Cats are meticulously clean, which makes their attraction to dirty laundry a little odd. A cat may spend hours grooming itself, then roll in sweaty clothes. This is a natural behavior and nothing to be concerned about.
Cats enjoy dirty clothing because of the scent. A cat can detect an owner’s scent by the unique body aroma as a feline nose cuts through perfume or cologne. This means that your clothing smells unmistakable like you, providing your cat with familiarity and comfort. Cats also enjoy making a bed from unclean clothing and claiming garments as their own property.
There is rarely any harm in a cat lying on unwashed clothes. Be mindful if you have spilled toxic substances on your garments, like oil. If this is not the case, your dirty clothes provide comfort. You can even use them to enhance your cat’s quality of life.
Table of Contents:
- 1 Why Does My Cat Lie on My Clothes?
- 2 Why Does My Cat Lie on My Shoes?
- 3 My Cat Soils My Dirty Clothes
- 4 Keeping a Cat Off Clothes
Why Does My Cat Lie on My Clothes?
After a long day, most of us cannot wait to change our clothes. We always feel better when we are clean. The same applies to cats, which makes their fascination with dirty clothes all the more interesting. Why do animals that spend so much time grooming also enjoy resting on sweaty clothing?
There are multiple reasons why cats will look to lie upon your dirty clothing. Firstly, it may just be a mistake. Cats enjoy lying on clothing that’s straight from the laundry. It’s warm and comfortable, especially after through cycle in a dryer. Your cat may assume that warm clothes are always clean.
What’s likelier is that your cat understands fully that your clothing is used. That is all part of the appeal. Worn clothing can offer comfort and reassurance to a cat.
Cats have an excellent sense of smell. As humans, we have around five million odor sensors in our noses. A cat has more than four times as many. Cats rely on their sense of smell to aid in hunting and detecting threats. Scent also helps cats claim and acknowledge territory.
This also means that cats can smell everything about humans. While cats primarily recognize owners by voice, scent is almost as important. To your cat, your unique body scent is as unique as your fingerprint. There is no masking your aroma from a cat.
No matter how much antiperspirant, perfume or cologne you use a cat’s nose cuts through them. Artificial scents can cause momentary disorientation and nothing more.
Few things carry a stronger example of your scent than dirty clothing. On a summer’s day, you will release distinctive sweat. Even in cooler climes, clothing spends enough time on your body to generate a distinct aroma.
You discard your clothes because of this, finding the garments increasingly uncomfortable. Cats feel the opposite way. A cat draws a great deal of fascination and comfort from the scent of an owner.
Why Does My Cat Like My Scent?
The overpowering emotions that your scent provokes in a cat are serenity and security. If you have a strong bond with your cat, it will miss you while you’re gone. Just because felines are not fulsome in their emotions, it doesn’t make them unfeeling.
By scenting your dirty clothes, the cat gets to feel closer to you. It will breathe in your scent and feel safe. Your distinctive aroma is an anchor to home and safety. It helps all the daily stresses of a cat’s life, which are surprisingly numerous, melt away.
Physical Comfort and Pleasure
Cats are natural-born comfort seekers. As discussed, the scent of your worn clothing provides pleasure. In addition, the clothes may be comfortable in a tactile sense.
Cats enjoy the feeling of a variety of different textures under their paws. This means that a cat may enjoy playing with your clothes. It may enjoy picking at buttons for recreation. If you have leather or corduroy clothing, this will be a different touch sensation.
Your cat may also like to use your clothing as a pillow or mattress. Cats can be fussy. They may not enjoy dozing on the floor as it is too hard. Your bed or sofa, meanwhile, may feel too firm. Alternatively, a cat’s sensitive paws may detect springs.
By lying on clothing, the cat has an additional barrier of protection. This comfort, coupled with the familiar scent, will often lull a cat into sleep.
As intimated above, many cats like to sleep on clothes. This is typically when the clothing is found on a soft surface, like the bed. Even casually discarded clothes can create a makeshift bed, though.
