What do cats like to do the most? To sleep! Yes, as all cat lovers know, they love to sleep a lot. And as we have all seen, they also have some strange and funny positions when sleeping; cats sleep with their belly up and all their legs outstretched, twisted, with their paws or tails covering their face and eyes, etc.
Experts in feline behavior say that when a cat exposes its abdomen, which is considered a very sensitive region because it hosts the internal organs, it is confident, being seen as a trusting behavior. That’s why when you see your cat sleeping with its belly up, be sure that it has full confidence in you.
But why does a cat hide its eyes and/or nose with its paws when it sleeps, you may have wondered? They sometimes adopt this behavior to keep their nose and body warm or to avoid light. Sometimes, cats hide their faces when they sleep to feel safe. The most common sleeping positions in cats are: curled, with their belly up, loaf position (when they tuck their paws under them), contorted, or monorail.
Cats & Sleep
Being by nature nocturnal predators, cats will sleep during the day and stay awake at night.
Cats sleep a lot when they are young. An adult cat sleeps an average of 13-18 hours a day, while a 1-week-old kitten sleeps about 20 hours a day. As they get older, kittens will start to sleep less (becoming more active) with deeper sleep.
The sleeping place will be one in which the cat feels safe and that has the right temperature. In summer, they prefer cool, shady places, away from the hot sun. In winter, most cats will seek the company of the sun’s rays and will spend more time in warm places (for example, on the radiator, under the blanket, in our lap). The temperature also influences the position in which the cat falls asleep:
– when it is cold, it will curl up and bury its face between its paws or cover itself with its tail to slow down the loss of heat;
– when it’s hot, your cat will sleep with its belly up trying to regulate its body temperature.
The body temperature in cats is between 38 and 39°C, so the optimal sleeping temperature will be between 25 and 30°C. Even if you can’t offer your cat the ideal sleeping temperature, it’s good to know that they can comfortably adapt to temperatures of 15-20 °C in the house.
Compared to humans or dogs, cats can spend many hours in a relatively light sleep state, called catnap. If you are trying to wake your cat, you need to know that it can quickly go from deep sleep to action. Also, the cat may be in a catnap with its eyes half or fully open.
Among the cat breeds that love to sleep are American Shorthair, Exotic, Maine Coon, Ragdoll, and Persian.
Why cats like to cover their face (nose, eyes) with their paws or tail when they sleep?
Most cats hide their faces while sleeping to keep their nose and body warm. When a cat pulls its paws or tails around its face, it usually wraps itself in the shape of a fluffy ball. This round shape allows the cat to keep maximum heat, thus having a comfortable and peaceful sleep. And other times, the direct light in their eyes, while they sleep, becomes annoying, and they prefer to protect their eyes with their paws or tail.
Why do cats tuck their paws under them?
This position is called the Cat Loaf Position. Cats adopt this behavior for two reasons:
1. They feel safe and do not feel the need to use their claws too soon;
2. It is a way to preserve body heat.
Also, others say that this position represents their way to express their unwillingness to communicate(they like isolation at times)– cats may not always want to communicate with us.
Why some cats love to sleep with their heads upside down?
Cats sleep with their head upside down for several reasons, the most common being: to warm up, they feel relaxed, safe and comfortable, or to cool down.
Why do cats sleep on their back, belly, or curled up?
The main reason cats choose one of these sleeping positions is to warm up or keep their body temperature constant.
When cats sleep on their bellies with their legs outstretched, apart from a comfortable sleep, this position also gives the cat the opportunity to cool down, especially if it sleeps on the ground.
When they sleep with their belly up, exposing the abdomen region, it usually means cats are confident and trust their owner or whoever is around them.
If you see a cat sleeping all curled up like a ball of fluff it means that it wants to keep warm.
What are other common cat sleeping positions?
The most common sleeping positions for cats are: curled up, half-closed eyes, sideways, with their paws tucked under them (loaf position), or with their bellies up.
Among the less common are contortionist, monorail, or sleeping on the furniture’s edge.
