Why Does My Cat Sleep Between My Legs?

Posted in: Cat Care - Last Updated: May 24, 2022 - Author: Dexter Jones
Posted in Cat Care 
Last Updated: March 30, 2022  
Author:  Dexter Jones
cat awake resting on a white bed pillow

Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night and thought, "why does my cat sleep between my legs"? While many cats' actions seem weird to us, they are backed by a bunch of logical considerations. One such behavior, both for males and females, is sleeping between their owner's legs or down next to their hoomans feet. You might think that it is a matter of random choice, but it's not so. Cats choose this sleeping spot for a number of reasons which you'd better know about. 

Learning the reasoning behind your cat's behavior can make you understand your feline better and not decline its humble request of sleeping on your legs.

They Feel Safe

Aside from warmth and comfort, cats look for safety when choosing their sleep location. Cats are highly vulnerable when sleeping and hence they try to settle down in a place where they wouldn't be easy prey for other predators. You are their safe space and your house is much safer than the wild Savannah but it is a thing ingrained in every cat to look for a secure place to nap.

Cats consider their cat owners a fortress where they could take refuge in during sleep time, being sure you'd be on alert to keep an eye out so no enemy attacks them. It's similar to how kittens flock around their mom before indulging in their deep sleep.

cat wrapped up in bed duvet

You Are Toasty and Warm

A cat would hardly accept to sleep in a place unless it's warm. One of the reasons why your beloved feline chooses to sleep between your legs is the warmth they provide. In the daytime, cats adore taking a nap in a place directly exposed to the sun. On a cloudy, rainy, or snowy day, they'd replace the window perch sunshine with the heat from radiators or fireplaces around which they'd settle down for their nap.

At night, though, some cats would jump off the top of the radiator and snuggle up between their owner's legs. There is much more than warmth their owner can provide that radiator and sun can't. They are bonding with You

It's not only safety and comfort considerations that make kittens pile together around their mother. They do it for bonding, using each other's bodies as warm and cozy pillows during nap time. This sign of affection obviously strengthens the emotional ties between them and fosters mutual trust and support. Your cat does exactly the same thing when it cuddles up between your legs, hoping to get you more emotionally attached to it.

You are Their Territory

If you have two or more cats, you might notice that one of them always sleeps between your legs while the others nap elsewhere. You might think that those cats are less attached to you or don't like sleeping on you. In fact, there is much more hidden in their decision. They had probably given up your body to another cat after it has marked you as its territory. It's a common practice among cats which are predators and always fight with other felines for cat food, mating partner, and sleeping spot.

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They leave their pheromones in their favorite places by rubbing their face on them to give a signal to competitors that this territory is taken and they'd better stay away. Some cats defy these territorial claims and try to conquer the sleeping spot. This is actually what happens when one cat pushes another one off your legs to claim it as its napping spot.

It's Snooze Time!

There are two types of cat sleep, A quick nap and long and deep sleep. During brief naps, cats sleep lightly, so they have more control of what happens around them. This allows them not to be very picky with the nap spot. In case of deep sleep, though, they carefully look for a place that would keep them safe in this high-vulnerability time. They consider your body to be such, assuming that you would keep a watchful eye on them and protect them in case of an attack.

tabby cat asleep on bed pillow

Can You Prevent This Behavior? (Good luck)

Some people feel totally ok having their adult cats sleeping between their legs. Others though may find it disturbing. They find it almost impossible to toss and turn given the presence of the cat on their body. If your cat is on the heavy side, it may impede the circulation through your legs, causing cramps that will disrupt your sleep. Moreover, a cat's tossing and snoring may wake up you and hinder you to fall asleep. There are some things you can do to convince your kitty not to sleep on your legs. 

You can buy it a new cat bed, equipping it with a heating blanket to keep your cat warm. If it refuses to settle down there, put a t-shirt recently worn by you on the cat bed. Your owner scent will make you feel secure and comfortable.

Things For Cat Owners to Look Out For

Sleeping between their owner's legs is a common behavior among cats. They mostly do it for the reasons mentioned above. However, it should ring the alarm bells for you if your cat cuddles up between your legs too often and sleeps for longer than usual. It might hint at the fact that it feels bad and looks for a safe place to have a rest. While your cat will never tell you that it struggles with pain or anxiety, you can notice it by its behavior.

 Aside from seeking a safe-spot between your legs more often than usual, there are some warning signs that should alarm you. These include:

  • Hissing
  • Eating less
  • Growls, howl, and yowl
  • Excessive meowing
  • Excessive vocalization
  • Scratching things
  • Trusting people less

The best thing to do in this case is to consult a vet so that they check your cat for a potential condition and advise you on its pet treatment. Cats choose a sleeping position for a good reason. Being aware of this reason will help you understand your kitty better.

ginger cat asleep in sunshine on bed

Why Does My Cat Sleep Between My Legs: Summary

Sleeping between their owner's legs is a super common behavior amongst most cats. They mostly do it for the reasons mentioned above and our furry friends simply love to be warm, secure, and comfortable. A but like us "hoomans" really. Cats are without a doubt top of the tree when it comes to being the ultimate "comfort monsters''!

Forget about it being a dog's life, it's most definitely a cat's life!

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About the author

Dexter Jones has been a solid member of the ‘Mad Cat Dad’ club since time began! Dexter has been a keen cat writer for many years and lives in Croatia. He lives with his two tabby cats, Milly & Marly, who also flew in from the UK to start their new Adriatic island life together.