Why does my cat sleep between my legs? It is common knowledge that cats can exhibit some pretty weird behaviors.

One of them in our house is that when my cat is all tuckered out, she will come to settle herself between my legs to go to sleep.

I thought this was crazy, but it turns out she’s perfectly normal (or as normal as anyone can be in our family).

Let’s look at some of the reasons a cat may decide this is where she wants to sleep.

6 Reasons Why Your Cat Loves to Sleep Between Your Legs 

Reason 1: It’s Comfortable 

orange cat sleeping at the feet of his owners

Just as a cat may choose to sleep on your feet as a sign of comfort, it may also choose to sleep between your legs.

Depending on your cat’s personality, both may be deemed as safe places for them to be.

It’s okay to let them sleep there if it doesn’t bother you, just be careful you don’t send them flying into the air if you decide to change positions.

It can be easy to forget your feline friend has decided to take a nap.

Yesterday, our cat was snoozing, and I got up to refill my coffee, forgetting little miss was sleeping between my legs.

Luckily, she has swift cat instincts and jumped up before my moves sent her catapulting into the air.

Of course, I apologized to her. All I got back was a look of pure disgust for disturbing her sleep.

Related: When a Cat Sleeps at Your Feet and Why

Reason 2: It’s Warm 

According to PetMD, when a cat sleeps between your legs [1], it is seeking a warm nest-like place to sleep.

So essentially speaking, you are like the cat’s own little heating pad. Curling up inside of your legs becomes the perfect spot to envelope them in extra warmth.

Understanding that cats have slept in piles on top of each other since they were born can help explain this behavior.

They seek the warmth of body heat, and you are able to provide that for them.

A certified cat behavior expert, Marilyn Krieger, tells us, “a cat’s average body temperature is 102 degrees Fahrenheit” [2].

“They need to maintain heat for proper basal metabolism,” she continues, “so seeking an external heat source allows the body not to have to work so hard to stay warm while they are sleeping”.

This can also explain why Friskers likes to stretch out on the windowsill when the sun is at its warmest. To the cats, the warmth is something their body craves.

Think about it, when your cat is sleeping between your legs, she is getting immediate warmth on both sides!

Reason 3: Your Cat Trusts You 

cute kitty hugging his owner

You can consider it a sign that your cat has thoroughly bonded with you when they decide you are safe enough to curl up and go to sleep since that is when they are most vulnerable.

Cats are natural predators. According to Roland Kays, a North Carolina State University scientist, even cats just moving around their backyards are significant hunters [3].

So they pick and choose carefully who they will decide to trust.

I think my son is the cat’s favorite in our house, but she has no qualms about curling up between my legs and going to sleep if he is otherwise occupied with teen typical teen things.

Is she fickle? I’m going to say no, and just think instead that she is smart. If one avenue is not available, isn’t it always smart to find another? Kudos to our clever girl.

Reason 4: Your Cat Feels Safe

Your cat may simply feel safe when they get to sleep curled up between your legs. It allows them to the safety net to take a cat nap, if you will, without worrying about someone coming in to bother them.

Of course, in our house, visitors sometimes bring their small children with them. They may be seeking out a kitty who clearly is not looking to be sought.

For her protection, she may curl up between my legs and expect me to shoo off the unwelcome (in her eyes) visitors. And I do, but in a very loving way, of course.

Reason 5: They’re leaving Pheromones 

lady cuddling her cat on the bed

Yes, your cat is marking their territory. It is not uncommon for a cat to snuggle up against you and fall asleep for the sole purpose of engaging their scent glands to pass around their pheromones.

They are marking their territory and making sure everyone knows you, and the place where they live belongs fully to them.

John Bradshaw, author of “The Behavior of a Domestic Cat” assures us that it is normal cat behavior [4] for a cat to find their safe place, sleeping between our legs.

ALSO CHECK: Why Does My Cat Sleep Pressed Up Against Me?

