Cats are well-known as expert snoozers. After all, cats even have a type of nap named after them! Whether your kitty is taking a catnap or is in a deep sleep, they often rest in adorable or just plain weird sleeping positions. Let’s explore what these cat sleeping positions mean in this post. And while you’re here, check out the GPS cat tracker that can track your cat’s sleep! 

Are cat sleeping positions important?

The position your cat chooses to sleep in can give you clues to your kitty’s likes, dislikes, comfort level, and how much they trust you. Their sleeping positions are like body language and may be affected by the season, what’s going on in your home, and your cat’s overall mood. 

Cats’ wild ancestors are hunters (and technically, so is your kitty). So like their wild cousins, cats may sleep lightly and be semi-alert while dozing. The instinct to stay aware of approaching predators or prey is hard-wired into your kitty. Even though your furball isn’t prowling the savannah for a meal, they may still have the sleep habits of a wild cat. 

Cats who are unwell may suffer from poor sleep and have a hard time getting comfortable, so paying attention to how, when, and where your cat sleeps can give clues to their general health. 

Of course, it’s possible that your cat’s sleeping positions have no underlying secret meaning – your cat may just be trying to get as cozy as possible! Cats sleep from 12-18 hours per day, so it makes sense that they would seek the ultimate in comfort and security for this important endeavor. 

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Common cat sleeping positions and what they mean

Cats are adorable 99% of the time, and even cuter when they are asleep. Some cat sleeping positions perfectly embody the self-assured yet goofy demeanor of our kitty cats. All cat breeds demonstrate these cat sleeping positions. 

Here are nine of the most common cat sleeping positions and what they could be telling you about your cat’s personality.

1. Cat loaf

Can a cat resemble a loaf of bread? Well yes, if they are snoozing while sitting upright in the classic Cat Loaf position. With the front and back legs tucked neatly under the body and the head upright in a sphinxlike pose, your cat is probably taking a quick cat nap and is not in a deep sleep. In the Cat Loaf position, your kitty is still alert to their surroundings while appearing completely chill. 

A cat sleeping by plants outdoors

While in the Cat Loaf position, your furball is also conserving body heat. That’s why the Cat Loaf may become a preferred sleeping position when the weather turns cold.

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2. Belly up

Sleeping with the tummy facing the sky means your cat trusts you and their environment. Exposing the belly makes a cat quite vulnerable because their vital organs are unprotected. Only when a cat is completely at ease will they sleep Belly Up. This sleeping position can also help your cat to cool off in warm weather, because the belly has less fur and loses heat more rapidly than the rest of the body. 

A cat sleeping with their belly up

If your kitty sleeps in the Belly Up position, they are telling you that they feel relaxed and safe. We dare you to walk past a cat in this adorable position and not rub their belly. Just be prepared to pay the price with a little nip from your startled cat!

3. Superman

A sleeping cat lying belly down with the front legs stretched forward and the hind legs extended backward is in the Superman position. Sometimes, a cat splayed on a tile floor in the Superman sleeping position is trying to cool off. In general, a cat in the Superman sleeping position is relaxed, unafraid of being bothered, and headed for a well-deserved superhero snooze. 

4. Crescent 

The Crescent sleeping position, also called the Tight Curl or Donut, is the most common sleeping position for cats. Your kitty will lie on their side curled in a ball, with the head touching the back feet and the tail tucked in. In a variation of the Crescent position, your cat might twist their neck so the top of their head is resting on the ground, and the chin is pointed to the sky. 

cat sleeping curled up in a ball on bed

The Crescent position allows your cat to conserve body heat, so you are more likely to see your cat in this position during the winter or in cold weather. Most wild cats sleep in the Crescent position, because it protects the belly – which is the cat’s most vulnerable area – from predator attacks. Even though your home has no wolves or hyenas roaming the hallways, the instinct to curl up and protect their vital organs is still present in our furry friends today. 

5. Side sprawl

The Side Sprawl is a very common cat sleeping position. A cat lying on its side is probably in a deep sleep and might stay in this comfy position for a while. The Side Sprawl partially exposes the cat’s belly, so it could indicate that your kitty is trusting and relaxed in your home, and is not worried about a sneak attack. 

Cats that are feeling overly warm may lie in a cool spot in the Side Sprawl position in an effort to cool off. 

6. Monorail

Cats are predators, and as such, they like to perch up high to keep an eye out for potential prey or threats. In the Monorail sleeping position, cats lie lengthwise on an elevated surface such as a sofa arm, a handrail, or a windowsill.

