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Why Does My Cat Walk on Me? 7 Vet Approved Reasons for This Behavior

Written by: Christian Adams

Last Updated on June 20, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

cat on lap

Why Does My Cat Walk on Me? 7 Vet Approved Reasons for This Behavior


Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo


Dr. Paola Cuevas

MVZ (Veterinarian)

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

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If you have a cat that walks all over you either when you’re awake or when you’re sleeping, you may find it strange and possibly even annoying. It’s natural to wonder what the cause of this behavior could be, and we’re going to look at several possible explanations.

Join us while we review the most popular theories for why you’re cat walks and stands on you. We will also discuss possible alternatives you can try to curb this behavior if it’s bothering you wherever possible.

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The 7 Reasons Why Your Cat Stands on You

1. They Love You

fluffy tabby cat lying on owner's lap
Image Credit: evrymmnt, Shutterstock

Many people believe the reason that cats walk on you, especially when you’re sleeping or watching TV, is simply that they love you and want to be near you. Many pet owners notice that when they go to the bathroom or they go upstairs or into a different room, the cat will often follow. This following action shows that your pet likes to be near you, and sitting on your lap or standing on you is the next logical step to following you.

What Can I Do About It?

Most pet owners like having their cats follow them around, so they don’t need to worry if they’re getting into mischief. Also, having a pet that loves you is not something most pet owners want to change. If they’re jumping on you while you’re awake, the best thing to do is just to put them down on the floor beside you gently. If they’re standing on you while you were sleeping, we recommend the same approach, but you can also try to alter their sleep pattern.

What we mean by changing your cat’s sleep pattern is to tire them out before bedtime. We recommend engaging your cat in high-intensity activity for a few minutes before bed. The laser pen works great, and your cat can run long distances if you have space in your home. They will often try to climb walls and jump up and down on furniture chasing the light, which will expel a great deal of energy. Always use a low-wattage laser, and never shine it in your cat’s eyes.

If you offer dinner after playtime, you will mimic your cat’s wild ancestors’ habits. Hunting is usually an extremely physical activity. This small tweak in your cat’s activity and food routine might go a long way in your cat allowing you to sleep.

2. They Trust You

The next reason many people believe their cat stands on them is that their pet trusts them not to hurt them. Most of us know that cats are very wary of strangers and will quickly run and hide upon meeting someone new. Therefore, it’s logical to assume that a the cat is standing on you, they trust that you will not harm them, so they don’t need to hide.

What Can I Do About It?

Most pet owners want their pets to trust them, so once again, you’ll need to put them down gently if they stand on you. If they’re keeping you up at night, the best thing to do is to tire them out before bed. If you don’t like using laser lights, we recommend a ball or a ball with a long rope attached. This simple toy can give your cat quite a workout and almost rivals the laser, which can help your cat sleep through the night.

3. To Show Ownership of You

female owner stroking tabby cat in bed at home
Image Credit: Ground Picture, Shutterstock

Many people believe that the reason cats stand on you is to claim ownership. Cats claim ownership over things by putting their scent on them, and many believe the cats can pass their scent through their paws as they walk over you.

What Can I Do About It?

There may be a reason why your cat needs to mark you as their territory or property. If you have multiple pets, your cat may need to mark you as their territory to the other pets. If you notice your pet feels the need to mark territory because of other pets in your home, you may get some relief from a pheromone diffuser. You can release pheromones into the air that soothe your cat, especially when another cat causes the stress.

4. To Get Your Attention

We can all agree it’s pretty hard to ignore a cat walking on you or standing on your back when you’re trying to sleep. Cats are intelligent and learn this quickly. They will use it anytime they want your undivided attention, and it will likely be successful every time.

What Can I Do About It?

You can try to ignore the behavior, but it’s unlikely you will be successful, especially when you’re sleeping. We recommend the same steps as we did previously, such as putting them down gently on the floor next to you.

5. You Are a Nice Perch

cat on shoulder
Image Credit: Olga Visavi, Shutterstock

Many people believe that a cat is using you as a perch when they stand on you, especially if other pets are in the home. Cats like high places, and your lap and shoulders can provide a great vantage point while you’re awake, and if you sleep on your side, your hip is a nice place to sit and look around.

What Can I Do About It?

If you look around your home and don’t see many places that can act as a perch for your cat, there is a good possibility that part of the reason your cat stands on you is that you make a nice perch. The best solution to this problem is to add more spots that can act as a perch in your home. There are many DIY ways to build an easy perch for your cat, and often a tall chair or a barstool will do.

6. You Are Warm and Comfortable

If your cat has just begun to stand on you and it is getting to be winter, there’s a good chance that they are cold and looking for your warm body to get some heat. Cats often like to snuggle and will often seek out the warmest person during the winter months.

What Can I Do About It?

If your cat is cold, the best thing you can do is create a warm habitat or bed for them to sleep. You can use an old box, and there are plenty of commercial cat beds available, but we have found that a large fleece blanket is one of their favorites. They tend to knead it and then take long naps.

7. They Are Exploring

Curious cat looking between door
Image Credit: Renata Apanaviciene, Shutterstock

Cats are very curious and love to explore. It’s not unusual to find a cat climbing on just about anything in your home, and your body is no exception. There is a strong possibility that your cat is simply exploring, and you have provided them with a new surface.

What Can I Do About It?

Besides wearing your cat out before bed, you might also try supplying areas for them to explore, like open boxes, crates, cat labyrinths, and maybe a walk around the neighborhood. With enough entertainment to satisfy their exploring needs, keeping them busy and physically active will go a long way.

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We hope this article has been successful in helping you understand some of the reasons behind your cat’s behavior. In most cases, having your cat jump on you during the day is not a problem, but it can become frustrating at night if it happens regularly. Hopefully, some of the solutions we’ve offered will provide relief. If we have helped you understand a little more about your cat, please share this guide for why your cat walks on you on Facebook and Twitter.

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Featured image credit: rock-the-stock, Shutterstock

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