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Six cat sleep positions: What they can tell you about your kitty

Bengal kitten sprawled out at top of cat tree adopting the side sleeper, one of six common cat sleep positions
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you share your house with a feline companion, then you’ve probably seen all sorts of weird and wacky cat sleep positions. With cats spending anywhere between 12 to 20 hours per day getting their beauty sleep, investing in one of the best cat beds was probably top of your list when you brought your new furkid home. But what you might not realize is that watching them snooze in their bed can help you better understand the inner workings of your moggy’s mind. 

While it may seem strange to spend time observing the way your furkid sleeps, the different positions they adopt give a glimpse into what they’re thinking and feeling. From relaxed and content to on guard and seeking alone time, every sleep pose your kitty strikes tells a story. Learning to decipher these stories will ensure you and your cat share a harmonious living environment.

So whether you’ve shelled out on a smaller cat bed that lets your kitty curl up perfectly or a luxury cat bed that lets them stretch it out, let’s take a look at six common cat sleep positions and what they mean so that you know when to come close and when to steer clear.

1) The cat loaf

Ginger cat on the lawn assuming the cat loaf cat sleep position

(Image credit: Getty Images)

When your cat tucks all of their paws underneath their body and curls their tail around while keeping their head in an upright position with the eyes closed, they’ve assumed the ‘loaf’ position. 

Resembling a loaf of bread, this pose demonstrates a laid-back but attentive attitude and shows that your cat is equally ready for sleep or a surprise attack. Aware of their surroundings, the loaf position allows your kitty to remain alert and lets them snooze without slipping into a deep slumber. 

If you find your furkid assuming the loaf position, it’s a good sign they’re feeling content. You may also notice them adopting this pose frequently in the cooler months as it’s a great way for them to retain body heat. For the furbaby who just can’t heat up, we highly recommend the K&H Thermo-Snuggly Sleeper Heated Pet Bed, it’ll leave your kitty feeling as warm as toast.

2) Belly up

Tabby cat lying on sofa stretched out and adopting the belly up cat sleep position

(Image credit: Getty Images)

One of the most hilarious sleeping positions, the belly up has your furkid on their back with their hind legs sprawled open and front paws stretched out. When you see your cat in this position, you’ve got one blissed-out little kitty on your hands.

Exposing the stomach is a vulnerable pose for a cat, so they won’t do it unless they feel safe and secure. It’s a sleeping style that conveys complete relaxation and demonstrates that they feel utterly at ease in their environment and trusting of whoever is around. 

3) Curled up kitty

Birman cat asleep on the bed in the curled up cat sleep position

(Image credit: Getty Images)

There’s nothing more timeless than this position, also known as ‘the crescent’ in which a cat tucks in all their legs and their tail with the head and neck curled towards the center of the body. This position creates a secure sleep style and is often adopted by wild cats as a protective measure as it keeps all the vital organs safe from a potential attack.

Don’t worry if you see your kitty adopting this pose around the house, it’s hardwired into their DNA so even the most pampered pet will choose to sleep like this out of natural instinct. It’s also another great position for retaining body heat, so they may also simply be trying to get warm. Whatever the reason, a kitty in this pose is politely asking to be left alone to get some serious shuteye.

4) Eye still see you

Ginger cat lying on bed with eyes half shut

(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you’ve ever wondered why your kitty tries to sleep with their eyes half-open, it’s because of their predatory nature which drives them to constantly be alert for threats. Keeping the eyes slightly open allows them to get the rest they need while still allowing them to immediately react to any sudden noise or movement.

You might notice that rather than both eyes being partially closed, that your cat will keep one eye open and one eye shut. This kind of sleep, known as unihemispheric slow-wave sleep lets half of your cat’s brain go unconscious while the other half remains awake. 

While it can look a little strange, as long as there’s no underlying eye infection that’s preventing your furkid from closing their eyes, there’s nothing to worry about. It’s just one of many kitty quirks that keep us humans amused. 

5) Side sleeper

Tabby cat stretched out asleep on tiled floor

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Just like us humans, sleeping on their side is one of the most comfortable positions for a cat. When a cat lies on its side with paws stretched out in front, it’s able to easily enter a state of deep sleep.

A kitty that sleeps on its side feels at peace and at home in their surroundings. It’s a trusting pose that demonstrates your furkid has a strong emotional connection with you and isn’t afraid to relax. 

When you spot your cat in this pose, you can guarantee they’re getting some serious shuteye and it’s not unusual to see the muscles twitching, a sure sign they’re deep in dreamland. 

6) The hidden face

Have you ever spotted your cat with their paws covering their face or their head buried in a blanket? There are several reasons they might adopt this pose. If the paws are over the eyes, this can often be a way of keeping their nose warm or blocking out the sun. 

If the head is buried, that’s a sign your cat wants to be left alone. Burying the head in a dark and secure spot helps your kitty feel safe and protected and sends the message that they want some peace and quiet. It’s best to leave your furkid be when they’re like this and avoid patting them, unless you want a cranky kitty on your hands!

Have a cat that won't go to sleep no matter how hard you try? Then check out our piece on Why won’t my cat sleep?  It's full of tips and tricks to help your kitty nod off at night. 

Kathryn Rosenberg

Kathryn is a freelance writer with a passion for creating health and wellness, travel and wildlife content. Originally from New Zealand, her nomadic lifestyle has her currently fur baby-less. She scratches her pet parent itch by stealing frequent cuddles with any neighbourhood cat kind enough to indulge her.