Cat Sleeping Positions and What They Mean

leeping blue tabby. Cat sleeping positions can tell you much about them
A sleeping blue tabby. Cat sleeping positions can tell you much about them.

Cats are accomplished nappers, but did you know individual cat sleeping positions can tell you something about your feline? Cats may be picky eaters, but they are not choosy about where and how they sleep. Feline choice of sleeping positions is extensive, and you may ask yourself what each position means.

Your cat could be lying flat, curled up with a hunched back, or getting some shut-eye with the belly up. Different sleeping positions can reveal new things about your furry friend that would have otherwise been hard to discover.

What Do Cat Sleeping Positions Mean?

Cat sleeping positions can reveal your cat's emotional and physical states. Cats don't speak the same language as we do, so different sleeping positions play an important informative role. Most sleeping positions indicate what your cat is feeling, with some positions like lying with their belly up showing a relaxed cat.

Cats sleep for up to 18 hours a day, or even more as they age. As predators, they are programmed to conserve energy for the hunt.

Cats are still in touch with the hyper-awareness of their ancestors. You can observe sleeping positions like being curled up in a ball that protects the vital organs of the abdomen. Some positions, like eyes half-closed, indicate that your cat is only half asleep and is quite alert.

Your cat may also choose to sleep perched on a high vantage point like on top of the refrigerator. An elevated position is desirable for a cat because it gives them a panoramic view of their environment. It also makes cats feel safe because back in the hunting days, a raised position kept felines safe from potential dangers.

Nine Cat Sleeping Positions & Their Meaning

Cats spend more than two-thirds of their time sleeping, so their sleeping positions give an insight into what they feel. Felines spend all this time sleeping because they are natural predators that need to preserve their energy as much as possible.

Learning about the meaning of different sleeping positions in cats will decode what they say about your cat's state of mind. Here are 9 sleeping positions common among felines and what they mean.

Cats Sleeping in a Hunched Position (loaf position)

You observe a hunched sleeping position when your cat tucks the paws under the body with their head up. The back is slightly arched, resulting in a hunched pose, also referred to as the loaf position.

Cats sleeping in the loaf position are relaxed and appear content. Felines get more of a nap than deep sleep when they sleep like a loaf of bread. Lying on the paws means that your cat can spring into action at any time, implying a fair level of alertness.

Cats Sleeping With Chin on the Floor (meatloaf position)

If your cat sleeps with a hunched back and an overstretched neck and head, they may be feeling discomfort. This position is known as the meatloaf position and can signify respiratory problems. Cats with lung issues or congestive heart failure can sleep like this to ease breathing.

If your cat is wheezing along with sleeping with the chin on the floor, consult your vet for a medical examination. Sleeping chin down may seem like an innocent and cozy position, but sick cats often sleep this way.

If this position occurs together with other signs like a lack of appetite and lethargy, your cat may be sick. Pain and discomfort could cause your cat to sleep in this manner. The position could indicate that your cat suffers from a severe illness like Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), which is more common among senior cats.

Cats Sleeping Curled Up in a Ball

sleepting in a ball is common cat sleeping position
Sleeping in a ball is a common cat sleeping position

This cat sleeping position is different from the hunched position because the cat is curled up completely into a ball. Cats love to keep warm because their core temperature is quite high, higher than that of human beings. Anxious cats also feel more secure when their body is coiled up as they sleep.

Sleeping in a ball-like position protects the cat's vital organs. Cats protect their stomach and liver by leaving more resilient tissue and bone exposed. This sleeping style is part of a cat's inborn instinct that developed in the wild as protection against predators.

Curling up in a ball is also a vital way to store internal body heat and could be a sign your cat is feeling a little chilly.

Cats Sleeping Flat on Their Back

Sleeping on their back is a common cat sleeping position
Sleeping on their back is a common cat sleeping position

It is nearly impossible for you to resist patting and rubbing your kitty's belly when they sleep flat on their back. In this position, your feline friend gets a little shut-eye lying on their back with the front legs outstretched over the head. Their bellies are fully exposed, leaving their vital organs exposed.

A sleeping cat instinctively protects their delicate organs. If your cat sleeps with their belly out in the open, they trust you and feel very safe. However, this is no time for belly rubs because your cat will meet any attempt with furious biting and scratching.

Cats Sleeping Flat on Their Side

A cat sleeping on their side exposes their vital organs, similar to one resting on the back. This sleeping position is a good sign that your cat has a strong relationship with you and feels secure. Sleeping this way generally shows a relaxed and happy kitty.

Your cat may seem deep in sleep while in this position, but it's more of a cat nap. Sleeping on the side allows your cat to jump or run at will, meaning they're still ready for action if needed..

Cats Sleeping Flat on Stomach (splooting)

Splooting is a common cat sleeping position
Splooting is a common cat sleeping position

Occasionally, you can come across your furry friend sleeping on the tummy, with the four paws outstretched. This sleeping position is also known as splooting, and it's nothing short of adorable.

Sleeping flat on the tummy helps stretch the muscles and joints, thereby easing muscle tension. The cold floor helps cool off your kitty on a hot sunny day. Felines can get hyperthermic, which is essentially overheating if the external temperatures are too high. Use a small fan to cool a panting cat down and give them water.

