The Comfort Connection: Explaining Why Your Cat Sleeps at Your Feet


Oct. 16 2023, Updated 3:33 p.m. ET

A grey cat laying in between its owners feet.
Source: iStock

The Gist:

  • Cats like to snuggle and cuddle for many reasons, including warmth, protection, and attention.
  • Cats often sleep on the pillows of their companions as a sign of trust and affection.
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Anyone who says cats aren’t affectionate has probably never taken care of a cat. Although cats have a reputation for being mysterious or even dangerous, those of us who are cat lovers know that cats are sweet, loving pets. It may take some time, but as a cat parent you probably noticed at least one uniquely affectionate behavior from your feline friend.

For example, if you often wonder, “Why does my cat sleep at my feet,” the first adorable reason is that your cat wants to be close to you. Let’s look at other reasons your kitty may like to curl up and sleep at your feet.

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A cat laying over a woman's foot.
Source: iStock

Why does my cat sleep at my feet?

Cats typically bond with their guardians, making them want to be around whenever possible. Your cat may love you but not always want to be that close to you. If you’ve ever tried to kiss your cat on the nose, they usually back up as you invade their personal space.

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"Cats feel safe being near people they're bonded with," Kate Luse, certified cat behavior consultant, told Martha Stewart. "For some cats, that means snuggling in their guardian's arms or sleeping on their chest at night—but for many others, that kind of contact is overwhelming."

Cats are also nocturnal, so while you’re fast asleep at night, they may want to get up and check on the noises they hear. By sleeping at their feet, they can be close to you but still be free to jump out of bed when they want.

A girl hugging her cat.
Source: Getty Images
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Another reason your cat chooses to sleep at your feet is to take advantage of the heat emitting off your feet and legs. “Feet often emit heat, and cats may find the warmth comforting and soothing,” veterinarian Nicole Savageau with The Vets told Martha Stewart.

Your cat may also sleep at your feet as an act of protection, both your and theirs. The cat wants to be close to you to protect you but also seeks your protection from possible unexpected predators. In this pack-like behavior, you both watch each other’s back, according to The Discerning Cat.

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Why does my cat sleep on my pillow?

While some cats sleep near their guardians' feet, others like to sleep up by their head. Sometimes, it can feel like your cat is taking over your whole pillow.

Your cat sleeps on your pillow for many of the same reasons they sleep by your feet: warmth, protection, and being close to you. They also may prefer to sleep by your head rather than your feet to avoid getting accidentally kicked off the bed if you toss and turn.

A cat lays its head on a pillow next to a woman.
Source: iStock

“Most people turn, flip and even thrash in their sleep, but their heads won’t move nearly as much as their arms and legs,” Dr. Georgina Ushi Phillips, a veterinarian with Better With Cats, told Romper. “Many cats will quickly figure out that the best place to sleep without getting disturbed is your head.”

So, if you ever feel like your cat is stealing your spot on the bed, just know they're not doing it to be mischievous — or maybe they are, you know your cat best!

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