Last Updated on: September 8, 2023 by Crystal Uys
Some cats love to cuddle and may eventually get in the habit of sleeping on their owners’ faces. For the most part, you can take this behavior as a compliment, as it’s often a sign of trust and affection. After all, cats that feel unsafe will never try to sleep on someone’s face.
There are several reasons why a cat may choose to sleep on their owner’s face. As cats aren’t able to verbally explain why they do this, we can only speculate why they engage in this behavior.
The 4 Reasons Why Your Cat May Sleep on Your Face
Every cat is unique, which means that they’ll have their own reasons why they prefer to sleep on their owners’ faces. Here are some possible reasons why they do this.
1. Seeking Warmth
Cats are heat seekers and prefer climates with temperatures around 80°F to 90°F. Since most homes are set to lower temperatures, your cat may prefer to snuggle up in blankets or on a heating pad, especially when they’re napping or sleeping. Your face may act like a hot water bottle, and your cat may prefer sleeping on it because it feels warm.
Sleeping on your face may be strategic because it’s a safe area for your cat. Your cat can warm up to your body heat without having to worry about getting hit by your limbs.
Cats that have a strong bond with their owners will view them as sources of security. So, some cats may want to be as close as possible to their owners. Sleeping is a very vulnerable act for cats because they enter a state when they’re not fully aware of their surroundings and have slower reaction times.
Choosing to sleep on or near your face in this context is a sign of trust, and your cat is relying on you to protect them while they sleep.
3. Wanting Attention
Some cats may show affection or seek attention by sleeping on your face. Cats have very sensitive noses and will eventually become familiar with your scent. If you give your cat a sense of safety, your cat may start sleeping on your face because they want to smell your scent. If you sleep with a blanket over you, your face is the only thing that’s exposed, which can cause your cat to resort to sleeping on it.
In my personal experience, I noticed that my cat usually ends up doing anything to get my attention. She loves being the center of attention and is very aware when I’m not paying attention to her. Sometimes, when I’m lying on the couch and watching TV, she’ll rest her face on my face. It’s hard to ignore a cat when it’s on your face, and I know that giving my cat attention whenever she does this has only reinforced the behavior.
4. Territorial Behavior
Cats are territorial animals and are constantly marking and reinforcing their territory. They’ll usually rub their faces or bodies against something to mark it with their scent and claim the object as their own. This is why cats will rub themselves on their owners. They’re communicating that you’re affiliated with them.
Also, in cat colonies, cats will rub against other members of the colonies. This leaves pheromones on all the cats in the colony and creates a collective group scent. A group scent helps maintain peace in a colony and identify any strangers. So, your cat may choose to sleep on your face because they view you as a part of their colony or territory.
Is It Safe for My Cat to Sleep on My Face?
For the most part, it’s completely safe for your cat to sleep on your face. Having your cat sleep on your bed and near you can strengthen your bond. Your cat will also appreciate the warmth and feel safe knowing that you’re nearby.
Since I have a fairly tiny cat, I don’t mind when she sleeps on my face. She also doesn’t do it very often, and I notice that she does it more during the wintertime and after I return home from a multi-day trip.
There are just a few exceptions where it may be dangerous for either you or your cat. For example, if you tend to toss and turn in your sleep or wake up from nightmares, it may not be a good idea to have your cat sleep near you or on your bed. Sudden movements can startle your cat, and they may also cause injury if you accidentally hit your cat while you’re sleeping.
If you have dust allergies or respiratory issues, it’s also not the best idea to have your cat sleep on your face. Your cat’s coat can carry a variety of allergens, such as dandruff, dust, and dirt, and coming in contact with them can exacerbate allergy symptoms. You’re also likely to inhale these things along with cat hairs, which can trigger breathing issues.
How to Get Your Cat to Stop Sleeping on Your Face
If sleeping on your face becomes an issue, you can train your cat to stop engaging in this behavior. Just keep in mind that it’ll take a lot of time and patience to deter your cat from sleeping on your face.
First, it’s important not to give your cat attention when they sleep on your face, especially if they’re motivated by seeking attention. You can try to slowly turn your body to the other side to get your cat off your face gently. Make sure not to make any noises or acknowledge your cat when you do this so that your cat doesn’t notice that they caught your attention.
You can also start to train your cat to sleep elsewhere. Use treats to encourage your cat to sleep in a desired location, such as next to you or on a cat bed. As you continue to reward your cat for sleeping in a certain spot, your cat will eventually develop a positive association with the new sleeping location and will transition to sleeping there on their own.
There are many reasons why cats will sleep on their owners’ faces. They may want attention, be seeking warmth, or be trying to mark their territory. For the most part, it’s harmless for your cat to sleep on your face. Your cat’s preference for sleeping on your face ultimately shows that your cat trusts you enough to sleep this close to you.
Featured Image Credit: osobystist, Shutterstock
About the author
Cat mom to Ivy – a feisty little rescue kitten that is her one and only child. For now! Throughout her life, she has been introduced to the special love that can be found in the bond with a cat. Having owned multiple felines, she is more than certain that their love is unmatched, unconditional and unlike any other. With a passion to educate the public about everything, there is to know about felines, their behavior, and their unique personalities, Crystal is devoted to making sure that all cats and their owners know the importance of conscious living – and loving!