Why do cats get in your face while you sleep?

There’s nothing strange about a cat sleeping in its owner’s bed, but you can’t help being curious when your cat insists on sleeping on top of your face. 

So, let’s dive in a learn just why cats sleep on faces and why your feline friend is so obsessed with doing this.

Why Do Cats Sleep on Your Face? 10 Reasons

cat rolling and dreaming

Cats spend the better part of their day and night sleeping in various cute positions – belly-up with paws in the air, curled in a ball, or stretched on the side. 

It’s not surprising that your cat sleeps so much. As vets explain, “all that sleep he gets is reserve energy for running, pouncing, climbing and stalking.” (1)

So, why do cats sleep on your face? Cats cuddle close to your face because they’re seeking security, showing affection, or using you as a heat source,  to name just a few.

Let’s take a closer look at these reasons in detail so you can learn to read your cat’s body language and understand why your cat is obsessed with your face.  

ALSO CHECK: Why Do Cats Want to Sleep With You?

#1 I’m Cold

Have you ever noticed that your kitty runs hotter than you?

A cat’s normal body temperature is between 100.4 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit, so they need a lot of energy to maintain it, especially when asleep. 

External heat sources help cats to conserve energy. That’s why cats are so attracted to sunny spots and radiators.

Your face also radiates warmth, so some cats get in your face when you’re sleeping because they’re cold and want to soak up your body heat. 

#2 I’m Showing Affection

Why does my cat lay on my face? 

Cats are vulnerable when in a deep sleep, so they never let their guard down around people and animals they don’t like or trust.

ginger cat sleeping on the chest of the kid

This means if your cat sleeps on your face it is a sign of affection. Your kitty loves you so much they trust you not to spook or harm them at night! 

#3 I’m Seeking Security

In the wild, cats choose their sleeping area carefully to avoid predators and other dangers. Domestic cats don’t have to worry about something eating them, but they still have this natural instinct.

What’s the safest place around the house? It’s next to you, of course! Your kitty knows you’ll protect them no matter what comes through the door!

Snuggling close to your face and neck also allows your cat to hear your heartbeat. It reminds your cat of being a small kitten, snuggling with its mother. This is one of the main answers to the question “why do cats get in your face while you sleep?”

#4 I Don’t Want to Get Squished

Your cat isn’t stupid!

It knows that you can kick them in the middle of the night or squish them with your heavy body. Sleeping near your face reduces the chance of injury.

And as a cat behavior expert explains, “Being towards the head, there’s less agitation than there would be lower down. The cat wouldn’t have to move as much or be as accommodating.” (2)

#5 I’m Leaving Marks of Ownership

lady hugging her orange cat

Why do cats get close to your face? Cats are territorial creatures, so sometimes cats sleep on faces, rub against your legs, or make biscuits because they’re scent marking you.

Cats have scent glands in their cheeks and paw pads and use them to leave their scent on all objects and people to claim ownership.

So, if your cat sleeps on your face, you can count yourself among your cat’s favorite people, especially if your kitty likes to head bunt you! 

#6 I Want to Be Near You

Why is my cat in my face when I sleep? It is usually because she wants to cuddle or is anxious about being alone. 

Some felines sneak into your bed and close to your face when seeking your familiar scent which lures them into a deeper sleep. Think about yourself as your cat’s security blanket!

#7 Establishing Status

Cats have an excellent sense of smell, so it’s a piece of cake for them to sniff where you’ve been and who you’ve petted. And your furry friend doesn’t like it when you smell like another feline.

So, in multi-cat households, the “alpha” cat may sleep on your face to show the rest of the family who the boss is.

#8 I’m Comfortable

Despite what it looks like, cats never sleep in uncomfortable positions.

cute kitty sleeping

So, even when you wonder, “How do cats sleep with their head up?” you can rest assured that your kitty is comfortable and content. 

#9 I’m Curious

All cat owners will agree that cats are curious creatures, and their curiosity often gets them into trouble. Sometimes cats are intrigued by the noises and expressions you make when you sleep. This attracts them to your face.

#10 I’m Seeking Attention

Very few things can get your attention quicker than a cat sprawling on your face. So, if your cat suddenly starts sleeping on your face, it can be a sign that your kitty is bored.

Cat Sleeping On Your Face: Is It Safe? What Can You Do About it? 

lady cuddling her cat on the bed

There’s nothing wrong with sharing a bed at night with your cat. However, is it safe for your cat to sleep on your face? 

Risks of Cat Sleeping on Your Face 

In general, you shouldn’t let your cat sleep with young children or babies because the cat might suffocate them by accident.

It’s also not smart to let your cat sleep on your face if you have allergies or respiratory problems that make it hard to breathe. 

More importantly, you can startle your cat during the night if you toss and turn or have a nightmare. A scared cat might attack you or fall off the bed and get hurt.

Benefits of Cat Sleeping on Your Face

While some dangers exist if pet parents decide to let a cat sleep on their face, you should also consider the benefits:

  • Allowing your cat to snuggle with you strengthens your bond and establishes trust.
  • Cat’s purring can lower your blood pressure, relieve anxiety, and reduce the risk of a heart attack. Petting cats also release happy hormones, making you feel better. 
  • Cats are an excellent external heat source on cold winter days. 
  • It is good for your mental health. The Sleep Foundation says – “Having a pet can reduce worries and loneliness, distract from mental illness symptoms, help regulate emotions, and add to a sense of purpose and meaning in life.” (3)

How to Stop Cat From Sleeping on My Face?

