Just like your preference for yellow shirts and fast cars speaks volumes about your personality without you having to say a word, your cat’s napping style is about more than just getting some rest. When your kitty stretches out on the kitchen table, is he trying to tell you that you’re actually terrible at cooking? Or when your other kitty falls asleep with her butt in your purse, is she telling you to stay home because she had a premonition that if you go out you’ll spend $100 on crap you don’t need at Target for the second time this week?
Here are five common napping positions and what they might tell us about our cats — and ourselves.
What it means: “Please stop playing with my toes while I’m asleep.”
There are few things more irresistible that a sleeping cat. Not only are they at their warmest and cuddliest, their bellies are also completely vulnerable to impromptu motorboating. It’s basically prime time for surreptitious snuggles. But just like humans, cats have a breaking point.
When my cats cover their furry faces with their little jellybean toes while they’re asleep, they’re trying to shut out the world — whether it’s the lamplight or my repeated declarations that I’m going to skin them alive and eat them (which actually means I love them, explained in depth here). It is the equivalent of the way humans feel after a nine-hour day at the corporate cube farm. If kitty could hide under the bedsheets and drink a full bottle of wine, she probably would.
What it means: “I trust you completely.”
This position is as adorable as it is gratifying. A cat’s belly is one of his most vulnerable spots, one that he instinctually wants to protect. When he rolls over, he’s telling you that he trusts you — and he’s also testing that trust. Given the opportunity to rub a cat’s belly, it’s best to proceed with caution. One false move and you’re likely to end up with a bloody puncture wound in your arm.
When my cats fall asleep with their floofy, spotted bellies exposed and their legs awry, I try to leave them alone — for as long as I can stand it, at least. They trust me, and I don’t want to abuse that trust.
What it means: “We love each other more than we love you.”
I’m extremely grateful that my cats are BFFs and that they love each other so much — except for those times when they’re screaming and trying to rip each other’s fur out, but whatevs. I’m also delighted by the magical cuddle puddles their friendship spawns. I work from home, meaning my “office” is only 10 feet from some offensively adorable nap-time antics. It’s not unusual to find Bubba Lee Kinsey licking Phoenix’s face while she purrs before they begin their afternoon couch-warming shift.
They know I find these displays of feline affection overwhelming because I regularly tell them to stop, like seriously, right now, before I murder them with hugs. Therefore I can only conclude that they love each other more than they love me. At least this makes me feel less guilty for locking them out of the bedroom at night.
What it means: “I want you to think I love you, but I’m really just gross.”
Few things induce more powerful nostalgia than smells. The stink of stale cigarettes and beer takes me back to the basement of my favorite bar in 2005, the sweet tang of mulberries transports me to my grandma’s backyard in the early ’90s, the relaxing scents of eucalyptus and spearmint makes me long for my solo trip up the Pacific Coast Highway. So logic dictates that my cats want to sleep facedown in piles of my dirty clothes because my BO induces sweet memories of that time they stretched out on my keyboard and accidentally typed “a;a;wlekgnrgb;djklgn v” in the middle of an email that I then sent without proofreading. Right?
Well, maybe. But thanks to the vomeronasal organ, which is located in the roof of a cat’s mouth and allows her to taste smells, I think it’s more likely that my cats are just gross.
What it means: “We have lucrative skills but we’re too lazy to do anything about it.”
I’m convinced my cats have rich past lives, which are rife with more mystery, intrigue, and adventure than I will ever know. Bubba Lee Kinsey, for example, was a reckless gambler prone to barroom brawls, and Phoenix was almost definitely some kind of spoiled old-school Hollywood starlet with a shady past. During their travels, they’ve acquired skills, some of which are probably pretty impressive; trouble is, they’re too lazy to do anything about it. Synchronized sleeping gives my cats the chance to show off without expending too much effort.
What is your cat’s favorite way to sleep, and what do you think it says about her? Tell us in the comments!
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About Angela: This not-crazy-at-all cat lady loves to lint-roll her favorite dress and go out dancing. She also frequents the gym, the vegan coffee joint, and the warm patch of sunlight on the living room floor. She enjoys a good cat rescue story about kindness and decency overcoming the odds, and she’s an enthusiastic recipient of headbutts and purrs from her two cats, Bubba Lee Kinsey and Phoenix.