cat likes sleeping on my dirty clothes
Questions About Cats

Why Does My Cat Lay on My Dirty Clothes?

Our feline friends are meticulously clean, grooming themselves constantly. Despite this, dirty laundry seems irresistible to cats. You’ll regularly find your cat laying on your unclean clothes.

Why do cats lay on unwashed laundry? Clothing is comfortable bedding and makes a perfect resting place for felines. These clothes smell of you, and that comforts your cat. Also, cats can rub their scent on your dirty clothing. By combining these two aromas, your cat is marking these possessions as their own.

It’s not just unwashed laundry that cats like, either. Any kind of clothing will be irresistible to your pet. This guide will explain why your cat is so drawn to the contents of your wardrobe.

Why Do Cats Like Sweaty Clothes?

After a long day, the first thing many of us want to do is change our clothing. If you toss your worn clothes on the bed, you’ll see your cat race toward them. What is the appeal?

What you consider to be smelly, your pet considers comforting. Think about this from their perspective. You have been out all day, so your cat hasn’t seen you. When you get home, your priority is a shower and change of clothes.

To your cat, breathing in your scent is a way of feeling close to you. If you have established a definite routine, your cat will know that playtime is coming soon. Until that moment arrives, your clothing is the next best thing.

Also, your cat wants to mark these clothes – and by extension, you – as their own. Your cat doesn’t know where you’ve been all day. As far as they’re concerned, you’ve been having adventures without them.

This could include fraternizing with other felines. By rubbing their scent on your clothes, your pet is sending a clear message. They’re saying, “this human is mine. Go and find your own.”

This behavior isn’t restricted to clothing, either. Your cat will steal your spot on the sofa the moment you stand up. If you’ve been reading a book, your cat will investigate it the moment it’s put down.

Your cat may even come and sniff the keys of your computer, and sit upon them. Yes, this is partly because you’re paying attention to something else when you could be playing. Also, though, your cat is marking these items as theirs.

Does My Cat Like My Scent?

Informing a human that they have a distinct, sweaty scent is usually considered insulting. That’s not the case for your cat, though. If they had their way, your pet would have you emitting very distinct odors all day long.

The reason for this is relatively clear – your cat tells humans apart by their scent. Much like we all have unique fingerprints, your cat considers everybody has a distinct smell.

It doesn’t matter if we’re sweaty, or fresh from the shower. It doesn’t matter if we’re doused in perfume or cologne, or adopting a natural aroma. It doesn’t even matter if we’ve been wading through sewage.

As Mother Nature Network explains, felines have up to 80 million scent receptors in their nose. That means they can cut through anything temporary, and pick up on our distinctive pheromones.

This astonishing sense of smell means that your cat takes pleasure from your scent. It makes them feel safe and secure. Perhaps more importantly, it’s something they associate with food and play. If your cat can smell you, it means their needs will be met. There is no greater feeling for any feline.

My Cat Stares at Me With Their Mouth Open

Your cat doesn’t just smell with their nose. They have an additional organ in their back of their mouth, called the Jacobson’s organ. This helps them pick up on new and distinct smells.

If you’ve been somewhere and attracted a new aroma, this scent may be intriguing to your pet. That triggers the Flehmen response – opening the mouth, and curling back the top lip.

This allows your cat to fully experience the smell by allowing access to the Jacobson’s organ.  The Flehmen response looks like a sneer. As a result, it’s easy to assume that your cat finds this new scent distasteful. This isn’t actually the case at all. They’re just intrigued.

why do cats like sweaty clothes?

Your clothes could carry scents that trigger the Flehmen response, whether you know it or not. Your shoes, for example, may have picked up any number of smells. The fibers of your coat may have attracted airborne aromas. Even your hair may be carrying different scents. 

If your cat appears to be following you around and grimacing, don’t despair. They’re just trying to understand what smells – and pheromones – you’re bringing into their house. You’ll probably notice that the behavior stops once your clothes have been washed.

