Seeing cats sitting upright is one of the oddest, most adorable positions I’ve ever seen. When I saw my kitty doing this, thinking how can that even be comfortable, I decided to find out why cats do this.
After speaking with my vet and doing research, I wanted to share what I found, as I’m sure you want to know why cats choose this over other cats sleeping positions?
Read on to find out all the reasons a cat sits like a human and if it is normal behavior.
Why Do Some Cats Sit Upright?
Some cats sit upright so they can groom themselves, stretch, seek attention, relax, and it just might be one of the most comfortable positions for them.
A cat sitting down like human beings or upright isn’t an uncommon occurrence, though it is certainly one of their more strange positions.
Several reasons could be behind why you might see cats sitting upright. I’m going to go into more detail below. Most cats will go into the upright position due to these 10 situations:
#1 Grooming Lower Body Parts
One of the more common reasons for a cat sitting like humans is grooming. After all, it can be challenging to reach some of their lower body parts.
So it often requires assuming weird positions to clean them. Plus, it’s not uncommon to see a cat stay upright for a few minutes after cleaning.
These body parts could include their back legs or stomach area. Again, the upright position gives them enough flexibility to groom these body parts.
I’ve even seen my older cat get into this position during his grooming routine. His older age and stomach doesn’t even stop him.
#2 Showing Their Trust
Owners will be happy to know a cat sitting upright could show a sense of trust. It’s a vulnerable position considering they leave their stomach unprotected.
As a result, it’s a sign of them feeling comfortable in their environment. They don’t feel the need to protect themselves against what’s around them.
In most cases, cats will protect their stomachs by any means necessary. It’s the most vulnerable part of their body, especially out in the wild. Large predators will look to attack the stomach area. It offers access to vital organs that only have “primordial pouches” protecting them. 
So owners should look at them lounging around in an upright position as a good thing. You’ve cultivated an environment where they don’t need to be on alert all the time. Plus, it’s one of the most adorable positions!
Here are some signs that your cat really loves you!
#3 Looking for Attention
Humans are unable to ignore a cat sitting upright. It’s an unusual sight to see, which brings our focus to our favorite felines.
I always take pictures of my cat when he’s in this silly position. He doesn’t seem to mind as he stays upright for several minutes. While this body posture looks awkward, my cat seems happy.
I feel like he’s enjoying the attention. So this position could be his way of trying to get my attention when I’m busy doing housework or other chores.
If it’s an attention-seeking maneuver, it’s an effective one. I’m not the only one perplexed by this behavior, either, as my friends and family often ask, “what is your cat doing?”
Anyone unfamiliar with how funny this position looks should check out this video.
The cats in the video get into some pretty entertaining contorted positions!
#4 Relaxation and Comfort
Humans may see this sitting position as uncomfortable for their cats. But felines are flexible, so it can be very comfortable for them.
Owners shouldn’t feel the need to correct their cat’s sitting position at any time. If your cat’s uncomfortable, they will fix the issue.
You should remember there’s a reason behind every cat’s behavior. So it’s best to leave them alone rather than being a helicopter parent.
For instance, comfort is also a possible answer to why do cats lay on their back?
#5 Cooling Themselves Down
Grooming is also a sign of cats who want to cool down. Thus, upright positions allow them to air out their stomachs and cool those areas.
I also wouldn’t get too worried about a cat constantly grooming themselves. It’s usually a sign of cats trying their best to cool down as they can’t sweat as we do.
Cats only release “heat through paw pad sweat glands” rather than their bodies.  So cats must rely on rest, shade, and certain sitting positions to regulate body heat.
An upright sitting position offers the best opportunity to fight against the heat. Give your cat as much room as possible and allow this cooling process to occur.
Your cat sitting like a human could be a part of their stretching routine. After all, cats love to stretch into weird positions to limber up their legs.
It makes sense that a cat may end up in an upright sitting position during this stretching. You can think of it as like a human being doing some yoga.
#7 Mimicking Their Owner’s Behavior
Some cat owners have found their kitties have started mimicking human activities.  One of these behaviors is sitting upright when they want to relax.
This sitting position isn’t the only behavior cats pick up from their owners. My cat has even started to eat or demand his food while I’m cooking.
His sleeping patterns have also started to mimic mine. At first, it was a bit strange because I know cats have nocturnal lifestyles.
But it became clear he was adapting to my routine. It makes sense that he would also start picking up and mimicking how I sit in front of the TV.
Domestic cats have gained a reputation for being lazy. It’s easy to imagine a lazy cat who didn’t feel like expending the energy to change its sitting position.
