Cats Get in Your Face While You Sleep
Behavioral Problems

Why Do Cats Get in Your Face While You Sleep?

Sharing your bed with a cat can be comforting, but a little awkward. That’s because felines choose odd sleeping positions. Your cat will likely crawl onto your pillow and sleep in close proximity to your face.

Cats sleep by your head because it’s much safer. Your cat will notice that you toss and turn in bed, and sleeping on your pillow removes the risk of being squashed. Cats enjoy the warmth and scent of your head.

Think carefully before agreeing to let a cat into your bed. You must be consistent with this rule. You cannot allow a cat to sleep with you sometimes but not others. Felines need routine and structure.

My Cat Wants to Sleep in My Bed

When you come to bed, your cat may wish to join you. There are a number of possible explanations for this behavior:

  • Your cat wants to spend time with you
  • The cat feels more secure around you
  • Your bed smells comforting
  • Your cat wants to guard and protect you
  • Your cat enjoys your body heat

Perhaps your cat is imitating you. Cats are born mimics. It will see you sleeping in bed and decide to do the same. It’s also a chance to spend quality time with you. Cats will notice that you return to your bed every night.

Should I Share a Bed with My Cat?

The physical presence of a cat is comforting at any time. Some believe that it helps them sleep much better at night.

Sharing a bed with a cat is not always easy, though. It will be at your discretion as to whether you should do so. There are advantages and disadvantages to sleeping with a cat. These are as follows:

Improved bond with your catCats fidget, which could keep you awake
A cat can provide a sense of securityCats like to wander at night, making noise
Your cat’s body heat will keep you warmCats want attention at all hours
Proximity to a cat reduces stressYou risk crushing your cat while turning

Beyond safety, you must also think about your own sleep needs.

A study published in Anthrozoos surveyed over 10,000 people that co-sleep with pets. The study found that co-sleepers take four minutes longer to fall asleep and wake up feeling tired.

Only you can decide if this is worthwhile. Sleep warns that restricting yourself to five hours of slumber increases stress and mental exhaustion.

Why Does My Cat Sleep So Close to My Head?

If a cat sleeps in your bed, she will likely gravitate to your pillow. Most cats will get in the face of their owners while sleeping. There are many explanations for this behavior:

  • It’s safer for the cat
  • It’s warmer
  • Your pillow has a distinctive smell
  • It’s easier to demonstrate affection
  • Your cat wants your attention

Your cat may sleep close to your head to display domination, but it is rare. If a cat wants to establish its dominance, it’ll do it while you are awake.


When you toss and turn, you risk hurting your cat. If you roll over, your cat may be crushed. Your cat will be aware of this pitfall.

it will stay out of your way and move toward your head. This is the one part of your anatomy that typically stays still while you sleep.

Bear in mind that a cat rarely sleeps for eight hours at night. Your pet may move down the bed. Do not assume that your cat is safe because she starts the night on your pillow.

Co-sleeping also gives a cat a sense of security and personal safety. Felines feel vulnerable while they sleep. This does not sit easily with a cat. By sleeping with you, the cat feels protected. If she is by your head, your cat will quickly notice you react to a threat.


The body temperature of cats drops while they sleep. Your cat will look to utilize heat that leaves your body.

The human head is actually the first part of the body to cool off during sleep. As the Internal Journal of Biometeorology explains, cooling of the head reduces sweat. Brain activity makes the head feel warmer, though. This comforts a cat.

A cat’s temperature only drops around 1 degree Fahrenheit during sleep, according to Science. That’s enough to bother a feline, though. Your cat will feel more comfortable while enjoying the warmth of her owner.

Comforting Smell

Your head offers a distinct scent to your cat. This is due to your hair, and any perfume or cologne you may wear. Your choice of shampoo will also offer comfort to a cat.

If your cat has not seen you during the day, it will enjoy this scent. It’s a way to feel close to you. Cats will notice that you spend several hours in bed at night, unmoving. They’ll take this opportunity to cuddle up.

Show Affection

Your cat will find it easier to demonstrate affection by sleeping by your head. Bunting is a key feline love language. This involves a cat headbutting you. It can only do this from such close proximity.

Sleeping on your pillow is also a sign of affection. Cats will not sleep around anybody they fear or distrust. Your cat is showing how much she trusts you.

There is also a chance that your cat is claiming your pillow as her territory. Your cat has noticed that your pillow is important. She will claim it as her own by releasing scent onto the pillow.

Get Your Attention

This could be for two reasons:

  • You missed a critical part of your pet’s daily routine
  • Your cat wants the ability to wake you at a moment’s notice

If you forgot to feed, pet, groom or play with your cat at night, it’ll remind you. This may involve sitting by your head when you try to sleep. Your cat knows that you’re about to ignore it for several hours.

Your cat knows that you’ll react to contact with your face at night, too. Contact will wake you immediately. This knowledge will be comforting if your cat is anxious. Your cat will know that you will react to an emergency.

Why do cats like to be close to your face?

Your cat may also stay close to your head so it can tell when you’re awake. This is why it watches you sleep. It is waiting for your eyes to open. It will learn your breathing patterns and know when you’re close to waking.

This is important to a cat, as it will wake up hungry and playful. Most cats want attention from the moment you wake up.

Is it Dangerous for a Cat to Sleep Close to My Face?

If you sleep in close proximity to your cat, you must be aware of the risks involved. In most cases, a cat sleeping on your pillow is safe. There are dangers that should be noted, though. These include:

  • The cat could lay on your face, restricting breathing
  • The cat could leave dirt or litter box debris on your pillow
  • The cat could be carrying fleas and other parasites
  • The cat may leave traces of urine or fecal matter on your pillow

The risk of suffocation is mild in an adult. You will likely wake up before this becomes a serious likelihood. In young children, especially babies, the risk is more pronounced. It is best to keep cats from a child’s pillow.

Cats are clean animals, but their paws can be filthy. You will not want traces of litter box debris on your pillow. It’s unhygienic and smells bad. Cat fecal matter can contain bacteria that make a human sick.

Cat urine contains ammonia. As Thorax explains, inhaling ammonia can lead to long-term respiratory problems. If your cat lives with any level of incontinence, this is even more concerning.

Be mindful of parasites, too. The fleas found on a cat will bite a human. This can lead to allergic reactions and dermatitis. Other parasites could find their way into your mouth while you sleep.

Will My Cat Scratch Me While I’m Asleep?

You cannot defend yourself if you are asleep. If your cat decides to scratch or bite you, it could be dangerous.

A cat that demonstrates aggressive behavior should never be invited into your bed. It should certainly not sleep close to your face.

Some cats bite for attention. If your cat wants food or attention, it may lick your hand or toes. This will be followed by a nibble to these extremities.

Your cat could also accidentally scratch you at night. It is believed that cats dream. These dreams involve reliving the events of the day. This means that your cat may play and hunt in her sleep.

How Do I Stop My Cat Getting in My Face While I Sleep?

If you want a more restful night’s sleep, keep your cat out of your bed. Most cats enjoy wandering at night anyway.

You stand a better chance of your cat staying out of your face by following these steps:

  1. Ensure the cat has access to a litter box
  2. Provide fresh water and a supply of dry food overnight
  3. Leave toys and cat trees in clear space
  4. Dim all lights

You should also look to tire your cat out before bed. Many cats come to life at night. Play with your cat around an hour before bed. Around twenty minutes of activity is ideal. Feed your cat afterward.

Sated by play and food, your cat will be calm. It will likely want to groom itself then sleep. This makes your cat less likely to bother you.