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7 Cat Sitting Positions & What They Mean (With Pictures)

Codee Chessher

By Codee Chessher

orange tabby cat sitting on grass outdoors

Our favorite feline roommates display some serious athletic skill, but just as interesting are the numerous distinct ways they lounge. The positions a cat sits or lays can signal a lot, from their mood to their comfort, health, and more. Whether your cat is getting into some really weird positions you need to demystify or you just want to learn as much as possible about your cat, we’ve got you covered. Read on as we talk about some of the most common sitting positions for cats and just what the heck they mean.

The 7 Cat Sitting Positions

1. The Loaf

siamese cat napping in a loaf position
Photo Credit: anarosadebastiani, Pixabay

The loaf is one of the more adorable sitting positions, where your cat curls up their legs underneath their body and resembles a furry loaf of bread. Cats are relaxed in this position, but their legs are in direct floor contact and with their belly down in case they need to move quickly in response to a threat or prey. Your cat might lightly drowse when they loaf, but they don’t go into deep sleep. Either way, this position signals that your cat is comfortable and trusts you.

2. Standard Sitting

ragdoll cat sitting on a cat tree
Photo Credit: izmargad, Shutterstock

Cats will sit on their back legs and with their front legs outstretched in the “regular” sitting position when they’re very relaxed and see no need to assume a defensive position. They might be actively watching you, an interesting plastic bag, the TV, or are simply gazing out the window longingly, but who really knows what they’re thinking? Notably, this position means that your cat sees no need to be territorial or dominant, so don’t expect to see this position often if your cat isn’t 100% comfortable with your home environment.

3. Tail Down Sitting

ginger tabby cat sitting with its legs outstretched while grooming itself
Photo Credit: skorchanov, Pixabay

A cat with their tail hanging down between their outstretched back legs and their front legs underneath them is confident with their lot in life—not a threat to be seen anywhere in sight. Cats love to sit like this when they feel in control of their territory and don’t sense any threats worth investigating. Your cat may also sit like this and swish their tail back and forth when something finally does engage their attention.

4. Crouching Kitty

black and white tuxedo scottish fold cat crouching under the couch
Photo Credit: apinya phuangphem, Shutterstock

A crouching stance means your cat is on the defensive, perhaps after a spat with one of your other cats or after they’ve spied a potential threat. Crouching cats hold their paws at the ready just in front of them low to the ground, while hiding their vulnerable belly against the floor. Your cat’s tail will probably be swishing in agitation, their ears may be laid low on their skull, and their eyes might dilate in response to fight or flight hormones produced by anxiety, fear, or aggression. Their eyes could also narrow to slits, which could indicate aggression or defensiveness.

5. Tucked Loaf

cat with sitting with its legs and tail tucked underneath its body
Photo Credit: jansedlon, Pixabay

If your cat appears to be hugging themselves with their tail with their limbs in a tight loaf position, they’re anxious or fearful in response to environmental stimuli they can’t control. Things like loud storms, raucous houseguests, new people or animals, or just ordinary household objects they don’t quite understand. It’s important to notice when your cat is feeling anxious or fearful and take steps to address the issue because you want them to feel safe and comfortable in their home.

6. Bottoms Up

long haired cat stretching in an outdoor catio
Photo Credit: SariMe, Shutterstock

Female cats in heat frequently stretch their front legs out with their head low and their hindquarters in the air as a way of attracting mates. Even if there aren’t any other cats around, your cat may vocalize much more often, pace around as if searching for something, or develop an intense interest in going outside. We suggest you take extra steps to secure your doors and windows and be careful to not let your cat slip out the door if you see them in this position.

7. Bone Breaking Positions

sleeping cat curled up in a basin
Photo Credit: VladimirKabanov, Pixabay

This is a catch-all umbrella term for those countless occasions you catch your cat sleeping in a way that makes you think they’ll break their neck. Cats’ unique bodies can mold themselves to sinks, boxes, and nearly any other vessels in a fluid-like way that makes them look like they’re liquid. Acrobatic escapades can get your cat’s limbs in all sorts of unlikely positions, and those are the perfect chances to grab a photo for Instagram. They’re fine, really. Your cat won’t really hurt themselves in those wacky positions, and maybe they’ll learn a lesson on appropriate sleeping spots!


Cats are mysterious creatures, but we’ve managed to decode some of the most common sitting positions you probably see on a regular basis. Sitting with their tail curled around them could be a sign that they’re anxious, and watchful kitties will crouch down like tigers ready to pounce. Use contextual clues along with your cat’s position to puzzle out their mood. You’ll be the cat whisperer in no time.

Featured Photo Credit: Robert Laszlo, Pexels

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