My Cat Likes Sleeping on My Dirty Clothes

Another curious feline habit you’ll notice is their predilection for sleeping on piles of dirty laundry. Your cat may even climb into your laundry hamper for a snooze. As always, this comes to down to comforting scents – but it’s also instinct.

While cats are gifted predators, they are also very cautious of becoming prey. As a result, undomesticated cats live in colonies. This is a matter of precaution.

When cats sleep, they are very vulnerable. Felines like to know that their friends are watching over them while they can’t protect themselves.

Your scent provides this same sense of comfort and confidence. While your cat is dozing surrounded by your smell, they feel protected. Even if they can’t see or hear you, your smell means they feel like you’re around. This is very important to cats, who can otherwise grow extremely anxious.

Another reason cats like unwashed clothing for a nap is the pliability of the garments. Unless you are meticulously tidy, your laundry is unlikely to be folded neatly.

Cats love the scrunched-up fabric, as it means that can knead it easily. Your pet will use laundry to make themselves a nest, positioned exactly how they like it. That’s not possible with clean, folded and ironed laundry.

Is it Safe for My Cat to Roll Around in Dirty Clothes?

This depends on exactly how dirty your clothes are, and what you’ve been doing in them. No cat will be harmed by human sweat. If you work in an industrial environment, however, your clothing may contain toxins.

Take paint, for example. If your clothing is covered with fresh paint, your cat may ingest this. That’s not necessarily a reason to rush to the vet. Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are all possible.

If you have more dangerous substances on your clothing, they should be kept away from cats. If you work in a cleaning environment, for example, you may have bleach on your clothing.

Some cats are drawn to this smell, and may lick the bleach. This is a bad thing. If you’re a gardener, there may be traces of toxic plants and leaves on your outfit.

On the other hand, your dirty clothing may be appealing to your cat. Volunteer in an animal sanctuary? Then your cat will want to explore every inch of the scent on your clothing. Do you work in a kitchen? The smell of food will be irresistible to your pet. Been spending time wandering around the perfume section of a department store?

As a rule, no harm will come from a cat sleeping on dirty laundry. Smells cannot hurt cats. Even if you have a cold, the germs on your clothes won’t spread to your pet. Provided you don’t have anything external on your clothing, then the activity will be harmless.

My Cat Jumps on My Clean Laundry

It’s not just dirty laundry that your cat will find irresistible. Your cat will also leap upon freshly cleaned clothing. There are two primary reasons for this behavior.

The warmth that will likely be radiating from the clothes. Have you put your laundry through a spin dryer? Or hung it over a radiator to dry? There will be a lot of residual warmth in the clothes.

Cats like a body heat of 100 degrees Fahrenheit, which is above room temperature. This means that, if there’s an additional heat source to be found, they’ll find it.

You need to be a little careful of this behavior, though. Cute and amusing though it is, it can become dangerous. If your cat realizes that it’s the dryer that generates this heat, they may climb inside. You’ll need to vigilantly check your cat is not dozing in your appliance before using it.

The other reason for your cat leaping upon washed laundry is the absence of your smell. Your cat may initially approach the clothing as it’s soft and comfortable to lie on.

Almost immediately, however, they’ll notice that there is no smell. To a cat, no smell means that nobody has claimed these treasures. This means that they’ll waste no time in doing so.

Why does my cat lay on my dirty clothes?

Some pet owners would prefer that their cat didn’t climb into their clean laundry. A feline that’s prone to shedding could change the color of a shirt in no time. If you don’t want your cat to climb onto your clean laundry, apply some deterrent smells.

Look for lemon-scented laundry detergent or ironing water. If that doesn’t work, place deterrent smells around your laundry basket.

There are still no guarantees that this will work. Cats can be very determined when they set their mind to something. You’ll give yourself a fighting chance of cat-free clothing though, at least in the short term.

My Cat Keeps Hiding in My Closet

Hiding is a natural behavior in cats, and closets are dark places to conceal themselves. The same also applies to drawers. You may often find a pair of eyes peering out of an open sock drawer.

