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Why Does My Cat Sleep On My Pillow?

Persian cat on the bed

It might be annoying if your cat sleeps on your pillow, or even on your head. You may wonder why your cat insists on sleeping right where your head is every night. Well, there are a few reasons for this specific cat behavior. Cats sleep on their owner’s pillows for body heat, safety, and to let you know that they love you.

Body Heat

Most humans have an internal body temperature of around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. But cats have a body temperature that is a bit higher than that, at about 102 degrees Fahrenheit on average. Just like humans, it is important for cats to be able to maintain homeostasis, which is just a fancy way of saying that it is important for cats to maintain a consistent body temperature.

If your cat can find an external source of heat, then they will be able to do this more easily, because their body won’t have to work as hard at keeping warm. Since your head is where a lot of your body heat leaves your body, it makes sense that it would be a warm place for your cat to cuddle up at night. It is similar to when your cat uses the sunny spot on the carpet as the perfect place to curl up and take a nap.


Your cat may be domesticated, but it comes from a long line of cats who lived in the wild and still has the instincts necessary to stay alive in the wild. A cat in the wild looks for the safest place to sleep, away from predators, to minimize the chance that they could be attacked while they are at their most vulnerable. Your domesticated house cat knows that the safest place to be when it decides to go to sleep for the night is right next to you. If there is any danger that occurs in the night, your cat knows that you will probably wake up and thereby alert your feline friend to the impending danger.

You may also notice that your cat prefers to sleep with their rear end facing you. While it may feel like your cat is turning their back to you, this is a good sign. Your cat is showing that he or she trusts you because they are keeping their back to you, and watching for threats that could come up on the pair of you. It is similar to keeping your back against the wall, so you can see anyone coming towards you. Your cat knows that you aren’t going to hurt them, so they are showing you their most vulnerable side.


Another reason that your cat may enjoy sleeping right next to your head, or on your pillow, is because they are trying to display dominance. This can be especially true if you have more than just one cat in your house. Animals like to have a clear cut hierarchy, so the cat that is most dominant in the house will want to prove their position of power over the other cats by sleeping closest to their owner, and in the highest spot in the bed. Since the pillow gives a little more lift than is offered at the foot of the bed, it is the prime spot to sleep for the most dominant cat.

If you only have one cat in the house, your cat may still be trying to show some dominance by sleeping next to your head. They could be trying to mark you with their scent. Even though there are no other cats in the house that they need to show dominance over, the natural instincts of your feline friend tell them that they should mark their territory with their scent, just in case of an intruding competitor. Your cat knows that next to your head is still the best sleeping spot in the house, so they are marking it as their own.


Your cat could also be sleeping with their body right next to your head so that they can show their affection for you while the two of you sleep. Your cat may sleep next to you for comfort, both physically and mentally. If you can hear your cat purring while they are sleeping up next to your head, then you know that sleeping next to you is right where your cat wants to be. He or she is super happy curled up with their human. Since your head is usually the only part of your body that is usually exposed while you’re under the covers in bed, your head is the only part of you that your cat can show love to. Cats show affection through kneading, purring, and cuddling. Next to your head, right on your pillow, is a perfect place to knead and cuddle, and let you know what your fur baby is really feeling for you.

One other reason that your cat is probably sleeping up next to your head is to keep from getting booted off the bed altogether. Many people move a lot when they sleep. If you toss and turn in your sleep, you could be kicking your cat out of bed down by your feet, so your cat avoids your restless legs by sleeping up by your face.


All of these explanations for why your cat is sleeping right on your pillow should tell you that if your cat enjoys sleeping by your face, then you’re doing something right. A cat that sleeps on your pillow is a cat that loves its human, feels safe and assured that their human will not let any harm come to them, and feels ownership for their home. So if you have ever wondered if your cat really loves you, or if to them you are just a useful human who happens to share the house, this is a sure way for you to know the difference.

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