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Despite what some people may think, cats are capable of showing love to their fellow humans in multiple ways.
Naturally, there are cats that prefer to show their affection while still keeping their distance.
Some might brush against your leg lovingly; others will always choose to sleep in the room you’re in and let’s not forget the slow blink of love.
But what if one day your cat decided that they wanted more, and you found yourself asking:
Why is my cat laying on me all of a sudden?
Your cat may start laying on you when they feel they can finally trust you, or to get your attention. Laying on you is usually a sign of love, but anxious and older cats can also become suddenly clingy.
Let’s find out why your cat’s love language changed unexpectedly, and why they’re suddenly looking for your lap to lay on!
Why Is My Cat Laying On Me All Of A Sudden?
Most cats are predictable animals, so when their behavior suddenly changes, this can mean a few different things, some of the more positive than others.
So, let’s see what this is all about!
Reason 1: They Are Showing Affection
Cats get a bad rap for being aloof and avoidant creatures, but each cat parent will tell you that their furry lordlings show them their love in their own unimaginable and unique ways.
But to get to that stage your kitty has to trust you and you’ll need to build a strong bond first.
My best friend recently adopted two kittens and she was devastated to find that the two brothers simply kept ignoring and avoiding her.
Of course, I told her that with time and patience they’ll start looking for her company, but as the weeks went on, I too began to worry that this may never happen. Fortunately, the two kittens dropped their guard eventually and now they use my friend as their own personal couch.
Some cats simply need more time to bond with their owners, and if you’ve adopted a cat straight off the streets or one that has PTSD from their previous owners then it’s only natural that it took them so long to lay on you.
You may also notice that your cat is exhibiting other behaviors that are usually associated with love, like constantly purring when they are around you, or head-butting you.
These are all positive signs that show how comfortable your kitty is feeling and if your kitty is suddenly seeking your lap, or your company then make sure to reciprocate their love by cuddling with them and petting them.
Reason 2: It’s A Safe Place
Cats can take a long time to feel secure in their new environment. Before they can call your home their own, they’ll have to explore it and make every sound, smell, and object familiar.
Similarly, they need time to feel safe in your presence, especially if you want to establish physical contact.
It’s also important to understand that each cat can like or dislike certain types of handling.
According to Debra Horwitz, DVM, “in order for the cat to learn to accept and enjoy physical contact from people, it is critical that the human hand only be associated with positive experiences and that physical punishment is not used.”
So, if you’re trying to create a positive environment and you always try to listen to your cat’s needs, you’re also gaining their trust. Consequently, your kitty will start seeking physical contact with you to feel safe, like laying on you or sleeping over your head and even kneading your clothes when you’re gone.
It might feel like it happened suddenly, but if you’ve been working on building your bond, and you haven’t been pressuring your cat or pushing them away then it’s a natural progression.
Reason 3: You’re Warm
My cats and I have created this unspoken pact. During the summer we avoid any physical contact as much as possible but once the weather starts changing my lap turns into their favorite spot.
I think partly they sit on my lap, because they love me, but also they love the warmth, and comfort that comes with it.
You see, our feline companions have to try harder if they want to maintain their normal body temperature which is 101.0 to 102.5°F (38.3 to 39.2°C), higher than the normal human temperature, 98.6°F (37°C).
Of course, cats are capable of regulating their own body temperature by a process called thermoregulation, during which your cat will move their hair follicles to either bring them closer together when they’re cold or further apart when they’re hot.
But According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, “just like people, pets’ cold tolerance can vary from pet to pet based on their coat, body fat stores, activity level, and health.”
So, even though your kitty might have lush fur covering their body they may still look for a warm spot to curl up into a ball and sleep on, and your lap is definitely the warmest and safest place to be.
Also let’s not forget that when we’re home we usually wear comfy soft pajamas, that my cats personally love to knead!
Reason 4: You’re Not Feeling Well
While plenty of people believe that cats are antisocial, this isn’t exactly true because not only can they create social relationships with their own species, but they can also do it with certain pets and humans.
