Cat Sleeping Positions

Written by Ashima Yadav

Last Updated July 8, 2024

Cats have perfected the art of relaxation and seem to practice it about 16 hours a day, sometimes even more. Felines, as mischievous as they can be, there is nothing more adorable and entertaining than seeing them sleep, sometimes in a cute curled-up sleeping position, while other times in an empty vase. Cats sleep for a substantial portion of their life, and the way they sleep can tell us a lot about their personality and health. In this article, we look at common cat sleeping positions and their meaning, along with tips for understanding their sleeping postures.

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Key Takeaways:

  • Cats snooze for a substantial portion of their life, and the way they sleep can tell us a lot about their personality and health.
  • Since cats spend a lot of time sleeping, we can observe them for any sudden change in their sleep pattern, position, or location, which could be indicative of an underlying health condition.
  • If your cat sleeps in curled-up position, she most likely just wants to preserve body heat.
  • Cats have an infamous reputation for being enigmatic and, at times, seemingly heartless. However, most cats love sleeping with their paw parents or furry friends.
  • A cat snoozing on you is a top-tier thing to flex about. Enjoy the moment if your cat chooses to sleep on you, be it your stomach, head, or chest.

Do Cat Sleeping Positions Matter?

Observing cats' sleeping positions and patterns can provide valuable health insights, much like how human sleep positions and patterns offer clues about our well-being. Before we get into exploring common sleep positions and their meaning, it's important to know the difference between a resting cat and a sleeping cat.

resting cat vs sleeping cat

When a cat rests she is stationary and inactive. However, that doesn't mean they are sleeping. A resting cat could be sitting upright or lying down; however, these positions don't reveal anything about the underlying emotional state or well-being.

However, when a cat sleeps, her eyes are closed, and her muscles are completely relaxed, with occasional limb twitching, which is indicative of REM sleep. A cat sleeping position can be indicative of their mental and overall well-being. For instance, a tightly curled sleeping position could indicate a cat seeking warmth and security, while if they are stretched out on the floor belly down, they might be trying to cool down.

Now that we know the importance of cat sleeping positions, let's take a look at some common sleep positions and what they mean.

12 Common Cat Sleeping Positions

While there are various different sleeping position you could find your cat in, it's nearly impossible to cover all the cat positions. In this section we will look at 12 of the most common sleeping positions adopted by cats.

chart of all cat  sleeping positions

1. Curled Up

This is one of the most comfortable sleeping positions that cats love to snooze in. In this position, their head is flat against the floor, and they sleep curled up with their tail wrapped around the body. This position keeps their vital organs all tucked in and helps them conserve body heat.

curled-up cat

A cat curls up in this position in the wild to keep themselves safe. Interestingly, humans exhibit a similar behavior when they sleep in the fetal position, curling up on their side with legs drawn close to the torso.

If your cat sleeps in this position, she most likely just wants some warmth and protection. However, it could also just be a really comfortable position that they love.

2. Belly Up

In this position, your cat sleeps on their back with their belly exposed and paws in the air. This is one of the most adorable cat sleeping positions. When a cat sleeps belly up, all their vital organs are exposed, which shows the immense trust that your feline friend has in you. Moreover, the cat is very relaxed and confident when choosing this position for their naptime.

cat sleeping in belly-up position

This position might be very tempting to pat your cat's stomach. However, it would be best if you avoided it because it can affect the trust that your fur friend has in you.

3. Sideways

This is another vulnerable position wherein the cat lies on their side with their belly half exposed and front and back legs stretched out in front of them. Cat's vital organs are also exposed in this pose, which depicts the trust your fur kid has in you.

cat sleeping sideways

It also means that the cat is comfortable in the home surroundings and feels safe enough to nap with her belly exposed. However, since it is a vulnerable position, it's more of a catnap position than a deep sleep position.

4. Acrobat or Contortionist 

If you have ever seen your cat sleep with paws warping in all directions and head twisted at a weird angle, well, your cat sleeps in an acrobat or contortionist position. This might seem like a very uncomfortable cat sleeping position to you.

cat sleeping in Acrobat position

However, cats are highly flexible creatures with elastic spinal columns and loosely attached shoulder blades, allowing them to twist and sleep in weird positions while being comfortable. If you're wondering what this position means, well, scientists and doctors are wondering the same.

5. Paws Across the Face

cat sleeping with paws across her face

If your furry friend is sleeping with paws covering their face or over the eyes, it's their version of do not disturb. Cats usually sleep in this position to block out the light or give off the sign that they don't want to be disturbed. It's one of the cutest sleeping positions among cats.

