why do cats loaf cat is sitting on flappy feather

Why Do Cats Loaf?

Have you ever asked yourself, why do cats tuck their paws under them? As cat parents, you must’ve seen your furry little friend in all sorts of cute and strange poses. Sleeping on its back or lounging with its legs extended gracefully, but for many, there’s no pose more adorable than the loaf position.

If you’ve ever noticed your kitty sitting with its tail and paws tucked beneath it, forming a rectangular bread loaf-like shape, then you must’ve wondered, why does my cat sit like a loaf? 

Is there a reason for the cat’s ‘meatloaf’ position, or is it just one of the cute, quirky things that cats do? Let’s find out everything about this cat body language and whether it’s something to be concerned about.

What Does a Loafing Cat Looks Like?

why does my cat loaf graphic

Imagine a typical loaf of sandwich bread – rectangular and compact with rounded edges. When a cat sits with its paws and tail tucked underneath, it resembles a loaf of fresh bread.

Other names for this position are potato cay, bread cat, and tugboat cat. Sometimes, cats use this position to get into compact, but comfortable places like sinks or boxes. Typically, a cat is relaxed while it’s loafing; however, it also uses this position to observe its surroundings.

Types of Cat Loafs

tabby and white cat why is my cat loafing

The classic, most loaf-like pose is something that we all are familiar with, where the tail and feet aren’t visible.

However, there are other compact poses that fall under the cat loaf umbrella:

  • Full Loaf: In this position, a cat looks like a loaf of bread. All its feet are under its body, while the tail is either wrapped around its body or tucked underneath. 
  • Loaf Boat: In this position, one leg is extended more than the other. 
  • Partial Loaf: Partial loaf refers to the position in which the cat’s front paws are visible. Some cats may sit with their feet extended, mimicking the Egyptian Sphinx, while others sit with their elbows jutting out to the side.
  • Face Loaf: Sometimes cats sleep with their face plopped on the ground in front of them. It’s hard to say why cats loaf in this manner – maybe they don’t want to be disturbed, or it helps them stay warm. Whatever the reason, it definitely signals that your cat is relaxed.

Reasons Why Cats Sit Like a Loaf

Reasons Why Cats Sit Like a Loaf Cat looking with yellow eyes

A cat with its feet tucked underneath signifies something quite different from when it’s curled in a ball on its side, lounging with its limbs and tail out, sitting upright, or about to pounce with its eyes half closed. Let’s find out the reasons why cats loaf.

Feeling Relaxed

According to cat behavior experts, the cat loaf position typically indicates relaxation and comfort. Your cat is loafing because it’s easier to pounce from this position. It wishes to engage with its surroundings while keeping you in its line of vision.

This position shows your cat is comfortable, submissive and has full trust in you; however, this posture also gives it more protection than lying on its side or back and exposing its belly.

Feeling Safe

If your cat is loafing in your presence, then as cat parents, you should see it as a compliment. It feels safe and secure in your company and doesn’t feel threatened or the need to be on the defense.

A cat in this position may be a bit drowsy, but it’s not tired enough to fall asleep. It just wants to keep an eye on you and be entertained by its surrounding activity.   

Heat Retention

Heat Retention Healthy Cat Black Face

Your cat might loaf to conserve body heat, too. Cats also feel cold and by efficiently tucking themselves underneath, they’re better able to maintain their body temperature without moving and expending energy.

Getting Comfortable

Your kitty may pose like a bread loaf if it’s trying to take the pressure off its paws and legs. Just like you would take off your shoes and put your feet up after a long day, your feline friend may sit in the loaf position just for comfort.

Pain

Typically, cats like to sit in a loaf for relaxation and comfort, but sometimes it could also be that your cat is uncomfortable or in pain. If your cat is consistently perched on its paws, then it may be an indication of discomfort.

Cats are notorious for hiding their pain, so pay special attention to their body language of your and be sure to talk to your veterinarian if you notice your cat exhibiting any unusual behavior.

Is Cat Loaf Position Something to Worry About

Is Cat Loaf Position Something to Worry About cat sitting on silky cloth

It’s normal for cats to sit in this position, especially in a warm and comfortable place. However, if your cat’s loafing more than usual, then it’s time to investigate further. In addition, if it’s experiencing other symptoms of pain like lethargy and weakness, litter box issues, decreased appetite, abnormal gait, or difficulty breathing, then it’s time to consult your vet.      

Cats are highly adept at concealing signs of illness, and if your cat spends a large part of its day in a loaf position, then it’s possible that it’s in pain. If your cat is limping, licking its paws, lowering its head, and keeping its eyes shut, or isn’t able to fully tuck its legs underneath, then it’s a sign of pain from an ingrown nail or a front paw injury.  

Cats suffering from lung or heart disease may also sit hunched to make it easier to breathe. In addition, cats sometimes loaf if they’re experiencing abdominal pain due to chronic kidney disease or liver disease. This helps to take pressure off their internal organs.   

Typically, cats hold their heads upright when they’re sitting in this position; however, if your feline friend is face-planting or holding its head down, then it could be an indication of illness. For instance, cats that suffer from hypokalemia may find it difficult to hold up their head.

If your kitty is showing any of the above symptoms or behaving abnormally, then it’s time to schedule an appointment with your vet.

Final Thoughts

Although the loaf position may be something that cats do instinctively, it’s clear that this position isn’t just charming but informative as well. And if you find your feline friend in a position that looks like bread on your bed or near your feet, then take it as a compliment, as it’s an indication that it is happy.

Author

Picture of Evelyn Baxter, Writer and Cat Expert

Evelyn Baxter, Writer and Cat Expert

Evelyn is an animal advocate, cat expert, and the proud mom of 2 rescue cats, Sugar, a beautiful fluffy tabby and Beebee, a black, fluffy beauty. Evelyn has studied animal care while volunteering at her local shelter. She loves all animals and wants to share the animal knowledge she has been lucky enough to gain together with knowledge from other experts with cat parents across the world.