If your cat sleeps in your arms like a baby, lucky you! Although, after a while, any kitty can start to feel very heavy. You may wonder why cats sleep like this. Is this normal sleeping behavior? Should you allow your cat to snooze in your arms? If so, how can you support her while she does this? Here are the answers to all of these questions and more.
So, why does my cat sleep in my arms like a baby? Cats typically sleep in their owner’s arms like a baby because it’s a position in which they feel comfortable, warm, safe, and loved.
It’s certainly a nice thing that your cat trusts you.
But it is actually a little more than that, as we shall continue to explore below.
Then, we will cover if it’s something you should be doing or whether there are any downsides to it (let’s hope not!)
Why Do Cats Sleep In My Arms Like A Baby?
Your cat will choose to sleep in your arms because of the love she feels for you. She may want to express that love towards you in her own way. Other times she’ll sleep there because she knows your arms are a safe and comfy place to be.
Your Cat Feels Loved and Wants to Express Love Back
Studies show that cats develop deep bonds with their owners, much like dogs and babies do. It could be that your cat is showing her love for you by sleeping in your arms.
She is letting you know that she trusts you with her life, which is quite a big deal for a cat!
Your Cat Feels Safe
If your cat sleeps in your arms, it’s a sure sign she feels safe with you, particularly as her vulnerable belly is exposed in that position.
Cats are prey animals in the wild, and they seek to sleep in positions (and places) where they feel secure.
Your cat is literally entrusting her safety to you, which is a sure sign that she loves and trusts you. Your bond with her is likely a strong one.
Your Cat Feels Comfortable
Cats seek out comfy places to sleep, as they need a lot of it each day (typically from 12 to 16 hours per day).
By sleeping in your arms like a baby, your cat is sending you the clear message that she feels comfortable.
Cats love enclosed spaces that provide them with warmth and comfort, and your arms provide both.
Just as cats will seek out a spot under a radiator or in the sunshine for a good cat nap, your body heat provides added warmth that most kitties love and appreciate.
Is It Normal For Cats to Sleep In People’s Arms Like a Baby?
It’s normal for cats to sleep in people’s arms like babies if they feel comfortable and safe there. As long as your cat isn’t ill or showing signs of separation anxiety, there’s usually no cause for concern.
Cats Choose Where to Sleep
Cats are creatures with a strong sense of will, and they will only sleep in your arms if they want to and enjoy it.
Above all, cats normally choose places to sleep where they feel safe and secure.
Cats in the wild are prey for other animals, so they need to make sure they are safe when they need their numerous cat naps.
Therefore, it’s normal for your cat to feel safe in your arms and want to sleep there, though not all cats will do this.
In fact, there are no hard and set rules for where a cat will choose to sleep – as long as she feels safe and comfortable, which are the main criteria.
Your cat could choose anywhere: in your arms, on your pillow, under a radiator, or on top of (or in) your closet.
Many Cats Enjoy Being Held
Your cat may also choose to cuddle in your arms as a way of feeling good.
Although no studies prove this yet for cats, oxytocin (the bonding hormone) is released in humans and dogs when babies are nursing and when adults cuddle.
Many cats will express their pleasure at being held or cuddled by purring or slowly blinking while looking into your eyes.
Should You Let Your Cat Sleep In Your Arms Like a Baby?
As long as your cat is comfortable and shows no signs of illness or separation anxiety, and you don’t have allergies, it’s usually fine to let your cat sleep in your arms.
Benefits of Allowing Your Cat to Sleep in Your Arms
Allowing your cat to sleep in your arms, on your bed, or in other places close to you has been proven to strengthen the bond between cat and human.
An interesting study was carried out at a Japanese university where student Yuri Nakahashi chose to sleep in her sleeping bag next to wherever her cat chose to sleep over a period of 24 consecutive nights.
Nakahashi concluded that by the end of the study, her cat was displaying more affectionate behavior towards her as well as an increased interest in her sleeping bag.
By letting your cat sleep in your arms, you are doing her a service that she will likely repay with more cuddles.
Of course, there are added benefits for your cat, such as feeling comfortable and secure (see above).
If Your Cat Is Ill
If you suspect your cat wants to sleep in your arms because she is ill, you’ll want to get her checked by your vet.
Cats, like other animals, usually hide any weaknesses.
However, there comes a point when a cat will become lethargic, sleeping more than usual, including in your arms.
If your cat is displaying any of the following signs, get her to the vet for a check-up:
- Sudden mood change
- More or less vocal than usual
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Dilated or constricted pupils
- More lethargic than normal, not wanting to play or exercise
- Sudden changes in drinking, appetite, or eating habits
- Weight gain or loss
- Excessive grooming or neglecting grooming
- Shortness of breath or rapid breathing
- Not using the litter box properly
- Bad breath
- Hiding (more than usual)
- Wounds or swelling
- Skin irritation
- Hair loss
- Limping or other obvious injuries
- Head pressing (pressing her head against a hard surface, particularly while awake)
- Discharge from nose or eyes
If You Have Allergies
If you have allergies, it might not be a good idea to let your cat sleep in your arms if it means you wind up sneezing or wheezing.
