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Cats Sitting Like Humans: 7 Reasons Why

Wondering why your cat is always sitting upright? Is your cat sitting on the couch like a tiny hairy human? We get into the reason why cats like to sit upright like humans right here.

Danielle DeGroot

Last Updated: May 26, 2023 | 8 min read

Grey cat sitting up like human with tongue out

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Cats are known for liking to get comfortable, and they often take over our living room, bedroom, and even kitchen furniture. Sometimes cats get so comfortable when they are sitting upright that they look like humans. Though it is absolutely adorable, feline owners often wonder why cats sit like humans. Are they trying to be like us, or is this simply a comfortable way they like to pose?

Our feline friends also like to sit on us and will happily burrow in wherever they want when it comes to finding a comfortable spot. It can be quite a hilarious situation when a purr parent walks in and sees a cat sitting on the couch as if they were a full-fledged, yet very hairy, tiny person and not a four-legged feline friend. Not only is this a perfect photo opportunity, but it also makes us feel even more like our pets are family or possibly more related to us than we think.

We dove into finding out why cats sometimes sit upright like humans and answered some frequently asked questions. If you have a cat that likes to take over your armchair, you are in the right place. We get some answers about why cats sit like humans, why cats sit upright, and what is behind this cute but sometimes odd behavior.

Why Do Cats Sit Like Humans?

There is not one specific reason or any scientific study that has been devoted to learning why felines might sit upright or sometimes pose in a way similar to humans. Kitties are incredibly smart and know when they do something that garners a positive response. As is the case with all feline behavior, sometimes they simply do it because they know it will get a reaction. However, there are a few different reasons why cats might like to sit like humans. We get into a few of them right here.

7 Reasons Why Cats like Sitting Upright Like Humans

1. Comfort

Funny cat sits like a human being on a blanket
This position may simply be very comfortable for them, and they like sitting that way.

The first and most common reason a kitty will be sitting vertically like a human in a chair, against a wall, in a box, or the like is that they are comfortable. Felines are known for stretching and curling their bodies in almost impossible ways to get comfortable, so sitting in a chair upright is actually relatively normal. Every cat has an unusual position or two they like to lay or settle down in, and for some, this just happens to be the same way you do, in a position where they can almost look at you at eye level.

2. Copy Cats

Cat sitting upright in chair
Kitties are known for emulating our behavior.

It is expected behavior for them to show interest in whatever we are doing, so if a feline owner spends a lot of time in a specific chair or on a particular couch or spot, their feline companion might feel compelled to pose the same way. As they say, imitation is the highest form of flattery, and sometimes our cats grace us with this wonderful praise. The lines often live around our schedules. They eat at the mealtimes we decide and learn to know when we leave and come home. They observe us and learn to mimic and copy our behavior. This is often seen when they try to swipe our food, especially something like fresh chicken or steak that smells so delicious.

There has been some scientific research on why felines like to copy or mimic human behavior. This gives literal meaning to the term copycat, as they can be trained to mimic specific human actions on demand. Of course, this research is limited, but most feline owners would agree that their cats often show mimicking or mirroring behavior.

For example, an owner placed in front of a mirror doing their makeup may notice that their sweet kitty comes up every time they sit there and wants to be petted, tries to swat at the makeup brushes, and wants to be involved. The same can be said for artists who have kitties that keep them company in the studio. These same friendly felines often find their way into the paint or want to be involved in the process. In this same way, some purr babies will learn to pose upright after observing their human counterparts doing it. This may not specifically be behavior owners can train their kitties to do, but it is certainly something common among felines.

3. Self-Grooming

Scottish Fold cat sits like a human being
Sitting upright allows them to groom their bellies and lower extremities with ease.

Sometimes cats will settle into a vertical position when in the process of self-grooming. Keep in mind that grooming themselves is how they keep clean, as well as inspect their own coats for any kind of debris, mats, or issues. Felines are very flexible and can contort themselves into different shapes in order to reach different areas for grooming.

4. Trust & Safety

 A cat wearing fabric collar sitting on the seat inside a car
Sitting or lying down comfortably, puts kitties completely at ease.

One thing to keep in mind about a kitty sitting upright with their belly exposed is that they feel extremely safe. Felines do not put themselves in positions of vulnerability when they do not feel 100% safe and comfortable. Felines are, by instinct, very self-protective, which makes them come across as wary or stand-offish in some circumstances.

With their bellies exposed, means they feel 100% safe. So, whatever the reason your purr baby likes to pose upright like a human, it means that they trust you enough to do so. A kitty situating themselves perpendicular like a human is a definite sign that they are comfortable, happy, and at ease.

