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Why Does My Cat Sleep Between My Legs? 5 Reasons for This Behavior

Written by: Christian Adams

Last Updated on June 7, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

cute red cat sleeping on the human's legs

Why Does My Cat Sleep Between My Legs? 5 Reasons for This Behavior

We’re never going to understand our cats and their quirky behavior! If your cat loves to snuggle up for a nap between your legs, you might be shaking your head as to why, especially since you can’t easily change position! For your cat, this behavior has logical reasons.

If sleeping between your legs is your cat’s preferred napping position, we’ll help you determine the reason and show you how to encourage them to sleep elsewhere if needed.

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Top 5 Reasons Cats Sleep Between Your Legs

1. You Help Keep Them Warm and Cozy

The first consideration for many cats when choosing their sleeping location is warmth. Cats love to feel warm, and they often go out of their way to find someplace as warm as possible. During the day, that might be a spot of sunshine or above the radiator.

But at night, when the temperature decreases, and the sun has set, what will be the warmest place in the house? You are! Sleeping between your legs gives your cat the perfect location since your legs can keep them warm on both sides.

Cats will choose a place to sleep that looks uncomfortable to us, but if it’s warm, they’ll make themselves fit into whatever spot they’ve chosen.

2. They’re Marking You as Their Territory

If you have multiple cats at home, you might find that some like to sleep in between your legs, and others don’t. Cats are territorial, and one of your cats may claim this spot as their zone, and your other cats will know that they should stay away unless they want to fight over the sleeping spot.

You might even find that one of your cats settles down for a nap between your legs, only to be pushed out of place by one of your other cats when they decide that it’s actually where they want to sleep. Cats leave pheromones around your house and on you!

They scent-mark their favorite spots to let other cats know that a “spot” belongs to them. So, if you notice your cat rubbing their cheeks or face on your legs before they settle down, they’re marking you.

Cat Sleeping Between Legs of owner
Image Credit by: Cat sleeping between legs of owner, Matt Buck, Flickr CC SA 2.0

3. You Make Them Feel Secure

Cats might be predators, but they’re also prey for larger animals in the wild. Even though your domestic kitties don’t need to worry about getting pounced on while they sleep, it’s still ingrained in them to find a safe place.

All animals are vulnerable when they sleep, but there’s safety in numbers. Kittens sleep piled into an adorable bundle, staying near their mother for safety and security. So, when your adult cat chooses to sleep curled up between your legs, you provide them a safe haven to sleep soundly, knowing that you’re looking out for them.

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4. They’re Bonding With You

If you have multiple cats, you might notice that they love to sleep curled up together. This helps them bond with each other, as well as keep each other warm. This behavior is called “pillowing.” You might see your cats using each other’s bodies as pillows and snuggling in for a nap.

If you have only one cat, they may attempt the same bonding behavior. Even if you have multiple cats, some of them might not get along well enough with each other to carry out pillowing, so they’ll probably try it with you!

Soft cuddly tabby cat lying in its owner's lap enjoying and purring while the owner is reading a book
Image Credit by: Impact Photography, Shutterstock

5. They Want a Deep Sleep

Our cats can take a quick catnap just about anywhere, from the arm of your couch to the top of the bookshelf. This is how cats refresh themselves most of the time. But if they need a really deep sleep, they’ll seek out somewhere safe so they can truly relax. Where is safer to drift off into a deep sleep than the security of sleeping between their owner’s legs?

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What to Do if You Don’t Want Your Cat Sleeping Between Your Legs

If you’re happy for your cat to sleep between your legs as often as they want to, then great! But for some owners, it might mean you’re finding it harder to get to sleep, suffering from cramps in your legs, waking up when you need to roll over, and finding that you can’t drop off back to sleep.

In that case, finding a way to persuade your cat to find a new sleeping spot is the answer. Consider getting them a new cat bed with a heating pad so that they can feel warm and cozy. Or place a t-shirt with your scent on their bed to help them feel comforted without actually sleeping on you!

If you’re still happy with your cat sleeping on your bed but don’t want them sleeping between your legs, try using clicker training to reward them for sleeping next to you instead. They’ll soon realize that being next to you is almost as good, and they get treats!

When to Worry About Your Cat Sleeping Between Your Legs

99% of the time, your cat sleeping between your legs is absolutely fine, and you don’t need to worry about it all unless it’s difficult for you to sleep, too. For the other 1% of the time, your cat might be sleeping more than usual because they’re sick. Cats are skilled at hiding pain, so they may be stressed or uncomfortable and seek a warm resting spot.

If you notice odd behavior, like not eating or drinking as much, excessive vocalization, or anything else that sets alarm bells ringing, the best thing to do is seek out advice from your vet. They can give your cat an exam to check that they don’t have any medical conditions or injuries that need treatment.

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Plenty of cats have their favorite sleeping spot, and figuring out why can help you understand your feline friend much better. One of these places is between your legs, among other strange favorites. This behavior is usually fine and nothing to worry about; your cat simply wants a snuggle!

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Featured Image Credit: Vova Shevchuk, Shutterstock

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