Cats Sleeping With the One Eye Open Or Eyes Half Open

Cats developed the ability to snooze with eyes half open to catch any possible threats in the surroundings. Felines may also sleep with one eye open, allowing them to be alert even when asleep. Cats acquired this intelligent trait because they had to be alert most of the time as both predators and prey.

The intriguing capability to sleep with one eye open is called unihemispheric, slow-wave sleep. This type of sleep occurs when cats rest half the brain by sleeping with one eye open. The other half of the brain is still conscious, keeping the cat aware of the environment.

Sick cats may also sleep with eyes half-open because it might be painful to close them fully. Eye conditions such as infections cause swelling, pain, eye discharge, and redness. Conjunctivitis is a common eye infection that could cause sleeping with one eye open.

Sleeping with eyes half-open could also signal that your cat is in the light sleep stage. The eyes will close fully during the deeper REM (rapid eye movement) sleep stage unless they're injured.

Cats Sleeping With the Mouth Open

A cat sleeping with an open mouth could be distressed due to difficulties in breathing. Conditions such as asthma and congenital nasal/sinus obstruction can interfere with your cat's breathing. It may also be a simple cold that makes closing the mouth uncomfortable.

Your cat may have injuries that make closing it painful. Dental issues like periodontal disease and loss of teeth are leading causes of mouth injuries. Teeth problems are common in cats because the teeth may be hard to clean. Examine your cat's mouth for dental injuries if you notice them sleeping with open mouths regularly.

Sometimes your cat sleeping with an open mouth is not a cause of concern. Some cats open their mouths during the deep sleep (REM) stages, similar to how humans do when snoring. Your cat may also be tired after a long day of chasing toys and squirrels.

Cats Sleeping in Contortionist Positions

Sometimes cats sleep in what definitely look like the most uncomfortable positions. They may look like master contortionists, but your cat is very comfortable in these strange positions. A cat would not twist and bend their body while in pain, so it's a safe position.

These weird positions may be how your feline friend gets the most comfort. They aren't a cause for concern unless accompanied by other medical signs of ailing like lethargy. In most cases, strange and uncomfortable sleeping positions simply show how flexible your cat is.

What Are the Other Signs of Sickness in Cats?

Odd sleeping styles like the meatloaf position in concert with signs like vomiting, lethargy, and lack of appetite indicate disease. Cats rarely convey feelings of pain and discomfort and may end up suffering in silence. It's essential to watch out for any signs of illness in your cat.

Excessive vocalization

If your cat barely meows unless when begging for food, incessant meowing may indicate discomfort. It is best to listen to what your cat is trying to communicate instead of dismissing it as nagging behavior.

Other concerning behaviors in sick cats include hissing, resistance to touch, hissing, and excessive purring. Early observation of behavioral changes will lead to timely diagnosis and treatment of diseases.

Changes in Appetite

Your cat was always begging for food but can now barely get through a bowl of their favorite meal. Loss of appetite is a sign of ailments like intestinal issues, dental problems, or cancer. It's advisable to monitor your cat's eating habits and consult your vet if anything changes.

Increased appetite can also be a sign of disease. Cats with diabetes consume a lot of food to compensate for the inadequate glucose levels in the blood.

Decreased Grooming

Cats have a reputation for being clean animals because of their vigorous grooming regimes. If your cat suddenly stops grooming themselves, they may be sick, making it painful to groom. Underlying issues like arthritis and swollen joints

Alternatively, excessive licking could indicate a problem area in the body. Licking releases endorphins that offer some relief to painful areas. Watch out for other signs of discomfort like limping to determine whether your cat is in pain.

Decreased Energy Levels

Lethargy is a common sign of disease in cats. Felines that were previously high in energy suddenly sleep more and are less playful. The energy may be going to your cat's immune system to ward off infections and fever. Your cat may have less energy due to injuries causing pain.

If your cat has a sensitive stomach, be sure to see this article.

And, if you want to keep your cat healthy, make sure to read about taking care of their teeth.

Is There Anything Else We Should Look Out For In Cat Sleeping Positions?

Unusual behaviors like sleeping in the litter box could indicate something is wrong. Felines with urinary tract infections have an increased urge to urinate. This causes them to sleep in the litter box to help themselves when they want to urinate promptly.

Look out for other signs such as visible swelling, crying upon touch, and redness. The symptoms mentioned indicate an underlying disease that requires a vet visit for treatment. Most feline medical conditions are treatable with early intervention before they escalate.

Don't ignore any suspicious behaviors such as isolation because ailments may be responsible for the changes. Anxious cats also isolate themselves and may fail to use the litter box to avoid other cats and people.

Final Thoughts

Feline sleeping positions are mostly a matter of preference. Your cat knows best which sleeping position is most comfortable such as curling into a ball. Sleeping with the belly up or flat on the side shows that your cat feels comfortable and secure in your home.

Cats sleeping chin on the floor (meatloaf position) may be sick if they exhibit other signs of disease. Lethargy, changes in appetite, and behavioral changes are the most common signs and symptoms of feline ailments.

Consult your vet if you suspect underlying medical issues are responsible for certain sleeping positions in your cat.