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Why Does My Cat Sleep On My Legs? 11 Vet-Reviewed Explanations For This Behavior

Written by: Christian Adams

Last Updated on July 5, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

cat sleeping on a woman's lap_Shutterstock_Alena Ozerova

Why Does My Cat Sleep On My Legs? 11 Vet-Reviewed Explanations For This Behavior


Dr. Luqman Javed Photo


Dr. Luqman Javed

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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If you own a cat, there is a good chance you woke up on several occasions to find your cat sleeping on your legs. If you are puzzled by this strange behavior and would like to learn more about the reasons behind it? We are here to help. Here are some possible reasons why your cat might be sleeping on your legs.

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The 11 Reasons Cats Sleep on Your Legs

1. Legs Are Warm

One of the most likely reasons your cat sleeps on your legs is because they are warm. Though cats are naturally warmer than humans are, kittens aren’t adept at keeping warm and often seek warm places. Likewise, a cat with sparse or no hair may not be as efficient as keeping warm and could view your legs as the perfect, toasty napping spot for them.

person brushing cat's fur
Image Credit: Pixabay

2. Legs Are Soft

Another good possibility is that your cat is sleeping on your legs because they are soft. For some cats, your thighs might be a good, soft, resting surface – much like a pillow or a bed!

3. Legs Are Accessible

While you are sleeping, you likely keep your arms tucked into your blanket and your pillow held close. Though your legs are under the blankets, they are easy to see, so your cat would know where you are. They can rest against you without trying to figure out where the blanket and pillow end and your body begins.

cat on old woman's lap
Image Credit: Pixabay

4. Legs Are a Hiding Place

Cats often like hiding in cardboard boxes and jumping out from unseen locations, so there is a good chance that your cat is using your legs as a temporary place to jump out and scare any would-be intruders. At times, cats will do this even if there are no other pets or actual intruders to jump on.

5. Legs Are Safe and Secure

If your cat trusts you, there’s a good chance that they opt to sleep on your legs because they know they’re perfectly safe when they do so.

cat on womans lap
Image Credit by: Impact Photography, Shutterstock

6. They Are Comforting You

If you haven’t been feeling well, there is a good chance that your cat is on your legs to comfort you. In studies involving cats, they were shown to spend more time with people who were depressed 1. Your cat might be sleeping on your legs as their own form of comforting you.

7. They Miss You

Studies in cats 2 showed that they spent more time with their owners after prolonged periods of separation; therefore, if you’ve been away for some time, your cat might be sleeping on your legs as a way to make up for the time they spent away from you.

cat on lap
Image Credit by: rock-the-stock, Shutterstock

8. They Want To Be Close — But No Petting!

Some cats won’t always want to be pet. If your cat is sleeping on your legs while you are awake and watching television, there is a good chance they’re there because they want to be by you but don’t want you to touch them. They stay out of reach and will have plenty of time to react if you try to reach out to them.

9. It’s a Good Viewpoint

Another reason your cat might sleep on your legs while you are awake with your feet up is that it provides them with a good viewpoint to survey the room. Cats are all about watching over their territory, and any new point of view you provide will be utilized and much appreciated.

Image Credit by: Kuiper, Shutterstock

10. They Are Used To It

If your cat likes to sit on your lap during the day, there is a good chance the behavior will stick with them. Obviously, your legs are no longer yours but your cat’s personal bench, and your cat will likely spend most of its time there.

11. You Don’t Move Your Legs as Much

Whether you are reading, watching television, playing video games, or sleeping, some people are much more likely to move their upper body than their lower. Your cat may choose your legs to stay near you but not be jolted out of position every few minutes.

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Ultimately, there is no right or wrong answer as to why your cat may choose to sleep on your legs. While we can make some logical conclusions and come up with plausible theories as to why they choose to do so, it’s important to keep in mind that we’ll never be in their brain. Your cat is an individual, and as such they may have their own personality and reasons for sleeping on your legs. As long as you don’t seem to mind, it’s likely just a matter of their preference!

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Featured Image Credit: Alena Ozerova, Shutterstock

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