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Why Does My Cat Sleep On My Legs? 16 Reasons For This Behavior

cat sleeping on a woman's lap_Shutterstock_Alena Ozerova
Image Credit: Alena Ozerova, Shutterstock
Last Updated on November 16, 2023 by Christian Adams

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. We’ve asked our friends and searched the internet for opinions about why cats do this, and we’re going to share the answers with you face divider 2

The 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. Your cat doesn’t often show that they are warm or cold, but you can usually tell by watching their behavior. In the summer, cats often prefer the hardwood floor or the bathroom floor because they are nice and cool. At night during the winter, your legs are likely the warmest place in the house.

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. There is a lot of meat on the thighs that may provide the perfect sleeping surface. If your cat is lying between your legs, it will have a soft bed below it and your soft legs on either side, providing maximum comfort.

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 knows where you are. It 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 springing 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. Cats will do this even if there are no other pets or actual intruders to jump on.

5. Legs Are Safe and Secure

Cats might like to hide in a cardboard box because it can help them feel safe and secure, and this might also be why they are sleeping on your legs or between them, especially if there are other pets in the home. Besides the cover and protection your legs provide, they know any potential intruders could also stir you, so they feel quite safe in that position.

cat on womans lap
Image Credit: 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. It will often spend time on your legs or just off to your side to let you know it cares about you and wants you to get better.

7. They Miss You

Cats are habitual animals that have a strict routine, even if you don’t know what it is. Many experts say that if you need to do something at the same time each day, like take a pill, to give your cat a treat at that same time. Every day the cat will come back for another treat with remarkable accuracy.

Therefore, if you have been away or working long days at the office, your cat likely misses you being in the places you normally are throughout the day, even if you aren’t the primary caregiver and don’t spend a lot of time with the cat. It can be sleeping on your legs to make up for lost time and concern for the change in routine.

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

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

Even the most loving 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 it’s there because it wants to be by you but doesn’t want you to touch it. It stays out of reach and will have plenty of time to react if you try to reach out for it.

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: 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 turn into sleeping on your legs at night. 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, you are much more likely to move your upper body than your lower. The cat may choose your legs to stay near you but not be jolted out of position every few minutes.

Image Credit: Impact Photography, Shutterstock

12. It’s a Visually Defined Space

Cats like to sleep in certain spaces. They will often lie down on a sheet of paper or an envelope. They will also lie down in an area of the room illuminated by the sunlight shining through the window. While they could like the warm sunlight, they seem to prefer certain shapes, and your legs may fall into that category.

13. It’s a Form of Dominance

Some experts feel that when the cat is sleeping on your legs, it takes a dominant posture, letting you know you are not the boss. While this may be true for some cats, we don’t think that it’s the norm. For this to be true, the cat would also likely take an aggressive approach during the day, swatting or scratching you as you walk by. The dominant leg sitting would also likely be accompanied by a humping action.

Credit: uzhursky, Shutterstock

14. It’s an Apology

If you recently got mad and yelled at your cat for misbehaving, chances are, it’s snuggling up to your legs as a form of apology. By sleeping on your leg, it’s hoping to move on from any recent episodes between you and get back to your friendly ways.

15. They trust you

It probably goes without saying that if a cat is lying on your legs, it feels comfortable being around you and is not afraid that you are out to harm it. It trusts that it can lay there in peace, and you will probably even resist getting up to use the bathroom so as not to disturb it.

Credit: Dora Zett, Shutterstock

16. They Like You

While there is some evidence that a cat might occasionally sleep on your leg to dominate you, it’s far more likely that the cat is on your leg because it likes you. Whether seeking shelter, providing comfort, or apologizing, it’s doing it because it has deep feelings for you, and you are the person it’s choosing to be around.

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Additional Information:

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Summary – Why Cats Lay on Legs

We feel that the reason your cat is sleeping on or between your legs is that it likes you. It’s saying you’re my friend, I’m going to build a fort or perch on your legs, and you’re going to protect me. Even if your cat is friendly toward everyone, there probably aren’t many others who have experienced this level of affection. It only sleeps on its favorite one or two family members.

We hope you have enjoyed our look into one of the stranger behaviors of cats and found a reason that you think fits the behavior of yours. If you have friends with cats, please share 16 reasons your cat might be sleeping on your legs on Facebook and Twitter.

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Featured Image: Alena Ozerova, Shutterstock

About the Author

Christian Adams
Christian Adams
Christian is the Editor-in-Chief of Excited Cats and one of its original and primary contributors. A lifelong cat lover, now based in South East Asia, Christian and his wife are the proud parents of an 11-year-old son and four rescue cats: Trixie, Chloe, Sparky, and Chopper.

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