As readers of this blog know, Bud’s favorite “place” to sleep is on top of his Big Bud.
Why do cats like sleeping on their humans? A new article from Treehugger provides some possible answers to that question. For accuracy purposes, we asked Buddy to weigh in on the reasons mentioned in the article.
1.To Mark Their Territory
Cats have scent glands that release pheromones all over their body. Marking humans with these pheromones means that they are part of the cat’s in-group, a behavior learned in groups of cats in the wild to distinguish members of the pack from non-members.1 When a cat sleeps on you, it marks you with its scent so it can be reassured that you smell familiar and safe. Even cats who enjoy solitude may rub and head-butt their owners as part of the same scent-marking process.
2.To Stay Warm
Many cat owners are familiar with the sight of their cat sleeping in a sunny patch on the bed, or even knocking over plants and whatever else is in the way in an attempt to get an ideal window napping position. Warmth induces relaxation and sleep in cats, and few spots in the house are warmer than being directly on top of a person. Warmth may also contribute to the initiation or maintenance of restorative sleep in cats, meaning that seeking out warm spots for sleep can help them stay healthy.2
3.To Feel Safe
Animals are more vulnerable to attack while they’re sleeping, and cats are no exception. As a result, cats who see their owners as a sign of safety and security may enjoy sleeping on or near them. This behavior can also be traced back to kittenhood. When young cats are growing, they are typically in large litters with other cats, nursing from their mother, and sleeping together in a group, sometimes stacked on top of one another. Particularly without other cats in the house, humans may have a substitute role in this situation.
4.To Bond With You
In experiments to stop cats from destructive scratching and urine-marking behaviors, scent-marking was proven to be a powerful way to preserve cat-human bonds. When your cat sleeps on you and marks you with their scent, it’s creating a powerful olfactory reminder that you both belong to the same group. Being close to humans also allows cats to hear and feel familiar and comforting sounds, like a beating heart or rhythmic breaths during sleep, which are reminiscent of safe sleeping spaces with a mother cat and siblings.
5.To Show Affection
As demonstrated by a recent study on cat-human bonding, cats are not the solitary creatures they are often portrayed to be. In the wild, cats comfortably live in matriarchal societies and are known to exhibit a variety of group bonding behaviors including mutual grooming, allorubbing, and sleeping together. Sleeping with their owner is one way cats can show affection and caring.
You can interpret it as affection, yes, but the important thing is that Big Buddy cannot go anywhere without me knowing about it. Say he gets up in the middle of the night to use the human litter box room. By sleeping on top of him, I know the second he starts to shift, and I can not only follow him to the litter box room before he shuts the door, I can also howl at him on the way back so he gives me a snack just to shut me up before going to bed. No snack, no peace!