Cat sleeping positions can be as weird and wonderful as the mysterious furry creatures themselves. In fact, where and how your cat chooses to sleep can give you a glimpse of the inner workings of your furkid’s mind.
From warm and secure sleep body language to ready-for-action ones, we cover common interpretations surrounding the ways your cat snoozes. If you’re concerned about a sick cat, we’ve included some advice about what to look out for as well.
Read on to discover the 29 most common cat sleeping positions, what they mean, and 6 helpful tips and tricks to understanding your cat better!
Affectionate Cat Sleeping Positions
Cats may sometimes get a bad rap for being aloof and solitary, yet many of them tend to sleep with their owners or other household pets they may feel bonded to. This can typically be seen as a sign of trust, companionship and comfort.
1. At Your Feet
Cats usually take on this sleeping position as a sign of affection, being able to stay close to you, keep you warm and safe at the same time. By being at your feet, they have the chance to alert you if any threats come creeping in at night. This is an important instinct for prey animals in the wild, to protect themselves and each other from predators.
The foot of the bed is also typically a great vantage point for your cat and provides them an easy route of escape if they need to spring into action. Plus, they get additional warmth and comfort from your body heat too!
2. Between Your Legs
Another position they may take to keep warm is between your legs, typically indicating that they feel safe and comfortable with you. Think of yourself as a nice, warm enclosed space for your floof, much like a box or a cat bed. The security you provide may even allow them to fully let their guard down and go into deep sleep!
They may also choose this resting place to comfort you and show you affection, mark you as their territory or to have a clear escape route near the foot of your bed.
3. Next To You
Your cat may lay next to you when sleeping if they’re looking for security. It usually means that they trust you and take comfort in your presence. They may even face their backs to you so they can watch the environment and keep you both safe – aww!
Some cats may lay next to their pawrents with some buffer area in between – so close yet so far, we know. These kitties may just prefer to have some personal space while enjoying their owners’ presence, nothing personal (probably).
4. On Your Chest
It’s adorable when cats sleep on their humans, be it on their stomach, lap or chest. Kitty may be looking for security and warmth, or making a clear statement by marking their territory.
If your furkid is sleeping on your chest, she may also be seeking comfort from your scent or the sound of your heartbeat and breathing. She may also enjoy being close to your mouth if she finds your voice comforting. Plus, sleeping on you puts her in a prime position to wake you up once she gets hungry.
5. On Your Head
Cats sometimes engage in ‘pillowing’, where they use other trusted cats as a soft, cozy spot to lie against during naptime. If your cat sleeps on your head, she may just be looking for that. It’s also the best body part for them to sleep against if they want to avoid any tossing or turning you may do at night.
Other reasons your cat may do this is to keep warm, be close to you and show affection, or she may simply enjoy the scent of your hair.
6. With A Dog
Contrary to what popular media may have you believe, cats and dogs can get along in a household, with the proper introductions. These need to be done patiently and gradually to allow your pets to grow comfortable with each other and get accustomed to each other’s body language.
If your cat is sleeping with your dog, it’s most likely a sign that you’ve done a good job of getting them to trust each other. It usually means that they’ve formed a bond and are seeking companionship while they rest.
7. With Other Cats
Kittens will often bundle up together in an adorable kitty pile to stay warm and safe. This instinct to cuddle may carry on into adulthood, along with kneading and purring.
If your cats are sleeping together, it may be a sign that they enjoy each other’s company and may be bonded to each other. They may be sleeping together for companionship and comfort, even if they’re just barely touching.
However, it’s no secret that some coexisting cats merely tolerate each other. So, they may also just be sleeping near each other (e.g. on the same bed) as a way to say “I don’t hate you.”. Cats, amirite?
Ready-for-action Cat Sleeping Positions
Felines are natural born hunters and they show these tendencies even if they’re indoor cats. These natural instincts are reflected by some common sleeping positions that allow them to spring into action anytime they sense prey or predators nearby.