6. Tucked in 

cat sleeping under blankets

Many cats love sleeping under the covers, with their nose poking out for air. Cats prefer this position because it keeps them warm by helping them preserve their body heat. Moreover, they might enjoy the familiarity and comfort of your scent on the covers. Sleeping under covers or blankets also helps them feel safe. However, always be sure where your cat is sleeping to avoid lying on them.

7. In a Box

More often than not, cats love to squeeze into boxes that are too small for them. This behavior originates from their natural instincts; wild cats need to hide from their enemies. And being in enclosed spaces makes them feel safe because they're supposedly hidden from their enemies while they can see around them.

cat sleeping in a box

Sleeping in a box gives them that feeling of safety and allows them to be more relaxed and fall into deep sleep. Domestic or indoor cats might also sleep in a box if you have a new pet or to hide from someone who is constantly trying to pet them.

8. Loaf of bread

In the loaf position, a cat sleeps with her front paws curled underneath and head upright, resembling a loaf of bread. This cat sleeping position is fairly common among cats as it ensures that their vital organ are safe and that heat is preserved. Moreover, it also offers them the ability to spring into action if required.

cat sleeping like a loaf of bread.

A cat likes to relax in this position when the cat feels the need to be alert while resting. Though they might seem like they are in deep sleep, this is just a naptime position. A cat naps in a position where they can be alert while relaxing.

9. Sitting Upright

cat sitting upright

This cat sleeping position seems like the cat is trying to mimic humans by sitting straight. However, it's a nice sleep position for them. Cats sleep with their vital organs exposed in this position, demonstrating their trust and confidence in their surroundings. Moreover, this position gives them easy access from grooming their bellies while taking naps in between. Adult cats might also prefer this position because it provides back support to their muscles.

10. With Tongue Out

What's a better sight for cat lovers than seeing their cat sleeping with their tongue out (more commonly known as the blep)? A cat sleeping like that simply means she is relaxed enough that her jaw is loose and her tongue slips out.

cat sleeping with tongue out

While it's a very cute and normal position, do pay attention if your cat suddenly starts sleeping in this position and is drooling or bleeding. If so, please consult your vet, as it can be indicative of dental issues.

11. Eyes Half Shut or Open

Cats tend to sleep with their eyes fully open or partially open. This comes from cat's natural instinct to be alert to predators or enemies around them. A cat napping in this position remains aware of its surroundings and is ready to spring into action in case of any threats.

cat sleeping with eyes half shut

Though it's normal for cats to sleep with eyes open or half open, observe for any signs of eye swelling or discharge, and if you notice anything, it's best to consult your vet.

12. Perched on Furniture 

cat sleeping on a shelf

Sleeping perched up on tall furniture like a shelf, dining table, or refrigerator serves two purposes. One, it gives them a good vantage of the entire area, which helps them keep an eye out for prey. And other, it saves them from potential threats. If domestic cats are sleeping perched up on top of some furniture, they are trying to feel safe and in control of the situation.

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Affectionate Cat Sleeping Positions 

Cats have an infamous reputation for being enigmatic and, at times, seemingly heartless. However, most cats love sleeping with their pet parents or furry friends. Trust us on this: cats are not as heartless as they are seen to be because the affectionate cat sleeping positions that we will look at in this section will bring you a softer side of your kitty. Most of these positions are a sign of trust and companionship. 

chart of all affectionate cat sleeping positions

1. On Top of You 

A cat sleeping on you is a top-tier thing to flex about. Enjoy the moment if your cat chooses to sleep on you, be it your stomach, head, or chest. Cats like to sleep on their humans for various reasons, the first and the most obvious being that they like being close to you. Sleeping on you can also provide them warmth and comfort.

image of cat sleeping on a human

If a cat is sleeping on your chest, the sound of your heartbeat might be a source of comfort for your kitty. While if she is sleeping on your head, she might be just looking for a soft place to sleep close to you, and the fact that your head moves less than the rest of your body while sleeping also offers them lesser disturbances while sleeping.

2. At Your Feet or Between Your Legs

cat sleeping on a human's feet

If a cat is sleeping at your feet, it's doing both giving you warmth as well as getting warmth from you. Being close to your feet also allows them to keep you safe and alert you in case of any threats. Similarly, sleeping between your feet also provides them with a sense of safety and warmth. Cats also take up these positions to mark 'their territory.'

