Facts about the animal kingdom

Why Won't My Cat Sleep With Me Anymore?

Eduarda Piamore
By Eduarda Piamore, Expert in canine and feline psychology, education and training.. February 20, 2023
Why Won't My Cat Sleep With Me Anymore?

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While there will be general consistency, most cats will have a somewhat capricious nature. Sometimes they will want to preserve their personal space and have some moments alone. Other times they will be appear desperate for company. As long as you have a good relationship with your cat and a strong bond of trust, they will want to spend time with you, even if their preferred types of interaction differ. For some, the best moments they can share with their guardian are sleeping on top of them for long periods. It can be one of the coziest experiences guardians have with their cats.

When a cat suddenly stops this behavior, it can be disconcerting. It can make a guardian wonder if they have done something wrong. It is for this reason AnimalWised asks why won't my cat sleep with me anymore? In answering the question, we can help to build a better bond with our cat.

  1. Why does my cat lay on top of me?
  2. Personal preference
  3. Bad relationship
  4. Stress
  5. They do not recognize you
  6. They are sick or in pain

Why does my cat lay on top of me?

When cats have a strong relationship with their guardian, they will want to spend time together. This doesn't necessarily mean they will want to lay on top of them, but physical proximity is important both emotionally and practically. If your cat enjoys sleeping beside or on top of you, it will likely be for one or more of the following reasons:

  • Warmth: when kittens are in a litter, they will all sleep together in a cozy ball of fluff. The same applies to most adult cats when they live together and have a good relationship. This is partly because the other cats provide comfort and heat to rest together. When a cat sleeps on top of or next to their tutor, it is often for this same reason.

  • Security: heat is not the only reason cats enjoy sleeping close to others. In the wild, cats will sleep close together as a form of protection. They will have a better chance of fending off a predator collectively. Although domestic cats may not have the same worry about predators, being next to a trusted guardian will offer security when anything in their environment is perceived as threatening.

  • Territoriality: another reason a cat sleeps with you is because of a sense of ownership. While they understand the dynamics of the relationship, you are their main point of reference and sleeping on top of you is a way of expressing this. When another cat, animal or even person is around, the cat may lay on top of you to show others that your relationship is not to be messed with.

  • Love and affection: one of the main reasons cats sleep with you is simply because they love you. They want to be near you when you are around. As much as we can enjoy petting a cat laying on our lap, the affection they receive is just as important.

As we can see, once a good bond has been forged, a cat will want to sleep near or on top of their guardian. This implies that a cat which doesn't want to do so has a problem with this bond. While this is possible, it is not always the case. Learn more in our next sections on why won't my cat sleep with me anymore?

Personal preference

All cats have their own personalities and preferences. It is important to know that some cats simply will not enjoy laying on top of a person. This may be due to a lack of physical security. Our bodies are in flux and the cat may not enjoy the possibility of being shunted around quickly when we rise. It can be precarious for the cat to lay on top of their guardian.

Another important factor is their level of independence. While we may think that not wanting to spend time sleeping near us is a sign of a bad relationship, they may just prefer being a little more distant. This is particularly the case with cats adopted as adults or those which have experienced trauma, abuse or neglect. It doesn't necessarily mean they have a poor quality of life, but they simply not be the most affectionate felines.

Just because a cat does not sleep on top of you, does not mean they do not love and respect you in their own way. Cats have their own personality, but they are also creatures of routine. For this reason, it is not common for a cat to not want to sleep with you anymore when they did so previously. In these cases, the reason is more likely due to some change in their environment or circumstance.

Even if your cat does not sleep on top of you, it does not mean they do not love you. Read our related article to learn the most common ways cats show affection.

Bad relationship

Although not wanting to sleep with you doesn't mean they don't love you, suddenly stopping this behavior can mean the relationship has changed. This is in contrast to never having a strong relationship.

