Cats do some pretty peculiar things sometimes, and I do my best to talk about as many of them as I can here on this blog. Some of these quirky feline behaviours are downright confusing, like following you into the bathroom or staring at you with a solid, unwavering gaze for extended periods of time. Many of these behaviours are quite endearing, however. Like sleeping at the foot of the bed, or sometimes if you’re sick, sleeping right atop you, doing what seems a lot like comforting their sick owner.
Sitting up like that cat’s a human? A pretty hilarious thing to behold. And to me, it’s more than a bit adorable as well. I feel like some cats do this really infrequently, while others seem to do it incredibly regularly, nearly every day. No matter how often it happens, if I see a cat sitting up like a human, it’s bound to put a smile on my face.
Obviously, there are no scientific studies out there with the goal of determining why cats sometimes sit like humans. Or maybe there are and I just don’t know of them (that would be epic; if you know of anything relevant, please let me know!).
As a result, when coming up with the theories that could explain this behaviour for this article, I browsed around the net and came up with possible explanations of my own. To reiterate, all of these are theories, none of which have been proven to be true yet, nor (in my opinion) will be proven true or false any time soon. Scientists have better things to research for now, even when it comes specifically to felines (someone figure out the perfect cat food recipe, please?), so I don’t mind. In the meantime, we can come up with our own theories to satisfy our curiosity, and who knows, maybe one or more of these will turn out to be true.
As you go through this list, if any explanations stand out to you as on point or utter hogwash, do remember them and take a moment to let me know in the comments. Also, can you think of any more reasons besides the ones I listed that may explain away this quirky cat behaviour? I’d love to hear more theories and possible explanations for cats sitting up whether they’re ones you’ve come up with yourself, heard, or read on the net. Now let’s jump into my list!
12 Theories That Could Explain Why a Cat Is Sitting like a Human
1. The cat was cleaning (especially his/her nether regions) & paused temporarily, midway through.
Seems to me like cats do this act when they’re in the process of cleaning themselves than when they’re not. Whenever my cats have sat up, it’s because they’re cleaning their nether regions and paused midway through. If I leave them be, they typically get straight back into cleaning after their pause, which could be for a number of minutes. Plenty of time for a picture and a giggle from a human, but with my cats, sitting up doesn’t typically last much longer that.
2. The cat just finished cleaning a lower body part (like his/her legs) or tummy & stayed seated that way.
Besides cleaning his or her nether regions, there are other lower body parts, like the bottom of a tummy, legs, and feet – for instance, that will typically require that odd sort of positioning that means a cat who stops will look a little like a human seated. It’s common for cats to stay seated once they’re done cleaning one of these areas, hanging out in the position they were cleaning in for a while later, and not returning to cleaning, though this hasn’t happened with my cats yet to my knowledge. Sounds like a lot of peoples’ cats do this, though.
3. The cat was stretching in a peculiar way, ended up in an upright position, & just stuck with it.
Sometimes cats stretch in weird ways, and yes, that includes a way that ends up with them sitting upright like a human. Again, cats sometimes just freeze and hang out in a position they got into for any old reason, and so why not while they were stretching?
4. The cat could have been exposing his or her belly, say for tummy rubs, & stayed in that position.
Speaking of reasons to get into odd positions – that whole exposing his or her belly for tummy rubs or other forms of cuddles trick cats do (because what human could say no?), seems to be a reason for at least a few cats to get into that upright human-like position. And then some cats just stay that way…
5. One of the two likely reasons it stayed that way: it was a comfortable way to sit – strange as it may look.
Why stay in such awkward positions? Maybe it looks completely uncomfortable to us, but to that cat at that particular moment, it’s actually pretty darn comfy.
6. The second of the two likely reasons it stayed that way: it was too lazy to switch positions.
Why else, if you’re not buying that sitting upright is a particularly comfortable position for a cat to be in? Well, we all know cats are lazy (heck, they evolved to be that way)… Utter laziness could easily explain away why cats don’t bother to move here.
7. It’s possible a cat decided to sit upright like a human because it finds that position comfortable to get into.
I have never beheld a cat who does this, but I’ve heard stories of it being true – some cats actually getting into an upright seated position then sitting in it for a while, I mean. It’s a crazy thing to think about, even as a cat owner who’s witnessed plenty of eccentric behaviours, and my god if I had one of these cats would I feel like I was sitting on entertainment gold. If you know of one of these fellas or are ridiculously lucky enough to have one of your own, please share stories in the comments below. I will be so happy to even read secondhand tales about this glory.