There are countless reasons for the feline fascination with closets, which include:

  • Your closet has a closed door. That’s an irresistible mystery for most felines.
  • Your closest contains all your clothes. That’s a lot of soft material to relax on.
  • Your closet is a dark, quiet space away from most of the house’s footfall. This makes it an ideal place for your cat to have some alone time.
  • Your cat sees you take things from your closet every day, and put things in. This place is important to you. This makes it essential to your cat that they claim the territory, too.
  • Your cat is playing a mischievous game of hide and seek. If they’re hiding in the closet, they get to watch you fruitlessly search for them.
  • If your closet is big enough, your cat can jump and climb. There’s also the likelihood of a soft landing if something goes wrong.
  • An open closet with shelving is a vantage point for cats to survey their empire.

If your cat likes your closet, it’s nothing to worry about. It’s a rare pet indeed that doesn’t have any interest in their owner’s wardrobe. Just be careful that you don’t keep mothballs in your closet, as they’re toxic to cats.

The only time to grow concerned is if your cat is hiding excessively. While all cats can grow overwhelmed and seek quiet time, constant hiding can be a warning. Cats that stop engaging at all may be stressed, anxious, or sick.

If your cat’s hiding habit seems to be getting out of hand, speak to a vet. This is essential if your cat eliminates in your closet. Such behavior is rarely a deliberate act, and usually down to ill health.

As with clean laundry, however, you can use scent to deter your cat if necessary. AnimalWised suggests citrus, pine, eucalyptus, pepper, and banana, among others. An air freshener carrying one of these scents will keep your cat out of the closet. No more molting on your work uniform.

My Cat Hides My Clothes

Cats love to steal and hide your possessions, including your clothes. It’s common to find a cat running off with a sock, glove or pair of underwear. Your kleptomaniac cat will then hide these garments somewhere in the house.

As Vet Street explains, this will typically be down to one of three reasons:

  1. Your cat wants attention
  2. Your cat wants to play
  3. Your cat wants what it can’t have

If your cat is looking for attention, ask yourself if you give them enough focus. Some pets are more demanding than others. Most felines will be content with a consistent 20 minutes of one-on-one time a day, though. If you’re consistent with this, your cat will be largely secure.

This doesn’t mean they don’t want a little extra attention if the mood takes them, though. They’ll take your clothes because they consider them important to you. As a result, their behavior will garner a reaction.

Sometimes, however, a cat is happy to play by themselves. They may have learned that a pair of balled up socks can be batted around. This also applies to a cat playing with items they know they’re supposed to leave alone. If you take clothing away from your cat, it becomes irresistible.

More often than not, you’ll be doing this for safety reasons. Cats can swallow string, shoelaces, hair ties, and socks. This safety-conscious approach doesn’t register with a cat, though. If your cat is especially prone to taking dangerous items, keep them secure.

Why Do Cats Lay on Shoes?

By their very nature, shoes are uncomfortable things to lie on. How could your cat possibly relax while doing so?

In truth, your cat is not laying on your shoes for comfort. Again, it’s down to our old friend’s scent and ownership. Think about your cat’s position on the ground, relative to your own.

Unless your cat leaps up to a higher position, they’ll be level with your feet. That means that this is the smell they associate most with you.

We are not implying that you have smelly feet. It’s just a matter of cats picking up scents that human noses are incapable of detecting.

This becomes increasingly important if you’ve walked through terrain that’s unfamiliar to your cat. They’ll wonder what all these new and unique smells are, and where you’ve been to find them.

Also, your cat knows full well how important shoes are to you. They will have noticed that you never leave the house without them. As discussed, if something is important to you, it becomes vital to your cat.

A cat that is preventing you from putting on shoes is theoretically stopping you from leaving the house. If your cat decides they want you all to themselves, they may block access to your footwear.

Cats and dirty laundry will always appear to be a strange combination. Many pet owners are baffled by felines spending hours grooming, then exposing themselves to human sweat.

The clothes that you deem gross and stinky, your cat associates with love and comfort. Take this curious habit as a compliment. Your pet is just doing whatever they can to strengthen their bond with you.