Our domestic cats are funny but mysterious animals. Those of us that choose to have them as pets are often left questioning why they do some of the things that they do. One of these questions is why does my cat sleep on my pillow and clothes? Our cat Nipper is a nightmare for this! We often wake up to find it sharing a pillow or asleep on a pile of nicely folded clothes ready for the morning.
There are a few reasons why our cats enjoy sleeping on our clothes and pillows. I decided to research it because I was curious and below is what I learned.
Cats sleep on your pillow and clothes for safety and protection.
Although our domestic cats can seem like fiercely independent animals, they are actually pack animals. They evolved from wild African big cats that would live together in a pack with a hierarchy. Because you feed and look after your cat it naturally sees you as the pack leader who is in control and keeps it safe.
With that being said, one of the reasons your cat sleeps on your pillow or clothes is because it feels safe. It will have seen you wearing the clothes and be able to smell your scent on them. This is like telling your cat that those items are safe and your scent is like your seal of approval. Now that might seem strange to us but to your cat it is just natural.
Another part of this theory is because of protection. Cats feel at their most vulnerable when they are sleeping, that is why they spend the majority of their time only napping. When they are tucked up next to you they feel protected by you.
Your cat sleeps on your pillow to show you affection.
When we are laid in bed sleeping generally our heads are the only visible part of our bodies exposed. This is perfect for our cats to come into our pillows and show us affection.
Cats will show their affection to you by kneading your pillow, rubbing its face against you and maybe even licking you. After this you will find that it quietly falls asleep next to you on the pillow. Your cat may also gently touch your face with its soft front paws whilst it’s claws are retracted. It is kind of like a role reversal with the cat petting and stroking you.
What we often forget is that we are the centre of our cats universe. We feed, stroke and pet and offer a warm place to sleep. Generally everything that your cat could ever want and need. They like to show us affection for all that we do and some of that comes out as what it does on our pillows.
Cats love to keep warm.
Just like us humans, cats love to be all warm and snuggly. We can wrap ourselves up in sheets and duvets but unfortunately for our feline friends they cannot.
However that does not stop them from tucking up next to your head on your pillow for a little extra heat. You will find that your cat will get really close up to you when it try’s to sleep on your pillow soaking up as much warmth as it can.
Your sleep may cause your cat to sleep on your pillow.
This final reason why your cat sleeps on your pillow is because of your own sleeping pattern. You see a lot of us humans are restless sleepers. We toss and turn multiple times in the night and this can keep your cat awake as we roll around.
Our heads on the other hand stay in roughly the same place throughout. So in reality our pillows are the one place where cats can lay to keep warm and safe whilst also not getting rolled onto and woken. It is not easy being a small cat on a big bed with people!
What you can do about a cat that sleeps on your pillow.
Generally speaking, your cat will cause you no harm by sleeping on your pillow. However it can cause you to have sleepless nights and fur tickling your face. Also if you have a big purring cat like ours it can be really hard to even get to sleep.
If you find that you are losing sleep because of your cats pillow behaviour you may need to try and put a limit on it. We found the best thing to do is to let the cat have 10 minutes or so on the pillow cuddling. We will then move it into its own bed so that we can actually get some sleep. This seems to work and the cat is still happy that it got some pillow time.
I recommend getting a good quality igloo type cat bed for your feline friend. This will provide somewhere nice, warm and cosy for your cat to sleep. Thus reducing the amount of time that it spends keeping you awake by hogging your pillow! If you would like to see the bed that we got our cat Nipper then have a look at this post that I wrote. Our cat loves sleeping in it and it keeps it warm whilst also feeling safe and secure at the bottom of our bed.
Bye for now!
My name is Andy Baines and I am the owner and writer here at Super Crazy Pets.
For the last 20 years I have been the carer/parent of many exotic pets, from reptiles to amphibians I have cared for and looked after them all.
I created this website to share my knowledge of looking after pets with other fellow owners.
My works and articles have been shared on many online publications including The Spruce Pets.
You can read more about my story by visiting the about me page.