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21 Sleeping Cat Positions and What they Reveal about your Kitty

The range and types of sleeping cat positions seem to be far more extensive than the equivalent for humans. I find my Siberian cat Alexei in all sorts of odd places and positions and he genuinely appears to be asleep. I don’t know how he does it!

It made me curious about cat sleeping positions – was there any particular meaning to them? Did one position signal something vs another that I should be aware of? Should I expect, Alexei to take different sleeping positions when he seems to be in different moods?

So here are 21 sleeping cat positions and what they might reveal about your favorite feline.

numerous cats asleep in a basket


21 Sleeping Cat Positions

1. All Curled Up or the “Crescent”

This is one of the most common sleeping cat positions. The reason for this sleeping position is that it maximizes warmth for the cat whilst sleeping and protects all its vital organs. This was fundamental way back when our kitties were in the wild.

ginger cat asleep in curled up position

Often when curled up cats will seem to have perfectly curled their back to make a shape that looks like a crescent or even a croissant thus the term Crescent for some curled-up positions. Cats can also take this position sometimes if they are feeling insecure.

grey cat asleep curled up cat sleeping positions

2. In a Box

Cats are crazy about boxes. Forget what is inside – my cat goes bananas for a good box. They are good for amusing Alexei for quite some time. Cats sleep in boxes because they offer protection.

ginger cat in cardboard box

A box can be a way to keep deep cover when hunting or ensure other predators don’t discover them. This may indicate that there is something in your cat that wants to hide from something or someone in their home.

dark ginger cat asleep in plastic container

Is there a new pet in the house or a dog that wants to play more than your cat? Or a human who seeks your cat’s attention too frequently?

3. Belly Up

My cat Alexei loves to lie back on the floor (particularly with my underfloor heating), splay his paws to the world and with his floofy belly fully exposed engage in some shut-eye. It is very amusing.

Sokoke cat yawning
Sokoke cat yawning

Apparently, a cat that sleeps belly up is a sign that they have an excellent relationship with their owner. This is quite a vulnerable position for your cat so they would only take it whilst asleep if they were completely trusting of their surroundings and the people in them.

kittten sleepy on wooden table sleeping cat positions

4. Eyes Half Shut

Have you ever noticed that your cat is able to seemingly wake up extremely quickly? Cats are experts when it comes to sleep. But cats are able to snooze with their eyes half open and half closed.

tabby cat half asleep

If your cat is doing this, they are ensuring they will not miss any potential threats. When you think about the circumstances in which your cat does this is it when there are visitors to the house? Or has something recently changed?

5. The classic Loaf of Bread

We all love the loaf. It is well represented in social media through hashtags. A “loaf” is when a cat is upright but tucks its front paws underneath its body. The cat literally looks like a loaf of bread in these sleeping cat positions.

grey cat curled up as loaf asleep on sofa

Cats make take this position when awake or when sleeping. If they are in this position when sleeping they probably won’t stay in it for long so this most likely means that your cat is having a nap rather than a major sleep.

Even though they are keeping their wits about them, the loaf is considered to be a sign of a relaxed cat so it is a positive cat sleeping position. This position allows your cat to conserve energy. It is getting some rest whilst still being on watch.

6. Sideways

The sideways cat sleeping position has much in common with the belly-up position. It is not quite as open as belly up but when a cat is asleep on their side, they are still exposing some of its vulnerable belly to the world.

white cat curled up asleep next to laptop

This is also normally more of a nap position than a full major sleep. Again, it is a positive sign that your cat feels comfortable in its surroundings and with you.

7. Paws Across Face

This particularly cute cat sleeping position is essentially a do not disturb sign. Your cat is most likely putting their paws in front of their face unconsciously, which is a sign that they are in a deep sleep.

tabby cat asleep with paw over eye

Your cat will not welcome any alarm clocks whilst in this position.

8. On the Edge

Cats often like to perch on long thin surfaces like the edge of a couch, the railing of a balcony or a staircase rail. This makes sense when awake as they love to climb and have great balance.

tabby kitten asleep on a stool

It surprises me to see cats sleeping in these positions. Firstly, how do they know that they won’t fall off? And secondly, surely this can’t be comfortable?

Cats on the edge often dangle their paws over each side. When a cat sleeps in this position, they want to keep an eye on what is happening around them.

9. In what surely can’t be a comfortable position

This is a general cat position type that I made up for all those completely bizarre-looking angles cats get themselves into and then seem to be able to fall asleep. I have no idea what these mean. I guess that your cat is very flexible. But of course they happen often and are very amusing so needed to be included.

grey cat asleep in odd position
cat lying down in a strange position

10. Sitting Up

I know that quite a few humans are good at sleeping sitting up but I can only do it when I am absolutely exhausted. But cats will often sit up, wrap their tails around their paws and get 40 winks.

This is another sleeping cat position that is more of a cat napping position rather than a full sleeping position. Your cat will probably only stay in this position for 15 to 20 minutes. In this sleeping position, your cat is making sure that it can wake up at a moment’s notice.

