Why Do Cats Sleep On Your Face?

Our feline friends can behave in odd ways sometimes. It can be hard for us to wrap our heads around it as we’re not used to seeing things from a non-human perspective. It is important to understand that something you might find funny or cute might be interpreted as offensive by your pet and vice versa. 

There are certain behaviors that might have intrigued you at best or bothered you at worst. One such behavior is their insistence on sleeping next to or on top of our faces. Why do cats do this? Let’s explore the answer together…

Communicating With Cats

Cats have their own way of communicating with each other and humans, but it is not a language in the sense that we humans understand. They communicate using a variety of different ways. 

Cats may meow, purr, hiss, or growl to express different emotions. They also use body language, such as arching their backs, flattening their ears, or different tail positions to convey a range of messages. In addition, cats use scent signals, such as rubbing their cheeks against objects or people, to mark their territory or communicate with other cats.

Cats are known to have a different “language” or method of communication for people than they do with other cats. For example, cats use a much lower frequency when communicating with other cats, and use a variety of vocalizations specifically to communicate with humans. 

Cats often meow to get their human’s attention or to express a need. Some cats are more vocal than others, and they may have different meows for different situations. Cats also purr when they’re feeling content or relaxed, but they may also do so when they’re feeling anxious or in pain. They also use eye contact to communicate with their humans. Slow blinks, also known as “cat kisses,” can indicate affection and trust.

So…Why Do Cats Sleep On Your Face?

There are many reasons your cat might plop their furry bottom on your face to snooze, such as:

Trust

The main reason your cat might like napping next to you is quite simply because they trust you. You are the center of their tiny universe. They know they are safe when they are around you and they feel the least safe when they are asleep. In the wild, sleep leaves you vulnerable to predators. Sleeping in the open with no security often guarantees your death. This is the main reason why forming social cliques has become a game-changer for most species in the wild. 

Cats are social animals and enjoy spending time with their human companions. If a cat trusts their human, it may feel more comfortable and relaxed sleeping next to them. Additionally, cats may seek out their human’s warmth and comfort, especially if they feel anxious or insecure.

Warmth

This one should be fairly simple to understand. Who wouldn’t want to snuggle up in a cozy little bundle of warmth every night? It just so happens that the biggest, warmest cushion in most of our cats’ immediate surroundings happens to be us. The bodies of domestic cats have evolved to survive in desert climates, which makes them sensitive to lower temperatures. 

Cats seek out warmth in a variety of ways, including cuddling up with their humans, curling up in a sunny spot, or snuggling under a blanket. They may also seek out warm surfaces, such as a heating pad or a warm laptop. It is not just to be nitpicky about their sleeping spot, as their health and well-being actually depend on being able to keep themselves sufficiently warm at all times. What we may see as annoying behavior might just be a healthy response they have to our domestic atmosphere.

Comfort In Familiarity

Another explanation that you might not have thought has a little more to do with you than your cat. Cats are known for their aloof, independent nature. They aren’t the ones to socialize with people they don’t trust or enjoy the company of. Considering that, maybe cats don’t do it due to a biological need at all but because they truly love your company

Sleeping near someone is one of the behaviors that cats reserve for people or animals they trust completely. Other such activities include rubbing against one’s leg, kneading, or purring at someone. 

Although independent, cats are social animals and have a range of behaviors based on having healthy social interactions. One of these traits is to look after members of your pack when they are vulnerable. Acts such as grooming or gifting owners small prey is also an extension of this behavior, as is sleeping next to or on top of their person.

Pheromones/Claiming Ownership

Cats have an incredible sense of smell that is far more sensitive than that of humans. In fact, cats have about 200 million scent receptors in their noses, compared to just 5 million in humans. This means that cats are able to detect even the slightest odors and rely heavily on their sense of smell for communication, hunting, and navigation.

Cats use their sense of smell to identify familiar objects and people, mark their territory, and detect potential prey. They also use their sense of smell to communicate with other cats, leaving scent markers through their urine, feces, and scratching. Some experts suggest that sleeping on their owners’ faces might give their cats easy access to their pheromones, and in turn help them spread their own pheromones to their owners. Basically, they’re trying to smell you well and help you remember their smell. 

Communication 

Some experts also suggest that a cat sleeping on their human’s face might have a lot to do with communication since lying on our faces is the easiest way for them to look us in the eyes. Cats also have a tendency to stare at you intensely when you’ve just woken up. This would also explain that. 

Cats are highly expressive animals that can pick up on human emotions very acutely. They use their eyes to express a lot of things, such as making direct eye contact to communicate confidence, trust, and affection. When a cat blinks slowly while making eye contact with their human or another cat, it’s a sign of trust and affection. 

Similarly, when a cat avoids eye contact, it can be a sign of fear, anxiety, or submission. A happy cat will make it known that it is healthy and content. If your cat has issues socializing, it might be an indicator of a deeper-lying problem. 

How Can I Get My Cat To Stop?

Although it isn’t an unhealthy or alarming behavior by any means, it might become annoying. Considering that cats also get their paws dirty while walking around and using their litter, sleeping on your face isn’t entirely hygienic. Keeping in mind the comfort of your pet, there are a few things you could do to reclaim your face.

Heated Cat Bed

Heated cat beds have been around for a long time. A heating bed for is a special type of cat bed designed to provide warmth and comfort to cats, especially during the colder months. These beds typically have a built-in heating element that warms the bed to a cozy temperature, similar to a human’s body temperature. The heating element is usually made of a low-voltage material that is safe for cats to use.

Cats often seek out warm places to sleep, and a self-heating bed can provide a safe and comfortable place for them to rest. It can also be beneficial for older cats or cats with arthritis, as the warmth can help ease joint pain and stiffness. 

Apart from that, a heated bed can give you the added benefit of a good night’s sleep if your cat likes to sleep on your face throughout the night. As cats have a higher body temperature than humans, it requires them a lot of energy to maintain their body temperature. Giving your cat a heated bed is a great replacement for your warmth that keeps them healthy and happy. 

More Affection During The Day 

Despite what their personalities will have you think, cats require a lot of affection to function properly. Affection from their immediate group is crucial in order to keep your feline fit and healthy. Physical affection helps cats bond with you and they grow to trust you. Cats who get more physical affection from their families are also reportedly healthier and happier. 

A main reason why your cat might seek your comfort at night is that they don’t get enough physical affection during the day. All cats have unique personalities, with their own specific needs. Some require less affection while others require more. It might be that your cat requires company because of emotional distress. If you could fulfill that need during the day by giving them special attention, it might deter them from bothering you while you sleep.

Conclusion

Cats are very emotionally intelligent creatures, and as such require mental nourishment as well as physical nourishment. Behaviors such as sleeping on an owner’s face might be seen as unwanted by humans but might be indicators of deeper underlying issues.

One reason is that cats trust their owners and feel safe and comfortable sleeping next to them. Another could be that cats may see their owner’s face as a source of warmth. Cats also value social interactions and may sleep near their owners as a way of showing affection and bonding. Lastly, cats have a strong sense of smell and may be attracted to their owner’s pheromones, which help them feel more secure and connected to their owner.

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Nadine Oraby

My name is Nadine; I am a passionate writer and a pet lover. People usually call me by the nickname “Joy” because they think that I am a positive and joyful person who is a child at heart. My love for animals triggered me to create this blog. Articles are written by vets, pet experts, and me. Thanks for visiting. Your friend, Nadine!

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