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cat laying on owner's chest

The essentials

  • Cats can lay on your chest for different reasons — Our feline friends cuddle to show affection, mark their territory, keep warm, and more.
  • Your cat may be trying to tell you something — Sometimes cats lay on your chest to tell you their hungry or want attention.
  • This can be mutually beneficial — Cats can help reduce stress and anxiety when laying with their owners.

Why do cats lay on our chests? 5 reasons for this cuddly behavior

If you have a feline that loves to use your chest as their personal pillow, you’ll know that once they curl up, you’re not allowed to move until they grant you permission. Though cats generally have a reputation for being aloof and independent, it’s unsurprising that they would want to cuddle in the most inconvenient spot — for their owner, that is.

Here are five reasons your feline friend may want to be close to you.

1. To show their love

Cats have different temperaments, and some are more loving and affectionate than others. If your furry friend snuggles up on your chest, they might be telling you, “I love you.” 

The human-animal bond can be strong, and your kitty knows who puts their food in their bowl every day. Climbing up on you for hugs may mean your cat just wants to snuggle with their favorite human.

Once they’ve found the perfect spot, your feline companion may start to purr. And they may even start to knead, or make biscuits, as they drift off to sleep. These are signs of a contented cat who’s found a comfortable spot.

2. To feel safe

Another reason your cat may lay on your chest is because it gives them a sense of security.

Cats can feel different emotions, including anxiety. In fact, a once confident cat may develop behavioral changes and symptoms of anxiety as they age.

Anxiety can develop for a variety of reasons. For example, your cat might spend long periods alone and develop separation anxiety. Or they may feel like they’re in danger — loud noises, moving house, and the introduction of new pets can all trigger these feelings.

As a cat parent, you can help calm your nervous kitty down by letting them lay on your chest so they can listen to your heartbeat. 

3. To keep warm

Your cat may be looking for a warm, cozy spot on a cold evening. If your pet is feeling the chill, they’ll often look to their owners to fix the problem.

With your body heat, your chest acts as a heated pillow for your kitty companion. While laying on your chest can be an adorable habit, there are things you can do to make your cat more comfortable.

For example, you can check the room temperature and turn the heat up if required. Make sure the windows are closed, and give your cat a warm place to sleep. A dedicated cat bed with a blanket can give them their own warm spot to doze.

4. To mark their territory

Cats can be territorial creatures. If your fur baby thinks you’re their “territory,” they may feel the need to let others know.

For example, if you adopt another pet and your current cat isn’t sure how they feel about the new roommate, they may jump on your chest as if to say, “This is my human.” And they might even leave their scent on you to prove this point. 

Be aware that if your cat is trying to mark their territory in a more insistent or aggressive way, they might also start to wet the bed or spray the walls or carpet. 

5. To tell you something

As your cat’s owner, you’re in charge of meeting your pet’s needs. Since your chest is close to your face, your cat might lie down on this spot to get your attention.

For example, it may be morning, and your cat is hungry. There’s no point trying to sleep in because a cat with a rumbling tummy won’t take no for an answer. Or, if your cat is feeling unwell, they might be trying to let you know that something isn’t right.

What does it mean if your cat sits backward on your chest?

Your cat may sit backward on your chest for many of the same reasons we’ve already talked about. For example, the human chest can feel comfortable, warm, and loving.

Your view won’t be as nice as a forward-facing cat. But when your kitty sits with their rear near your face, it tells you that they trust you completely. Sitting backward puts your cat in a vulnerable position, so it’s not something they’ll do unless they feel safe.

What does it mean if your cat lies on your face?

You love your cat, and it can make you feel special when they snuggle up on your chest. But if your furry feline is trying to make themself at home on your face — well, that might be a bit too much.

For some cats, your face can feel like the safest spot. Just like your chest, it can be a place of comfort and security for an anxious animal. Your face also has a familiar scent, and your kitty can even leave their own scent on you to mark their territory, as mentioned earlier.

During the night, your cat may want to get close to you. They might be restless or looking for warmth or affection. If you’re sleeping in bed under blankets, your face may be the only part of your body that’s uncovered. 

If you’re asleep, your cat lying on top of your face can also be a sign that they want you to wake up and start the day. 

Don’t want your cat to lie on your face? Consider closing your bedroom door at night. And don’t forget to make sure your cat has an alternative place to sleep.

Keep your cat feeling loved, safe, and secure

Cats snuggle up to their humans to show their love, and your heartbeat can make them feel safe. If your cat is feeling chilly, they might jump on you and lie down to keep warm. They can also do this to get your attention or to mark their territory if other pets are in the house. 

Whatever the reason may be, your cat is trying to communicate with you in one way or another. Take a listen to them and you’re sure to figure out what their reason may be.