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Discover why cats sit or lay on your lap, laptop, laundry and other random items around the home.

Cats often have a remarkable talent for finding unusual places to sit or lay, whether it’s on your lap or chest, on laptops or paper, in boxes, on a pile of laundry or even in the bathtub or sink. Why do cats pick these peculiar spots? Discover their reasons for choosing the perfect place to perch.

1. Warmth

tortoiseshell-and-white cat sat on a man's lap as he uses a game controller

Cats are warm-blooded creatures and love to find a cosy place to sit or snooze, especially in winter. Laptops and other electrical appliances, radiators and other heat sources such as underfloor heating, sunlit spots, your lap and places you’ve just been sitting are all ideal as they radiate heat to keep their body temperature warm. Find out how to keep your cat warm.

2. Comfort

A ginger-and-white tabby cat sat on a blue jumper on a bed

Soft surfaces such as blankets, bedding and clothing are often irresistible to cats as they make a comfy and warm place to rest. Some fabrics are also ideal for kneading with their claws, a natural behaviour that cats find comforting. Find out why cats knead. 

3. Smell

A white cat sat on top of laundry in a laundry basket

Scent is incredibly important to cats as it’s one of the main ways they communicate. They rub the scent glands found on their face, body and paws onto objects to transfer their scent and mark the area as safe. Therefore, if they’ve previously transferred their scent onto an object, they might be attracted to sit on it as they know it’s safe. Similarly, if they are bonded with you and know you can be trusted, they might associate your scent with safety and find comfort in sitting on your lap or on objects that smell like you, such as your unwashed laundry. Cats are also very clean creatures though, so freshly washed laundry and bedding can also be an attractive place for a nap. 

4. Safety

A black cat sat in a sink in a kitchen

Cats are both a predator and prey species so they are constantly wary of potential dangers around them. Cats often feel safest when they are hidden from view, such as in a cardboard box, wardrobe, under the bed or even in the bathtub, so you might find them in these hiding places, particularly when they are feeling anxious or stressed. Don’t disturb them if they are hiding away and leave them to come out in their own time. Cats also feel safer when they are off the ground, as this gives them a good view of their surroundings to help them watch out for potential threats. High-up places such as windowsills, shelves, furniture and even sinks are ideal places to perch. Spots next to windows can also be popular as they can get a good view of what’s happening outside. Find out more about cats and hiding. 

5. Close to you

A brown-and-white tabby cat sat on an open notebook next to a purple pen

If your cat likes fuss and strokes, they may choose to sit somewhere that will increase their chances of getting your attention. The laptop you’re using, paper you’re reading, chair you’re sitting on, or your lap are prime positions for getting in your way so you give them a chin rub.  

6. Novelty

A black cat sat on a yellow plastic bag on a yellow sofa. The cat has its mouth open

Cats are curious creatures, so when a new object arrives in their home, such as a carrier bag, cardboard box, new piece of furniture or even a person, they may want to investigate it. If their initial inspection identifies the object as harmless, they might decide to sit on it to transfer their scent and mark it as safe. 

Why do cats sit like a loaf?

A black cat sat in the 'cat loaf' position with its paws ticked under its body on a grey blanket

The ‘cat loaf’ is a popular sitting position for many cats. This is when they sit with their paws and tail tucked completely beneath their body, forming a shape a bit like a loaf of bread. This is different from sitting in a crouched position, where their paw pads are in contact with the floor.

The cat loaf is a normal way for cats to sit and there are few reasons why they might like it:

  1. Warmth. The loaf position is an efficient way for cats to retain heat. By tucking their paws and tail underneath their body they can use their body heat to keep these extremities warm. 
  2. Comfort. If a cat chooses to sit in this position regularly, then they must find it comfortable, otherwise they would choose to sit in a different way. Therefore, the cat loaf must be a comfy way to sit. 
  3. They feel safe. Cats usually like to be ready to run at a moment’s notice, even when they’re snoozing, so they can escape from any danger. Sleeping in the loaf position isn’t ideal for a quick getaway, as their legs are tucked away. Therefore, they will usually only sit in this position if they feel completely safe. 

Why is my cat sitting in the litter box?

As cats are known for choosing unusual places to sit, sitting in the litter box could just be another random perch they’ve chosen because it fulfils one of the reasons mentioned above, such as it is comfy or they feel safe there. However, there could be other reasons why your cat is choosing to sit or sleep in the litter box:

If sitting in the litter box is a new and unusual behaviour for your cat, speak to your vet for advice to find out if anything is wrong. Also make sure that you are providing the right type of litter box for your cat by following our advice about cats and toileting. 

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