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Why Do Cats Loaf? 4 Main Reasons

Written by: Kristin Hitchcock

Last Updated on July 10, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

Ginger cat sitting in the loaf position on the floor

Why Do Cats Loaf? 4 Main Reasons

The “loaf” position has become quite popular on social media. If you own a cat, you’ve likely seen your cat in this position. But why do cats loaf?

Some cats seem to lay in this manner all the time. Others seem to hardly sit in it at all. Those that do sit in the cat loaf position may only do so in certain situations or at certain times. In this article, we’ll take a look at all the reasons for cat loafing.

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The 4 Reasons Why Cats Loaf

1. Relaxing

A common reason is that it’s easy to relax in the cat loaf position. Their paws aren’t out, so they aren’t preparing to run away from anything or attack anything. They often only sit like this when they’re very relaxed for that reason. If they need to jump up fast or escape, they may not be able to do it as efficiently when in “cat loaf” mode as they would from other positions.

However, just because your cat isn’t sitting in this position doesn’t mean that they aren’t relaxed. Some cats seem to enjoy this position more often than others. It seems to be a matter of personal preference.

cat sleeping position 1
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2. Comfort

Some cats find this position extremely comfortable – others don’t. This likely accounts for why some cats are in this position all the time, and others may only go into it every now and then. Some cats may only find this position comfortable in certain places, like on blankets or cushions with a bit more give.

Others may not like it at all even when they’re on something squishy. If your cat doesn’t find this position comfortable, it doesn’t necessarily mean anything bad. Different cats have different preferences.

3. Warmth

When the cat’s paws are tucked under them, their body may be more efficient at the preservation of heat. For this reason, this position is often warmer than other positions. If your cat is cold, they may be more likely to get into this position in an attempt at staying warm.

You can tell your cat is cold if they are seeking out warmer areas. For instance, your cat may like laying on blankets, which are squishy and help them conserve some heat. Other cats will seek out active heat sources, like air vents, fireplaces, and heaters.

Of course, if the room is a bit brisk or your cat has just come back inside, your cat may be a little bit cold as well. They may be more likely to enter loaf cat mode if they are cold.

A gray and white shorthair cat sitting in a loaf position
Image Credit: Mary Swift, Shutterstock

4. Pain or Illness

Occasionally, your cat may sit in the loaf position because one of their paws is hurt, they are aching elsewhere, or they are generally feeling unwell. Cats are often very good at hiding their pain and illnesses, so you often won’t get many signs that your cat isn’t feeling well.

In fact, you may only notice that they’re sitting in a loaf position a bit too much. This could be a sign that they’re trying to hide their paw because it hurts for whatever reason. Other signs may include limping or holding their paw up, licking the paw or a certain area excessively, paw or leg swelling, or discharge, or your cat may exhibit other signs of general illness, such as lethargy, reduced appetite, or changes in thirst, urination, or defecation habits.

Your cat’s behavior may change as well. They may start hiding more or become aggressive due to the pain when you try to pick them up or accidentally touch the sore spot. Consult your vet if you feel your cat is not quite right, if they are in the loaf position more often than they usually would be, or if they are limping or seem uncomfortable with one of their paws.

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Should I Stop My Cat from Laying in Cat Loaf Mode?

Not really. There is usually no problem with laying in a cat loaf position. While it may not seem very comfortable to us, it is very comfortable to our felines.

The only time you may need to worry about your cat sitting in loaf cat mode is if they start showing other signs of pain or illness as well. Your feline likely won’t act like they’re in pain, as cats will try to hide their illnesses. However, they may give it away by subtle behavior changes, such as laying in loaf cat mode much more than they once did. They may hide more in general or become skittish.

Because it can be so difficult to tell if a cat is sick or not, it is usually best to take them to the vet just in case. When it comes to cats, it is often better to be safe rather than sorry. Often, you won’t know for sure something is wrong with your feline until you take them to the vet and get a diagnosis.

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Cats usually sit in a loaf position if they are exceedingly comfortable or trying to get warm. Some cats like this position more than others. It seems to be mostly a matter of personal preference. Occasionally, this may be a sign of pain or illness, and if you notice any subtle changes in your cat’s behavior, appetite, or litter box habits, or if they seem bothered with one or more of their legs or paws, get them checked out by your veterinarian as soon as possible.

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Featured Image Credit: haru, Shutterstock

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