Whether they are a kitten or adult, adopting a cat will require a period of adjustment. The feline will need to get to know they surroundings and socialize with those in the home. The most important socialization period for cats happens between 2 to 8 weeks of age, but adult cats can also learn to socialize to some degree. If they have had poor socialization, it will likely mean it will take some time for them to be able to sleep with you comfortably. Some cats never will.

Some cats are perfectly capable of sleeping next to us, but our relationship is preventing it from happening. Even though we want to gain their trust, we be unconsciously hindering the process. One of the most important is ignoring their communication.

Perhaps the most effective way of preventing your cat sleeping on you is by making them do it. We may think we are being loving and encouraging when we pick up our cat and place them on our lap. In reality, the cat may feel scared and confined. If we try to hold them in place, this will make things worse. If we do it consistently, it can mean our relationship never becomes close.

If you want to forge a strong relationship and gain your cat's trust, it is very important you pay attention to what they are trying to say. If they meow, place their ears back and flit their tail side to side when you pick them up, they are trying to tell you to stop doing it. If the cat scratches and bites you, they can't make themselves any clearer.

Instead, you should let the cat come to you. You can entice them with a soft blanket and even a treat, but remain passive and be patient. If your cat is every going to lay on top of you, they will do it in their own time and on their own terms.

Why Won't My Cat Sleep With Me Anymore? - Bad relationship


Our behavior towards a cat can make them stressed and hurt our relationship, but it is not the only reason they will not want to sleep with us anymore. Stress in cats can have many causes, not all of which are easy to determine. If there is something in their environment which is causing them stress, it will result in various behavioral changes. Some may sleep on us more because they want security, but others will stop laying on us because of stress.

There is not predetermined answer to the reason why your cat is stressed. We need to know our cat's personality and look at their circumstances to see what has changed. However, the following are common reasons why a cat is so stressed they stop sleeping with us:

  • Changes in diet
  • Moving home
  • Health problems
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Socialization problems
  • Arrival of a new family member
  • Poor environmental enrichment
  • Insufficient physical or mental stimulation

Since cats are animals of routine, any change to their routine can be a stressor. We may not even think some changes would affect a cat, but they can. Changing the furniture in a room is one example. It is up to us to determine the cause and find ways to help the cat feel calm.

They do not recognize you

The changes in our cat's routine may be more personal than we realize. A cat's sense of smell is important for various reasons. One of them is to determine who we are. If we change our scent in some way, it can cause the cat to be confused. If we use a new fragrance, wear someone else's clothes or even spend time with another cat, it can cause the cat to think something is wrong. They may even refuse to sleep with you because of their confusion.

In most cases, this will only happen temporarily. Either once we revert back to our old scent or once the cat gets used to us, they should regain their sense of security. In fact, a change in our smell can make a cat even more affectionate. A cat rubbing up against your legs or even headbutting your face are ways to impregnate you with their pheromones. This way they mark you for themselves and others as someone they trust.

Why Won't My Cat Sleep With Me Anymore? - They do not recognize you

They are sick or in pain

Although not the most common reason, it is possible a cat will not sleep on you due to a physical ailment. If the cat has an infection, systemic illness or similar, they can lose energy and not even want to make the effort to climb up to our lap. Their body may be shutting down and they will reduce their movement considerably.

It is also possible the cat will have suffered an injury or an illness which causes a lot of pain. In these cases, sleeping on us may be an uncomfortable position which worsens the pain they feel. We might see this if we try to touch them in a particular place and the cat bites or scratches us. This is especially the case if the cat previously enjoyed sleeping with us, but now has become suddenly defensive and/or aggressive.

When we suspect our cat has any sort of physical health problem, we need to take them to a veterinarian. They will examine the cat and perform diagnostic tests to determine the cause. For example, if they suspect the cat has abdominal pain, they may use an x-ray or ultrasound to diagnose the issue.

Once the cat has been treated, they should return to normal. This can include sleeping with you or laying on top of you.

If you want to read similar articles to Why Won't My Cat Sleep With Me Anymore?, we recommend you visit our Facts about the animal kingdom category.

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Why Won't My Cat Sleep With Me Anymore?