What is even more fascinating is that cats can sense our emotions.
According to a recent study, “cats integrate visual and auditory signals to recognize human and conspecific emotions and they appear to modulate their behavior according to the valence of the emotion perceived.”
This means that your kitty might be suddenly laying on you because they sense that you’re feeling emotionally distressed. You might also use their purring to help you relax.
My cats often sit on my lap or seek cuddles whenever I feel sad or anxious something that definitely lifts my spirit each time, so perhaps your kitty does the same thing because they also know it’s working.
Reason 5: You’re Pregnant
Cats are smart animals, and they can easily detect changes, whether it’s our own mood swings or if these changes have affected their routine.
There’s anecdotal evidence that can hardly support the notion that cats can sense if you’re pregnant, but if you are indeed pregnant then it’s most likely that your cat is sensing a change in your behavior which makes them suddenly act clingy.
Your cat is probably finding that there are areas or objects in the house that are off-limits, like the baby’s room or crib. You might be spending more time away from your cat as you’re getting ready for the arrival of the baby.
That could be the reason why your cat is suddenly laying on you even if they were previously less affectionate. And if your cat has realized that this is the way they can get your attention then they will continue claiming that spot on your lap and they might even feel jealousy towards the newborn baby when it’s born.
Reason 6: Your Cat Is Pregnant
If you’re not pregnant then it’s possible that your kitty is pregnant instead or she’s in heat. Of course, this possibility can only be applied if your cat hasn’t been spayed.
Ryan Llera, DVM, explains that “the most notable signs of estrus in cats are behavioral. Most cats become very affectionate, even demanding; they persistently rub against their owners (or objects such as furniture), constantly wanting attention.”
Similarly, Krista Williams, DVM, states that some cats can become more loving during their pregnancy while some might act out more aggressively instead.
So, it’s possible that if your kitty is in heat or she’s already pregnant she could suddenly start laying on you or seeking your attention more often.
If you’re not sure which of the two, applies to your cat then I’d suggest taking her to the vet. You might have to get her spayed to avoid future pregnancies, or if she’s already pregnant the veterinarian can help you with the process and make the pregnancy as safe as possible.
Reason 7: To Get Your Attention
Sudden clinginess can also be explained by your own absence.
If you have been working for longer hours, or you’ve been busy with other aspects of your life then your cat could feel neglected. In this case, even cats that weren’t previously affectionate could start looking for your company and attention if they’re not getting their usual dose of human affection.
Some cats might also start exhibiting destructive behaviors, especially if your attention has been occupied by another pet or even a person in the house.
If your cat is suddenly laying on you because they’re looking for your attention you shouldn’t ignore or punish your kitty. Instead, investigate the reasons why they need your attention and most likely you’ll see that they have a point and that you need to address their needs.
I also want to mention that your cat might be seeking your attention if you’ve recently changed your cat’s diet. According to a recent study on feline dieting cats that were put on a diet displayed more affection even after just four weeks of dieting.
This could mean that your kitty isn’t satisfied with their food, something you could discuss with your vet, so you can find the type of food that can satisfy your cat’s hunger and help them lose weight.
Reason 8: They’re Marking You
Cats like many other animals are territorial creatures and they can mark areas, objects, and even their owner to claim them as their own.
You might be more familiar with urine marking, but according to Debra Horwitz, DVM, “cheek rubbing (bunting) and scratching (with both the odor from the glands in the footpads and the visual mark) are both forms of marking.”
If your cat is suddenly sitting on your lap, they might feel the need to leave their scent over you. This need could’ve been triggered by another pet or another cat that they feel threatened by.
But cats also mark their territory, in this case, your lap, to feel safe again and to relieve some of the stress that Horwitz explains “can occur with a change in household routine, compositions, living arrangements, new living locations, and other environmental and social changes.”
Reason 9: Your Cat Is Anxious
If your kitty feels anxious they will seek different ways to calm their stressed-out mind and to cope with the source of their frustration.
Most importantly your cat will look for safety, and usually, in their minds, their cat parent is that safety figure that they can rely on.