8. By the Front Door
If your feline friend sleeps by the front door, they’re most likely just curious about what’s going on outside. Sitting by the door gives them access to all the interesting noises coming from the outside world. If your cat is an outdoor cat (or a curious indoor one), they may also be plotting their escape out of the house, so beware!
Your cat may also be waiting for you to come home and wondering why you keep going into the outside world. Or, they could simply be bored and in need of some interaction – perhaps a cat toy could help?
9. Eyes Half Open
It’s normal for some cats to sleep with one eye open, or both eyes half open. This is because of their natural instinct to look out for danger as they rest. A napping cat typically remains alert and conscious of their surroundings to keep themselves safe.
Though uncommon, a cat sleeping with open eyes may sometimes be a sign of injury or illness, warranting a visit to the vet. Other symptoms to look out for include eye discharge or swelling, a visible third eyelid when awake, squinting, seizing or twitching.
10. Perched On Furniture
Cats may sleep perched on furniture like your bed’s headboard or dining table to get a good vantage point of the entire room. This is to appease their inner hunter, keeping an eye out for any potential prey in the home. If they’re sleeping uncomfortably close to the edge of the surface, they may be making sure they can pounce at any time.
Conversely, cats that sleep on top of tall furniture like a fridge or a cat tree may be seeking refuge from potential predators. Simply put, elevated areas of the house allow sleeping kitties to feel safe and in control of the environment around them.
11. The Loaf
Most cat moms and dads should be familiar with the iconic loaf (or baguette) position, where a cat sits upright, with their paws tucked neatly under their bodies.
When a cat sleeps in this position, they’re usually keeping their vital organs safe and warm as they sleep. It’s also a great position for kitty to stay alert while snoozing, where she can easily get on her feet and use her claws if she senses any danger.
12. The Monorail
The monorail position is when a furry feline sleeps on narrow surfaces like the arm or back of a couch, sometimes with one or more legs dangling off. You’ll commonly find wild cats doing this too, as they sleep on the branches of large trees.
This position keeps cats feeling safe and comfortable, while being ready to spring into action if necessary. It may also be a way to stay close to you if you spend a lot of time on the couch.
Trusting Cat Sleeping Positions
In the wild, cats usually sleep with their bellies hidden to keep their vital organs well protected from predators.
Domestic cats display these instincts too, so an open-belly sleeping position can typically be seen as a sign of trust from your furkid. However, it may not always be an invitation for belly rubs or paw touching – you’ve been warned!
13. Belly Up
Arguably one of the cutest resting positions is when a cat sleeps on their backs, typically with legs wide open and their front paws limp at the chest area. A cat sleeping with their belly exposed is usually a great sign that they trust you and are feeling relaxed and confident.
This is because they’re exposing the most vulnerable area of their bodies, trusting you not to harm them.
14. Laying on Their Side
One of the most common ways that cats sleep, your furkid lying on her side, with legs outstretched usually means she trusts you enough to leave her belly exposed. This is a comfortable position for cats, similar to the belly up position.
Your cat is likely napping, rather than sleeping deeply. With her legs stretched out, she can easily spring into action if she senses any danger, giving her an added feeling of security to lull her into relaxation.
15. Sitting Upright
A cat sleeping upright may seem a little strange and uncomfortable but hey, if it works, it works. This position typically comes with an exposed belly, which means your cat feels safe and trusts you and their environment.
Cats may sometimes sleep like this to get easy access to groom their bellies between naps. They may also do this to give additional support to their back muscles, or if they want to stay alert in case of any opportunities to hunt prey.
Unwell Cat Sleeping Positions
Here are some sleeping positions cats may adopt if they’re feeling sick or in pain. They aren’t definitive signs of illness in your feisty felines, so look out for other symptoms like fatigue, loss of appetite, changes in behavior and labored breathing.
If you suspect your cat may be unwell, do contact your vet for professional medical advice.
16. By the Water Bowl
Your cat may be sleeping beside the water bowl because it happens to be a comfy spot in the house. However, it may also be a sign that your cat is dehydrated, which you can check by gently pinching the skin between their shoulders. If the skin doesn’t quickly drop back after you release it, they may be dehydrated.
