Cats are notorious sleepers who spend most of the day taking a nap. But, of course, if you’re a pet owner, you already know that felines have the craziest sleeping positions, and you can often find them napping in the weirdest corners of the house.
For example, one of my cats enjoys sleeping right next to the radiator in her bed, but she recently switched to sleeping in a pile of my clothes. So I wondered, “Why does my cat lay on my clothes, and why did she switch spots?”
I have to admit that I was a little confused, so I decided to do my research. After reading many stories, research papers, and articles, I think I finally have an answer to share. If you’re also wondering about your feline’s similar behavior, you can read all about the reasons here. Plus, I share ways to prevent these habits so you can wear all your clothes without being covered in fur.
Why Does My Cat Sleep on My Clothes?
If you’ve noticed your feline attached to your clothes, you probably wonder why it doesn’t like its own bed. This behavior is quite interesting, and there are six core reasons for this behavior which you can find out more about in the following sections.
1. To Provide Comfort
Cats have a powerful sense of smell, so they can detect even subtle smells around them at any time. For comparison, humans have around five million smell sensors, whereas cats have approximately 20 million sensors. As you can see, they’re pretty sensitive to smells and odors, so many of them can even get attached to specific smells.
The two ways kitties recognize their owners are through their scent and voice. The cutest thing about felines is that they love the way you smell, and this scent provides them comfort. When they feel your scent, they know the smell belongs to a person they know and feel safe around. Even though most people consider cats cold and aloof, them sleeping on your clothes proves the exact opposite.
So, if you ever see your cat sleeping on your clothes, it might be because they want to have you near them. But if you’re not around for them to snuggle up with, they smell your clothing instead. They love the familiarity of the scent and so decide to curl up and take a nap here.
It isn’t just your clothing that smells like you either. Some cats enjoy sleeping on your bedding, blankets, and pillows, all of which also carry your unique and familiar scent. These belongings are comfortable and warm, and thus the perfect spot for the feline to sleep, relax and snuggle.
Uncomfortable items aren’t out of the question either though. A friend recently asked me, “Why does my cat lay on my shoes?” Well, felines don’t seem to be too fussy; as long as the item belongs to you and has your smell, they’ll lay on it. Some kitties choose shoes because they’re an item they can easily access, it smells familiar, and they want to feel your scent when you’re away.
A great way to tell whether this is the reason for your cat’s strange sleeping habits is to look at their behavior when you are home. Does your cat sleep on your chest? Or does your cat sleep between your legs? Cats get in your face while you sleep and curl up next to you because they’re obsessed with your smell. So when you’re not there, your cat will find a pile of clothes and nap there instead.
Another tell-tale sign is to consider whether your cat is sleeping on clean or dirty clothes. It might sound gross, but you leave your marks when wearing clothes. Whether that’s the sweat from your body on the shirt or another mark you left on clothing pieces, cats will smell it and enjoy it. The more worn your clothing, the more it smells like you and the more comfort it brings.
2. To Work Out Where You’ve Been
Your clothes will carry your scent that your cat will be able to pick up on. However, this is not the only odor that your cat might be trying to smell. You get many scents on your clothing when you go outside, be that from nature or other people and animals you have met on your travels. Therefore another way to interpret this behavior is that your cat simply wants to know where you have been.
When you get back home, your cat will note all those scents and want to inspect them. Even if there are several scents on your clothing, the cat will still be able to distinguish between them. This is again all down to their fine-tuned sense of smell. They can perceive all the scents separately and gain information about what you have been up to.
In addition, some smells like detergents, deodorants, and perfumes can be a little strange for your furry friend. They want to figure out where these smells came from, and why they’re covering up your comforting and familiar smell. By sleeping on your clothes, they gain access to all this information. Ever heard of the phrase curiosity killed the cat? Well, here is a prime example!
3. To Ease Stress & Anxiety
Cats might seem distant and cold, but they are sensitive creatures that get stressed very easily. This could be caused by something as small as a change in routine or a different type of cat food. On the other hand, it could be something more permanent and major, such as moving home.
Stress can manifest in all kinds of ways, and some cats will hide when feeling scared or anxious. But I know when my cat so affectionate all of a sudden it is because something has spooked her. She comes to me for comfort and won’t leave me alone! If your cat follows you everywhere and sleeps with you, stress is a likely reason why.
When you are busy doing other things and cannot provide the reassurance your cat needs, it might sleep on your clothes. Although not the same as curling up on your lap, it still provides them with a safe space and can help them deal with whatever is causing them stress. Besides, sometime my cat sits next to me but not on my lap – she’s just not feeling it today but still wants me near.
4. Your Cat Has Separation Anxiety
Although many events can disturb your cat, separation anxiety is one of the most common stress-related causes for cats to sleep on your clothes. Cats with separation anxiety become very stressed out each time you leave the house. Therefore, they try to find comfort in the clothes that smell like you, whether clean or dirty.
This anxiety is not healthy at all, so you have to do your best to recognize the symptoms and find ways to deal with them. In most cases, the cat won’t sleep or lay on your clothes when you’re at home. Instead, they’ll be as close to you as possible and follow you around the house.
If you ever wonder, “Why does my cat meow when I pick her up?” that’s another possible sign that your cat is stressed out without you. When pet owners come home and pick their felines up, some will meow to tell you that they’ve been missing you and need you next to them. They’re asking where you’ve been and begging you not to leave again.