So, if something has changed in your cat’s day-to-day life, whether that’s moving to a new house, the adoption of a new pet, or a switch in their diet, then they might become more clingy.
If your cat is suddenly laying on you or they’re doing it more frequently and you’re suspecting your kitty is stressed then you should look for other signs.
According to Lisa Maciorakowski, DVM, “behavioral over-grooming, otherwise known as “psychogenic alopecia,” is a form of stress-relief for many cats.”
Aside from overgrooming, or having a poor coat appearance, you may notice increased scratching around the house which can also be a coping mechanism in certain cats.
Some cats will eat less, have low levels of energy while others might become more vocal and act more aggressively.
Since stress can be caused or cause health issues, it’s best to check in with your vet and see if there’s an underlying condition causing this mental distress, and perhaps your cat’s clinginess is a side effect of that.
Reason 10: A Sign Of Insecure Attachment
Cats are oftentimes praised for their independent nature, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t or don’t form close attachments to their fellow humans.
In fact, a study done by Dr. Kristyn R. Vitale found that cats can form secure and insecure attachments to human caregivers the same way children and dogs do.
The majority (65%) of the cats in the research were found to form secure attachments to their owner, but if your cat is clingy or they switch between being overly clingy and avoidant then they may have developed an insecure attachment to you.
In other words, your cat might be suffering from separation anxiety. According to PetMD, “experiencing a change in routine often prompts separation anxiety or causes it to get worse.”
As I’ve already mentioned before this could be caused by moving to a new home, or perhaps your own schedule has changed and your new job or certain life events are forcing you to spend less time with your kitty.
Cats that have been orphaned or weaned early can also show signs of separation anxiety, but if your cat has suddenly started laying on you then it’s most likely a newly acquired behavior caused by your cat’s environment, other pets, or you.
Of course, the best way to deal with separation anxiety is to “try to create a predictable routine (make sure their feeding times are the same every day, schedule in playtime at the same time, etc.),” the PDSA suggests.
Basically, making your house as cat friendly as possible. But don’t forget to also dedicate a chunk of your free time to spend it with them, by playing and cuddling with your fur baby.
Reason 11: Your Cat Is Old
Your cat’s more affectionate advances could also be attributed to their age.
Of course, becoming old doesn’t happen overnight and it’s more likely that your cat has been gradually acting more lovingly, a change that would go unnoticed by most owners. But in some cases, this could have been a sudden and unexpected change.
In this case, it could be a sign of feline cognitive decline, something that affects over half of cats between the ages of 11 and 15.
Along with being more dependent, your cat might seem disoriented and confused from time to time. Maybe you’ll notice that they forget to eat, or they lose their way when they go to the litter box.
But even if you don’t notice any major changes and your cat has only been laying on you all of a sudden then it’s still a good idea to take them to the vet.
Senior cats can develop a range of health conditions, and illnesses as we’ll discuss later can make your cat become more affectionate.
Reason 12: Your Cat Is Ill
Most cats have evolved to hide signs of illness and pain, that’s why it can be difficult to notice that your kitty is not feeling well, but this doesn’t mean there can’t be subtle signs that you can pick up on.
Tammy Hunter DVM, states that “sick cats usually become withdrawn and may hide, although this does depend on the personality of the individual cat. Some cats become more clingy or demanding of attention, while others just become cranky.”
If your cat is suddenly laying on you, then perhaps you should take notice and watch for other signs, like restlessness, being lethargic, and decreased appetite.
So, if you feel that your kitty’s affectionate behavior is unusual and it’s something that came out of nowhere you should take them to the vet for an examination.
Should You Be Worried If Your Cat Is Cuddling More All Of A Sudden?
Any behavioral changes in our feline companions can be worrisome, even those that seem positive. But before you start worrying about your cat’s sudden cuddly personality there are a few things you need to examine.
Our own attitudes and behavior can affect our cats in positive and negative ways. According to a study done in 2011, cats can take behavioral cues from their owners. People that were extroverted or neurotic had an impact on their cats that exhibited a similar temperament.
