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The position is commonly known as a “cat loaf” or “cat loafing” where cats tuck their paws and tail underneath them and resemble a loaf of bread is highly normal.
In fact, the cat loaf position is a sign that your cat feels safe.
If your cat takes the loaf position more than is normal, it would be wise to observe it closely and see if there might be something wrong.
The Cat Loaf and Other Mysterious Cat Positions
Cats display an abundance of mysterious behaviors and positions.
Some of these actions and sounds might seem quite weird to us, but rest assured, they are completely normal for cats.
Especially if you are a new cat owner, it might take you some time to figure out what exactly your cat is doing most of the time.
Once you get used to your cat’s unique character and specific behaviors, you can be sure that you will develop a very enjoyable relationship.
For instance, cats have a habit of staring at you for minutes at a time while staying completely still. This might make you start worrying if your cat may be having a problem.
This long stare is in fact your cat’s way of trying to understand how you are feeling.
The things you need to do in this situation are quite simple: give your cat a calm, friendly wink and smile, maybe even ask, “what’s up?”. For more on this, you can read why does my cat staring at me.
Why not? Sure, cats do not understand our words, but they do understand our body language and how we say our words. Once your cat knows you are calm and at ease, it will most likely mirror your temperament.
Yes, it’s true that cats adapt their behavior based on their owners’ actions and facial expressions, and here is a study that explores this topic in depth.
Moriah Galvan and Jennifer Vonk’s study done at Oakland University has found that cats whose owners smile often are more likely to display positive behaviors like purring, letting themselves be pet and sitting on their owners’ laps than those who smile less.
So, if you’ve had a good day and have returned home from work feeling happy, at peace and with a smile on your face, your cat will share this happiness and have a wonderful evening with you. ,
However, the opposite is also possible!
Why Do Cats Curl Their Paws?
It’s extremely important to pay attention to your cat’s behavior, as it cannot speak in order to express its problems.
If you don’t have an experienced cat owner around you for guidance, you can find yourself getting worried over a few behaviors.
It is completely understandable that you would want to know more about your cat’s form of communication with you.
It might seem strange and mysterious when cats sit with their paws and tail tucked underneath them.
This is a very common sitting position for cats, and it means that they feel comfortable and safe.
This sitting position – with their tail and paws tucked under them- is called a “cat loaf” or “cat loafing”, because they resemble a very cute loaf of bread.
Urban Dictionary and Reddit have coined the term “Catloaf”. You can find on Reddit hundreds of photographs of cats sitting very comfortably in this loaf position in quite strange places.
In some situations, your cat may leave one paw out while sitting in the cat loaf position for temperature control.
The cat loaf position reminds me of people that like to get in bed and pull the covers all the way up to their chins, tucking themselves tightly from each corner.
It is especially kids who enjoy being tucked in like this. I personally do not find sleeping in this position particularly comfortable. I’ve had my share of issues with quite a lot of hotel beds where the covers are tucked in like it will protect you from the end of the world. In my opinion, it forces you to sleep like a mummy, but I guess it makes some people feel safe.
I have gotten used to my cat in the loaf position and I’m very happy to see her sitting like this because I know that she is very calm and at ease.
It usually goes like this: she stares at me for a while, then shifts her gaze to a vacant point in the room. She starts very slightly to squint her eyes as if trying to resist closing them completely. But alas, she shuts them completely and naptime begins.
Cats usually don’t sleep long and deeply in the loaf position but have a nice nap. If the nap isn’t enough, they change their position and might move to another place for a longer sleep.
If your cat is alerted by a sound such as a dog barking outside, noise from a TV, or even you just shuffling around on the couch, it will open its eyes and check out what’s happening. It will do this without moving out of the loaf position.
If what your cat sees is worth its attention, then it will immediately move out of the loaf position. Of course, this all depends on how sleepy your cat is at that moment. If the need for sleep takes the upper hand, your cat will resume sleeping as if nothing ever happened.
Your cat doesn’t need to be on the floor or a comfy couch in order to take the loaf position.
My cat loves loafing on the bookshelf, on top of the backrest of the couch, on the radiator (which is her favorite), on the kitchen counter, on me and countless other strange places.
