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Home > Cats > Why Do Cats Walk in Circles Before Lying Down? 3 Reasons for This Behavior

Why Do Cats Walk in Circles Before Lying Down? 3 Reasons for This Behavior

beautiful white persian cat on studio blue background

Many cat parents may notice their cat exhibiting strange behavior, and you may wonder about its meaning. One peculiar habit cats and even dogs have is walking in circles before lying in bed. This ritual usually involves kneading or rubbing their heads against their bed. If you begin observing this ritual, you may notice that cats only do this on soft surfaces, such as blankets, pillows, or even their owner’s lap.

One of the biggest reasons cats walk around before lying down is to lie in the perfect location, allowing them to view their surroundings. They need a clear view of the room to react to potential danger.

If you’d like to learn about other reasons why cats circle before lying down, read the article below, which will tell you fun information about this quirky cat behavior.


The 3 Reasons Why Cats Walk in Circles Before Lying Down

1. Make Their Resting Area More Comfortable

hairless cat sitting on the sofa
Image By: Peterpancake, Shutterstock

One of the most common reasons why your cat will walk in circles before laying down is to make their bed more comfortable. If you think that their bed is already good enough for them, there is actually an entire explanation for why cats need to make their already perfect, fluffy bed even more comfortable. Their ancestors, wildcats, have to make their bed in the wilderness, often in grassy and shrubby areas.

Wildcats will walk around in circles, pawing on a soft surface to make sure it is safe and comfortable for them to sleep. This behavior stayed in domesticated cats as an instinct to create a comfortable resting area.

2. A Perfect View of Their Surroundings

Another logical explanation for why your cat may be walking in circles before laying down is to position themselves in a perfect position. This behavior also goes back to wildcats, who acted the same way in an attempt to have an ideal view of their surroundings even while sleeping. No matter how trusting your cat is, it has the instinct to look for danger and other predators constantly. This is why most domesticated cats love sleeping in high places so that they can always observe their surrounding and react in case any danger comes up.

They will go in circles before finding the perfect spot, and it will usually be facing toward the room. Cats will rarely sleep turning their back to the room.

3. Marking Their Territory

Cat sitting on an outdoor heated mat
Image By: jax10289, Shutterstock

One reason that might be the case in cats walking around in their bed before they finally lie down is to mark their territory. Cats have scent glands on their paws, and when they walk around their personal space or rub against it, it means they are marking their territory. In the mind of a cat, walking in circles and patting their bed leaves a scent for other cats to understand they’ve claimed this space. This setting is commonly true for outdoor cats, where they need to guard their territory, as neighborhood cats may mistakenly want to sleep in their bed.


Other Possible Reasons for Circling Before Lying Down

Scaring Off Critters

Another possible reason why cats may walk in circles and knead on their beds is because of their instinct to scare off critters. Most outdoor cats will do this before going to bed, while indoor cats will continue to circle and knead their beds instinctively. Since their ancestors were wildcats, they needed to check their beds for possible critters that may endanger their young ones. They needed to chase away any snakes or insects hiding in the grass before they could lay in it.

Boredom and Stress

If you notice your cat is circling obsessively, there are plenty of reasons why it may behave this way, but the simplest explanation might be boredom. A cat that doesn’t have enough daily stimulation can quickly become bored, exhibiting strange behavior. This is why it is always recommended to include your cats in various activities and provide them with toys like puzzle feeders to encourage their mental stimulation.

Remember that circling is your cat’s instinct, with several different meanings behind it. Stress or anxiety can be another reason behind a cat’s excessive circling and pacing. If you’re ever concerned about your cat’s circling, and you don’t think it is related to bedtime, it would be best to take your dog for a routine check-up to the vet.

Pain or Discomfort

Another reason your cat may exhibit strange circling habits is pain or discomfort due to a specific condition or illness. It is necessary to notice these peculiar symptoms as soon as possible to be able to react accordingly and in time. Some cats may exhibit circling as a symptom of a bigger underlying issue, such as vestibular disease. If your cat is circling excessively throughout the day and before laying down, along with a combination of other symptoms, make sure to take it to a vet.



These wonderful and loving companions have the quirkiest, cutest habits when they lay down in your lap, kneading and pawing or even rubbing their heads. While this is a form of communication, it can have various meanings. It is usually a sign of affection, but it can also mark their territory or make their resting area more comfortable. Knowing what each ritual means can help you understand your pet better and become much closer to it, creating a stronger bond.

Featured Image Credit: Zoo Design, Shutterstock

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