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Why Does My Cat Sit Behind Me? 6 Reasons & FAQ

Written by: Christian Adams

Last Updated on May 17, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

cat at the back of its owner on a bench

Why Does My Cat Sit Behind Me? 6 Reasons & FAQ

Some cat owners get more than just a furry friend living in their home; they get a shadow that follows them everywhere. However, despite some contrary opinions, cats bond very closely with their owners, and it’s not unusual for cats to always want to be close to their families. In fact, cats that are particularly bonded to their owners will often sit on or behind their favorite people.

The classic image of a cat comfortably sitting on someone’s lap is based on fact since cats like to sit on their owner’s laps for comfort and warmth, plus they like to get petted. But what does it mean if your cat wants to sit behind you? One thing is certain: it’s not to get in your way!

This article will look at six common reasons why your cat might like to sit behind you and what motivates them to do so.

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The 6 Reasons Why Your Cat Sits Behind You

1. They Love You

A cat that loves its owner will always want to be near them. Cats are usually more solitary but can bond in close social groupings (particularly queens raising kittens) if they’re pets or are part of a feral colony.

They often form strong relationships with the other cats in their group. Being physically close to one another offers security and comfort, and this may be why your cat likes to sit behind you in your home: they love you and want to give you that same comfort and security in return.

In essence, your cat loves you and likes to hang out with you, and they prefer to sit behind you.

Image Credit: Anna Kraynova, Shutterstock

2. They Have Separation Anxiety

Unfortunately, some cats will suffer from separation anxiety like humans and dogs. Separation anxiety can manifest in different ways, but it commonly shows in cats as clinginess. They can become agitated when they’re left alone.

Sitting behind an owner (or on top of them) is often unintentionally reinforced by owners who just want a bit of space. Moving away from the cat makes them want to stop you from leaving even more. This behavior may be seen more commonly if owners are gone for extended periods, like going out for work. Luckily, you can remedy this with the help of your veterinarian and lots of love and reassurance.

3. They’re Attention Seeking

Cats are intelligent creatures that can quickly pick up on and implement the best ways to get what they want. If they enjoy your attention, they’ll do anything to get it, and the same is true for cats sitting directly behind you.

If you turn and give your cat attention every time they sit behind you, your cat will know sitting there will provide them with what they want. If they’re feeling affectionate, cats that do this may step it up a notch and headbutt their owner’s hands or purr or meow loudly to capture their interest and get some attention.

beautiful cat is lying on the couch and rests. Nice Silver spotted Bengal cat at home
Image Credit: Valeri Pavljuk, Shutterstock

4. They Want Warmth

Cats are known to be sun seekers and warmth lovers. There is some speculation as to why this is; some sources say it’s due to their desert heritage that they love the warmth so much. Others pin their love of balmier temperatures on the fact that their body temperatures are usually higher than ours, around 99.5–102.5°F.

This difference means cats feel the cold more, so in groups (particularly queens and kittens), they snuggle up together for warmth. Sitting behind you achieves the same thing.

5. They Trust You Completely

Cats are solitary creatures by nature. They expend a lot of energy to win and maintain their territories. This is crucial for their survival (in feral cat populations), meaning that trust is an integral part of feline society.

The same is true for your pet cat, and a cat will only relax and cuddle up to its owners if it trusts them completely. When your cat sits behind you, it means that you’re the one they trust to keep them safe, showing you how strong a bond you have.

Image Credit: Peterpancake, Shutterstock

6. They Want Something from You

There are some surefire ways cats can get your attention when they want something, be it food, cuddles, or playtime. Cats will often sidle up to their owners and sit behind them, on their laps, or even on their shoulders when they want something, usually pairing this touch with an insistent meow.

Your cat sitting right behind you may signify that they want more food in their bowl or are ready for some playtime but are more polite and patient than those insistent cats that jump onto their owner’s desks.

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Why Do Cats Want to Be Near Their Owners?

Cats bond closely with their families and thrive on the attention, interaction, and affection a family unit brings. Despite being solitary creatures, cats can form social groups in feral populations.

Social interactions between these cats are vitally important to their survival, so it makes sense that this would translate into deep, secure attachments to owners in pet cats. This physical closeness denotes security, safety, comfort, and the opportunity for your cat to mark their territory.

sleepy cat laying on owners lap
Image Credit: Alena Ozerova, Shutterstock

Why Are Some Cats Clingy?

Some cats may take this need for physical closeness to the next level and stick to their owners like glue. While most owners may not honestly mind this behavior, some clinginess can become obsessive.

Separation anxiety is usually the culprit, as stressed cats will typically retreat to quiet and high ground to escape. In contrast, when separated from their owners, anxious cats may want to huddle up as much as possible.

Sudden clinginess should be investigated, however, as sometimes illnesses or changes within the home can be the culprit, turning a behavior that may have started as cute into a fully-fledged behavioral issue.

How Can I Stop My Cat Sitting Behind Me?

If your cat’s behavior is proving to be disruptive, there are things you can do to help encourage them to sit somewhere else:

  • If your cat sitting behind you is causing problems, you can physically pick them up and move them to a different location
  • You can make it impossible for your cat to sit behind you by giving them no space
  • You can encourage your cat to sit beside you or on your lap
  • You can provide them with their own safe space, such as a bed or box with a blanket inside, which can help with separation anxiety if a worn item of your clothing (with your scent) is also placed inside.

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There are several reasons your cat may like to sit behind you, but most of them are positive. A cat that can comfortably sit so close to (or on top of) its owner trusts them completely, and it shows the strength of your bond. However, if the behavior becomes problematic or obsessive, there may be something else going on. Separation anxiety or illness can cause sudden clinging, so always be sure to take your cat to the vet if you suspect something isn’t right.

Usually, if your cat is sitting behind you, it means that they are relaxed and happy and want to be close to their favorite person.

See also: 

Featured Image Credit: Winessyork, Shutterstock

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