I can tell which surface has been preferred for loafing that day by the concentrated accumulation of fur on that spot.
I have noticed that street cats prefer loafing on the warm hoods of parked cars.
I should also add, my cat likes to take the loaf position to demonstrate how well behaved and deserving of food she is when it’s time for her meals.
Loafing for this purpose is different from nap loafing because she has got her full attention to the food I have in my hand as I’m filling her plate.
How Does Your Cat Appear When Sitting in the Cat Loaf Position?
- Paws are tucked underneath its body.
- Head stays up.
- Seems very comfortable and calm.
- Ears don’t move a lot but are upright.
- Eyes are slowly opening and closing.
- Whiskers are calm and away from the face.
- Tail usually surrounds the body.
- Body language shows no sign of action any time soon.
- Shuts its eyes completely after a while.
- You can see it napping.
- If the nap gets deeper its head might droop forward.
Although they might be hard to distinguish, there are many types of loaf positions. For instance, as I’ve mentioned above, there is the one where one paw is out in the open instead of tucked beneath the body.
Also, some cats like to rest their nose and face on a surface while in the loaf position. I’m not entirely sure if they do this so that their face stays warmer or to prevent their head from falling forward when they nap, but for me, it is the funniest position to observe.
There is a type of collective loafing where they do double, even triple loafing with other cats. There also is a loaf type where they leave their two front paws out in the open in front of them, like the Sphinx.
So, Does the Loaf Position Only Mean That Your Cat Feels Safe?
While your cat is in the loaf position, if you observe your cat’s eyes opening and closing very slowly and the closed bit is getting longer each time, this means that your cat is going to take a nap in a very short while.
However, in some instances, especially when they are outdoors and surrounded by insects, butterflies, and other animals, or when they are playing with you, cats might take a position called the “attack loaf”.
This loaf position is different than the position where cats feel safe. The front paws are usually in the open in front of them and their head rests on their paws.
While in the attack loaf position, their tail is usually pointing outwards, but sometimes it can also be on their side.
This position enables cats to take immediate action and jump towards their target, which might be anything like a toy, an insect, or even a laser beam.
You can easily distinguish the attack loaf from other loaf positions.
For instance, unlike the nap loaf, the eyes are not lazily opening and closing – instead, they are wide and alert, focusing intensely on the target of choice. As the target moves around, the cat becomes tense and shifts accordingly in tiny and rapid movements without disrupting the loaf position.
I’m sure that you won’t ever interpret this attack loaf position as a peaceful and lazy transition into a nap.
In the end, you do not need to worry when you observe this position because your cat most often takes it whenever it is playing.
How Does Your Cat Appear When in the Attack Cat Loaf Position?
- Keeps itself as close to the ground as possible.
- Eyes are wide and alert.
- Back legs appear ready for jumping.
- Front paws are stretched out before it.
- Follows its target intensely with its eyes.
- Tail points out to keep balance once on the move.
- Does not appear lazy or sleepy.
Overall, the cat loaf is a very common position that should not worry you at all because your cat takes this position when there is no need to use its paws and it feels safe.
If your house is not warm enough (although a cat’s notion of “warm” might make us cat owners evaporate from the heat), your cat may take the loaf position in order to preserve its body heat.
My Cat Takes the Loaf Position More Than Usual, Should I Be Worried?
Please try to keep in mind that what I have written below is based on my own experience.
Every cat is unique and might react differently to various situations, illnesses, etc. What I’m telling you is not necessarily the advice of a vet, so it’s best if you check in with your vet if you are concerned that your cat might be having a health problem.
The truth is, you know your cat better than anyone else because there is probably no other person that observes your cat closer than you do. Therefore, you will know best if your cat taking the loaf position more often than normal is the sign of a problem or not.
Nevertheless, I will try to offer some insight about when the loaf position may become the sign of a problem.
For instance, if your cat takes the loaf position more often than usual, this may be a sign that your cat is lacking its usual amount of energy.
Or, if your cat’s environment is not warm enough, she might be feeling chilly and trying to preserve its body heat by taking the loaf position.
