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Why Do Cats Like to Cuddle? 5 Vet-Approved Reasons

Written by: Christian Adams

Last Updated on February 14, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

woman hugging a cat

Why Do Cats Like to Cuddle? 5 Vet-Approved Reasons


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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There is arguably nothing better than a warm cat cuddling on your lap while you relax on the sofa. While cats have a reputation for being rather aloof and independent creatures—and some are somewhat deserving of that reputation—many cats defy the stereotype and love to cuddle with their owners!

In this article, we explore the reasons that many cats like to cuddle and why some just don’t. Let’s get started!


The 5 Reasons Cats Like to Cuddle

1. Warmth

As much as cats love to snuggle, kittens love it even more! They cannot regulate their own body temperature until they’re about 3 weeks old, so they cuddle up to their mother, siblings, and human owners to get warm. Cuddling is typically a learned behavior in cats, and chances are high that if you cuddle with your kitten, they will be more inclined to it when they get older. Also, cats just love to be warm, and your lap is the ideal place!

cat enjoying cuddle
Image Credit: Pixabay

2. Safety

Cats and kittens want to feel safe and will seek out a place to nap where they feel protected. Your cat instinctively knows that your lap is about the safest place to be, free from the reach of dogs and other animals. This is also a largely learned behavior from kittenhood, but if your cat has trust in you, they are likely to find a feeling of safety and protection if you are close by.

3. Companionship

Especially in one-cat households, cats will come for their daily cuddle for a feeling of closeness and companionship with their owner. Even the most independent feline enjoys companionship every now and then, and if there are no other cats around, you are the next best thing! Of course, some breeds love as much companionship as possible, even if there are other cats in the home.

man hugging a cat
Image Credit: Pixabay

4. Attention

Some cats are happy to do their own thing, unaffected by their human owner. However, most cats want attention and recognition from their owners, and this can lead to strange behavior, including rubbing against you, head-butting you, and leaving unpleasant gifts at the front door! Cuddling is often just your cat’s way of getting your attention, especially if you’ve been away or distracted.

5. Bonding

Sitting and cuddling with their owner is a cat’s way of bonding, especially if they are feeling lonely. Even cats that do not enjoy being handled or picked up will cuddle in their owner’s lap, and this is their way of creating a strong bond and friendship. Cats are also territorial creatures, and by sitting on you, they are leaving their scent and therefore, marking you as their territory, cementing the bond even further!

A young teen girl naps on the couch, hugging her cat
Image Credit: Simone Hogan, Shutterstock

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Why Do Some Cats Enjoy Cuddling More Than Others?

In general, cuddling is a learned behavior, and cats that have been properly socialized, handled, and petted during the early stages of their life are more likely to enjoy it in the future. There is also genetics involved, and some breeds, like Persians and Ragdolls, are naturally more inclined to enjoy cuddling. Breeds that are more active may not enjoy cuddling as much.

Unfortunately, no matter how much coaxing you do, some cats simply do not enjoy cuddling. They may not have been socialized properly as kittens or may even have trauma around being cuddled. This is especially common in adopted cats. This doesn’t mean your cat doesn’t like you; they will simply seek bonding and affection in other ways.

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Final Thoughts

While not all cats enjoy cuddling, most do, and the reasons are what you’d assume: They want to feel safe, warm, and loved and have a feeling of companionship and bonding with their owner. Happy cuddling!

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Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

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