Why Does My Cat Sleep Next To Me?

Cats sometimes sleep next to their owners. 

It is true, however, that cats can sometimes (more often than not) be indifferent to the humans they share their space with. You may wonder why, then, does your cat sleep next to you? 

Sure, they can be super affectionate upon occasion, but overall they don’t tend to have much to do with us.

Except, of course, enticing us into the occasional game and nudging us to fill their food bowls when they’re hungry.

Why, then, do they settle down with us when they want a rest? Cats don’t keep to the same sleep schedule as us humans. We are going to answer that question below. 

Whoever Is There

Cats are known as crepuscular animals. In a nutshell, this means that they like to sleep in short bursts and be more active in the twilight and dusk time hours.

These are the best times for hunting and sourcing prey successfully.

Cats love to snooze their best during the day when the sun is shining. Even better if they find a snoozing spot in that sunlight. 

Cats, though they do make connections with their owner, don’t really care about whom they choose to sleep upon or next to.

They are intelligent, and through this intelligence, cats know and recognize different members of the family by their voices and their scents.

So, a cat knows who is where and makes its sleep decisions accordingly. 

Cats are very smart animals. They can recognize human speech and even distinguish between family members’ voices.

They can tell the difference between your voice and your partner’s or children’s voices.

The Dominant Human 

All pets tend to have a human that they affiliate with. This is known as the dominant human in their life.

It can sometimes be called the ‘leader’ or the ‘alpha’ of the family. Though that is not as linear with cats as it is with dogs and other pack animals.

Cats can be fairly fickle. They can have multiple homes depending on who and where has food and love for them.

A cat’s dominant human is the one who gives them food and water. In other words, their provider. 

This can change rapidly, and they often forge alliances with other households too. Wherever they choose to lay their head, they may well settle with their lead caregiver.

However, cats, as we’ve said, are fairly fickle. They will seek a lap that is warm regardless of who owns it. Of course, they have to like you first. 

You’re Warm 

Yep. We did say cats are fickle, and we weren’t joking. Your lap, or your bed, is warm.

Humans kick off some heat while they are sleeping, and are generally a warm place to put your head. Cats know this. 

Cats also know that they like to be warm and cozy while snoozing.

Therefore, it makes perfect sense to them that their human’s lap and or bed is the perfect place to get some rest.

It’s warm, it’s cozy, it’s safe. What more could they need?

The upside to this is that cats are also warm.

Having a cat close to you on a cold evening is like having a fluffy hot water bottle that purrs with contentment.

This is a mutually beneficial situation. 


Animals like to feel safe when they sleep. Cats search for this safety too.

They know that if they sleep near or next to you, that they will be protected from potential predatory attacks. 

This is a basic instinct that a cat cannot ignore. This is why they prefer to sleep in packs or close by to someone they can trust.

Because they are nighttime hunters, they also have to be predator savvy. 

You are their way of ensuring that they don’t come to any harm while they snooze. You should feel honored! They are trusting you with their life.

Claiming Their Space

Cats take ownership over where they live. They have certain routines and patterns, and they make it clear what’s theirs. 

This is also true of their sleeping space. Your bed, or your knee, or your sofa, they all become a part of a cat’s territory.

They may even mark these areas as theirs by releasing their scent or pheromone in the area.

They do this by banging their head, or their feet, to stimulate the pheromone glands. 

The Problems With Cat Co-Sleeping

We may love our cats, but we also love our sleep. 

There are some disadvantages posed by sharing your sleep space with your feline companion. 

First and foremost, cats love to play and eat at night. They are crepuscular more than they are nocturnal, however, they still stay awake in the midnight hours.

This can cause issues with your sleep pattern, as your cat may wake you and disturb you as it paws and claws around. 

Second, and also very importantly, cats can be messy. If your cat is allowed outside, they can be even messier.

They can bring all of this external dirt into your bed, or onto your knee. This can cause hygiene issues. 

Third, cats can also leave their hair everywhere. This is particularly true of certain breeds.

Cat hair can be hard to stay on top of and manage, and cause a lot more housework than you’d like.

It can get entrapped in your bedsheets and your mattress and require specialist cleaning. 

Fourth, cats don’t really distinguish (or care) what size of human they sleep with. There have been countless stories of cats being found in baby cribs and having to be moved.

They are like warmth radars, and kids and babies are a perfect source of heat. This is something to watch out for, as the consequences could be drastic. 


If a cat can choose, it will always choose to sleep in a warm and safe space. 

Fortunately for them, you are the perfect candidate to host their slumber.

They may take ownership over your bed as their own bed too. They may just be using you for your warmth. 

Whatever their reasons, cats have no plans to quit sleeping by your side. It’s just their nature.

Courtney Trent
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