If your cat is frequently licking one of its paws before and after taking the loaf position, this may be a sign that there is an injury or wound there.
Whenever you observe a behavior out of the ordinary, visiting the vet with your cat is the safest and surest way to solve any possible problems.
Other Positions That Signal That Your Cat Feels Safe
There are other positions and behaviors besides the cat loaf that might show that your cat feels safe and at ease.
The stretching movement after a nap can point to the fact that your cat is in a good mood. They can stretch for long periods of time with their front paws’ way out front.
Another instance where cats stretch out might be after a moment of stress, which can be caused by a failed attempt at a target or an incident that scares them. The stretching can help reduce their anxiety and tension caused by a stressful event.
If you see your cat stretching after a moment of stress, you can rest assured that it is trying to relieve itself from this tension and that things are going back to normal.
If this stretching is finalized with the relief of its ears and whiskers and the slight opening and closing of its eyes, then you can be sure that your cat is completely relaxed and calm.
When cats are willing to play around, this is also a sign that they are in a good mood. After all, for cats to engage in playtime requires them to be moderately full, clean to their liking, and for their litter box to be clean, their bed to be comfy, to have gotten their minimum amount of sleep and for the environment to be warm enough for their taste.
When your cat is willing to play with you or its toys, this means that its primary needs mentioned above are fulfilled and that it’s satisfying enough to engage in a fun activity of playing.
If the position of your cat’s tail resembles a question mark and it comes by your side to take little friendly bites, this also means that your cat wants to have playtime.
Although I must say that with my cat, these “little friendly bites” can sometimes exceed in strength and poke holes in my skin. Thankfully they don’t really hurt that much.
Of course, younger cats are more frequently inclined to playing around; however, no matter how old your cat is, it will still enjoy a good round of playtime if all its primary needs are satisfied.
Signs That Your Cat is Comfortable and at Ease
- Doesn’t give sudden reactions to noises.
- Ears are not rapidly moving around, although they may be upright and listening.
- Gets close to you, allows petting, and purrs.
- Eyes are not constantly fixed on a target.
- Paws are tucked underneath its body in the loaf position.
- Eyes are slowly opening and closing.
- Doesn’t give sudden reactions to external stimuli.
- Willing to engage in play.
- Pays attention to its hygiene.
If you observe your cat displaying the behaviors listed above, it most likely is very comfortable and at ease at that moment.
Signs That Your Cat Might Be Anxious
It is possible to list a variety of signs that show whether cats are calm or stressed, but even so, correctly telling apart their moods requires a degree of familiarity.
Therefore, you will know best whether your cat is stressed or perfectly calm and enjoying itself.
I will try to give a brief insight into certain behaviors of cats caused by anxiety and come to an end on this piece about the cat loaf position.
I will not include behaviors like hissing, biting with an intention to hurt or any other actions of attack in this list because these are already obvious signs of anxiety and distress.
I want to point out some anxiety-based behaviors of cats that might be harder to notice.
If your cat’s irises have dilated, its eyes are wide open and unblinking, its ears are almost flattened towards the back of its head and both are moving separately according to various noises in the environment, your cat is probably quite anxious and tense.
As the tension increases, the whiskers are pulled back, the head is lowered towards the front paws (in a position of staring up from below), and the back is arched in order to facilitate an immediate action of running or jumping.
In addition to the behaviors mentioned above, don’t forget to observe your cat’s tail. When cats are tense, they will move their tail back and forth, or even hit the ground. This behavior is not just a sign of stress but also of aggression.
Cat Loaf Products
As I was working on this piece, I went through a lot of extremely cute cat loaf photographs and realized that this simple position is universally adored by hundreds of thousands of people. The Catloaf thread on Reddit has over two hundred thousand followers!
It is inevitable for a cat-related phenomenon this well-liked not to have countless merchandise based on it.
If you adore the cat loaf position as I do, you can find hundreds of different designed products such as cat loaf pillowcases, socks, t-shirts, and sweatshirts.
As an endnote, I hope you and your cat are both happy and peaceful, which would mean that I wish you an abundance of cat loaf days!