Cats are meticulously clean animals, which makes their attraction to dirty laundry seem a little strange. Cats spend countless hours grooming themselves before rolling around in the unwashed, sweaty clothes of their owners. However, this is a natural behavior in felines.
Your cat likes to rest on unclean laundry due to the distinct odor. Cats can detect their owner’s unique body aroma, and your clothing smells unmistakably like you. This gives your cat familiarity and comfort while it rests. Your cat will also enjoy making a bed from your clothes, as well as claiming these garments as its own property.
There is rarely any harm in a cat lying on unwashed, smelly clothing. Just be mindful if you have spilled/got toxic substances on your garments, such as oil. If this isn’t the case, your worn clothing will be a source of comfort to your cat while it rests and recuperates.
Why Does My Cat Lie on My Clothes?
After a long day, most of us cannot wait to change our clothes as 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 various reasons why cats lie on your dirty clothing. Cats enjoy lying on clothing that’s straight from the laundry. It’s warm and comfortable, especially after going through a cycle in the dryer. Your cat may assume that warm clothes are clean clothes.
It’s more likely that your cat understands that your clothing has already been worn, and that’s a large part of the appeal. As discussed, the worn clothing of an owner can offer comfort and reassurance to a cat.
Cats have an excellent sense of smell. Humans have around 5 million odor sensors in their noses, but cats have more than 4 times as many. Cats rely on their potent sense of smell to aid in hunting and detecting threats. Scents also enable cats to acknowledge and claim territory.
While cats primarily recognize owners by voice, scent is almost as important. To your cat, your unique body odor is as unique as your fingerprint. There is no masking your aroma from a cat.
No matter how much antiperspirant and cologne you wear, a cat’s nose cuts through them. Artificial scents will cause temporary confusion only.
Few things have a stronger scent than your dirty clothing. On a summer’s day, you’ll release a distinctive scent as you sweat. Even in cooler climes, clothing spends enough time on your body to generate an aroma.
Why Does My Cat Like My Scent?
Your natural scent provides a cat with 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 makes all of the daily stresses of a cat’s life, which are surprisingly numerous, fade away.
Physical Comfort and Pleasure
Cats are natural-born comfort seekers. As discussed, the scent of your worn clothing provides contentment. Also, 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 like picking at the buttons for recreation. If you have leather or corduroy clothing, this will provide a different tactile sensation.
Your cat may also like to use your clothing as a pillow or mattress. Cats may not enjoy dozing on the floor as it is too hard. By lying on clothing, your 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 a bed. Even casually discarded clothes can create a makeshift bed.
Cats can spend up to 20 hours a 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 security.
If your scent is nearby, your cat will feel that you are close to it. This, in turn, enables the cat to feel more secure. It rests safely in the knowledge 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.
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 due to the presence of your distinctive scent.
The Journal of Veterinary Behavior lists kneading as an action linked to younger cats and their mothers. This is because kittens knead at their mother’s teat to release milk, and this habit persists into adulthood. Cats knead as it brings back memories of happiness and contentment.
What’s more, this behavior suggests that the cat now sees you as its mother. You fulfill the same role. You offer food, shelter, and comfort from anything that would do the cat harm. Kneading, based on the scent of your clothes, denotes a high level of trust in you.
Warmth is another reason that cats enjoy resting on used clothing. We often discard our clothes due to residual body heat trapped in the fabric. While that is unappealing to us, cats consider it to be advantageous.
As explained by Science, a cat’s body temperature drops while it sleeps. This means the cat will do what it can to generate a higher temperature before dozing. Many cats opt to sleep in direct sunlight or beside a window. Clothing provides a warm alternative to these options.
The cat will surround itself with dirty clothes to increase its body heat. The cat does not know or care that this heat is transient. Your cat knows that it feels warm at the moment in time.
This warmth helps the cat to fall asleep. It feels safe that it will retain its standard body temperature of around 100.5-102.5 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you have been away for several hours, your cat will wonder where you’ve been. Dirty clothes will carry scents that can provide important clues.
Your cat will check for the smell of other animals. Cats can be jealous and possessive, so they will want to know if you have been around rival felines. If so, your cat will seek to overpower their scent 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 your car will enthrall a feline.
Territory and Ownership
Your cat may be trying to claim your clothing as its own property. Felines operate a finders-keepers policy. If they see something new and interesting, they will quickly claim it as their own.
You may find a cat lying on your cellphone, laptop, or other items that you use regularly. This is your cat trying to claim the object for itself, so the cat may be pleading for additional one-on-one attention.
Cats are drawn to small spaces and different areas. If you leave a garment of clothing on a bed, then your cat will make a beeline for it. Newness and novelty create interest and excitement for a cat.
Test this theory by leaving a sheet of 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 ant differences in their surroundings.
If your dirty laundry is in a pile, then your cat will sit atop it. If your clothes are strewn around the floor or bed, your cat will choose a resting place.
Often, this decision will be based on scent and color. As per the Journal of Physiology, cats see blue and green shades clearer than other colors.
Why Does My Cat Lie on My Shoes?
In addition to clothing, many cats like to lie on 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.
Your shoes carry a distinct aroma that you likely cannot detect. Remember, your cat’s nose is much sharper than your own.
You need to consider your cat’s size. A cat spends the vast majority of its time on the ground, close to your feet. This means that your lower appendages carry the most familiar scent of all.
Your cat understands how important shoes are to you. Cats observe their owners constantly. Your cat will acknowledge that you cannot leave home without shoes. By lying on them, it’s keeping you at home.
If a feline is reluctant to let you out of its sight, it usually lacks routine. The cat may also be lonely, nervous, or skittish.
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 will have to be washed anyway. Unfortunately, some cats will go to the toilet on an owner’s clothing.
If your cat’s litter has not been changed, waste will become trapped in a cat’s paws. Inevitably, your 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.
It is 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 might have been marked by the cat.
If this is the case, you need to work on the human-feline bond. You need your cat to understand that its needs will be met. If the cat is lonely, then it likely needs some company during the day.
Another explanation is a display of dominance. Some cats will eliminate on your possessions, including clothing, to claim dominant ownership.
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. For example, you may have gasoline and oil on your clothes if you work in a garage. These substances can be toxic if ingested by a cat.
If so, you need to prevent your cat from lying on your clothes due to the risks posed. As discussed, your cat may also be soiling them. Alternatively, a cat’s claws may be causing inadvertent damage to the fabric.
The easiest way to stop cats lying on your clothing is to keep it in a laundry basket with a lid. This will restrict access. If your floor doubles as a wardrobe, cats have no reason to assume that clothes are off-limits.
There is rarely any harm that comes from your cat lying on dirty clothes. If your cat is not damaging your clothing with its claws or soiling them, just let it happen. Your cat is merely taking comfort from your scent and enjoying the warmth. It’s not usually a behavior that requires correction.