Why Does My Cat Sleep on My Head?

Published Apr. 22, 2024
tabby kitten sleeping with a toy

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Before settling into bed to sleep, many pet parents will cuddle with their cats—just for their cats to move to the top of their head to curl up and sleep. And while some people enjoy falling asleep to the sound of their cats purring on top of their head, you might have wondered why some cats choose this sleeping position.

Why Does My Cat Sleep on My Head?

You should be flattered when your cat wants to sleep on your head—this is a clear sign that your cat prefers your presence. But the reason why your cat likes that specific spot may vary.

1. Your Cat Trusts You

When a cat sleeps on your head, it’s an indication of trust, since a cat is most vulnerable to predators when they are sleeping. The top of your head may be where they feel the safest; they’re trusting you to keep them from harm.

2. Your Cat Is Seeking Warmth

Some cats may sleep on their pet parent’s head because they want body-on-body contact. Or your cat may prefer the warmth from your head—after all, the head is usually the part of the body not covered by a sheet or blanket when people are sleeping.

3. Your Cat Likes Your Scent

Human heads contain sweat and oil glands that carry our unique scent. Your cat may prefer to be closest to the part of us that has the strongest scent.

When the cat rubs on your head, your scent transfers to the cat. Your scent may make the cat feel safe and secure or provide them with a sense of belonging. Often, bonded cats that live with each other will rub against each other to exchange scents and form a “family scent.”  Some cats want to do the same with their pet parent.

4. Your Cat Wants To Be Close to You

Other cats may prefer to sleep on your head to keep closer tabs on you. So, in case you get up in the middle of the night, they will feel the motion and your absence so they can follow you.

Positioning themselves at your head ensures the cat can also easily wake you up by touching your head or face with their paw or by licking you.

Should You Let Your Cat Sleep on Your Head?

One of the benefits of allowing a cat to sleep on your head is the strengthening of the human-animal bond; it builds a deeper and stronger relationship. However, letting your cat sleep on your head might not be a good idea for everyone.

One of the biggest considerations involves the worsening of allergies. Some people who are allergic to cats can be tolerant of their presence in the house, but prolonged close contact with a cat on their face may aggravate their symptoms. They may wake up to itchy eyes, sneezing, and congestion.

If you’re a light sleeper, a cat sleeping on your head might also be disruptive and make it difficult for you to rest.

How To Stop Your Cat From Sleeping on Your Head

If you don’t want your cat to sleep on your head, discourage the behavior from the start. One option is to simply give your cat attention by playing with toys or petting them before going to bed, then closing the bedroom door to deny your cat access.

Another option is to provide your cat with a soft, plush bed and place it in a location near you, such as on your nightstand. You can encourage your cat to rest there instead by rewarding them with treats, pets, or praise.

You can also deter your cat from sleeping on your head with some strategic pillow placement so your cat doesn’t have room to lie near your head.

While not all cats attempt to sleep on their pet parents’ heads, for those that do, it can be a nice way to bond with your cat. It’s totally fine for you to let your cat sleep on your head if it doesn’t bother you.

Wailani Sung, MS, PhD, DVM, DACVB


Wailani Sung, MS, PhD, DVM, DACVB


Dr. Wailani Sung has a passion for helping owners prevent or effectively manage behavior problems in companion animals, enabling them to...

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