In other words, their laziness has made them accept this comical pose. After that, your cat will find the energy to move to another position or location.
#9 Belly Rubs!
Our last reason is a bit more dangerous than the previous seven possibilities. Some friendlier cats will sit in an upright position to encourage belly rubs and cuddles.
But if you choose the wrong feline, it’ll lead to scratches. So cat owners must consider their kitty’s body language before giving them belly rubs. 
I can speak from experience based on failing to recognize my cat’s indifference to belly rubs.  It ended with me having scratches and bite marks on my arms.
But if your cat doesn’t mind a belly scratch or two, it’s an excellent bonding experience. It’s also a massive sign of trust from your cat.
#10 Supporting Their Back Muscles
If you catch a cat sleeping sitting up, they could like the back support. It’s not unusual to see a kitty leaving against a railing or couch while catching some z’s.
I was a bit startled when catching my cat sitting up against a railing. But he didn’t seem to be experiencing any discomfort.
In fact, he even let out a few cute cat snores. I even managed to catch a video of it and promptly sent it to everyone in my family.
Cats Sitting Like Humans: Should You Be Worried or is it Normal?
I haven’t encountered any reason this cat pose could be anything worrying. It’s not linked to health concerns or problematic behaviors.
In fact, a cat sitting like a human often shows their trust or comfort. Cat owners should consider it a good sign or routine rather than a concern.
This position isn’t the only one to cause concern, either. For instance, many cat owners wonder why their feline friend sits like a loaf of bread.
If you’re curious to learn more, don’t hesitate to read our article “Why Do Cats Sit in a Loaf Position?” It’ll answer all your questions.
Here’s a fun video of cats in all kinds of weird poses.
What does it mean when a cat sits up high?
Cats sitting up in a higher position is a protective measure. It allows them to sleep without worrying about getting caught off guard by predators. This cat behavior stems from instincts that come from their ancestors.
Why is my cat sitting all hunched up?
Cats sitting in a hunched position indicate discomfort or pain. It’d be wise to contact a vet and schedule an appointment to see what is causing your cat to hunch over. Also, look for other problematic indicators, such as closed or glazed eyes.
Why does my cat sit up like a meerkat?
Cats who stand up on their hind legs like meerkats are doing it out of necessity. It’s a survival tactic to display themselves as bigger to frighten predators. Humans should do the same when encountering large animals in the wild, such as bears.
Why does my cat sit like a human?
Your cat sits like a human to groom itself, cool down, for attention, or simply because it is its favorite pose.
The reasons why you will see cats sitting upright or like a human can vary. But the key takeaway is it’s not anything to worry about as a pet owner.
If anything, this position shows their faith and comfort in their owner. So I wouldn’t overthink it besides taking a few funny pictures to show your family and friends.
- 1. published TS. Why do cats have belly “pouches”? [Internet]. livescience.com. 2021 [cited 2022 Jun 29]. Available from: https://www.livescience.com/cats-primordial-pouch.html
- 2. Do Pets Sweat? How Cats and Dogs Stay Cool [Internet]. Wheaton Animal Hospital Blog. 2017 [cited 2022 Jun 29]. Available from: https://www.wheatonanimalhospital.com/blog/pets-sweat/#:~:text=Most%20people%20have%20never%20considered
- 3. published JV. Cats Take on Owners’ Habits (Good and Bad) [Internet]. livescience.com. 2013 [cited 2022 Jun 29]. Available from: https://www.livescience.com/26405-cats-adopt-human-habits.html
- 4. Reading your cat’s “body language” [Internet]. Available from: https://www.winnipeghumanesociety.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Reading-a-Cats-Body-Language.pdf
- 5. Here’s why cats hate belly rubs so much [Internet]. Animals. 2019. Available from: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/article/cats-questions-pets-faucets-bellies
I’ve grown up surrounded by animals – dogs, cats, cows, goats, sheep, and horses and that has shaped me into what I am today – a crazy cat lady who always has a place for one more cat (or a dog). I’ve got two female cats – Kitty and Roni, and two tomcats – Blacky and Shaggy, but I also feed my neighbors’ cats when they come for a visit. I just can’t say no to them.
I discovered that writing is my vocation early in my school years. Since then I’ve taken part in several literature contests – writing horror and fantasy short stories and novellas.
For the past three years, I’ve been an ELS teacher, pouring my heart into showing children and teenagers how important English is for their future and trying to educate them how to treat their pets with care.
Learn more about Grigorina here