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Why Do Cats Sleep on Our Feet?

Cats are such strange creatures. They do a lot of things we question in the moment. Like crawling up curtains. Or drinking out of the toilet. They love to wake us up in the middle of the night for play time or treats. Really, they’re fluffy little pests. But we love them anyway, because they provide endless love, cuddles, and protection. My own cat, Ferdinand, has been a constant companion and source of comfort during quarantine. I’m not sure where I’d be without him.

And after reading a new article from POPSUGAR, I’m even more appreciative of my little guy. The publication interviewed Erin Askeland, Animal Health and Behavior Consultant for Camp Bow Wow. The question: Why, exactly, do cats love to sleep on our near our feet? It’s certainly a question I’ve wondered myself. Ferdinand is almost always in bed near my feet at night. Sometimes he even drapes his entire (heavy) body over my ankles. I always assumed it was another weird cat quirk, or a strangely comfy spot for him. But according to Askeland, it’s even sweeter than that.

A beautiful and perfect tuxedo cat asleep at the foot of a bed.Photo courtesy Lindsey Romain

“When a cat goes to sleep, their guard is lowered and they’re aware that they’re more vulnerable, so often cats may choose to sleep at the foot of the bed for security and safety, to alert you if they sense a threat, and to protect you,” Askeland told POPSUGAR.

But why do they sleep directly on our feet, and not simply next to them? “While cats may be independent creatures, they are keen on who provides for them and are still quite social,” Askeland said. “They are aware of who puts down their food, water, and treats, who plays with them, and who gives them attention, so they will seek out that person (or persons) to be near and offer affection in return, or appease you so you continue providing for them.”

Wow! It’s not just a weird comfort thing. Cats sleep near our feet to protect us. Well, and also possibly for our warmth, Askeland added as a footnote. But most of all protection! I will let that comfort me the next time I feel extra uncomfortable by that little ball of fur on my feet.

If you’re curious about other cat sleeping positions and what they mean, I also recommend this video from Bright Side on YouTube, which digs into some additional science.

Cats! They remain impossibly weird, and impossibly lovable, too.