A cat sleeping in a monorail position

The cat’s front legs, back legs, and tail hang down on either side, similar to a monorail train parked on its elevated track. While your cat probably intends to remain alert for threats while in the Monorail sleeping position, the urge to drift off into a light sleep could be too hard to resist. After all, *yawn* there aren’t any threats to deal with at the moment, right?  Zzzzzzzz.

7. Pretzel 

When your cat sprawls out and twists their torso so the upper body points in one direction and the lower body faces the opposite direction, they are in the Pretzel position, also known as the Contortionist. It’s not really possible for your kitty to tie themselves in a knot, even though it may look like it when they are in the Pretzel sleeping position. 

The Pretzel position, like the Belly Up position, indicates that your cat is completely relaxed and trusting in their environment. While in the Pretzel position, a cat may be in a deep sleep, but they can still spring into action instantly if you give them a gentle poke in the belly. (Trust us, we’ve tried it.) 

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8. Paw over the face

One of the most endearing cat sleeping positions is Paw Over The Face, when your kitty dozes off with a furry paw covering their face or eyes. In the Paw Over The Face sleeping position, your cat is sending a clear message that they do not want to be disturbed while they are asleep. 

If you see your cat with their paws covering their face, think of it as your kitty wearing an eye mask to bed, attempting to keep disturbances to a minimum while they get their beauty rest.

9. Eyes barely open

A cat that is snoozing with their eyes open to little slits is only half-asleep. They are still on the lookout for danger, potential threats, or even the chance to pounce on a meal. This behavior is linked to your kitty’s wild origins, where cats of all types have to find their own food and avoid becoming food for someone else.  

The Eyes Barely Open sleeping position is often combined with the Cat Loaf sleeping position. Snoozing in the Eyes Barely Open position allows your furry friend to be semi-alert while getting a little rest.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most comfortable sleeping position for a cat?

You know your cat best, so whatever sleeping position they choose is obviously the best one for them at the moment. Cat sleep can range from light dozing to a deep snooze, so their sleeping position will depend on what type of sleep they require in their current situation.

The household environment can influence your cat’s sleeping position, too. If it’s chilly, they may choose the Crescent sleeping position to conserve heat. In hot weather, the Pretzel may help them to keep cool. If they feel threatened, for example by another cat in the home or strangers visiting the house, they may choose the Cat Loaf so they can remain semi-alert for danger. 

Why is my cat sleeping in a weird position?

Cats have very flexible bodies, an adaptation for their hunting abilities. This means that kitties can contort themselves into odd sleeping positions that would be terribly uncomfortable for a human. But a cat is a cat, not a human, so who are we to judge? 

Is it normal for a cat to be sleeping on top of you?

Cats are famous for putting their personal comfort first and the needs of others second. When your cat sleeps on your lap, are they communicating their affection for you or just using your warm body as their personal heating pad? It’s hard to know, but we’re going with affection.

Is it normal for a cat to sleep in a box?

Cats have odd sleeping habits, and one of them is wedging themselves into tight spaces at naptime. An empty box is like a magnet for cats. Don’t be surprised if your kitty claims the box instantly and curls up inside, even if the box is a few sizes too small. Cats also select bathroom sinks, large bowls, shoes, suitcases, backpacks, and other tiny spaces for snoozing. 

Choosing small spaces for sleep creates a sense of security for your cat. Cats love the feeling of being surrounded by walls or coverings because it helps them feel protected and safe. Sleeping in a tight space can also help your kitty conserve body heat in cold weather or provide a buffer in a noisy home with lots of activity. 

Should I be worried about the way my cat sleeps?

If you notice a drastic change in your cat’s sleeping habits, it might be a good idea to talk to your veterinarian. If your cat appears restless or uncomfortable when sleeping, they may have an illness or injury. It’s best to let your vet determine if there is an underlying reason for your furry friend’s disturbed sleep.

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Why do cats frequently rotate their sleeping spots?

Cats love to have multiple favorite sleeping spots in your home. In general, sleep is a vulnerable time for all creatures. The habit of rotating sleeping spots could be traced to the behaviors of cats’ wild ancestors, who often live solitary lives and must always elude predators. Returning night after night to the same sleeping area could prove dangerous to a wild cat.

Or, your cat may be responding to circumstances in the household when they rotate their sleeping spots. Are there noisy children that kitty wants to get away from, so they choose to wiggle under your bed? Or are they trying to get closer to you, their favorite human, while you watch TV? They may want to be near their food dish and away from the litter box. Your cat could also be responding to changes in temperature, the length of daylight, or other subtle alterations in their environment that you may not even notice.

Cats are even more lovable when they are asleep.

A sleeping cat is the picture of contentment. Enjoy your kitty’s unique habits, including the position they choose for sleeping. It just makes them more adorable!