Reason 6: It’s a Good Vantage Point 

Cats are very observant and always on high alert (even when they are sleeping). They like to seek out the most likely place where they can be aware of everything that is going on in their space.

They may do this in part because they are hardwired to have hunter instincts. Dr. Radosta explains that the hunting instinct does not disappear just because a cat is lucky enough to live inside.

Settling in between your legs allows them to take in everything all at once, which is settling to them. If they can see everything going on, they can feel comfortable in their skin.

From this vantage point, they can comfortably make all of their critical cat decisions, such as can they take a nap or is it time to bolt?

READ MORE: Why Does My Cat Sleep Between Me and My Partner?

Should you let your cat sleep between your legs? 

It’s entirely up to you if you feel comfortable enough to let your cat sleep between your legs at night. Do you feel like they are safe?

Is it something you think is necessary for them to feel comfortable for the time being in your home? Has it become one of their favorite spots?

These questions and others like them vary based on each individual situation and owner. What may be the cat’s meow for your and your feline friend may not be okay for someone else.

Cat sleeping between your legs: When you should worry

There is one time when you should worry, and that is if your cat is exhibiting the new behavior of sleeping between your legs.

If this is something they have never done before, the unusual cat behavior may signify distress or a medical need.

It is always best to make a swift appointment with your local veterinarian when in doubt.

Another time you should worry is if it is during the night and you move around a lot in your sleep.

Though cats have the instincts of well cats and will likely move just in the nick of time, there are instances where they might not.

Even if their favorite sleeping spot has become you, you do not want to send your cat catapulting into outer space simply because you are a restless sleeper.

Want to Curb this behavior? What should you do? 

If you don’t like your cat sleeping in between your legs, you can take measures to help:

tortie kitten playing a tie
  • Shut the bedroom door at night
  • Recondition them by doing constructive things to redirect them when they settle in between your legs. This can include playing, feeding them, or simply getting up and moving.
  • Wrap yourself up in a blanket so they do not have access to sleeping in this spot.

There are simple measures you can take to positively recondition kitty’s notions on where it is they can and cannot sleep.

FAQs 

Why does my cat sleep next to me?

lady hugging her orange cat

Your cat may sleep next to you for comfort, warmth, or as a sign that they trust and love you.

Why does my cat sleep on my bed?

It could be that your cat chooses to sleep on the bed for the same reason you do. It’s comfortable. They may also sleep on it to be close to you or smell your scent while they doze off into la-la land.

Conclusion

If your cat is sleeping between your legs, it is probably because they are looking for a comfortable place or a spot, a source of warmth.

It could also be that they have a sense of security when they are close to you…they feel a sense of protection, or they simply want to find a place to rest that allows them to keep an eye on everything. 

Whatever the reason, it can be a good sign of bonding that your cat feels safe enough to sleep with you.

As a cat owner, you probably already know, that not everyone gets so lucky.

cat sleeping between feet

Why does your cat sleep between your legs? Please share your opinion below!

References

  • 1. 20 Cat Sleeping Positions and What They Mean [Internet]. www.petmd.com. Available from: https://www.petmd.com/cat/general-health/cat-sleeping-positions-and-what-they-mean
  • 2. Strange Cat Facts: “Why Does My Cat Sleep On My Head?” [Internet]. www.petmd.com. [cited 2022 Apr 19]. Available from: https://www.petmd.com/cat/care/evr_ct_why-does-my-cat-sleep-on-my-head
  • 3. The Killer At Home: House Cats Have More Impact On Local Wildlife Than Wild Predators [Internet]. NPR.org. Available from: https://www.npr.org/2020/04/18/820953617/the-killer-at-home-house-cats-have-more-impact-on-local-wildlife-than-wild-preda
  • 4. Why Does My Cat Sleep Between My Legs [Internet]. 2020 [cited 2022 Apr 19]. Available from: https://animalpath.org/why-does-my-cat-sleep-between-my-legs/
Rosey A
Rosey A

Rosey A. is a teacher by day, a freelancer by night. She enjoys family, friends, travel, and writing.
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