Even after all these years, we still don’t know what every bit of cat behavior means. They’re complex animals who communicate in varied ways, so even when we find out why one cat does something, that doesn’t speak for the entire species.
In this article, we’ll talk about why your cat sleeps on your head, how to stop them (if you want to), and what to do if your cat pees on your head while you sleep!
Table of Contents:
Why do Cats Sleep on Your Head?
Your Cat is Seeking Warmth
Our body is constantly losing heat, known as “body heat.” It’s why we can crawl under a blanket in the cold and eventually feel warm and toasty. It’s also why layers help in cold weather by trapping our body heat.
Most of us don’t sleep with our heads covered, though, so we’re still losing body heat through our heads.
Your cat might lay on your head to catch the warmth radiating from it.
Cats are also conditioned to snuggle close in cold weather to preserve body heat, so if your home is chilly, they might opt to stay closer than usual.
Some cats just really love warmth or are little cuddle bugs, so they’ll stick around and enjoy being by your side year-round, no matter the temperature.
You’re a Restless Sleeper
Have you ever caught your little one glaring at you as you toss and turn in the night? I sure have!
Maybe you roll over a million times looking for the perfect sleeping position, or perhaps you tend to move a lot in your sleep.
When we’re tossing and turning like this, our legs and arms move the most. A kitty curled up by our torso is bound to be nudged around as we move and the blanket beneath them shifts.
A cat by our head deals with much less of this because our heads don’t tend to move as much. Especially if your cat sleeps above your head on your pillow, they may be trying to avoid your movements so that they can sleep more peacefully.
If your cat sleeps directly on your head, they might even be trying to stop you from moving so much! My cat does this sometimes by sleeping on my hip.
They Like Your Scent
Cats communicate largely by scent. They have scent glands throughout their body that secrete pheromones that are imperceptible to the human nose. They use these to tell other cats who they are, where they’ve been, and what belongs to them.
You might notice your cat smelling you as well. I have one cat who enjoys sniffing my breath to see what I ate and another silly one who likes people’s armpits!
Your head contains many scents, including your hair products, your breath, and the smell of you in general. It may be that your cat is comforted by these smells since they associate them with you.
Some people have cats who curl up in their hair—this is especially likely to be due to scents!
Your Pillow is Comfortable
There could be a very simple reason for your cat sleeping above your head on your pillow: it’s the comfiest spot on the bed!
Sure, there are blankets galore and bare sheets, but who wants those when you can have a nice, plush surface to rest on?
You can test this theory on your cat in a few ways. One is watching their everyday behavior—do they tend to gravitate toward thick, plush surfaces, like cat beds, throw pillows on the couch, or even the dog’s bed?
Another is to try putting a pillow in a different location on the bed. If they sleep on it, their sleeping pattern is more about the pillow than your head!
They Want to Groom Your Hair
If your cat sleeps on or above your head and licks your hair, they might just like to groom you. This is more common than you’d think!
Cats groom each other often as a way of bonding with one another. They get those hard-to-reach locations like the back of the neck or top of the head, and it feels nice—kind of like when you pet or brush your cat.
Licking your hair is a way for your cat to feel bonded to you. It’s like they’re returning the favor for all the times you’ve brushed them or given them chin rubs.
Related article: Cat Love Bites
Your Cat Likes being Close to You
If your cat sleeps on your head, you have a great bond. Your cat might just like being near you—maybe they want to be as close as possible or lay against your skin.
Most of us sleep with blankets covering the rest of our bodies, so it makes sense that our cats would go for our heads—the one place our skin is uncovered.
It Shows Trust
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had to push my cat’s butt out of my face in the middle of the night! Nothing’s worse than waking up to that smell.
Did you know that a butt in the face indicates trust?
It means your cat feels comfortable turning their back to you, something they don’t take lightly. Cats are predators, but they’re also prey animals, so they’re cautious about who and when they trust!
If your kitty can fall asleep with their backside in your face, they have a lot of faith in you and see you as a safe person.
Sure, it’s still annoying—but you have to admit, it’s also pretty sweet!
How to Stop Cats Sleeping on or Near Your Head
There are plenty of reasons you might not want your cat to sleep by your head. Maybe they’re putting their butt in your face, laying on top of your nose in a way that risks suffocation, or you have cat allergies!
