Ask A Vet: Why Does My Cat Sleep On My Clothes?

| Published on August 8, 2016

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Cats are definitely unique and sometimes quirky. It is why we love them.  They love to develop habits and have very specific preferences. Some cats prefer to sleep high above the fray on perches or furniture and some cats prefer to hide in closets. Cats even show specific preferences for certain fabrics and types of beds and many owners report that their cats like to sleep on their clothes.

I think this tendency to make preference may go back to the idea of survival of the cat that was inherited from his wild ancestors.  Animals depend on resources: food, water, shelter and safety. When wild felines live in a family group, the group shares these resources.  They signal to one another about the value of resources and the boundaries of territory though scent marking. Pheromones (hormones produced by the cat to send signals) are a part of a cat’s sensory world, just like signs and notes give us info about ours.

So if your cat feels like your kitten or a member of your family, she might feel the most safe and comfortable resting on items that you have deemed “safe”. Your clothes bear your scent and it is like a sign posted for your cat that says, “I have checked these items out and they are alright.”

Your cat’s preference to lie on your clothes may also be related to the fact that your clothes are comfortable, soft and handy. They would be in your living areas where your cat naturally hangs out and they would probably be there even if you are away.

If you cat likes to lie on your clothes, you might find a T shirt item that you could wear and then donate to her cause as bedding. Familiar and comfortable items bearing your scent could make any place seem more like home, so after you wear the shirt, line your cat carrier with it. If she has to be away, like at the animal hospital or boarding facility, take it with her and if you have to be away, leave it accessible to her in your absence to help her deal with your absence.

Try to imagine your world through your cat’s eyes (or all of her senses). We humans are nose-blind to so much of what our cats depend on and we can’t ask our cats what makes them feel safe.  Try different things to find out your own cat’s preferences and then do what you can to make your environment as prefect for her as you can.

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