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3 Reasons Cats Sleep On Your Head

Posted on: May 16th, 2013 by

Dr. Matheys is a veterinarian guest blogger for pet insurance provider Pets Best Insurance.

Hello. I’m Dr. Jane Matheys from The Cat Doctor Veterinary Hospital and Hotel in Boise, Idaho. Today I’ll be answering some questions about cat health from the comments posted our Pets Best Insurance Facebook page.

First one here, Karen asks: “Why does my cat sleep on my head? Otherwise, she’s not overly affectionate.” Well, it’s not quite as unique as you might think, Karen. It is pretty common for people to tell me that their kitties sleep on their head at night.

There are several reasons for this.

1. Nobody knows for sure, but my guess is that most likely the common reason is that cats do it for warmth. People lose most of their body heat through their head, and your kitty can feel that, so they wrap right against your head to get that warmth. Other things?

2. Well, maybe they like the smell of your hair, especially us women we often use products in our hair, and sometimes cats really like that smell or the feel of the hair. I often have people tell me that the cats lick their hair too. So I think it might be some of those hair products that we use.

3. Being that close to you and picking up your scent might also give them a sense of comfort. Your pillow might just be a real comfy place to sleep. So as long as the kitty is not disturbing your sleep, it’s fine to let the cat do that and enjoy some time with your kitty.

If you have any other questions, please post them in the comments section below, or visit the Pets Best Insurance Facebook page. See you next time.

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  1. Ann Kopel says:

    We went camping with our cat and took her on a walk on a leash. She was happy enough until I took her on a tour of the campground’s bathroom and shower. Something spooked her and she jumped out of my arms and yanked her leash out of my hand. She took off running!! We were several blocks form our Camping van when it happened. We walked around the campground for several hours calling her, shaking her treat bag, even fried up some salmon and took the fry pan around calling her. 8 hours later (at 4 in the morning) I heard her meow outside our van. Somehow she had found us! Any idea how she did that?

  2. Debbie Lowman says:

    I really like your question and answer section from Vets. I have one and would love to submit it, not sure how since I don’t do Facebook. I have 2 indoor cats, sisters. One of them loves to eat plastic, such as ziplock bags and plastic grocery bags. I have to hid them really good to keep her from eating them. Would someone be able to submit this for me? Thanks!

  3. Kate says:

    My cat has a habit of scratching closed doors with her front paws, to the point where it becomes very loud. At night, I can’t close my bedroom door, or she will scratch on it all night. She is de-clawed, so I am wondering if there’s a way to prevent this from happening so I can sleep better! My cat pounds on the door so much that often, she opens it. She has even opened a locked door! I don’t feel like I should have to lock her up in a room all night, I’d rather she roam free, but she tends to keep me up. Any advice?

    • Dr. Jane Matheys says:

      Hi Kate-one of the best ways to keep your cat from scratching your doors at night is to use some sort of remote deterrent device that you can find at your local pet store or online. One type is a motion-activated can of compressed air that you can put near your door. When kitty moves by it, it automatically releases a loud, scary blast of air, so she learns quickly to stay away from the door. There is also a touch sensitive training mat that you can put in front of the door to quickly condition her to stay away from the area. When she steps on the mat, it emits harmless pulses that feel like little “zaps”. These surprising little “zaps” repel most pets after 1 or 2 exposures. In addition, if your cat is young, have a long, tiring play session and then feed her a small amount right before bedtime. That usually gets them sleepy. Hope this helps you sleep better!

  4. Dr. Jane Matheys says:

    Ann-cats have wonderful senses! Their sense of smell is especially keen; not quite as good as some dogs, but much better than they get credit for. Most likely your cat’s sense of smell, along with her other senses, played a big part in finding her way back to you. And I’m so glad that she did!

  5. Joe Wright says:

    I am reading “Gone Wild” by James W. Hall, a book which I recommend for people who love animals and have an interest in Florida. In the book, the author explains that baby orangutans sleep at their mother’s head so that they don’t get hurt by their 200 pound mother’s arms and legs while she is sleeping. Maybe that also explains small cats’ behavior when their large human is sleeping? They don’t want to get hurt.

  6. Ashley says:

    Is there anything I can do to keep my cat out of my hair at night!! I get no sleep because every five minutes I am getting woke up by him laying and licking my hair, I try to ignore it but I can’t stand my hair to be touched by anyone or thing! If I shut him out of my room he cries and cries so loud that it wakes up my son and husband..I can ignore him but they cant. Help please…I’d really hate to throw him outside there are to many coyotes!

  7. Dr. Jane Matheys says:

    Ashley-I can sympathize with having your sleep disturbed. Make sure you are not unknowingly reinforcing your cat’s bad behavior. Do not talk to him or pet him when he’s licking your hair. In case he is attracted to any of your hair products, try products with a different scent, preferably lemon or citrus based if available. Most cats don’t like citrus scent. Try putting some bitter apple spray on a section of your hair that he’s likely to lick. Use it consistently for a short while, and the bad taste may teach him to stop the behavior. If these tips are not helping, you made need to try a splash of water in the face from a spray bottle or squirt gun, or a blast of air from a compressed air canister. It’s important that this be done within a few seconds of the start of the behavior so that you get a startle response from the cat rather than scaring him. And again, be consistent. Hope this helps!

  8. Cade says:

    Hi I just wanted to say that when my boy was a kitten I would always lay him besides me, now that he has grown up there’s not a night that goes past that he now doesn’t sleep curled up in my arms with his face facing mine, due to me understanding him or atleast thinking I understand him, he does this because he feels secure being held and it’s how he shows he loves me, as he doesn’t do it with anyone else.

  9. fred schrade says:

    It is a myth that people lose most of their body head through their heads. Google it. Other than that, your theories about why cats sleep on our heads sound reasonable. I was wondering about it and found my way here. Thank you.

  10. Morgan says:

    About two months ago my car started sleeping on my pillow usually right above my head. I used to think it was sweet but it has become a problem. She moves quite a bit at night and often steps on my hair which feels like it’s being pulled out. Or when she stretches her little claws poke my scalp and hurts. I don’t want her to think that I don’t love her back but this behavior is making sleep difficult. Any ideas.?

  11. Morgan says:

    Ha ha whoops cat*

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