In the contortionist position, cats twist their bodies in unimaginable ways to feel comfortable. Cats who adopt this sleeping position usually like to be in the spotlight. When you see your cat looking like a pretzel when it sleeps, be sure it is very relaxed and comfy.
Monorail is the position where cats sleep on a staircase banister, on the armrest, or the back of the couch, with their legs dangling. Leopards, for example, and other wild cats, fall asleep like this in the trees on the higher branches. They choose this place to sleep so they can always be high above the ground to see all the dangers.
Sleeping places for cats
We don’t think there is a place where we don’t see cats sleeping, talking about the washing machine, in your bed, in the bathroom sink, in boxes, on the floor, on the couch, on the radiator, on your lap, etc.
Even if you want your cat to come to sleep in your bed on a cold winter night, it may choose the radiator because it is warmer there.
As long as it feels safe in its territory (your home), it can choose to sleep almost anywhere.
What vets recommend for a healthy sleep?
If the cat is healthy, it should be allowed to sleep where it wants and how much it wants to regain or conserve energy. Of course, before a good sleep, your cat must have a balanced and quality diet and exercise daily (minimum 15 minutes every day).
If your cat has locomotor problems, for example, it is advisable to limit its access to high places (in bed, on the couch, radiator, etc.) or to make some climbing systems that allow it to climb easily in those places.
Also, the room or place where the cat sleeps should be neither too hot nor too cold. As we do not like high temperature variations when we sleep, so do they.
When it comes to sleeping places, cats often choose to sleep in a hard cardboard box or on our clothes rather than in a bed dedicated to pets. So, as long as your cat sleeps with its belly up, contorted, or crouched, it doesn’t matter where it sleeps as long as it feels safe and relaxed.
Why does my cat like to sleep around me or on me?
In the top 5 reasons why your cat chooses to sleep with you, we list comfort, warmth, safety, territory, and affection.
Comfort – Cats can sleep in some of the most unusual places in the house, but, in general, they prefer a comfortable and warm bed where they can lie down as much as they want.
Heat – cats love warm places, and at night when temperatures drop, sticking to you in bed is the best place to sleep.
Safety – although cats can seem relaxed, they are almost always on the alert. The relationship between you and your cat is very important, and that is why if it feels safe with you, it will want to sleep near you or on you (in your arms, lap, between your legs, etc.).
Territory – who doesn’t know that cats are among the most territorial animals!? That’s why your cat can think that the bed is also hers (like the rest of the house), not bothering to share it with you.
Affection – it is said that cats are very independent and do only what they want when they want without showing their affection, but sleeping with you or on you is one of the moments when they show their affection towards their owners (when they are kittens, cats sleep close to their brothers and their mother).
Does my cat protect me while I am sleeping?
Some cats are very protective of their owner for no reason. And these cats, whether there are relatives or friends around you, will not let them reach you, which can be worrying because they will behave aggressively.
Cats guard us because they protect their territory; after all, we are part of it. Those who suffer from separation anxiety tend to be even more protective. Guarding is a sign of affection, and some cats do this when we sleep. Other cats choose to sit in the bedroom door to guard us until we fall asleep, then they will retreat in their room or sleeping place. But most of the time, cats like to sleep at our feet; they choose this place because they feel safer there and, it gives them enough room for action if something happens.
Cats can adopt the strangest sleeping positions – pretzel-shape, curled, sleep with their paws over their eyes, pull their tails over their noses, contort, sleep with their eyes half or fully open, with their belly up, you name it!
A very important factor that influences their sleeping position is temperature. When it is cold, your cat will curl like a ball in order to maintain its temperature or to warm up. When it is hot, they will sleep with their legs outstretched and especially with their belly up. The optimal sleeping temperature for cats is 25-30°C.
Unlike humans and dogs, cats also have a not-so-deep sleep phase called catnap, from where a cat can jump very quickly into action.
It is important to let them get the sleep they need so much; after all, cats sleep up to 18 hours a day.
I hope this article answers all of your questions about sleeping positions in cats and their meaning.
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