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Why Do Cats Lie on Your Chest? 4 Possible Reasons

Kristin Hitchcock

By Kristin Hitchcock

cat sleeping near man's face

It isn’t odd for cats to lie on their owner’s chests. There are several reasons for this behavior. Certain cats prefer to sleep on their owner’s chests more than others. Some cats may do it occasionally or not at all.

Sometimes, this is simply a way for them to show physical affection. They want to be close to you while they’re resting, and the easiest way for them to do that is by lying on your chest. They can’t get much closer than that!

However, there are quite a few other reasons that a cat may decide to lie on your chest.

Most of these are theories. There haven’t been many studies done on this phenomenon. Instead, people have to make educated guesses on why cats choose to lie on our stomachs and chests.

The 4 Possible Reasons Why Your Cat Lies on Your Chest

1. Affection

Some cats are very affectionate. They may decide to lie on your chest as a way to cuddle with you. After all, they can’t get much closer to you than lying on your chest!

Cats show their affection in different ways, though. Some of them will show that affection outwardly, such as by lying on your chest and other physical signs.

If your cat doesn’t lie on your chest, it doesn’t mean they don’t love you. They just may not show their affection in that way.

However, if your cat seems to lie on your chest regularly, it could be their way of enjoying your close presence while they rest.

cat on man's chest
Image Credit: Pixabay

2. Warmth

Cats like to stay warm. It isn’t odd for cats to seek out the warmest spot in a room. Often, this is by a heater or on a sunny spot on the couch. Some cats may even snuggle in blankets.

Of course, blankets and couches are quite comfortable. However, when your cat lies on the floor in the one sunny spot, it’s evident that they’re seeking out warmth.

People give off plenty of body heat, especially if they’re sleeping under piles of blankets. Therefore, your cat may easily choose you as the warmest spot in the room. In these cases, cats usually don’t care whom they’re lying on. They just want to get warm.

Your feline may sleep on your chest more in the colder months. During these periods, hot places may be harder to find, prompting your feline to seek out your body heat. Sometimes, truly cold cats may decide to crawl under the blanket next to you or attempt several other strategies to get warm.

3. Comfort

If your cat feels safe around you, they may feel better when sleeping next to you too! Sometimes, cats may sleep on your chest, specifically when they are anxious. This behavior can become a habit at other times and may be one of the few ways that your feline can settle down to sleep.

Very anxious animals may become upset if they can’t sleep on your chest for whatever reason.

If their anxiety is disrupting their everyday life, they may need veterinary attention. Just like with people, cats shouldn’t be so anxious that it seriously affects their lives. If it does, treatment may be necessary.

For the most part, though, there is nothing wrong with a cat seeking out comfort while they are sleeping — even if that comfortable spot happens to be on your stomach!

While it’s likely that our presence alone makes our cats feel more secure, it’s also possible that our heartbeat and breathing pattern calm our cats down. This theory may explain why they choose to sleep on our chest specifically. It’s where they can feel our breathing and heartbeat the best.

This may be especially true for cats that have been sleeping on our chest since they were kittens. They may be used to the rise and fall of our chest and the sound of our heartbeat. Just like humans, if they become used to certain stimuli to sleep, it’s common for them to seek out those stimuli every night.

cat on woman's chest
Image Credit: Pexels

4. Habit

If you put your kitten on your chest to sleep, it can quickly become a habit. As they get older, they may continue to sleep on your chest, even if they’ve outgrown it!

They may do it as a way to seek out your comforting presence. However, it is equally likely that they’re just doing it because that’s what they’ve always done. Cats are creatures of habit, so once they start doing something, they rarely stop doing it unless they’re prompted to.

If your cat sleeps on your chest every night, they probably aren’t going to stop unless they can’t (and they will likely be distraught with that development).

If you don’t want your feline to sleep on your chest, we recommend never allowing them to sleep on your chest in the first place. Otherwise, they may develop a habit and be confused when you try to get them to stop.

A tiny kitten sleeping on your chest usually isn’t a huge deal — until they turn into a 20-pound cat.

Is It Bad for a Cat to Lie on Your Chest?

If both you and the cat are comfortable, there is no reason to change your behavior. In many cases, there is nothing wrong with your feline lying on your chest.

There are myths of cats suffocating people or “stealing their breath.” However, there isn’t any validity to these stories. A healthy person is not going to get suffocated by a cat, though this can sometimes be a problem for babies. After all, a 20-pound cat lying on a newborn is never a good thing.

However, if you’re old enough to be reading this article, we can assure you that your cat won’t suffocate you in your sleep (unless you have an underlying health problem that may affect your breathing). Even among sick and elderly people, there are no reported cases of cats suffocating them in their sleep.

The only way that this behavior could be “bad” is if it interferes with your sleep. If it does, we highly recommend not letting your cat do it. Once your feline gets used to sleeping on your chest, they will expect to continue to do so. It is much harder to interrupt a current habit than to prevent one from forming!

cat on man's chest
Image Credit: Erica Marsland Huynh, Unsplash

How Can I Make My Cat Stop Lying on my Chest?

There is only one way to prevent a cat from lying on your chest: Remove them every time. If your cat crawls onto your chest every night, you’ll need to pick them up and move them.

It will likely take a few sessions of this before your cat stops trying to sleep on your chest. Some cats are more stubborn than others, so you should plan on spending quite a bit of time repeatedly moving your cat.

In the middle of the night, this can get tiring. However, if you let your cat sleep on your chest one time, then it will undo any progress that you’ve made.

It is often best if everyone in the household is on the same page. However, this is not strictly necessary. Cats are intelligent creatures. They will figure out that some people let them lie on their chests and others don’t.

While we would all love for an instant cure for this behavior, there isn’t.

Final Thoughts

Cats may sleep on our chests for various reasons. Some cats are simply affectionate and like to be close to their people. Sleeping on our chests is about as close as they can get!

Other cats may seek out our body heat, not necessarily our presence. People tend to produce a great deal of heat at night, precisely what some cats are looking for. Sleeping on our chest isn’t a requirement in this situation, but it is often the warmest and most comfortable spot.

Others may do it out of habit. If they’ve always done it, there is hardly any reason for them to stop now!

However, in the end, we don’t know why cats sleep on our chests. We can’t ask them or read their minds. These theories are just our best guesses!

Looking for more information on cat behavior? Take a look at:

Featured Image Credit: Maliflower73, Shutterstock

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