The cat loaf is a cat’s sitting position where her paws and tail are not visible because they are tucked under her body. The position resembles a loaf of bread, thus, the name. It is also known by other names such as bread loaf, meatloaf, kitty loaf, hover cat and the Sphinx.
Reasons why a cat goes into a cat loaf position
These are the reasons why cats tend to sit in this position:
1. To keep themselves warm.
Cats have a normal body temperature of 100.5 to around 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit and they have a thermo-neutral zone wherein they do not need to exert energy in heating or cooling themselves. By sitting on a cat loaf position and tucking their feet, they tend to conserve body heat. This allows them to remain in the thermo-neutral zone just as we would like to stay near the heater on a chilly day or the air conditioner during hot summer days.
Be aware though that your cat may be feeling cold if aside from sitting in a cat loaf position your cat is also covering its nose or encircling its tail around her body. They also tend to tuck their paws underneath their body when they feel cold since they do not have fur to regulate heat.
2. They feel happy, relaxed and comfortable.
Being in the load position can also mean that cat feels safe, relaxed and comfortable around you and she trusts you. Being in that position means a cat’s defenses are down and that she does not see any need to defend herself from any threats. The cat loaf is a good position for relaxing and the spine is also well-positioned. Relaxed cats in a cat loaf position may also purr softly to convey their contentment.
3. It is a safe and stable position should they want to have a power nap.
Cats are fond of napping but they do not want to sacrifice their safety while doing so. Thus, they go into the cat loaf position since they will not fall over and injure themselves because the paws are tucked well underneath their body.
4. Your cat may be in pain or has an injury.
Cats are known as masters of disguise because they are proficient in hiding signs of pain and illness. They will not normally express pain or discomfort so you should be vigilant in observing your cat as it may reveal some clues. If you notice your cat doing the cat loaf position often, she may be suffering pain or she may be otherwise unwell.
If your cat is doing the loaf position often, favoring one of her legs when standing up or licking her paws excessively, you should bring your cat to the vet. These are indicators that she may have an injury or pain in her paws or legs. Also, look out for the following signs: lethargy or sluggishness, not using the litter box and loss of appetite.
Variations of the cat loaf position
These are the variations of the cat loaf position:
1. Partial loaf
This variation is a common one among kittens. Also called the sloppy loaf, this sitting position is not so compact because the elbows are exposed and the tail is loose.
2. Loaf boat
This variation is similar to the partial loaf but the only difference is that one elbow is exposed and it is said to represent the bow of the loaf boat.
With this variation, a cat will drop its head to the floor or may press her head against a vertical area.
This is often referred to as the Purrfect Loaf where the paws are fully-tucked and the tail is also tucked or may be closely pressed.
Other cat positions
Cat streched on its side
When a cat lays stretched on its side it may mean she is relaxed, does not have the need to be aware or alert and has a sense of safety in her environment. Cats tend to be in deep sleep while in this position.
Cat is in a stalking position
If you see your cat in this position it may mean she is on the prowl and may be pursuing an insect, mouse or just her toys. Her body is low to the ground and she is attuned to the object of focus. She may also coil her hind legs as she prepares to pounce and attack on her “prey”.
Cat is wriggling on its side or back
A cat in this position is indicating playfulness and may also meow and purr and invite you to play with her. She may be on her side but may also roll around and lay on her back. If your cat is in this position she may be telling you that she is harmless and just want to have some fun and playtime.
A cat loaf is not a type of bread but a unique sitting position among cats. A cat in this position indicates that she is happy, relaxed and comfortable. She may also be feeling a bit cold and she is tucking her paws in to keep herself warm. However, it may also mean that your cat is not feeling okay or has an injury.
Image: istockphoto.com / Yuliya