Why Do Cats Loaf

cat in loaf position

Domestic cats are not the most industrious of animals. That’s an understatement, really – most cats lay around the house all day, not doing much of anything. Why are cats lazy, loafing freeloaders? Just because a cat loafs a lot doesn’t mean that they are lazy. We will discuss cats and loafing here.

What is a Loaf?

What, exactly, does it mean to say a cat is “loafing?” While loafing usually means to hang around doing nothing, for cats, it means something a bit different. Most, if not all, cats will sit with their paws and tail tucked underneath them, resembling a loaf of bread, or a hairy ball of dough. They won’t sit this way all the time, but much of the time, it seems to be a comfortable position for them.

(A cute side note: when I was growing up in the 1980s, the movie “Trading Places” with Eddie Murphy was popular. There’s a scene in the movie in which Eddie’s character poses on a dolly as a blind man with no legs. After seeing that, every time my mom saw our cat “loafing,” she’d call him Eddie, or say “he’s doing Eddie.” Even though my mom has been gone now for six year, that idea has stuck with me to this day. I’ve even taught it to my daughter, and now when she looks at our cat loafing, she’ll tell me “the cat is Eddie.”)

What Does the Cat Loaf Indicate About My Cat?

What does the cat loaf mean? There are a variety of things that a cat can be telling you through its loafing:

Your Cat is Relaxed, Comfortable, and Safe

Most cat researchers agree that if a cat loafs, it means that the cat is very relaxed and comfortable, feeling safe. In the loaf position, it’s not as easy for a cat to spring up and attack a predator. If your cat is loafing, it probably means they are quite comfy, and don’t want to be disturbed, thank you very much.

Your Cat is Conserving Heat to Stay Warm

Another thing that the loafing position does for a cat is conserves heat. Tucking their tail and legs under their bodies helps cats to maintain a constant, comfortable body temperature without having to move.

Your Cat is Conserving Energy for Later

Cat loafing will also help your cat conserve energy. Loafing helps your cat to conserve energy during the day so that they can prowl around at night, like the predator that they have evolved to become. It is true that cats sleep for two-thirds of the day, but this does not mean that they are lazy. It simply means they are conserving their energy to prepare for nighttime hours when they will be on the prowl – even if that prowl is just around the house, knocking things over and running for seemingly no reason at 3 a.m., waking you up.

Your Cat is In Pain

If your cat is loafing but its paws are not tucked completely under the body, or it is perching on its paws, however, this position might indicate that your cat is in pain. Look at your cat’s paws to make sure nothing is embedded in them or hurting them. Your cat could have an overgrown claw, a cut, open wound, or crack on its paw pad.  Cats will hide pain, remember, so keeping a close eye on your cat is always necessary.

Your Cat is Crashing from CKD or Another Illness

A certain type of loafing, known as meat-loafing, may also indicate that your cat has chronic kidney disease (CKD) or another type of chronic illness. If your cat is meat-loafing rather than bread-loafing, their head will be stretched out and pointed downwards (rather than upright, looking forward, as cats do in the typical bread-loafing position). Your cat’s eyes might be clenched shut. If a cat has chronic kidney disease and its condition has suddenly gotten worse, they might be seen in this meat-loafing position. It is important to get your cat to the vet quickly if this happens, as it’s known as a crash, and complete organ failure can follow very suddenly.

Your Cat is Loafing for No Particular Reason

If you see your cat is loafing, your cat might just feel like loafing, for no real reason. Who knows why cats do most of the things they do? Sometimes they want to lie on their backs, sometimes their bellies, and sometimes, loafing feels right, at that moment in time. Cats will do what they please, so you can usually be sure that if your cat is loafing, it’s because it feels good to them.

Other Forms of Cat Loafs

We’ve talked about bread-loafing and meat-loafing, but are there other forms of loafing cats do? Yes:

Partial Cat Loaf

The partial cat loaf means that you can still see the sides of your cat’s paws while they are loafing. The paws aren’t tucked all the way under the cat, and instead, it looks like they are wrapping around the cat’s chest.

Sphynx Cat Loaf

The Sphynx cat loaf looks like a regular loaf except the cat’s paws are stretched out in front of them. The cat in this position now resembles the Egyptian Sphynx.

Attack Cat Loaf

The attack cat loaf is a type of partial loaf in which your cat’s paws are stretched out, their eyes are alert, and their back legs are ready to spring into action. The cat’s tail might be pointing outwards rather than tucked under its body. The cat in an attack loaf position is ready to attack or pounce on something.




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