Last Updated: 3 weeks ago

Why do cats sit in the bread-loaf position? 

It’s a question that has plagued mankind since the ancient Egyptians first started worshiping cats!

Okay, so maybe “plagued” is a little strong, but seriously, have you ever wondered why they love “loafing” around?

Find out why cats love to sit in the bread loaf position!

Why Cats Love Sitting in the Bread Loaf Position

Most of the time, trying to figure out why cats do what they do is a bit of a lost cause.

Have you ever noticed your cat staring for what seems like hours at a spot on your ceiling, only to have them give you a funny look and walk away as soon as you follow their gaze?

Or watched them go from sound asleep to ping-ponging around the living room at the speed of sound in the blink of an eye?

They’re mysterious creatures to say the least! No wonder they’ve been worshiped for so long by some cultures and feared in others.

Among cats’ many mysteries are the positions in which they sleep or sit, included the iconic bread loaf position.

#1 Comfort

cat loaf position

Cats loaf because it provides them with a sense of comfort.

When a cat is relaxed and content, it may choose to curl up in a loaf position, tucking its paws underneath its body, as it feels secure and cozy.

#2 Warmth

Loafing helps cats conserve body heat. By curling up in a compact position, with their legs and tail close to their bodies, cats can retain more warmth.

This loafing posture allows them to stay comfortable and maintain their body temperature in cooler environments.

#3 Safety

cat in loaf position

When a cat loafs, it can quickly spring into action if necessary. By keeping their limbs tucked close to their body, they are ready to respond to any potential threats or prey.

This loafing position allows them to be alert while still maintaining a relaxed state.

#4 Flexibility

Loafing is a versatile position that enables cats to transition into different activities easily.

From loafing, they can quickly switch to grooming, stretching, or even pouncing on a toy or prey. This flexibility allows them to adapt to various situations swiftly.

#5 Observation

cat loafing

Cats are naturally curious creatures, and loafing allows them to observe their surroundings more attentively.

By sitting in a compact position, they have a better vantage point to watch and monitor their environment, ensuring they don’t miss any interesting sights, sounds, or movements.

#6 Resting and Napping

Cats are known for their love of sleep, and loafing is an ideal position for resting and napping.

It enables them to relax their muscles, unwind, and recharge. Loafing provides a comfortable and secure posture that allows cats to indulge in their much-needed downtime.

Cat Anatomy 101

Our feline friends’ anatomies do differ from us greatly, which allows them to do things we would find uncomfortable, painful, or downright impossible.

For example, I’ve never tried to jump six times my own height in one go, but I think I can safely assume it wouldn’t end well – or at least not with any dignity.

A single night sleeping on the couch will leave most humans over the age of 25 with a stiff neck – while a cat can somehow appear to be sleeping with its head on backwards and suffer no ill effects.

While some sleeping positions seem logical – stretched out as far as possible on a hot day, or curled into a tight ball with their tails over their noses on a cold one – others leave just a few unanswered questions.

One sleeping position that seems strangely to be universal to most cats is the famous “bread loaf” position.

Garfield comics made this one even more recognizable, but anyone with a cat likely knew about it long before the appearance of that lasagna-loving orange tabby came along (incidentally, I don’t advise feeding lasagna to your furbabies, no matter how much they beg).

Why Cats Love to Loaf Around

why do cats loaf

The main reason for this loaf position is likely the same as the reason for sleeping tightly curled up.

Cats love to be warm. Some days I swear mine are going to cook themselves lying in sunbeams around the house – and they have high body temperatures.

Cats’ extremities, however – ears, legs, tail, etc. – tend to be colder than their core, as blood has farther to pump and the surface area of the skin is greater in comparison to body mass at these points – which allows for greater heat loss.

In addition, the pads of their paws are not covered in fur, and therefore not as well insulated.

By tucking their feet and tails underneath them, cats can generate and conserve a great deal more body heat while also protecting these extremities from outside hazards.  

Physically it’s also a comfortable position, as their spine is neutral and the posture doesn’t require much energy to maintain.

A Loafing Cat Is a Relaxed Cat!

Incidentally, this position is a bit of a compliment to you if your cat does this because they will usually only loaf like this if they are relaxed and happy!

Just make sure they are relaxed – if their body seems tense, back is hunched, or their head is pressed into the surface on which they are lying, this could be a sign of pain or serious illness and it is best to contact your vet as soon as possible.

A relaxed loaf position means that your cat feels safe and content, and they trust they will not have to make a quick getaway (after all, their feet are folded up underneath them).

It’s also a stable position that allows your cat the luxury of basking on a raised surface without the likelihood of accidentally rolling over, falling off, and hurting themselves.

Not that your cat would ever do that – on a completely unrelated note, ever notice how cats coincidentally need to rapidly bathe themselves after a potentially embarrassing incident?

Wrap-Up

The absolute best part about the loaf position?

How unbelievably cute it is. If you’re ever feeling down, Google “cat loaf on glass” or some variation thereof – those toe beans are guaranteed to make you smile at least a little.

Does your cat love to sit in the bread loaf position? Tell us the other funny things you kitty does!

Why do cats sit in the bread loaf position? It's a question that has plagued humans since ancient Egyptians first started worshiping cats! Find the answer!
Tamsin
Tamsin

Hi, I’m Tamsin. I’m a serious animal lover and dog behaviorist and trainer. In fact, I live on a farm with nine rescues! So, I love writing about and creating awareness around the health and wellness of all animals.