Why Does My Cat Sleep on My Head and Face?

Do you have a cat who likes to snooze on your head when you’re tucked up tight and snug in your bed?

This may sound like the beginning of a children’s bedtime story, but as many cat parents know, sharing your home with a feline friend or two often means sharing your pillow, as well. And if you wake up with a furry helmet in the morning, you might be wondering why cats like to sleep on your head or face and how to stop it if it’s impeding your sleep.

Since we can’t ask cats to explain themselves, we’ve turned to the next best source: Amelia Wieber, a certified cat behavior consultant and the owner of Caring Behavior LLC.

2 Simple Reasons Why Cats Sleep on Your Head

While there are many reasons why your cat might prefer cuddling your face rather than your feet, Wieber says there are two main explanations for this baffling bedtime behavior.

1. Your Head is the Coziest Spot in Bed

Think of where your cat likes to snooze during the day. Is it in the sunlight? Near a fireplace? On your lap? Next to a furry sibling? You’ve probably caught onto the theme, but cats tend to be drawn to warmth when they sleep. And according to Wieber, the body heat released by your head (which is often the only part of your body not covered by blankets when you’re in bed) might be presenting your feline with an irresistibly cozy spot to catch some z’s.

There are biological reasons behind this balmy bias. A cat’s normal body temperature is 102 degrees Fahrenheit. This is considerably higher than our 98.6-degree average. Cats also have fewer heat receptors than humans, which is why you’ll find your heat-seeking housemate taking advantage of external sources (like your unsuspecting noggin) to maintain their toasty internal temp.

2. Your Cat Loves You

If the heat explanation has you feeling used, Wieber’s second reason may rally your spirits. “It’s been my experience that cats who feel very close and comfortable with their person will cuddle up to that person’s head during sleep,” she explains. “Therefore, I suppose you could take it as a compliment.”

And when Wieber says she speaks from experience, this includes her own home. “I almost always have a cat sleeping on the pillow behind my head when I wake up, but I only have one cat who really enjoys wrapping his body around my face from time to time,” she says. “His name is Moscow, and we have a very close relationship.” Wieber notes that Moscow usually reserves this behavior for when it’s chilly outside, so it’s possible your cat has multiple motivations for hugging your head.

How to Stop Your Cat From Sleeping on Your Head

Sharing isn’t always caring. Wieber notes that for cat parents with allergies and those who are light sleepers, this invasive kitty cuddling can be difficult to enjoy. Thankfully, you don’t have to sacrifice the bond you’ve built with your cat to get a little solitary shut-eye.

Weiber offers two solutions that confront the potential causes of the behavior head-on (pun intended):

1. Offer Your Cat an Extra Cozy Bed

What could be cozier than your head? A heated cat bed, of course! If your kitty is motivated by warmth, Wieber says that introducing a heated cat bed can be an easy way to redirect your furry friend off your face and bed.

2. Give Your Cat Extra Attention

Wieber recommends finding other ways to bond and cuddle with your cat while you’re still awake. You could try setting aside time to snuggle with your cat on the couch or even letting them rest on your chest in bed for a bit before gently moving them to their heated bed and turning out the lights.

If you’ve tried these adjustments and are still struggling with a pillow-hogging kitty, reach out to your veterinarian, a veterinary behaviorist, or a certified cat behavior consultant. Your sleep and your relationship with your cat are worth the time and effort it might take to find a lasting solution.