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Why Does My Cat Sleep Between My Legs? 8 Common Reasons

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By Nicole Cosgrove

tabby cat sleeping on owner's lap
Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

Cats, like most domestic animals, have evolved tremendously over the centuries. While some natural instincts remain highly intact, your cat feels safer at home and in your presence.

So, why does your cat like sleeping between your legs? Is it scared? Is it trying to pass some important message about its health, or should you appreciate the charming sign of affection?

Here are eight reasons why your feline enjoys turning your thighs into a warm, cozy hammock.

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The 8 Common Reasons Why Your Cat Sleep Between Your Legs

1. Safety & Protection

sleepy cat laying on the lap of owner
Image Credit: Alena Ozerova, Shutterstock

Domesticated felines enjoy a safe living environment. However, they still have the instinct to protect themselves, especially when they want to sleep deeply. Your legs on either side of the cat create a fortress and give your feline friend a sense of security. The legs also partially conceal your cat to make it feel like it’s hiding and provide a cozy natural hammock.

If your cat sleeps between your legs, it’s also communicating that it trusts you. The kitty cuddle is meant to reassure you of your bond and remind you to protect it if anything happens while it sleeps.

2. Warmth

Savannah bengal cat sleeping
Image Credit: Ben Harding, Shutterstock

Apart from wanting to feel protected as they sleep, felines love warm and cozy spots. While your kitty may not mind its bed during the day when it’s hot, it could prefer sleeping between your legs if you are the warmest thing it can find at night. This assures it of still feeling warm even if its body temperature drops when it naps.

If your feline’s primary mission is to feel warm, it may also sleep on your chest or beside you where its body touches your hips. It will not mind any position as long as it feels safe beside you and enjoys the heat radiating from your body.

3. Comfort

cat sleeping on owner's lap
Image Credit: Karpova, Shutterstock

Whether your cat wants to feel safe or warm, it will also want to be comfortable enough to take a nap. Sleeping on your chest is also an option, although your kitty knows it may roll over once it begins twitching in a deep sleep.

Sleeping between your legs provides just the perfect position to relax without a worry in the world. Your movements will not pose any risks of falling, and your cat can quickly go back to sleep after minor interruptions.

4. Excellent Vantage Point

One of the instinctive behaviors portrayed by some cats is the preference for sleeping on elevated surfaces. Perching on the highest shelf, on the top cushion of your sofa, or even on your refrigerator can seem more ideal than the expensive kitty bed on the floor because it offers a better vantage point.

Felines in search of a warm, safe, and cozy yet perched place to sleep will likely nap on top of your legs. The elevated position provides better visual warning time in case an opponent or predator enters the room.

Your home may be safe, but your cat instinctively wants to protect itself if things go south. The area between your legs can allow it to remain silent and hidden when planning an escape. The cat will also feel safe when evaluating a threat or preparing to attack.

5. For Deep Sleep

Safety, warmth, comfort, and a good vantage point in case of danger make an excellent recipe for deep, uninterrupted sleep. Your lap provides all this, meaning your feline friend can get into a comfortable position, forget all the potential dangers of the surrounding environment, and deep sleep. If your kitty frequently sleeps between your legs, its scent will further make it easier to fall dead asleep.

You can tell whether your cat is napping or in a deep sleep based on how it acts. About 40% of cats sleep for over 18 hours daily, although they only deep sleep for a few minutes at a time. When your furry buddy is dead asleep, it may wiggle or twitch a little indicating that it’s dreaming.

6. Territory Marking

Cats are territorial animals, although males tend to overdo territory marking compared to females. Irrespective of your feline’s gender, it will likely want to mark specific spots to make other cats or pets keep off. Cats can also mark territories with their scent besides leaving visual marks like fecal deposits and scratches.

Sleeping between your legs will leave its scent behind and make it known that you belong to him or her.

As your cat rubs against your thighs, clothes, or bedding, it will leave the scent of its pheromones. Although you cannot detect the smell of pheromones, other cats will get the message and keep off.

7. Cat-Owner Bonding Time

Your feline buddy may seem aloof most of the time, although this does not negate that it is still a social creature. It enjoys gestures of love and can show affection towards you by wanting to get cozy around you. There’s no better place to pass this message than lying on your chest or between your legs, where it’s warm, comfortable, and safe!

Wanting to sleep between your legs may sound creepy, but not in the cat-family world. Felines love to curl up together and sleep; you may have noticed this if you have multiple cats. If your cat finds you worthy of a kitty cuddle, you are “family.”

8. Stress, Tension, or Anxiety

cat laying on owners lap
Image Credit: Impact Photography, Shutterstock

Cats love maintaining routine behaviors and automatic responses. The slightest differences in their environment, food, or litter box can cause anxiety. This makes it safer to always introduce changes in bits. Often, a stressed or anxious feline will adopt clingy behaviors, which may involve wanting to sleep between your legs.

Before you assume your feline wants to claim ownership over you, get cozy, or bond, ensure it is not exhibiting other behavioral changes. You can tell something is amiss if you also notice excessive vocalization, increased meowing, bathroom accidents, hissing, scratching, or reduced appetite.

One way to make your cat feel at ease again is by spending time with it. Consider buying exciting toys and engaging in playtime to help kill boredom. Another excellent step is to create multiple hiding spots around your home to make it feel safer.

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Cats have quirky behaviors, and there is a good chance you will never fully understand your pet. If you are still curious why your feline friend loves to snuggle up for naps between your legs, here are some frequently asked questions that may provide more insights.

How Do I Make My Cat Sleep Beside Me and Not Between My Legs?

It’s easy to feel trapped or uncomfortable if your cat wants to sleep between your legs all night. In this case, you can only sleep on your back or tummy and move gently to avoid dropping your feline buddy. If you don’t mind sharing a bed with your cat but want it to sleep beside you, consider using clicker training. Reward your cat each time it sleeps where you prefer.

How Do I Stop My Cat from Sleeping Between My Legs?

If you don’t like your cat sleeping between your legs, perhaps because it disrupts you from having a good sleep, there are clever ways to encourage it to nap elsewhere. You could consider making its bed warmer using a microwavable heat pad. Also, ensure the feline’s bed has high sides that can fully or partially hide your cat as it sleeps. You can make the bed more enticing by placing it in an elevated area.

Should I Encourage My Kitten to Nap on My Bed at Night?

No. Kittens feel more comfortable in tiny spaces. Your large bed is more likely to stress them out than a small kitty bed with raised sides. Also, there’s always the risk of a bathroom accident when dealing with kittens. Let your cat sleep on its bed as long as it’s in a room that allows easy access to food, water, and the litter tray.

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Final Thoughts

The most logical reason your cat wants to sleep between your legs is that it finds the area safe, warm, and comfortable. This is also a charming way of your feline saying that it trusts you and wants to pin you down for a while and claim ownership over you. The warm kitty cuddles also provide an easy way for you to bond.

Occasionally, cats may exhibit clingy mannerisms because of anxiety, stress, or health concerns. Always check in with your vet if kitty cuddles are accompanied by excessive vocalization, loss of appetite, or any other sign that sets off alarm bells.

Featured Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

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