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Why Does My Cat Sleep on My Pillow? 6 Potential Reasons

Written by: Rachel Giordano

Last Updated on January 19, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

cat sleeping with owner

Why Does My Cat Sleep on My Pillow? 6 Potential Reasons

Cat owners are no strangers to waking up with cat fur in their faces, followed by the faint sounds of a purring, content kitty. Cats are funny creatures and can sleep almost anywhere, but have you ever wondered why your cat sleeps on your pillow? What is it about your pillow that draws your cat near to sleep on it? Frankly, there are a few reasons why your cat chooses to sleep on your pillow, and it’s not just love and affection for you; however, that is one reason.

In this post, we’ll discuss six reasons why your cat chooses your pillow to rest so you know why you wake up to fur and purrs.

3 cat face divider

The 6 Reasons Why Your Cat Sleeps on Your Pillow

1. Love and Affection

Some cats are finicky and are typically much more independent than dogs, but this doesn’t mean they are incapable of showing affection toward you. Your cat will want to be near you when they show love and affection, and a prime place to show that affection is on your pillow. If you have a strong bond with your cat, your cat will want to be as close to you as possible, even when you’re sleeping.

Cat Sleep on Bed
Image Credit: merkulovstudio, Shutterstock

2. Seeking Warmth

Have you noticed that your cat always seeks a warm place to lie? Cats love to be warm, and the body heat from your head combined with the coziness of your pillow is prime real estate. This is particularly true for senior cats. Heat escapes through humans’ heads, making the pillow the warmest place in town for your cat. Cats have a warmer body temperature than humans, averaging around 102°F, which is why they prefer warm environments.

The pillow is also a better option for your cat rather than getting under the covers, which would be too hot. Your pillow provides enough warmth, and your cat can be warm and close to you simultaneously.


3. Trust and Protection

Cats have the instinct to be on alert, which is why they seek out high places to lie so that they can keep a watchful eye on their surroundings. In the wild, cats sleep in high places to avoid being attacked in their sleep, and domesticated cats carry this trait, too. When your cat sleeps on your pillow, they are showing that they trust you for protection and know they don’t have to be on full alert in your presence. Think of this as a huge compliment!

cat sleep_Ebowalker_Pixabay
Image Credit: Ebowalker, Pixabay

4. Showing Dominance

To cats, every person or other pet in the home is part of their tribe, and establishing the order of hierarchy is of utmost importance. This is especially true if you’ve added another pet into the home. Your cat may start sleeping on your pillow, showing they are the top cat, and have priority with everything, including sleeping with you, the primary caregiver.


5. Your Scent

When you have bonded with your cat, your scent becomes a comforting smell. Your cat may seek out your pillow while you’re away because they miss you.

Your cat may also be attracted to the laundry detergent’s scent you use, or it could also be a shampoo’s scent your cat finds appealing. Cats have a powerful sense of smell. In fact, they have roughly 200 million scent receptors versus 5 million for humans, which gives you an indication of just how strong their sense of smell truly is.

brown tabby cat sleeps on a white pillow
Image Credit: Magui RF, Shutterstock

6. Stress/Anxiety/Fear

 Lastly, your cat may be distressed. Seeking out your pillow is a way to ease fear and anxiety, especially if you have an anxious cat. You, the primary caregiver, are a source of comfort and protection for your cat, and cuddling up on your pillow with you can help ease that stress. In short, your cat may feel safe lying on your pillow when you’re in bed, particularly if you have a strong bond.

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Should You Allow Your Cat to Sleep on Your Pillow?

While it may seem cute and comforting, allowing your cat to sleep on your pillow is not the best idea in the world, but why?

For starters, it’s less likely that you’ll get a good night’s sleep with your fluff-ball kitty lying on your pillow, especially if your cat is a big shedder, like a Maine Coon or a Siberian. Your bed (particularly your pillow) will be covered in cat hair, and it’s never pleasant to get cat hair in your eyes, especially if you have allergies.

Letting your cat lay on your pillow may also allow your cat to show dominance over you. It’s better to establish boundaries with your kitty to show you’re the boss, and this is where you sleep and not them.

Then, of course, there is a chance of your cat bringing fungal or bacterial infections into the bed, which can be exposed to you. Not to mention your cat can bring dirt and debris from the litter box despite their extreme grooming habits.

Cat lying beside owner pillow bed sleeping
Image By: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

How to Remedy the Situation

Once your cat has figured out that they love to sleep on your pillow, it can be a hard habit to break, but it’s not impossible. Cats are not fond of change, and it will take time. In the end, it’s best not to allow it in the first place if possible.

Ensure you provide your cat with their own bed and blankets. You can even use an old shirt that has your scent on it for added comfort. If you supply your cat with their comfy bed, odds are they won’t desire your pillow as much.

If nothing works, a trip to the vet may be in order. Your cat may be experiencing anxiety and fear issues, as mentioned in the sixth reason on our list. If your cat continues to meow and is determined to lie on your pillow, it’s wise to have them checked out.

3 cat face dividerFinal Thoughts

Hearing your cat’s purrs while sharing your pillow is cute, and you may feel your cat is doing this because they have a strong bond with you. While that may be the case, there could be other reasons why your cat is lying on your pillow, with stress and anxiety being a real concern. If you cannot remedy the situation on your own, we suggest contacting your vet to have your cat checked for any possible medical issues.

Read more about cats, beds, and cuteness on Catster:


Featured Image Credit: KatinkavomWolfenmond, Pixabay

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