3. Next to You

Some cats prefer sleeping next to you rather than on top of you. This position also shows that they are bonded with you. In this position, most cats sleep with their back to you so that they can watch the environment for any threats. This shows that she trusts you.

cat sleeping next to a working human

Moreover, sometimes, your cat might sleep next to you but with a buffer of space – not so close to you, yet not so far. Well, it's just that some kitties like to enjoy their personal space while also enjoying their human's company.

4. With a Dog

cat sleeping with a dog

Cats and Dogs getting along in households is not unheard of. If your pets are introduced properly and given enough time to get comfortable with each other, they can quickly start trusting each other. If your cat has gotten accustomed to sleeping with your dog, most likely, you have done a great job at co-parenting them. It means that they have formed a bond and seek companionship while they rest.

5. With Other Cats

bunch of cats sleeping together

If you have more than one cat, chances are your cats sleep together from time to time. If you find your cats sleeping together, it means they trust each other and have formed a bond. They might also do it just for the sake of comfort.

Cat Sleep Positions when Sick or In Pain

In the subtle language of cat sleeping positions, certain postures can serve as distress signals, offering crucial insights into the feline's physical well-being. If your cat suddenly starts sleeping very still or favors sleeping on one side, it could be a sign of some underlying issue.

chart of all sick cat sleeping positions

These subtle changes in your cat's sleeping habits speak volumes about potential pain or discomfort, whether it's a hunched posture, avoiding usual sleeping spots, or a reluctance to stretch out. In this section, we look at some of the general cat sleeping habits or common positions that cats obtain when sick or in pain.

1. Hunched with Head Tilted Down 

cat sleeping in hunched posture

Similar to humans, a sick cat might be tensed and may obtain a hunched body posture with its head tilted down. Moreover, their ears would be rolled out, their whiskers straight, and their coat would look dull and matted. If you see your cat constantly sleeping in this position, consider taking her to the vet.

2. By the Water Bowl

Your cat might be sleeping next to the water bowl simply because it's a comfortable spot in the house. However, if your cat is sleeping close to the water bowl due to dehydration, you need to pay attention to other symptoms. First, gently pinch the skin between her shoulders to check if your cat is dehydrated. If the skin doesn't immediately drop back after the release, they may be dehydrated.

sleeping next to the water bowl

Paired with other symptoms, it could be a sign of diabetes or Kidney disease. Look out for symptoms of lethargy, inability to jump, and change in gait, for diabetes and bloody urine, weight loss, and bad breath for kidney diseases. 

3. In the Litter Box

Your cat sleeping in the litter box is definitely something to be worried about. She could have underlying conditions like urinary or digestive issues like diarrhea, constipation, UTI, etc. However, adult cats might be sleeping close to the litter box for easy access if they have arthritis. In these senior cats, it could also be a sign of dementia or cognitive dysfunction.

Cat sleeping near litter boxes

So, if your cat has suddenly started sleeping in the litter box, it's time to consult your vet as soon as possible. 

4. Face Down

cat sleeping with her head in her paws

A cat might sleep with their face down and eyes covered with their paws simply to block light, keep their nose warm, or if it wants to be left alone. They may also be exhausted from a long day of their antics. However, this position can also indicate that your cat may be sick. If your cat sleeps in this position, observe for any other symptoms like lethargy, weakness, decreased appetite, etc. 

5. Cat Sleeps Hidden Away

cat sleeping in some hidden away corner

Cats love to sleep in hard-to-reach places and their personal space. However, if your kitty is sleeping in unusual hidden places more often than not, monitor their other behaviors like eating habits, defecation, and energy levels. If any changes in habits are observed, it is recommended to consult your vet.

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FAQs

What does a cat's sleeping position tell you?

A cat's sleeping position can tell us much about their physical and mental well-being. For instance, a cat sleeping in a belly-up position means that she feels safe and comfortable in her surroundings, while a cat sleeping in a curled-up position means that she is trying to protect her vital organs and is seeking warmth.

Why is my cat sleeping in a weird position?

Cats usually sleep in weird positions because they're relaxed and comfortable. Their flexibility allows them to twist in seemingly uncomfortable positions. However, if your cat is sleeping in hunched-down or face-down positions, she might be unwell. 

How do cats sleep when they're happy?

Belly-up is known to be a happy sleeping position among cats. So, if you see your cat's belly on display, she is happy, feeling safe, and comfortable.

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Disclaimer: What is said in this article has been referenced from multiple sources and is intended only for educational and informational purposes. Please note that no content in this article is a substitute for professional advice from a qualified doctor or healthcare provider. Always consult an experienced doctor with any concerns you may have regarding a health condition or treatment, and never disregard any medical suggestions or delay in seeking treatment because of something you read here.

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