Find other ways of cuddling her and showing her love, and make sure she has a comfy and warm place to sleep.
If You Suspect Separation Anxiety
If your cat shows signs of separation anxiety, it’s essential to address that.
You can let her sleep in your arms for a while while you take care of the cause or causes, but if she wants to sleep there constantly, you’ll have a problem on your hands (and in your arms!)
Each cat’s personality is different, but here are the most common signs in cats that could indicate separation anxiety:
- More crying, complaining or meowing than usual
- Destructive behavior
- Vomiting hairballs or food
- Eliminating outside the litter box
- Too much self-grooming
- Either gulping down food or not eating at all
- Trying to escape
If you see any of these signs in your cat, get her to the vet for a check-up.
In the meantime, do what you can to mitigate any possible causes of stress for your cat (see below).
How To Support Your Cat While They Sleep in Your Arms
How to support your cat while she sleeps in your arms depends on the reasons for her doing this. Most of the time, you don’t need to do anything much (apart from finding support for your arms after a while!) Sometimes there are specific steps to take if your cat is experiencing issues such as separation anxiety.
If Your Cat is Seeking Comfort and Security
Here’s how to support a comfy cat sleeping in your arms:
Make Sure You’re Comfortable
If your cat is happily sleeping in your arms as a source of comfort and security, you’ll mainly want to provide support for your arms!
Try sitting down on a comfy chair or sofa with a pillow in your lap.
That way, you can rest your arms while your cat gets her beauty sleep.
Give Your Cat A Gentle Hug
A lot of cats appreciate being hugged while they sleep. If this is true for your cat, go ahead and hug her while she sleeps, but do so gently.
A soft hug will help your cat feel even more loved and secure.
Don’t squeeze too much, though, as that could frighten her.
Let Your Cat Move Around If They Want To
Sometimes your cat will feel the need to readjust her position, so let her do her thing.
Otherwise, she might get startled and inadvertently protest with those sharp claws!
Try Talking Softly Or Singing
f you enjoy making soothing vocalizations to your cat while she sleeps, by all means, do so.
Make sure your voice is low and soft to not startle your cat.
If you don’t know what to say, try telling them how cute they are or how much you love them.
Try Stroking Or Brushing
You can stroke her with your arm (if you have one free) along the direction of her fur.
A soft brush is another option that some cats love.
Avoid Making Sudden Movements
Cats are easily startled while they’re asleep, so avoid moving as much as possible.
If you have to move, do so very slowly.
Note: It’s crucial to never force your cat to sleep in your arms if she doesn’t want to. Cats are masters at deciding what they’ll do and when, and they aren’t likely to take orders well from anyone, even from their favorite human.
If Your Cat Has Separation Anxiety
Once you know your cat has separation anxiety (see above), you’ll need to take steps to remedy the situation to help her feel more secure (and to give your arms a break!)
Here’s how you can help your cat:
Find The Cause Of The Problem
Perhaps you’ve changed things up a bit, and she’s unsure where she stands.
Maybe you’ve moved, introduced a new member of the family, or have had to be absent more than usual.
Other times, an exterior problem like road noise can cause anxiety.
Address The Cause As Best You can
You can’t do much if you’ve moved, although the more you can stick to a routine each day, the better for your cat.
Loud noises can’t always be dealt with if they’re coming from construction or similar, but you can perhaps put on some soothing music or change where your cat sleeps.
If your cat is lacking in physical exercise, give her games and reasons to run around.
Provide scratching posts, cardboard boxes, and comfy cat beds. If you have an indoor cat, provide a window perch or a catio.
Cement Positive Behaviors With Enrichment
Use toys and treats to encourage your cat’s natural hunting behaviors.
Include plenty of cuddles in other ways apart from sleeping in your arms.
Note: Some people want their indoor cats to use a cat lead that enables them to go outside, but the RSPCA doesn’t recommend cat leads for cats prone to stress or fright from strange noises.
In most contexts, it’s perfectly fine for your cat to sleep in your arms like a baby.
In fact, it’s something you can sit back and enjoy; if that’s how you like to hold your cat.
Otherwise, you can break it off; that’s fine too.
Just rest assured, your cat sleeping in this way is not normally something to worry about. In fact, it can be a good thing!
Other cat sleeping guides you may want to read:
- Cat Sleeps With Face On Floor [Why & Need You Worry?]
- Cat Sleeps On My Chest [Why & Should You Let Them?]
- Why Does My Cat Sleep On My Pillow? [Should You Stop Them?]
- Why Does My Cat Sleep on My Bed When I Am Away?
- Why Do Cats Wag Their Tails While Sleeping?
- Do Cats Sleep With Their Eyes Open? [What Owners Should Know]
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.