Here are some ways to keep your cat off your head and your pillow at night:
Create a Comfier Sleeping Space for Your Cat
Step one in solving any behavior is to find something to redirect your cat to. Ideally, it should be even more appealing than sleeping on your head.
Their new sleeping spot should be warm, soft, and cozy. A cat bed, a pillow, or a soft, bundled-up blanket are my cats’ favorites.
Play around with this and see what they like best!
Then, begin placing your cat in their spot at night. When they move to your head, repeatedly put them back in their spot until they give up. This might take some time, but it should lessen each night as they learn what you want from them and figure out that you won’t give in.
Related article: How to Crate Train a Cat or Kitten
Place a Pillow Away from Your Head
If it’s the pillow your cat likes, then your solution is super simple! Grab an extra pillow, or purchase a new one, and lie it in another spot on the bed where you’d prefer your cat to sleep.
You can also try a cat bed or place a pillow on the floor if you prefer.
Shut the Bedroom Door
If all else fails, closing your bedroom door might be the best option. It will definitely keep your cat from sleeping on your head, though I can’t promise you’ll get much sleep when you try this!
Some cats will scratch at the door, the carpet, or cry in the hallway wanting to be let into the bedroom. Be sure to protect your home by covering the carpet with a matt. The door can be protected with a barrier, like a baby gate, or something uncomfortable to scratch, like aluminum foil or double-sided tape.
A fan or white noise machine might help with the meowing, but you’ll likely just have to wait it out!
Play with Your Cat Before Bedtime
This one won’t stop your cat from sleeping on your head, but it can help if your cat is restless and wakes you up when they sleep with you.
If this is your problem with them sleeping like they are, it’s a pretty easy fix.
First, make sure your cat is getting enough activity throughout the day—this should include 30-45 minutes of dedicated playtime with you.
Break this up into 10-15 minute sessions to keep your cat’s attention. Use interactive toys, like a wand toy, and mimic the behavior of prey, like mice or birds, to keep them engaged.
Schedule one of these sessions right before bedtime. Play, feed your cat their dinner, and they’re sure to be tired when you are.
This is a great way to control your cat’s schedule so that they aren’t bothering you in the middle of the night!
Help! My Cat Pees on me While I Sleep!
What if your cat pees on your head while you’re sleeping? This is definitely a behavior that’s got to go!
Related article: Why is My Dog Peeing on the Bed on Purpose
Here are some reasons your cat might have peed on your head, along with solutions to try:
- Your cat isn’t spayed or neutered. Unaltered cats are more likely to have litterbox problems, including peeing on people or spraying urine. We recommend getting your cat spayed or neutered as soon as possible. It comes with many behavioral and medical benefits, and stops male cats from spraying 90% of the time.
- Your cat is mixing their scent with your scent. This doesn’t come with bad intentions—it’s how cats mark one another as family. In colonies, cats swap scents in a variety of ways including rubbing against one another.
Make sure you’re spending enough time with your cat so they can feel bonded to you in appropriate ways.
- They have a medical issue. Peeing on your head might be a cry for help from your cat. Cats urinate outside of the litterbox due to several medical problems, including Urinary Tract Infections. They might pee on you so that you notice that they’re feeling unwell.
Try not to get mad—cats’ abilities to communicate with us are unfortunately limited. Bring your kitty to the veterinarian as soon as possible to either treat or rule out illness.
- They’re feeling territorial or anxious. If there’s been a recent change in your cat’s life, like a new pet, family member, or home, they might be feeling stressed. Peeing on your head is their way of reassuring themselves that you are still theirs.
Outdoor animals, especially stray cats, can also cause this behavior.
Try spending extra time with your cat to reassure them that they’re loved and all is well. If something outdoors is causing the problem, try blocking their access to the windows so that they’re less stressed.
Lastly, make sure you make introductions slowly. Allow cats to bond with new humans on their own time, and introduce pets in phases, beginning with scents and working your way up to sight and supervised time together.
When your cat pees anywhere, it’s essential that you clean the area completely. Take off the soiled bedding as soon as possible to prevent it from seeping into your mattress.
Adding some white vinegar to the wash along with your detergent can help to remove the scent.
If the urine does make it to your mattress, blot out as much moisture as you can with a paper towel. Then, use a pet enzyme cleaner to remove the rest.
Be very careful when applying any amount of moisture to your mattress, as you don’t want it to soak in and become trapped. While you do want to get all of the pee out—otherwise your cat may pee in the same place again—you don’t want to oversaturate it.