5. Temperature

Felines, just like us humans, sometimes can get overheated. Most feline breeds are covered in thick hair, and sometimes they will stretch themselves out in order to cool off. Being in a plumb position, especially if near an open window, fan, or air conditioning vent, might simply be their way of trying to keep cool. Cats do love a warm nap in the sun, but they will often retreat to cool, dark places.

When kitties sit vertically, their bellies and lower body areas are exposed to open air in a way they will not be when walking or lying down. Just as humans start to sweat and get overheated if they lay in one position for too long, this also happens with felines. They move their bodies to different areas of the home and lay in different positions throughout the day to help regulate their own body temperatures.

An overheated feline may be restless, uncomfortable, have excessive thirst, drooling, panting, have increased heart rate, have trouble urinating, may be confused, and will need attention from your vet. Most likely, your cat will not be acting this comfortably if they are overheated; however, always keep an eye out for signs they may be in distress.

Conversely, if you find your cat lounging perpendicularly on your couch directly in a luxurious pool of sunlight, they likely are choosing to be there because they are cool and want to get warm. Most of the time, if a kitty is in this position, they will be doing it voluntarily and choosing to settle that way to get more comfortable. Warmth is another reason that felines like to pose on or are very close to us. They enjoy the benefit of our body heat and will arrange themselves however necessary to capture the most of it.

6. Stretching

Spotted cat sitting like human on the coach
Stretching helps wake up their muscles and increase blood flow.

Felines are known for being extremely flexible, and they stretch a lot. A little-known fact is that a regular house cat can stretch to almost three times their body length. Cats will stretch multiple times throughout the day, especially after they have been lying down or not moving for a significant amount of time.

Stretching like this helps flush out waste byproducts and toxins that build up in the body when they are inactive. Stretching helps increase blood circulation, which moves these toxins out. Felines stretch so that their muscles are loose and ready to go Should a rogue pest, other pet, or toy come scurrying by and need their attention.

7. Attention

A funny cat sits like a human on a colorful bench
Some kitties may find that they really like this position.

Just like when they copy our behavior, a kitty exposing their belly by being positioned upward might be attention-seeking. Some cats simply adore belly rubs, and this is a way they signal they are ready for some. A kitty who has received this kind of response when positioning themselves straight like this before may do so again in an attempt to get your attention. However, if your purr baby is fast asleep while in this perpendicular position, it is best to leave them be and let them enjoy their nap.

Most of the time, a feline sitting like this is doing it voluntarily. Felines like to pose like humans because, at times, this can be very comfortable for them. It might be comfortable after eating or when extremely tired. Cats who feel very safe and comfortable will allow themselves to be in vulnerable positions with their stomachs exposed, which can cause them to get into a position where they look very much like people.

If your cat regularly sits like this, most of the time, this is not something to worry about. However, any time a kitty starts acting out of character or refuses to lay any other way may be doing so because they might be experiencing discomfort or pain. If you are worried about your feline’s behavior or comfort, it is always best to talk to your veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical causes or concerns.

We also should point out that felines are not related to humans. Even though they may settle in this way and sometimes take on human-like behaviors, this is due to them mimicking our behavior, not sharing DNA. Humans and felines are not closely enough related ever to have any kind of hybrid, so even though your cat may look human when he is in this perpendicular stance, he is most definitely not related to you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is my cat sitting upright safe?

Yes, felines lounging vertically this way are safe. They often stretch and turn themselves about at different angles to get comfortable. Cats sitting vertically like a human is perfectly safe unless your pet appears to have discomfort or pain.

Why is my cat always sitting like a human?

If your cat is always sitting like a human, it probably means they like this position. Most likely, this is very comfortable for them, or they have learned that sitting this way will get a lot of attention from you.

Should I stop my cat from sitting like a human?

There is no real reason to stop your cat from sitting like a human unless you feel that they are somehow in danger or might be uncomfortable. Felines choose to be in positions where their bellies are exposed when they are safe and comfortable, so most of the time, they do this quite willingly. It is not usually necessary to try to stop them from sitting like this. For owners with kitties who are taking over your furniture, perhaps you can designate a special seat for them or even get them a miniature armchair that is more their size.

Final Thoughts

There is no scientific reason or research behind why cats sit like humans. There are a variety of reasons why cats might like sitting upright. Most of the time, it is because they are comfortable or are trying to get some attention. It is not generally harmful to a cat to lounge this way and is, in fact, quite cute and endearing. Many owners are very tickled when they see their kitty beside them, upright and ready to engage in whatever that day’s activity may be. Felines, just like us people, like to be comfortable, which sometimes means they like to sit upright, just like us.

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