8. Or that a cat sitting like a human is showing he or she is in trusted company.
We all know cats who are frightened, threatened, or don’t feel comfortable enough to let their guard down will never show their belly in your presence. They will hide their torso at all costs if they’re even the slightest bit scared. The fact that a cat is sitting up, showing his or her chest, as well as his or her belly, means he or she is in company trustworthy enough to feel comfortable doing so, which is a huge complement.
Even if this isn’t a conscious thing – like a cat saying “I trust you, so I’m going to show you I trust you by sitting like this” – the behaviour is at least proof of a deeper trust and bond with you, as it would never happen or continue to happen in front of you if there wasn’t that trust and comfort.
9. A cat could also be sitting in this position for attention – heaven knows we give it to them when they’re in it.
Okay – seriously tell me if you’ve ever met a human who can ignore a cat sitting up like a human being does. I don’t care if you’re a cat person, a dog person, not an animal person at all – you’re probably going to give that cat a confused, amused, or enamoured glance if you lay eyes on that kind of a sight.
Maybe the fact that we just can’t keep our eyes and attention off such an odd act is part of the reason why our cats sit up like humans sometimes? Let me know if this rings true for your particular cats’ behaviour.
10. They could also be doing it at times for a specific form of attention – to demand cuddles with a cute, exposed belly.
I’m not actually sure if this one is plausible, because I’ve never personally seen a cat sit up like a human to demand cuddles, but I have seen other people recommend this to explain away this type of behaviour. Do you think it’s possible or likely? Have you ever seen a cat sit up like a human, then be incredibly happy to be pet, and repeated the behaviour due to their success?
11. It’s possible that cats who sit upright are mimicking human behaviour.
In terms of the chances an explanation is true, I wouldn’t place my bets on this one. At the same time, I feel like it would be wicked cool if it actually were true. There’s nothing more adorable than the idea that cats mimic the humans they surround themselves with. I think mimicry has been proven to some degree – they do mimic human behavioural habits a lot.
For instance, while cats are crepuscular (awake at dusk and dawn) or nocturnal (awake mostly at night) in the wild, they typically become diurnal (awake in the morning) when they become domesticated and start living and interacting with humans who are diurnal. They mimic the way we sleep and behave, it’s not a stretch to believe they could be mimicking the way we sit, too!
12. Or that a cat could have been sitting like a human to air out his or her belly to help keep cool.
Honestly, I don’t personally believe this one at all, but I’ve seen it suggested, so I thought I’d list it here.
Your Thoughts on Cats Sitting like Humans?
Why do you think cats sometimes sit like humans? Which explanations do you feel are true; which do you think are not likely to be?
Does your cat ever sit up like a human? Why do you think your particular cat does it? Do you think other cats might do it for different reasons?
Please take a moment to share your stories, thoughts, and opinions in the comments down below! Can’t wait to read what you have to say on the topic. 🙂
kat steinberg says
My kitten Patches sits like a human every time I am in the bathroom. She will back up and sit in a corner of the wall and tub, legs splayed out, arms down. She will also do this when she is in the tub as well. But that is the only time she does this.
I do have a picture of her doing this.
Our cat boots is a male. He is close to 5 years old. He began sitting like a human about a year or two ago. When he first started doing this, we found it so cute! He still does it to this day. He was doing it this morning and he is a chubby cat too haha. It’s not the only way he sits but basically does it every day. I was just wondering if there were many cats that sit like this, so I googled it and came upon this article and thought I’d share.
My boy cat, Sonic, sits like a person all the time. It’s especially hilarious to me when he does it in chairs. It isn’t a behavior attached to grooming for him. My best guess as to why he started doing this was because he was copying us! And maybe he decided it was comfortable. He usually looks pretty chilled out staring into space and only sits anywhere for 5 minutes and then goes back to his important cat business.
My cat sits like that all the time. He’s an 11 year old neutered Tom named Skippy. He has a favorite place in my hallway where he will sit with back to the wall and his legs splayed out before him.. his paws generally rest near his private parts and sometimes he masturbates like that. Mostly he just sits and stares me while I’m sitting at my desk.
My cat is a Scottish fold and sits upright all the time. As much as I felt he mimicked us I feel he sits as such to cool down as he has so much fur
My cats love to sit up like humans, all 4 of them, but especially the tuxedo cat. He’s not grooming, he’s just sitting, chilling out. I have many pictures of this, as it tickles me.
My cat, Murphy, is a white and black Persian and he ONLY sits like this. If he feels like sitting, he’ll walk up to a wall or piece of furniture, turn around and lean back on it, sitting on his bum with his back legs spread out. I take pictures of him almost daily because it’s so funny. I googled to see if maybe it was a Persian thing and came across this blog post. Let me know if you want some pictures of him 😊.
Yes, we would LOVE to see pictures of him sitting like a human! Way too cute!
Yes I wanna see