Paired with other symptoms, this sleeping position may also be a sign of:
- Kidney disease – other signs include frequent urination, bad breath, weight loss and bloody urine
- Diabetes – other signs include excessive urination, inability to jump, lethargy and change in gait
17. Face Down
A face-down sleeping cat may want to be left alone, avoid bright light or keep their noses warm. They may also be exhausted from a long day of feline antics, or simply find the position comfortable.
However, it can also indicate that your cat may be sick. If they press their faces to the ground while hunched over or in a loaf position, watch out for other symptoms of illness such as:
- Decreased appetite
- Head tilt
- Loss of consciousness
- Weakness or uncoordinated walking
These symptoms may indicate serious health problems such as liver failure, poisoning, bacterial infection or brain tumor.
18. Hidden Away
It’s no secret that many cats enjoy their personal space and a safe, cozy spot for napping. A tense cat may also seek comfort in hard-to-reach hiding places when they’re feeling stressed or anxious.
Do keep an eye out for your hiding kitty as their behavior may sometimes indicate an underlying medical condition. If your cat is sleeping in hidden places more than usual, or hiding somewhere out of the ordinary, monitor their eating, drinking, urination and defecation. It’s recommended to contact a vet if there are changes to any of these habits.
19. In the Litter Box
If your cat suddenly starts sleeping in the litter box, it’s important to get it checked by a vet as it may indicate an underlying medical condition. She may be suffering from urinary or digestive issues like constipation, diarrhea, urinary tract infection or bladder blockage.
Older felines may also choose to sleep here for easy access to their litter if they have arthritis. If they suffer from dementia or cognitive dysfunction, they may also mistake the cat litter box for their other resting places.
It’s also possible that your cat may just be looking for a safe hiding spot. However, the behavior shouldn’t be encouraged as it may give rise to medical issues like eye or ear infections.
20. In the Same Position
It’s very common for cats to switch sleeping positions several times a day as a natural instinct to ensure they’re not easily found by predators. So, a cat sleeping in the same position all day or over several days may be a cause for concern for pawrents.
A sick cat may be too weak to change positions and often sleep quietly in a hunched position. In this case, pay attention to their other behaviors – are they purring a lot? Are they neglecting grooming? Do they have labored breathing? These are signs that may warrant a check up with your vet.
Warm and Secure Cat Sleeping Positions
Here are some default sleeping positions you may find your cat in if they’re trying to keep warm and safe. Your furry friend may be sleeping in these positions more regularly if they’re feeling anxious about potential dangers, or cold during chilly seasons.
21. Curled Up in a Ball
Cats are commonly found curled up in a ball or crescent, with their noses to their tails. This position keeps their vital organs tucked away and well protected, which would keep them safe from predators in the wild. It’s also a great position for keeping warm and comfortable while sleeping.
An adorable modified version of this is the cat shrimp pose, where curled up cats stretch their legs out, resembling an uncooked shrimp. Why? They probably just find it really comfy!
22. In a Box
Cats tend to love enclosed spaces as it helps them feel safe and secure against any predators or external dangers. Thus explains their love for boxes – safe havens where they can observe their surroundings and not be seen, supposedly.
Your cat is likely sleeping in a box to feel relaxed while resting, and to also keep herself warm. Furthermore, cats that love squeezing into boxes that are way too tiny for them typically do so for an added feeling of security. Think: an infant that enjoys being swaddled.
23. Paws Over Eyes
This adorable pawsition typically allows cats to block light out of their eyes, or sometimes irritants like dust or pollen. Covering their eyes with their paws also helps to keep them feeling warm, safe and snuggly.
They could also be telling their hoomans or other housemates that they’d prefer to be left alone as they snooze.
24. Under the Bed
It’s normal for some cats to enjoy sleeping under their hoomans’ beds as it tends to be dark, warm, cozy and quiet. However, some cats may also do this if they’re feeling scared or anxious, and they need somewhere safe and secure to hide away. Stress relief products for cats may be helpful to calm your kitty in these situations.
