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Why Do Cats Sleep in a Ball? 4 Reasons

You’ve probably come across this sweet sight many times—your furry friend curled into a tight ball and sleeping soundly.

Cats take on many different sleeping positions that often leave us wondering why they would sleep in this way. While the curled-into-a-ball position is one of the more normal ways to see a cat sleeping, it might still make you wonder. Why do cats sleep in a ball?

Some owners are concerned that their pet might be sick, cold, or stressed when they find their feline curled up in a ball. To set your mind at rest, let’s take a look at some of the main reasons why your cat would sleep in this curled-up position. 

cat-in-box-sleeping-curled-up why do cats sleep in a ball
Image by João Jesus on Pexels


Why Do Cats Sleep in a Ball? 4 Reasons

Many cats like to sleep all curled up with their nose against their toes. Keep reading to discover the four possible reasons why your kitten might be sleeping this way. 

1. Comfortable Position

Image on PxFuel 

One of the simplest reasons for this sleeping position is that cats find it comfortable. Even if your feline likes to stretch and contort itself into strange positions, it may just want a cozy position once naptime comes around. 

Curling into a ball is a very basic sleeping position. Just like humans have preferences for sleeping on our side, stomach, or back, the curled-up position is a favorite for many cats. 

Also, many cat beds and other cat furniture have round shapes. So it’s easier for your pet to fit in their bed if they also shape themselves into a ball. 

If you have a cat that likes to sleep in strange places around the house, sleeping in a ball is often the easiest way to make it work. Whether your furry friend plonks itself in a planter box or on your laptop, a ball shape helps your cat to fit into that tight spot. 

2. Staying Safe

Image by Oscar Garcia Jr. on Pexels

Your kitty’s sleeping position might also be connected to their natural survival instincts. Animals in the wild are vulnerable while they’re sleeping. Your cat’s ancestors had to find a way to protect themselves against potential predators while getting valuable sleep. 

Even though house cats are long past this type of danger, the instinct remains. By curling into a ball, your domestic feline is subconsciously protecting its most vulnerable areas. 

In this ball shape, a cat’s back and tail are exposed, but its soft belly and life-giving organs are covered. Cats usually also tuck their head against their chest in this curled-up position. This protects their face while sleeping. 

This sleeping behavior doesn’t mean that your pet doesn’t trust you or feels unsafe in your home. It is simply part of their biology to want to curl up for a nice nap, all the while feeling safe and sound. 

3. Keeping Warm

Image by Cody Scott Milewski on Unsplash

Another reason why cats sleep curled up into a ball, is to conserve body heat. By curling up tightly until their nose and tail are touching, a cat’s body can retain its heat. 

You may notice that your pet sleeps in this curled-up position more frequently in winter or when the house is cooler. This is perfectly normal, but you can still check up on your kitty to make sure it’s feeling warm enough. 

If you notice your cat shivering even while curled into a ball, it may be time to add an extra blanket to their bed. If you live in a very cold region or your kitty often struggles with the shivers, you can invest in a comfy thermal self-warming bed for them. 

If you want to make absolutely sure your feline friend is warm enough, you can use a digital thermometer to check their temperature. Anywhere between 101ºF and 102. ( 5ºF is a normal temperature for your cat. 

It’s important for cats to stay warm, since their average body temperature is higher than that of humans. If their temperature drops below 99°F, you need to get your pet to the vet. If their temperature is normal, there’s nothing a comfy blanket or a warm lap can’t solve. 

4. Sick, Stressed, or in Pain

Image by Юлия Кондратова on Pexels

There’s no need to start worrying the moment you see your beloved kitty curled into a ball. As we’ve seen so far, there are many other normal reasons why your cat could be sleeping in this position.

Still, there are some signs you can look out for that might indicate that your cat isn’t feeling their usual chipper self. You know your kitty best, so look for any changes in their normal behavior. If your pet never sleeps curled up and then suddenly does so, check for other signs of illness, pain, or stress. 

Possible signs of pain and illness can be your cat avoiding its food, its water, or social interactions with you and other cats. If this is the case, you might also see your cat taking shallow breaths while sleeping in a ball. Your pet may also hide and curl up in an enclosed space if they’re in pain. 

If your cat is stressed, it may meow a lot more than normal. This could be their way of telling you that something in the house is bothering them, like the new coffee machine on the counter. A stressed cat might sleep in a ball because it makes them feel safe from the perceived threat. 

In general, sleeping in a ball is not an indication that something is wrong. Many healthy cats do this too, so there’s no need for you to become unnecessarily stressed over your kitty’s every move. 

Greyish cat sleeping in a curled up position.

Ready to Curl Up with Your Cat?

From curling up in your fancy serving bowl to simply making themselves comfortable on your lap, your cat has probably used this sleeping position a lot. 

And now you can relax with your pet, knowing that the curled-in-a-ball position is generally not a cause for concern. Your cat may simply be sleeping comfortably, staying warm, or relying on an age-old instinct. 

Ginger cat sleeping in a curled up position on the floor.

Do you have more questions about how long cats sleep? Then curl up with your furry friend and keep reading.

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