Cats can spend up to twenty hours of their day asleep. All the same, cats cannot sleep just anywhere. Felines need to feel safe and secure before they let their guard down and doze. Your clothing will provide these welcome feelings.
If your scent is nearby, your cat will feel that you are close. This, in turn, helps the cat feel secure. It believes that nobody will attack while you are around to offer protection.
The cat may nuzzle into your worn clothing, creating blankets. The more enveloped the cat is, the safer it feels. A cat will try to distract itself from as many external stimuli as possible while sleeping. Bedding made of an owner’s mask many other senses.
Even if the cat remains awake, it will draw comfort from your clothing. If your cat starts kneading dirty laundry between its paws, take it as a compliment. A cat kneading your clothing means that it feels relaxed and secure in your presence.
The Journal of Veterinary Behavior lists kneading as an action linked to young cats and their mothers. This is because kittens knead at their mother’s teat to release milk. This habit persists into adulthood. Cats knead as it provokes happy memories.
What’s more, this behavior suggests that the cat now sees you as its mother. You fulfil the same roles. You offer food, shelter and comfort from anything that would do the cat harm. Kneading, based on the scent of your clothes, denotes trust in you.
Kneading is a sign of relaxation and contentment. Leave your cat to it. If you are worried about damage to clothing, clip your cat’s claws. It is advisable to permit your cat to knead clothing for the sake of your bond.
Warmth is another reason that cat’s enjoy used clothing. We often discard our clothes due to residual body heat trapped within the fabric. While that is unappealing to us, cats consider it a welcome bonus. This is especially likely if the cat is looking to take a nap.
As explained by Science, a cat’s body temperature drops while it sleeps. This means the cat will do what it can to build a higher temperature before dozing. Many cats opt to sleep in direct sunlight or beside a window. Clothing is an alternative to this.
The cat will surround itself with dirty clothes to enhance body heat. The cat does not know – or care – that this heat is transient. Felines live almost exclusively in the moment. The cat just knows that it feels toasty at the moment in time.
This helps the cat fall asleep. It feels safe that it will retain its standard body temperature of around 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The cat may wake up a little cooler, but it will be refreshed enough to get active. This will quickly help the cat get warm again.
Cats are famously curious. Some may go as far as to call felines nosy. If you have been away for several hours, your cat will wonder where you were. Dirty clothes will carry scents that can resolve this mystery.
The first thing your cat will check for is the smell of other animals. Cats can be jealous and possessive. Your cat wants to know if you have been playing with other cats. If this is the case, the cat will seek to overpower their scent at once with their own.
In addition, your clothes offer scents of the outside world. This will be fascinating to cats, whether they roam outdoors or stay inside. Cats love to experience new aromas. The scents associated with nature, your work or even your car will enthrall a feline.
Territory and Ownership
It’s possible that your cat is simply trying to claim your clothing as its own property. Felines typically operate a, “finders, keepers” policy. If they see something, they consider it their own. This is especially prominent in items they deem important to others.
You may find a cat lying on your cellphone, laptop or other items that use regularly. This is the cat trying to claim the object for itself. The cat may also be pleading for attention. Be mindful of other classic signs of a cat asking for food or play.
There is nothing more important to humans than clothing, and cats know this. Cats love routine and will have observed your own habits. Your cat will acknowledge that you always put on clothes before attempting any task. This makes the clothing appealing to a cat.
This habit is fairly harmless, but do not allow your cat to grow dominant, refusing you access to your own clothing. In addition, be wary of setting a dangerous precedent. A cat lying on dirty clothing is one thing. Fresh laundry is quite another.
Cats will always be drawn to small spaces and different areas. If you leave a garment lying on a bed, the cat will make a beeline for it. This is the excitement of novelty.
Test this theory by leaving a sheet on plain white paper on a large, colored carpet. Almost all cats will immediately wander over and sit on this paper. Felines are instinctively drawn to the difference in surroundings.
If your dirty laundry is in a pile, the cat will sit atop it. If your clothes are strewn around the floor or bed, the cat will pick and choose. What can be interesting is watching which garment your cat chooses to nest upon.