As they typically do this to get away and be alone, it’s good to keep an eye out for other behaviors such as their eating, drinking and litter box habits to rule out illnesses or pain.
Pregnant cats or cats ready to mate may choose to sleep under the bed more often too.
25. Under the Blankets
When sleeping under the covers, a cat gets to feel warm and snuggly while enjoying the familiarity of their human’s scent. She may also enjoy the comfort and quietness of being there, allowing her to feel safe as she rests.
It’s typically safe for cats to sleep under the blankets, but it’s still best to make sure you always know where your pet is to avoid accidentally lying on her. Also, be sure to check in on her every now and then to make sure she’s getting enough air in there.
If your cat enjoys warm, comfy sleeping positions, they may enjoy a cat bed!
1. Trustie Tropical Cave Bed
2. Smartykat Happy Hammock
3. Trustie 2 Tier Scratching Post
Weird Cat Sleeping Positions
Cats tend to get up to some weird antics that we humans struggle to comprehend. This extends to the places and ways they choose to sleep as well. Here’s a list of some funny, odd and adorable sleeping positions you may find your cat in!
26. In the Bathroom
If you have a curious cat, you may find that she follows you into the bathroom every now and then. Sometimes, she may choose not to follow you out, deciding to nap on the bathroom floor instead.
While this may seem weird or gross to us, your cat may enjoy sleeping there if they’re looking for a cooling place to snooze. This may explain why some cats sleep on tiled floors or in the bathroom or kitchen sink too.
27. The Contortionist
You may find your cat twisting and contorting into some strange positions as they sleep. Their legs may be sticking out in different directions, with their head twisted, seemingly uncomfortably.
However, due to your cat’s flexibility, they may find these positions to be very comfortable. This is because they have elastic spinal columns and loosely-attached shoulder blades that allow them to twist into the strangest, most comfortable poses of their choice.
28. The Sploot
Also known as the Superman, this sleeping position is one where your cat sleeps belly down, with their front and back legs outstretched like the superhero in flight. Your cat may find this comfortable, especially if they want to cool their bodies down on a hot day.
The position may also help your cat feel secure as their vital organs are well-protected from any potential attacks. Furthermore, should they need to spring into action, they can easily do so with their outstretched legs.
29. With Tongue Out
A cat sleeping with their tongue out (a.k.a the blep) is an adorable sight many feline lovers enjoy seeing, and with good reason. When cats do this, it typically means that they’re relaxed enough that their jaw is loose and their tongue slips out.
While the sleeping position is usually normal, you should pay attention to your cat’s other behaviors if they suddenly start sleeping like this.
For example, if they seem to be in pain or start drooling or bleeding from the mouth, it may be a sign of dental issues or other health conditions. In these cases, contact your vet as soon as you can.
Tips For Understanding Cat Sleeping Positions and Body Language
To truly try and decipher the meaning behind the different ways your cat may choose to sleep, there are some other things you should note. This includes their different behavior and sleeping habits we’ve listed out here.
1. Pay attention to your cat’s personality and needs
Your cat’s sleeping position may be affected by different factors such as the ones below.
Our kitties all have their personal preferences on where and how they prefer to sleep. This may be affected by their personality as well.
For example, a dependent cat may prefer to sleep with their owner, while an independent cat may choose to sleep alone most of the time.
- Comfort and security needs
If your cat is feeling anxious, she may choose to sleep somewhere more hidden and in positions that make her feel safe and secure (e.g. curled up in a ball, under the bed). Cats that prefer soft surfaces may be more inclined to sleeping on a pillow or in a cat bed.
- Environmental conditions
Your cat may have different sleeping positions based on the time of day, time of year and the weather. This is largely because they may be trying to maintain their normal body temperature of 99.5°F to 102.5°F (about 37.5°C to 39°C).
2. Observe their behavior over a period of time
Want to figure out if your cat’s new sleeping position is normal? Look out for any other behavioral changes they may show over some time. Some things to look out for include their appetite, thirst, litter box habits, general body language and the way they wag their tails.
