ever see a cat napping, the chances are it is a warm spot – in the sun, by the heater, curled up with another pet, or on a human.
Cats love to be warm and out of a draught. On your lap, they get not only this warmth they crave but also a sense of security and protection. It is a safe place to be because they trust you.
Your cat sleeping on you is an excellent way to bond for you and the cat!
Marking Their Territory
Believe it or not, cats can show love towards their owners. They can also be defensive of their owners. They can also be jealous of their owners. Sitting on your lap can be a sign of them marking you as their territory. This can especially be if you have a new partner, game, job, or pet, which is consuming your attention. They want to show that you are theirs and they are after your engagement.
Cats like to feel our heartbeat, movements and hear soothing sounds, just as we want to listen to their purring.
They can feel very comfortable being in our company and it is thought that their sense of security and relaxation is heightened when they are with their trusted owner.
They tend to sleep more securely when they know they are safe.
Cats Enjoy Human Company
If kittens do not interact with humans until they are over six months old, this will impact their trust and ability to bond.
It could take years, if at all, before this cat will feel comfortable enough to trust you. Generally, however, cats do enjoy our company and are in tune with human emotions.
Some breeds are more ‘lap cats’ than others and are more appeased with human cuddles and petting, whereas others will only comply occasionally – when they feel like it.
Should You Let Your Cat Sleep On You?
This question does depend on the individual. However, we need to be informed of the Pros and Cons of this situation before making a judgment here.
Pros of letting your Cat sleep on you
- It can reduce your stress levels. Just having some company during an anxious time can help us feel more at ease. Listening to the cat’s purr can help us sleep easier and take our minds off what is troubling us.
- A Calming Effect. If you are feeling lonely, anxious, or depressed, a cat’s company and its seemingly chilled-out persona can positively affect our mood. If you suffer from bad dreams or just waking up feeling depressed, having the cat there with you can serve as someone to talk to or to cuddle.
- Promotes Bonding. If you haven’t had the cat very long, having it sleep with you can create a sense of trust between you and help the bonding process.
- Ease falling to sleep. For some, no matter how tired, trying to get to sleep can be a troublesome time. Lying there thinking about trying to sleep seems to accentuate the problem. When you have a cute little cat there on you, who appears to be able to sleep at the drop of a hat, this can also help you feel more relaxed and sleepy. Trying to keep still as not to disturb this ball of fluff can help too.
Cons of letting your Cat Sleep on you
- Parasites. Cats can carry parasites in the form of fleas and worms. Although fleas don’t live on humans, they still can bite you and cause itchiness. Worms are a little harder to get from a cat, but the eggs can be on the cat fecal matter, and if by chance they have this on their feet, then it can easily be transferred to your bed.
- Allergies and Asthma. If you suffer from these conditions, this could well be caused by the cat, or more specifically, the cat’s hair, so you don’t want to be near the cat in this case. This can cause serious illness in humans.
- Disruptive sleep. As cats sleep many hours of the day and are not ‘deep sleepers,’ they will not sleep for the same time frame as what you are after. Not to mention they are naturally nocturnal animals anyway. They are very likely to wake up during the night for a play session or for something to eat.
- Danger to Young Children. As mentioned, cats like to be warm and snuggle. This can be very dangerous should the cat find its way into a baby’s crib. It has been known for a cat to smother a baby to death by sleeping on it and the baby not breathing.
- Hard to change habits. Once the cat has the routine of sleeping on you or with you, it is going to be hard to change this if you, later on, decide this is not what you want. Suppose you all of a sudden determine the cat must stay out of the bedroom. In that case, the cat can retaliate by being disruptive in the way of meowing, scratching carpet or furniture, or just generally causing havoc.
- Infections – Bacterial or Protozoal. An innocent scratch from a cat may seem insignificant to some but can be quite risky for the young, or elderly, or those with compromised immune systems. A cat can carry bacteria under its claws, even after a shampoo and a simple scratch can cause an infection. The same with protozoal infections, although not transmitted to humans, are equally as cautionary.
How To Stop Your Cat Sleeping On You
As cats are creatures of habit, if you don’t plan to sleep with your cat, it is beneficial not to start this habit. If this is too late, then you will have to shut the cat out of the bedroom.
This can cause the cat to meow and misbehave. A solution would be to ensure the cat has a warm and comfortable alternative sleeping space.
Somewhere high, where they can observe their surroundings and feel safe, is a good idea. Having another cat for them to snuggle up with could be an option to consider also.
Cats naturally need to defend themselves, hence the reason they sleep so lightly. When they are asleep, they continue to have their acute sense of smell and hearing, so they are ready to spring to action should the need occur.
When they are sleeping on us, this need is lessened slightly. Some cats which may not necessarily have been overly-friendly or cuddly, once they get into their later years, you may find that they are more desiderate for your attention and the warmth of your lap.
Cats can be considered detached from their owners, unlike dogs, however, this is not the case, and they do become quite attached to us.
This isn’t as obvious as it is with dogs. When your cat sleeps on you, you should think of it as a compliment as they will only do this if they like you, trust you and feel secure with you.