11. Sleeping on You

A cat sleeping on its own is a very positive sign in terms of their relationship. Your cat is choosing to sleep on you because they want to be close to you – and they are comfortable that they can put their guard down when they are in that position.

ginger cat asleep on woman's chest

Your cat will tend to choose areas like your legs or chest to sleep on as they perceive these as less likely to move than say your arms. They are not stupid and don’t wish to be disturbed. These sleeping cat positions are a positive indicator of the health of your relationship with your cat.

Sleeping young man with fluffy red cat

12. Superman

This position is when your cat lies on its belly and stretches out its paws to the front and the back eg just like Superman in flight. This sleeping cat position means that your cat is extremely relaxed. They are likely to be in a deep sleep if in this sleeping pose.

tabby cat asleep with paws outstretched

13. Tucked In

Cats often like to cuddle up under blankets, couches, beds, in drawers and other covered-up and often tucked in positions. These positions provide warmth and comfort and often protection.

grey cat sits on woman's lap with blanket reading

A cat under a bed can move to the middle of that area, making it impossible even for its owner to get them out. When a cat is asleep it is at its most vulnerable and therefore when it is ready for some serious sleep it will seek out the safest possible space.

14. With Another Cat

When kittens are born, they sleep with their mothers and their siblings in a warm fuzzy heap. This keeps them all safe and warm. Their mother knows exactly where they are, and they know where their mother is.

kittens asleep on stones

Therefore they generally have positive memories of having their bodies close to another cat whilst sleeping. Cats sleep with their bellies exposed to other cats when together, a sure sign that they are comfortable.

Often cats within the same household will sleep together. This is a positive sign in terms of their relationship.

two white kittens half asleep next to each other cat sleeping positions meaning

15. Curled Up in a Ball

This is a variation on the first cat sleeping position, which involved a cat curled up like a crescent. The difference in this sleeping position is that nose and tail pretty much touch. This shape helps your cat retain body heat and protects all their vital organs. Most cats enjoy getting some shut eye in the ball sleep position.

grey cat asleep curled up

16. On Top of Furniture or other household items

My cat Alexei is quite fond of getting on top of my printer and snuggling up for a snooze. Both of my cats like to sleep on top of a stack of books near the top of my bookshelf. These cat sleeping positions will most likely give your cat a great wide view of whatever room it is in. This means if something changes in their environment they will immediately be able to open their eyes and see what is going on.

siberian tabby sleeping

17. With a Dog

Surely this goes against the laws of the universe??? Some cats will sleep with a dog. Just as your cat has done with you and potentially any other cats in your home, cats and dogs can form bonds and end up being comfortable sleeping partners. If your cat sleeps with your dog it is a sign of a good relationship.

golden retriever dog and grey british short hair cat to

18. In the Litter Box

A small number of cats genuinely enjoy sleeping in a litter box – they may have done this when young for whatever reason. But for most cats, if they begin to sleep in the litter box it is a sign for concern. It may well be a sign that your cat has urinary or digestive issues and feels the need to be near the litter box just in case. Do see your vet if your cat begins sleeping in its litter box.

Cat sitting inside a small greenish rectangular litter box on the wooden floor.

19. Sleeping Flat on its Stomach

Generally, this isn’t a cat’s go-to position, especially during deep sleep. But, you could occasionally find your feline lying flat on its stomach with all four paws outstretched.

This adorable position is known as splooting and helps to stretch the hip joints and ease muscle tension. The cold surface can also help your kitty cool off during a hot day.

cat asleep on stomach

20. In bed with you

Some cats love to get into their human’s bed when they’re in it either all night or for short stretches. This may include getting under the covers with you or lying on top of your legs or next to your feet.

So what does it mean when your cat sleeps on your bed? This is normally a positive sign. My cats are more likely to do this if I have been away.

ginger cat on bed with two sets of human feet

Often when I return from traveling there will be a large amount of fur on my bed, suggesting that the boys like to sleep there when I am gone. They seldom do this when I am at home so I imagine they are missing me and want to be on my bed where they have the best chance of picking up my scent.

21. The Same Sleeping Position

Cats enjoy sleeping in a variety of positions, from curling up tightly to lying on their side. These cuties love snuggling up in all kinds of ways.

So, if you notice that your cat is sleeping in the same position all the time, it could suggest that your kitty is sick.

For instance, if your cat is sleeping curled up in a ball in a warm area all the time, it may indicate that they are constantly cold and at risk of hypothermia. On the other hand, if your cat curls up during one nap and sleeps stretched out on the next, there is little cause for concern.

siberian cat sleeping

Similarly, constantly sleeping with their eyes open can indicate that cats have an eye condition rather than just practicing unihemispheric sleep.

So, it’s important to monitor the frequency of your feline’s sleeping poses, particularly when accompanied by other signs of sickness.

Cat Sleeping Positions in Summary

Cats can spend up to 70% of their lives asleep. Well, as we now know that sleep could range from a light doze all the way through to a heavy sleep. One of the key reasons that they need so much sleep is to digest their high protein diet.

ginger cat asleep in bed with paws up
Cat sleeping position meaning

Cats take many different positions whilst sleeping. There is often meaning to a cats sleeping positions and understanding that can help you to be the best possible owner/slave of your favorite feline.

white and grey cat in loaf position sleeping cat positions
The Loaf

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Friday 21st of January 2022

My Dexter missed the chapter in the cat manual about loving boxes, she is terrified of them

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