Sudden changes in one or more of these may indicate that your cat is feeling unwell or uncomfortable in some way. Try to take pictures or videos of these new behaviors to show your vet if you suspect that something may be wrong.
3. Cat sleeping positions are largely driven by instinct
Many cat sleeping habits are influenced by the natural instincts of their ancestors as both predators and prey in the wild.
For example, it’s generally believed that they will try to position themselves in a way that protects their vulnerable belly region from predators. It’s also common for cats to keep switching up their sleeping locations instinctually to avoid detection from predators.
Conversely, their predatory nature can be seen in the way they sleep on perches and in positions that keep them ready for action.
4. Their sleeping patterns may change as they age
As cats grow and age, their sleeping habits may start to change as well.
Young kittens often sleep bundled up together to keep safe and warm. They tend to feel most secure and comfy in a bed with high sides, lined with some soft blankets or cushions.
Newborns tend to sleep around 22 hours a day, while older kittens (8 to 12 weeks) may snooze for up to 20 hours.
Bursting with energy, adolescent cats tend to have inconsistent sleep patterns between bouts of intense activity and play. They may get into conflicts with older resident cats as they try to figure out what sleeping spots they enjoy.
Adult cats typically have more regular sleep habits and schedules, making it easier for pet parents to notice when something is amiss.
On average, cats also tend to have 5 preferred sleeping locations, according to a survey by the Applied Animal Behavior Science journal.
Elderly cats tend to have reduced energy levels and mobility compared to younger felines. They will often sleep for longer periods of time in a single position to conserve energy.
5. 75% of their sleep time is spent napping
Adult cats tend to sleep for 12 to 20 hours a day. In the wild, they would need all that sleep to ensure they have the energy to hunt and kill prey.
However, did you know that ¾ of that time is typically spent napping? Their internal clocks are built that way to keep them alert in case of any dangerous predators or yummy prey nearby.
To see if your cat is in deep sleep, check that their eyes are fully closed and their ears aren’t alert and moving around. Cats in deep sleep may also have a visibly relaxed body, which may twitch and quiver as if she is dreaming. You may also find your cat snoring if they’re fully asleep.
6. Speak to a vet if you find their sleeping position worrisome
As every cat is different, a typical sleeping position for one may be completely out of the ordinary for another. If you’re worried about your pet’s new sleeping habits, especially coupled with other behavioral changes, contact a vet to voice your concerns.
FAQs About Cat Sleeping Positions
Some of the most comfortable sleeping positions for cats include:
- Sleeping with a companion – with their owners or other household pets
- Vulnerable sleeping positions – belly up, laying on their side
- Warm and secure positions – curled up in a ball, in a box, under the bed
- Weird places and poses – in the bathroom, the contortionist, the sploot
Sick cats may sleep with their faces pressed down, hidden away somewhere in the house, in the litter box or in the same position for hours on end.
However, sleeping position is just one indicator of an unwell cat. Other symptoms of illness include a sudden change in behavior, lethargy, decreased appetite and a neglect for grooming. If you suspect your cat may be sick, schedule an appointment with a trusted vet as soon as you can.
More often than not, cats sleep in weird positions simply because they’re comfortable. It’s typically normal for a cat to twist into a strange pose while sleeping, sometimes with their legs spread in different directions, or stretched straight out like a superhero in flight.
Cats may also sleep in strange outstretched or curled up poses to cool down or keep warm respectively, depending on the weather. Certain positions may indicate that the cat is unwell, like sleeping with their face pressed to the floor. In these cases, you may want to contact your vet for further medical advice.
Cats typically sleep with one paw out when they’re feeling relaxed and comfortable. They most likely feel safe, unafraid of any sudden dangers or threats around them.
They may also do this for easy access when they feel like grooming themselves.
It’s normal for our furkids to want to change sleeping positions every now and then. Cats tend to go through periods of different favorite sleeping spots just to change things up. They may also be experiencing different needs in terms of comfort, security and warmth.
However, if your cat is showing other signs of illness like weakness or decreased appetite, you may want to contact a vet to get them checked medically. Additionally, older cats may have trouble climbing your bed as they age and their bodies get weaker.