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

Let’s face it: We’re never going to fully 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 means you can’t easily change position because you’re trapped!

But for your cat, this behavior has logical reasons. If sleeping between your legs is your cat’s preferred napping position, you might be wondering exactly why they choose that particular spot. So, let’s find out!

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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, so 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 heating usually goes off and the sun has set, what’s going to be the warmest place in the house? You are! Sleeping between your legs gives your cat the perfect location, as your legs can keep them warm on both sides! Cats will often seem to 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!

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2. They’re marking you as their territory

Cat Sleeping Between Legs

If you have multiple cats at home, you might find that some of them like to sleep in between your legs and others don’t. Cats are territorial, so 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 get into a fight over that particular 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, including on you! They scent-mark their favorite spots to let other cats in the house 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!

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3. You make them feel secure

Cats might be predators, but in the wild, they’re also the prey for larger animals. Even though your domestic kitties don’t need to worry about getting pounced on while they sleep, it’s still ingrained into 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’re providing them a safe haven where they can sleep soundly, knowing that you’re looking out for them. How adorable is that?

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4. They’re bonding with you

Cat Sleep Between legs
Image Credit: myllissa, Flickr

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 only have one cat, they may attempt the same bonding behavior with you. 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!

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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 yourself, suffering from cramps in your legs, or 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 gently persuade your cat to find a new sleeping spot is the answer. Consider getting them a new cat bed with a heating pad, so they can feel warm and cozy in there instead. Or place down a t-shirt with your scent on it to help them to feel comforted without actually sleeping on you!

If you’re still happy with your cat sleeping on your bed, but you 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!

cat sleeping on owener's legs
Image Credit: Jon Ross, Flickr

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When to worry about your cat sleeping between your legs

For 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 not well. Cats are extremely skilled at hiding pain, so they may be stressed or uncomfortable and seeking out a warm spot to rest. If you notice any other different behavior, like not eating or drinking as much, excessive vocalization, or anything else that sets alarm bells ringing, then 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.

Plenty of cats have their favorite sleeping spot, and figuring out why can help you understand your feline friend that much better.

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Featured Image: Alena Ozerova, Shutterstock