As a cat owner, it’s hard to ignore your cat’s special relationship with your footwear.

If you’ve found yourself missing your favorite pair of shoes when you’re rushing to the door in the morning, you know what I mean. 

The culprit? Your cat, of course!   

And, no, your cat isn’t showcasing any out-of-the-ordinary behavior. Some cats love laying on your shoes because they want to be as close to you as possible. 

If you’re wondering what else could make them behave this way, read on to find out more. 

READ MORE: Reasons Why My Cat Sleeps Between My Legs

4 Reasons Why Cats Lay on Shoes

There are a variety of explanations as to why shoe cuddling is a natural behavior among cats. 

This cat owner wants to get his shoes without bothering his sleeping cat. His feline companion was likely looking for somewhere warm to take a nap. 

Warmth is only one of the reasons cats lay on shoes. Here are some of the common ones you should know:

1. Your Shoes Smell Like You

According to Paws Chicago, cats have 200 million odor senses in their noses while humans have only  5 million. With this superpower,  cats tend to rely heavily on their sense of smell to retain their nine lives. [2]

cat beside a white shoes with heels

 Every human being has a unique natural scent, and when your cat gets used to this scent, it can recognize it anywhere, even in your shoes. 

Cats have scent glands on top of their heads, cheeks, and chins. These glands have pheromones. When cats rub themselves on objects like your shoes, they’re leaving behind pheromones they can recognize later on“, says Katie Grzyb, DVM. [3]

Cats lay on shoes for the simple reason that the shoe smell is familiar. It smells like their favorite person.

Your natural scent comforts your cat, so shoe cuddling is their way of saying they miss you. 

TRY READING: Why Is My Cat Shaking So Much?

2. In Search of Comfort

cute cat sleeping on the shoes

Your cat may not only be lying on your shoes because they like you. The cat could also be looking for a comfortable spot around the house, and your shoes happened to be it.

Because your cat quickly recognizes your scent, they can look for other objects with that distinct smell. 

This includes everything from your shoes to your dirty laundry or clothes.

If your cat is alone all day, you will likely find them lying on soft surfaces to keep themselves company before you return.

Like a security blanket, sometimes your cat needs to feel close to you when you are away. 

Playing with your shoelaces is also a typical behavior when cats want to self-soothe before you get back home.

Cats also see playing with shoelaces as hunting a snake-like creature, so it’s a fun game for them to play. 

3. To Mark Their Territory

persian cat surrounded with ladies shoes

Like most feline companions, cats are territorial. Dogs pee to mark their territory and find their way back to their favorite spot.

On the other hand, Cats will rub their heads on your shoes or leg to mark their territory. 

They feel more comfortable sleeping around an area they have marked (left pheromones on). You’ll find them rubbing their heads on furniture or putting their heads in your shoes.

It doesn’t matter the type of shoe. Your cat’s curious behavior will always make it explore your shoes to discover where you’ve been. 

 If your cat has rubbed its head on you, he likes you enough to want you around. Cats might also be marking their territory because of feline anxiety. A study carried out on 644 cats found that one of the most common behavioral problems in cats results from anxiety. It can manifest in different ways, like scratching furniture and destroying shoes. [1]

Using your shoes as a chew toy is an attention-seeking behavior in cats to get your affection. 

4. For Warmth

Cats don’t feel cold the same way we do. With a body temperature of 102 degrees, cats are warmer than people who have an average body temperature of 98.7 degrees.

cat hugging a shoe

Despite this, cats will still search for warm places around your home, so they don’t have to do too much to remain warm. If your cat is having an affair with shoes, it’s likely because they are cold. 

Your shoes might still be warm after a long day, and your cat knows this. They might sit there for a while and look for another warm spot when it gets cold.

You’ll notice your cat lays on places that are already warm, like on articles of clothing, your seat, dirty laundry, or your bed. 

These are the top  4 reasons cats love your shoes, but there are other cat obsessions you should keep an eye out for:

Other Cat Shoe Obsessions

Why does my cat stick his head in my shoes?

Cats are notoriously curious animals. It doesn’t help that they have a sharp sense of smell 14 times better than humans.

kitten hugging a shoe

Sticking their heads into shoes allows you to take in different smells and confirm who you are through your natural scent. 

Why does my cat put her paws in my shoes?

This can be a way for your cat to mark their territory and let you know they like you. They could also be playing with your shoes because they are bored. 

Why do cats sleep on shoes?

Cats will sleep in warm places because it is soothing and comfortable. Your shoes are warm, and they smell like you too. For a cat, this is an ideal place to take a nap. 

How to Prevent Your Cat from Using Your Shoe as a Chew Toy

As much as cats laying on your shoes is natural behavior, it can get annoying when you’re running late and can’t find your shoes.

kitten playing with a shoe lace

The best way for both of you to be happy is to take additional precautions to make your shoes inaccessible to your pet. It won’t be easy, but here are some tips:

#1 Limit Access

If you want to avoid even the slightest chance of your cat getting to your shoes, you need to keep them out of reach.

Restricting access is much easier than trying to change their natural behavior. 

A shoe rack won’t do the trick because cats are skilled at reaching high places. You can try placing your shoes in a sealable plastic bag or a shoe closet. 

#2 Distraction

One of the best ways to keep your cat away from your expensive shoes is to distract them with other objects.

Getting your cat toys or favorite treats can keep them busy enough to reclaim your shoes.

It would help if you didn’t distract them with your old shoes because they can’t tell the difference between a new and old pair of shoes.

Ensure you distract them safely because they can easily scratch you to get back the shoe.

FAQs

Do cats recognize their owner’s scent?

Yes. Most of the time, cats will be at your feet and don’t have the chance to look at your face long enough to memorize it. They recognize their favorite people by their scent. 
Make sure to also read our guide about “Why do cats lay at your feet?”

Why does my cat scratch shoes?

This aggressive behavior in felines could be a way to mark their territory, stretch their paws, or simply remove the dead layer on their claws. 

Conclusion

When cats sleep on your shoes, they’re just showing you how much they like you. Cats are picky about their company, and your cat laying on your shoes is a way for them to show you they care. 

While cats lying on your shoes doesn’t cause much damage, getting them away from your cat is still troublesome.

But if you aren’t comfortable finding cat hair in your shoes, you can try limiting access to your favorite pairs or distract them with treats. 

kittens laying on the shoes while playing

Why do cats lay on your shoes? Please share your opinion below!

Resources

  • 1. Strickler, B. L., & Shull, E. A. (2014). An owner survey of toys, activities, and behavior problems in Indoor Cats. Journal of Veterinary Behavior, 9(5), 207–214. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jveb.2014.06.005
  • 2. Cat Senses | PAWS Chicago [Internet]. www.pawschicago.org. Available from: https://www.pawschicago.org/news-resources/all-about-cats/kitty-basics/cat-senses#:~:text=Cats%20have%20more%20than%20200
  • 3. Why Do Cats Rub Against You? [Internet]. www.petmd.com. Available from: https://www.petmd.com/cat/behavior/why-do-cats-rub-against-you
Ben Robers
Ben Robers

My name is Ben Roberts, and I absolutely love animals. So, naturally, I love writing about them too! As far as my animals, I have a Pit-bull, a Beagle-lab mix, a Chihuahua, and one old cat. Each one of them provides me with a new adventure every day. And the best part is they’re all best friends. Well, except the cat when he gets a little annoyed. Learn more about Benhere
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