What is the Cat Loaf?

The cat loaf is a common position in which the cat sits with its paws tucked underneath the body and the tail wrapped around the side. The name comes from shape which resembles a loaf of bread. When asked on the Cat-World Facebook group, other terms members used to describe the cat loaf include bread loafing, loafing, legless, kitty loaf, the log, hovercat and roast chicken.

Why do cats sit in the cat loaf position?

The cat loaf represents a relaxed and content who is neither scared or defensive,  and can also help the cat to conserve heat.

If you watch the cat, the body is relaxed with no areas of tension. The eyes are open or partially closed which indicates the cat is at ease in his or her environment and not on high alert. Ears are usually pricked and forward-facing, although they move if they hear a sound. Paws are tucked underneath the body tells us that the cat is not feeling the need to defend itself with its claws or run away from danger writes Dr. Mikel Delago a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist.

Variations of the loaf position

Partial loaf: The paws are slightly in front of the cat but wrapped around the chest.

Partial breadloaf
Partial breadloaf

Sphinx loaf or Sphinx position: The paws are in front of the cat which resembles the ancient Egyptian Sphinx monument.

Sphinx cat position

When is loafing a sign of sickness?

Cat in pain
Cat in pain

Subtle changes to the cat loaf can indicate the cat is not well. A cat with a tucked up abdomen, ears flat and dilated pupils are all signs of pain.

A cat in the cat loaf position with its neck extended forward, mouth open (and possibly panting) and its elbows protruding from the site (known as bulldog stance) may be having difficulty breathing.

Coughing in cats
Bulldog stance in cat with difficulty breathing

Both of the above should be checked by a veterinarian.



Julia Wilson is a cat expert with over 20 years of experience writing about a wide range of cat topics, with a special interest in cat health, welfare and preventative care. Julia lives in Sydney with her family, four cats and two dogs. She enjoys photography, gardening and running in her spare time. Full author bio Contact Julia