Why Do Cats Sit On Your Chest (and not only)?

You’re having a lovely dream, you’re totally zen and you sense a heaviness on your chest… you open your eyes and just a few inches away from your face is your cat, happy as anything. It’s one of the things that kitties do that really shows their lack of respect for your personal space, especially when their chest snuggle is butt first to your face! If this has happened to you, you’ve probably wondered; why do cats sit on your chest? In fact… if cats are so standoffish, why do cats sit on you at all? Is it territorial? Is it because we are warm? Does it mean we are about to die?! 

Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to stay a mystery any more because we have all the answers below. Let’s take a closer look at why your feline friend sits on your chest: 

Why Do Cats Sit On Your Chest?

Your cat has boxes, beds, trees, blankets and furniture to sit on and yet… your chest is the one. Your chest is the place your cat needs to be right now. You might like it, you might not, but you definitely wonder why do cats sit on your chest?

The good news is there are actually several theories as to why cats do this: 

They Want Your Warmth

Cats are well known for seeking out a warm spot to snooze in or on. Whether they stretch out in the sun, next to a radiator or on your chest, they’re happy in a cosy, warm spot. A cats average temperature is between 38 and 39 degrees and they will sacrifice their own comfort to maintain that, as this cute Youtube video demonstrates.

These warmth-seeking cats do has at time made certain kitties look like they have supernatural powers. Oscar, the cat discussed in this article, has had multiple stories and TV features done on him, discussing how he ‘predicts’ the death of care home patients by sleeping on them before they pass. In reality, the patients in the care home have a natural time to pass, and Oscar is simply taking advantage of a warm lap or two.

They Are Marking What They Feel Belongs To Them

Cats are naturally territorial and they like to mark everything that is within that territory, including you. When they rub against you or headbutt you they are scenting you using natural scent glands they have around their mouth, chin, ears, neck, bottom and tail base. So, if you are wondering; why do cats sit on you? Or why do cats sit on laps? Often the reason is simply saying – you are part of my territory. It’s the same reason they might lie on your chest too. 

Your Cat Is Looking For Security

cat on chest
A cat in the wild is always concerned with security, remaining alert and aware of their surroundings, even when they are snoozing. They will especially need that security when they want to properly relax between ‘hunting time’ (even if that hunting is of their favourite catnip mousie. If a cat intends to properly sleep they want a secure spot that allows them to do that and it may be that you are that spot. 

You Provide A Better View Of The Room

Cats naturally want to be able to see as much of their surrounding area as possible so they remain safe and aware of their surroundings. In some instances, a cat will sit on your chest because you’re the highest point in the room and you’re nothing but a warm lookout, essentially. 

Your Cat Is Being A Lovebug

Although cats seem to truly run by their own rule book and like they truly could not give a fig about your happiness, they are bonded to their owners. A cat can be affectionate because they really like you, and that can include sitting on you, tail shaking, butting your legs and slow blinking. 

Different Body Part Preferences

You might wonder why your cat doesn’t choose any of the wonderful sleeping spots you have provided to them and instead sleeps on you. The chances are, it is just because you are warmer, feel more secure, or they love you more than these sleep spots. Your cat may also choose different parts of your body depending on what they want. Let’s investigate: 

Head
Your cat could be sleeping on your head because it moves less than the rest of your body. It could also be warmer than the rest of your body. Less likely, but possible, is that your cat really loves the smell of your shampoo. 

Neck
If your cat is draped over your neck like a scarf it could just be that they find the most comfort in this spot because your shoulders or chest support their body here. It’s also a warm place where they can hear your breathing or talking, which they may be comforted by. 

Chest
Cats can sleep on a person’s chest because it is the highest point in the room, as we mentioned above. It can also be because it is flat, and stable. Your cat could also find your breathing and your heartbeat comforting and relaxing, a bit like the way humans respond well to the rhythm of the seashore. 

Lap
A cat will sleep on your lap because it is comfy and warm, and they also know they will be petted in that spot. They may also feel more secure being closer to the floor so they can leap off you easily if they feel they need to. 

Butt Or Face?

More often than not, if you wake up to your cat sitting on your chest staring you in the face, they want you to wake up and feed them. If your cat is unlikely to do this otherwise because it’s not as secure as facing their butt to you. To truly relax they will sit with their butt to your face so that they can be as safe as possible, and keep lookout across the room. It’s not ideal for you, but for them, it’s just practical. 

How To Deter Your Cat From Sleeping On Your Chest

Sometimes you may not want your cat to sleep on your chest at night. If that is the case, giving your cat lots of stimulation, ensuring they are content before bed and then stopping them having access to your bedroom will stop this behaviour.

It is also important to note that a cat should never, ever be allowed to sleep with a baby because they can suffocate them. They should also not be allowed to sleep with children under the age of five.

This is also why, cat experts like Kitten Lady recommend only ever rescuing cats in pairs so that they can snuggle together. So if you feel guilty keeping your cat out of your bedroom, get them a friend to snuggle with instead. 

“What greater gift than the love of a cat.” – Charles Dickens

So now you know why your cat might be sitting on your chest. All that’s left is for you to enjoy them looking at you with their huge green eyes (or their butt) from a close proximity. It’s just another weird cat thing you have to love about these little weird stinkers.

About Anneka Dalrymple

I am a writer of 6 years, and I’m a total animal nerd. I love wildlife, but none so much as my own tiny lion, April. She’s a 10 year old floofer who adopted us, and we’re so much happier for that. I have also grown up with animals and at one point we had 6 cats, 2 dogs and 2 rabbits. Pets are a total gift.

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