Why Is My Cat Loafing?

Does your cat loaf? Is your cat loafing at every opportunity? Do you know what loafing is and why your cat does it? We check out this phenomenon, identify what it is, where it goes down, and why it most likely happens! Read on to get to the bottom of your cat’s loafing habits!

What Is Cat Loafing?


If you have a cat you are bound to have seen them loafing about at some point! All cats from kittens upwards loaf. 

In case you are not familiar with the expression, cat loafing is that loaf of bread shape your cat takes when they sit down on all four paws and their paws are hidden from view. It is like you have a legless cat that is lying on the floor or on some comfortable spot.

Not all loafing is equal or rather, there are different types of cat loaf. When you check out a cat loaf from underneath sometimes your cat puts all four paws on the ground and drops down onto them. Other times they might fold their front paws up, drop onto the backs of their arms and put their belly in contact with the ground. And even other times they might seem to fold out one front arm whilst the other is tucked away.

When young kittens loaf, presumably because of their proportions, they seem to be unable to get the whole position down and have their elbows sticking out from beneath them in a messy loaf position. 

One things for sure, they are all at it!

Where Do They Do It?


Here’s the thing, they cat loaf just about anywhere! Some people say they only do it where they are comfortable but I have seen cats loafing on top of fences that are two inches wide, eight-foot up on a blowy day! There is no rhyme or reason. 

They loaf on the floor, on the windowsill watching cat tv, outside in a howling gale, or on your lap in front of the tv. Nowhere seems to be off-limits for a bit of cat loafing! 

Why Do Cats Like To Loaf?


What is going on, why are they all at? Surely if they all do it there must be some really obvious reason why? Here are our best guesses :

Because They Are Relaxed


Most of us tend not to appreciate being on our feet all day and when we get a chance to relax we tend to sit down. Maybe your cat is the same? When an opportunity comes to take a break perhaps the natural position for comfort and low energy expenditure is to drop down and loaf. Whether outside, inside, with their owner, or by themselves, it makes no difference – when they stop they either assume the cat loaf position or sit bolt upright – I suspect bolt upright is slightly more tiring than a loaf!

To Keep Legs And Feet Warm


Most of the cats I have had the pleasure of knowing have been semi outdoors cats. And from recollection, all of them had thinner fur on their legs compared to the fur on their torso. 

Maybe when they are outdoors and loafing they are actually hunkering down to keep their legs and paws warm and generally less exposed to the elements? Perhaps the loaf makes them a little more windproof sheltering legs, chest and tummy from colder winds? Of course, this suggestion only works in colder climates – but it could be one reason for the loafing…

Regulate Body Temperature


As we touched on in the last point, this could be partially about body temperature. Sometimes when a cat loafs they just perch on all four paws and sometimes they seem to drop to their chest and belly. Could this be some kind of instinctive thermoregulation posture? 

Maybe when they are too hot they drop to the deck, belly, and chest exposed for maximum heat loss/transfer and when they are a little chilly they reduce surface transfer by staying on their feet and protecting their legs which lack insulation and fur?

Alert Waiting/Resting Posture


The loaf posture could be just an easy posture to wait in. If your cat is loafing on all four paws they can easily rise to escape or defend themselves compared to if they were waiting in a prone position on their side. It is also a little more relaxed and hidden from sight type of position compared to a sitting tall type of posture. Maybe it is all alert mindfulness posture from your yogic cat!

It Is Just The Way Their Body Folds


If you ask a group of people to sit on a hard floor, some will sit cross-legged, some will sit with legs out front, some will drop to their knees and then sit on their ankles and some might adopt a squat. Basically, we all seem to have a preferred way to fold down our bodies!

Maybe with a cat the loaf is a similar situation? Maybe they just drop the easiest way possible and it happens to be a loaf in one of the three ways possible? Maybe there is simply nothing more to it other than an exercise in comfortable body folding?

Stability


If your cat closes their eyes standing up they will probably lose balance and fall. If a cat falls asleep in the bolt upright sitting posture they will probably face plant…hard! If a cat loafs and falls asleep there is not so much distance to face plant and less likelihood of injury. Basically, the loaf is all about balance and stability – even when asleep! The loaf gives you stability from four paws of contact and decent balance from a low center of gravity. All in all, great stability and this is why you see cats loaf on walls, fences, and whilst nodding off!

To Hide A Damaged Paw


Ok, this one doesn’t explain why a cat loafs every day but if your cat has a damaged paw then loafing could be a good way to hide the problem and take the weight off the injured paw. Like I say, not a regular reason for loafing but a potential reason for loafing from time to time.

What Do We Think?


Our best guess is that your cat loafs for comfort and stability. We think it is just a natural position that your cat can assume with little effort that is comfortable. It also has all these additional benefits like helping keep warm on a bad day, staying balanced on a tall wall, keeping your head down so you are harder to be spotted, and minimizing face planting whilst napping! Either way, it is completely widespread amongst all cats of all ages and they all seem to instinctively do it without being taught.

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