So, you’ve got a cat that likes to sleep on your face, but you’re worried about hurting your cat. What can you do to stop the cat from sleeping on your face?

Here are three quick tips to help you. 

#1 Tire Your Cat Out

kitten playing with yarns

Cats are crepuscular creatures, active around dusk and dawn. To avoid your cat getting in your face when you sleep, you should play with your cat before going to bed to tire them. 

Also, feeding your cat later in the evening or getting an automatic feeder can reduce the chances of a hungry cat waking you up to fill the bowl of cat food.  

#2 Establish Boundaries

If you don’t want your cat to sleep close to you or wake you up in the morning by jumping on the bed, don’t give your cat bedroom access.

Once your cat considers the bed its favorite sleeping spot, it will be twice as hard to make your furry friend move to its cat bed.

#3 Be Consistent

Pet owners often give in to their cat’s insistent meowing and open the bedroom door to let them in. That’s a huge mistake because cats quickly learn that they can get attention with lots of meows.  

#4 Provide an Alternative Sleep Spots

ginger cat sleeping

Cats need a cat bed even if they spend most of their time napping on the couch or inside a cardboard box. And getting a comfy bed can convince your cat to move from your face to the soft bedding.

#5 Reward Good Behavior

Give your cat treats whenever it doesn’t sleep in your bed, and your feline will quickly figure out what brings the rewards. 

Why Is My Cat Obsessed With My Face?

So, your cat is trying to get in your face whenever they’ve got the chance. What’s going on with your kitty, and should you be concerned? 

Cats can be obsessed with your face because they want to tell you something – maybe your cat is hungry, thirsty, or bored.

Face obsession can also be an expression of affection, territory marking, or a sign of separation anxiety.

Why Does My Cat Jump on My Face When I’m Sleeping?

Usually, when your cat jumps on your face while you’re sleeping, your furry friend wants something:

  • If it’s early in the morning, your little furball is likely hungry or thirsty and can’t wait for you to wake up! 
  • Cats get bored in the middle of the night, so they find it funny to jump on the bed and wake you up from your beauty sleep to play with them.
  • Your cat is attracted by the noises and movements you make while asleep and gets close to you to observe you. 

Why Do Cats Sniff Your Face When Sleeping?

It’s normal for cats to sniff your face when you’re sleeping. Remember that felines have an excellent sense of smell, so it’s natural for them to be curious about any unfamiliar scents around you.

Moreover, you may have some tiny leftover bits of food on your chin or cheeks or use facial creams that smell interesting to your cat. 

Sometimes cats sniff your face as a greeting gesture – observe two cats meeting, and you’ll see them sniffing each other’s faces for a bit! 

READ MORE: Why Do Cats Lay on Shoes?

Why Does My Cat Get So Close To My Face? 

Is your cat getting so close to your face that you feel uncomfortable? Well, that’s a good sign about your relationship with your cat. 

As I already said, felines often greet each other by sniffing their faces, and they rarely do it with cats they don’t like. So, being so close to you is how your cat shows trust and affection, as in this video.

Moreover, cats use this closeness to leave their scent all over your body and mark over any other feline scents.  

Why Does My Cat Touch My Face with Her Paw?

If your cat touches your face with its paws while asleep, your kitty is trying to wake you up so that you can fill their food bowls.

Sometimes cats also touch your face because they’re in a playful mood and want you to get up and spend quality time with them, as in this video.

And a cat twitching in sleep can also touch your face with its paws by accident. 

FAQs

HOW DO CATS CHOOSE WHO TO SLEEP WITH?

Usually, cats sleep with their favorite person – the one that pays them the most attention and provides tasty food. So don’t be surprised if your cat sleeps with you but not your husband. Read our guide about “Why does my cat sleep with me and not my husband?”

WHY DO CATS SUFFOCATE YOU IN YOUR SLEEP?

Cats don’t want to suffocate you in your sleep. Cats snuggle on chests or faces because they like sleeping with their owners and want to feel their heartbeat and warmth. 

DO CATS FEEL SAFE WITH YOU AT NIGHT?

kitty deeply sleeping on the pink bed

Yes, cats feel safe when they snuggle close to you at night because they trust you to protect them in cases of danger. 

DO CATS PROTECT YOU WHILE YOU SLEEP?

Yes, cats protect you while you sleep. There are many stories of cats waking up their owners to save them from a catastrophe, just like in this video.

Conclusion

Why do cats get in your face while you sleep? Your kitty loves you and is trying to show its affection by snuggling as close as possible. 

Sometimes cats also sleep on your face because they’re seeking security and comfort in your familiar scent, breathing, and heartbeat. 

man sleeping with his cat

What do you think about these reasons why cats get in your face while you sleep? Has your cat ever slept on your face or neck? Share your thoughts in the comments. 

Resources:

  • 1. Cespedes Y. Why Do Cats Sleep So Much? | petMD [Internet]. Petmd.com. 2016. Available from: https://www.petmd.com/cat/behavior/evr_ct_why_do_cats_sleep_so_much
  • 2. Strange Cat Facts: “Why Does My Cat Sleep On My Head?” [Internet]. www.petmd.com. Available from: https://www.petmd.com/cat/care/evr_ct_why-does-my-cat-sleep-on-my-head
  • 3. Sleeping with Pets: Benefits and Risks [Internet]. Sleep Foundation. 2021. Available from: https://www.sleepfoundation.org/animals-and-sleep/sleeping-with-pets
Grigorina S
Grigorina S

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.

Find her on Instagram. Read her latest articles..

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