Other signs of separation anxiety include:
- Your cat urinates on your clothes or your bed when you’re away
- Your cat will be destructive and scratch excessively at your carpet and furniture
- Your cat might self-groom excessively as a coping mechanism
- Your cat will meow loudly and excessively, both day and night
It is important to understand that separation anxiety isn’t down to bad pet parenting, so don’t beat yourself up. Some cats might have had previous traumatic experiences that have made them fearful they will be abandoned again by their new other. For example, cats that are left on the streets alone very young or are abandoned by their mothers.
Separation anxiety is also more common for cats that only live indoors with only one human, female cats, or cats that are currently going through other stressful changes. Examples include a new owner, a new house, a new schedule, or changes in the schedule of the owner.
5. To Mark Their Territory
As you probably already know, cats are bosses who want to mark their territory. Whether they’ll do it by spraying or rubbing their faces on many items around the house, felines want their home to smell like them. Although not all cats are very territorial, most of them love leaving their mark wherever they go. It provides them with comfort and reassurance.
Therefore, another reason your cat needs to lay on your clothes is that it wants to claim them as its own. This usually happens with clean clothes that you just washed. These freshly washed clothes will smell unfamiliar to your kitty, and they need to correct that as soon as possible!
Another common scenario is you buying new clothes as these smell completely foreign. Clothes claiming can be even more pronounced if you met different people or cuddled other animals. Every place you go and everyone you meet leaves a subtle scent on your clothing.
If the cat senses the smell of other animals on you or around your home, its territorial instincts quickly kick in. It can make them feel like their territory is being infringed upon, so your feline rushes to sleep on your clothes and transfer their unique smell into the material instead.
6. They Are Comfortable To Sleep On
One of the more obvious reasons a cat wants to sleep on your clothes is because they’re comfortable. The pile you left is soft and makes your feline feel protected and relaxed. In their mind, the clothes smell familiar and are much comfier than the expensive bed you bought.
You might notice your cat has a particular preference for the warm clothes you just took out of the dryer. These warm clothes are super cozy and thus the perfect sleeping spot. Cats love curling up in the warmest areas of your home, so a pile of freshly laundered clothes ticks both the warm and soft requirements. It’s the perfect place for your cat to sleep!
Moreover, cats love making biscuits on soft materials such as bedding, blankets, and pillows. They often do this before settling down for a nap. Felines simply enjoy the texture of certain materials under their paws, so they want to make these pieces their bed. Clothes are a great option as they can be moved and shaped however your cat wants.
If this is why a cat kneads soft materials, then why does my cat make biscuits on me? Well, they can still be doing this to make their bed! Cats love curling up and sleeping on their owners’ laps, which are equally as soft, warm, and good-smelling as your clothes.
How to Stop My Cat Sleeping on My Clothes
There is no real reason to worry if you see your cat sleeping on your clothes. Most of the time, it is just an indication that your cat loves you and wants to be as close to you as possible. However, as it can be a sign of stress and anxiety, you might want to put a stop to this behavior.
What’s more, you probably know the feeling of seeing your black pants and shirt covered in cat hair right when you’re rushing to get dressed for work. You also know how frustrating it is to wake up your feline just to grab your coat. If you want to avoid these unpleasant moments, you can try a few of these tips.
1. Remove Stressors
A stressed cat will often turn to your clothes for security. The best way to deal with this situation is to remove the stressor. But first, you have to work out what is causing your cat stress! Consider their environment and routine and if you have made any changes recently that could be causing your cat to feel stressed. Once you have got to the bottom of it, try and reverse these changes.
If this isn’t possible, you can try and make a cat-friendly space your kitty can retreat to while getting used to the changes. Find a quiet spot to place your cat’s bed and cover it with the old clothes you don’t wear anymore. This has to be a room the cat enjoys and away from all the noise or the potential factors that cause her stress.
You should also be very careful with the placement of the food and water bowls and the litter box. They should all be in a spot away from stressors, other people in your home, guests, and other pets in your home. Give your cat scratching posts and hiding spots too.
In addition, there are many ways you can make your cat feel like you’re at home even when you’re not. For example, there are special pet cameras where your feline can see your face, and you can even give them treats through the feeder while talking to them. Interactive toys are another great option that will keep your feline busy.
2. Get Pheromone Diffusers Or Collars
Pheromones are hormones that have a calming effect on cats. If your kitty has been struggling with anxiety, you should start shopping for pheromone products. These tools will release artificial pheromones around your home, promoting calmness. In turn, this should help discourage your cat from sleeping on your clothes.
There are many pheromone products to choose from. Diffusers are a great option; all you have to do is plug them and they’ll start working. You can also find diffusers for multiple cats, and all your felines will feel the calming effects of the pheromone blend throughout your home
Pheromone collars are another option. The collars are also straightforward to use. You just put them on your cat as you would a regular collar and they do their magic. This is a great option if you have a big home so you don’t have to purchase multiple diffusers. Plus, as the collar attaches around your cat’s neck, they carry this calming scent with them wherever they go.
3. Donate Old Clothes For Your Cat’s Bed
In some cases, it’s best that you simply donate your old clothes to your cat and let her enjoy the smell. Take the clothes you don’t want and try putting them over the top of your cat’s bed. The smell should attract your kitty and keep her away from your freshly laundered clothing.
MY FINAL THOUGHTS
Why does my cat sleep on my clothes? Is that something you should be worried about, and how can you help your cat change this habit? Although seeing your furry buddy cuddled in a pile of clothes is the cutest thing, cleaning the clothing is a complete nightmare.
After seeing my cat changing her usual lounging spot and making her way to my clothes, I researched this behavior and created the guide above. Getting familiar with why the feline does this is essential if you want to prevent it. Remember, this behavior is linked with stress though, so you should get in touch with the vet if you have any remaining concerns.