So, the first thing you need to ask yourself, is whether you’ve been more affectionate yourself and that prompted your kitty to show their softer side.
The same could be said if you’ve been more distant, which triggered your cat’s separation anxiety.
Receiving attention from your cat and having them lay on you could be a natural progression of your relationship and the result of a stronger bond.
However, if you think your cat is being too clingy, they’re constantly following you around, jumping on your lap the moment you sit down, and preventing you from completing tasks then they could be anxious, or even ill.
What Should You Do If Your Cat Is Suddenly Clingy?
If you think this behavior is enough to make you worry, then there are plenty of things you can do to help your feline companion!
Step 1: Take Your Cat To The Vet
I truly think that the moment you detect a change in your cat’s behavior, whether they’re being clingy or distant, you need to take them to the vet.
A simple check-up can truly make a difference. An early diagnosis can help you plan ahead and make the best decision for your cat’s future care and treatment.
Even if your kitty isn’t sick your vet can give you advice on how to deal with your cat’s anxiety or they can refer you to a professional pet behaviorist instead.
Your cat could also be perfectly healthy and having a vet reassure you that there’s nothing wrong with your cat can help you focus on improving other aspects of their life.
Step 2: Give Your Cat More Attention
If your healthy cat is occupying your lap to get your attention, or they’re simply stressed because they don’t see you as often, then it’s important that you work on validating their feelings.
Instead of pushing a clingy cat away, it’s best to actually spend time with them, especially when they’re not being clingy.
You shouldn’t always say yes to your cat, because that could reinforce this behavior, but instead of letting them claim your lap for hours, you can choose to interact with them through play and other activities so they feel fulfilled enough to leave your lap alone for a few hours.
Step 3: Remove Stressors
Your cat’s clinginess could also be triggered by external stressors and it’s important to identify what these may be.
Of course, I’m not suggesting that you should remove the newly adopted pet or cat if your cat has been seeking your lap because of them. But you can work on reintroducing them and creating a positive association between the two animals.
If you’ve adopted another cat make sure that they’re not sharing one litter box, that they have their own cat beds and hidden places around the house.
PDSA also suggests trying pheromone diffusers, “if you are anticipating something you know might stress your cat out but is unavoidable, like having a baby or moving house, use a pheromone diffuser.”
I’ve often mentioned the Feliway diffusers, because they can certainly help some cats during really stressful situations, like traveling in a car.
If you’re interested you can check the Feliway Classic diffuser on Amazon, and see the 20,000+ reviews from cat parents that found this product useful.
Step 4: Make Your Home Cat Friendly
If you’re worried that your cat is becoming too clingy then try looking at your home through their feline eyes and see what might be missing from their lives.
Adding a cat tree by the window, a few hidden toys here and there, and leaving them with a puzzle feeder while you are gone can help them seek entertainment elsewhere and not rely only on your attention.
By laying on you all of a sudden a cat, especially an older cat, could also be looking for warmth, in this case, that’s why you should make sure that there are other comfy and warm places they can sleep on.
For this exact reason, I love the ultra-soft and warm Furahven ThermaNap cat bed. It’s a safe and electricity-free solution and it works by reflecting your cat’s body heat back at them. You can read all about it on Amazon by clicking here!
You need to remember that there are multiple ways you can make your kitty feel more independent. It could be an opportunity to do a DIY project like an outdoor portable enclosure or invest in cat shelves and cat trees.
These additions don’t have to come into existence overnight, but with time you can build, and design a house that reflects your cat’s needs and your love!
It’s clear that your cat could have plenty of reasons to start laying on you all of a sudden.
It could be an attention-seeking technique, they could be jealous or threatened by another cat or even a baby, or they simply realized all of a sudden how much they love you.
Of course, sudden behavior changes should not be left unnoticed, or unchecked, so if you think your kitty might be ill or anxious give your vet a call and schedule a checkup.
If this is not the case for your healthy cat then simply enjoy this sudden expression of love!
Do you know why your kitty is suddenly laying on you?