Oftentimes this decision will be based on scent. Color may play a role, though. As per the Journal of Physiology, cats see blue and green shades clearer than other colors. Whatever attire your cat gravitates toward may tell you about its priorities.
Why Does My Cat Lie on My Shoes?
In addition to clothing, many cats like to lie upon shoes. These may be shoes that you have been wearing all day, or a pair of slippers. Cats will always be drawn to footwear that is worn frequently.
The explanation for this matches that of traditional clothing. Your shoes carry a distinct aroma. This is not meant as an insult. You likely cannot detect this smell. Remember that your cat’s nose is much sharper than your own.
You also need to consider your cat’s size. A cat spends the vast majority of its time on the ground, around your feet. This means that your lower appendages carry arguably the most familiar scent of all. This is an additional layer of comfort for a pet.
Another explanation is that your cat understands how important shoes are to you. Cats observe owners constantly. Your cat will acknowledge that you cannot leave the home without shoes. By lying on them, it is keeping you home.
Check that this is not an act of insecurity. You may need to work on your bond with your cat. If a feline is reluctant to let you out of its sight, it usually lacks routine. The cat may also be lonely or nervous.
This is likeliest if your cat also chews or otherwise destroys your footwear. This behavior is more commonly associated with canines. Felines can develop similarly problematic habits, though. You must get to the root cause and rectify the issue.
My Cat Soils My Dirty Clothes
Sometimes, a cat lying on clothes can have unwelcome side effects. The scent of your cat, or any fur it sheds, should not be a concern. These garments needed to be washed anyway. Some cats will actively soil clothing through elimination, though.
Before condemning your cat, ensure that it was a deliberate act. This could have been an accident that you are indirectly responsible for. If your cat’s litter has not been changed, waste will become trapped in a cat’s paws. The cat will tread this through the home.
If your cat then locates your clothing, it may knead and bunch it up. If traces of feces remain trapped in the paws, this will mark your clothes. Wash the garments and take it as a lesson learned. Step up the cleaning of your cat’s litter tray.
It remains possible that your cat was acting deliberately. As per the Journal of the American Veterinary Association, soiling the bed is a common sign of separation anxiety. If your clothes were on the bed, they may have been marked by the cat.
If this is the case, you need to work on your bond with your cat. Get it into a strict routine so the cat trusts you implicitly. You need your cat to understand that its needs will be met. If the cat is lonely, arrange company during the day – or even a second pet.
Another explanation is a display of dominance. Some cats will eliminate on your possession – including clothing – to claim dominant ownership. This is more than a simple claiming of territory. Your cat is displaying worrying behavior.
Keeping a Cat Off Clothes
There is usually nothing to worry about when a cat lies on dirty clothing. The only exception is if the clothing contains anything harmful. If you work in a garage, for example, you may have oil on your clothes. This can be toxic if ingested by a cat.
In such instances, you need to prevent your cat from lying on your clothes. As discussed, your cat may also be soiling them. Alternatively, a cat’s claws may be causing inadvertent damage to fabric. It’s also possible that you simply wish to do your laundry.
The easiest way to stop cats lying on your clothing is to keep it out of the way. Invest in a laundry hamper with a closed lid. This will restrict access. If your floor doubles as a wardrobe, cats have no reason to assume clothes are off-limits.
Just be careful if you do use a hamper. A cat fascinated with dirty laundry may follow its nose and track the clothing down. As cats also enjoy squeezing into enclosed spaces, they may climb into the hamper.
Choose a hamper carefully. Find something with a soft, slow-closing lid. This gives your cat a fighting chance of escaping the hamper. If not, it will at least minimize the risk of injury when a cat gains access. Ensure the hamper will not topple over, too.
In addition, you’ll have to be careful when emptying your hamper. Your cat may bury itself deep into the contents. Remove garments one at a time, ensuring your cat is not among them. You do not want a sleeping cat ending up in the washing machine.
There is rarely any harm in a cat lying on your dirty clothes. If the cat is not damaging or soiling upon them, let it happen. Your cat is taking comfort from your scent. This should be seen as the compliment that it is and not a behavior that requires correction.