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9 Cat Sleeping Positions and What They Mean

cat sleeping in a cat bed

As pet owners, most of us like to learn everything about our cats in order to provide them with the best life possible. We can learn a lot about them by watching their behavior, how they hold their tail or how they try to communicate with us. Below, we’re going to take a closer look at sleeping positions and what they say about your cat. We will list several different positions, and for each, we’ll give you a summary of what it means and a picture so you can be better informed about your favorite feline.


The 9 Cat Sleeping Positions

1. Belly Up

cat sleeping with its belly up on a cat bed
Image Credit: jdblack, Pixabay

The belly-up position is most pet owners’ favorite as it’s extremely cute, and it can be difficult to resist petting your cat’s belly. However, doing so will usually leave you with a shredded arm, so proceed at your own risk. You have even more reason to celebrate this position because it leaves your cat extremely vulnerable, meaning that it feels completely safe. Not only are their vital organs exposed, but it will take them a long time to get into an upright position that would allow them to escape to safety, so cats will not sleep like this if there is even the slightest hint of danger. Congratulations on providing a good home for your cat.

2. Curled Up

tabby cat sleeping outside
Image Credit: Ben Kerckx, Pixabay

The curled-up position is one of the basic sleeping positions of a comfortable cat. It’s not as exposed as it is with the belly-up, but it’s pretty close. The curled-up cat is protecting its vital organs but trades the ability to quickly get to its feet for comfort, which means it doesn’t feel like it’s in any immediate danger. It likely trusts you and feels safe in its environment.

3. On Its Side

fat calico cat sleeping in the window perch
Image Credit: Lisa A. Ernst, Shutterstock

The side position is another one that demonstrates your cat’s complete trust in your surroundings and faith in its owner. Cats in this position are often stretching out, and you will find them resting this way below a sunbeam in the window or on the porch. You can tell it feels safe and comfortable because its belly is partially exposed, and it would take a long time to get back on its feet. The cat stretched out outside as carefree and has a strong bond with its owners.

4. One Eye Open

a kitten sleeping with one eye open
Image Credit: Mammiya, Pixabay

The one eye open position is not so much a position as an action because it can occur while the cat is sleeping in other positions. If you watch your cat closely enough, it won’t take long before you notice it frequently sleeps with one eye half-open. It’s much more common in kittens and young cats, but you will see it in older adult cats too. While it could be a sign that your cat feels threatened, our experience has shown that cats do this any time they’re worried about their surroundings and want to use the minimum possible effort to know what’s going on.

Cats spend most of the day sleeping, but for much of that time, they’re sleeping quite lightly and will open one eye halfway anytime some action occurs to see if it’s something worth getting up about. We feel that it’s a sign your cat feels comfortable in its surroundings, or it would quickly snap to attention at the slightest sound.

5. The Sphynx

cat is sleeping while basking in the sun heat
Image Credit: qimono, Pixabay

The sphynx position is another common cat sleeping position where the cat essentially falls asleep sitting up, resembling a sphynx. This position is the one a threatened cat will most likely sleep in because its vital organs are protected, and it can immediately start running away from any danger. However, if you notice your cat sleeping in any of the positions we’ve mentioned so far, it’s likely your cat chose this position because it’s in the middle of something and just needs a quick nap. Cats watching you clean the house or birds outside the window will often sleep in this position without feeling threatened or in danger because they get tired quickly and intend to pick up where they left off when they wake up.

6. Hiding

cat sleeping in a cat condo
Image Credit: andrewprieto, Pixabay

When the cat hides away to sleep inside a box, under a bed, or in a cat condo, it’s ready for some deep sleep. Cats take many smaller naps throughout the day, but they usually take at least one long nap in a quiet secluded place where they are unlikely to be disturbed. Cats are curious creatures that like to be in the middle of the action, but they need time to regenerate and often choose these hiding areas in high-traffic homes. We recommend not disturbing the cat if you find it in a box or other quiet area.

We also found the cats spend more time in boxes and other enclosed areas during the winter months, but a cat that continuously hides away might be having difficulty adjusting to its home and may feel threatened.

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7. Pretzel

cat sleeping in a contorted position
Image Credit: Amnezia2b, Pixabay

The pretzel is a sleeping position very similar to the belly up, and it can be any position that makes you contort your head, wondering how and why your tag is sleeping that way. While no human can be sure how twisting your body like a pretzel can be a comfortable sleeping position, the more contorted your cat is, the more likely it feels completely secure and safe in your home.

8. Sleeping On Other Pets

cat sleeps on a dog outdoor
Image Credit: FedotovAnatoly, Shutterstock

If you catch your cat sleeping on other pets, it’s a great sign that they are forming a strong bond. Cats are famously picky about who they pal around with, and some cats will never make friends with other pets, so a cat sleeping on another pad is a big deal, and you should be proud of yourself for creating an environment where it’s possible.

9. Sleeping On You

tabby cat sleeping on owner's lap
Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

Having your cat fall asleep on you is one of the greatest honors a pet owner can hope to receive. If your cat sleeps on you, it means it’s formed a strong bond with you, and it feels comfortable, warm, and safe. Only a small percentage of cat owners will tell you their cat regularly sleeps on them, so your cat considers you part of the family if it happens for you.

Related Read: 9 Signs That Your Cat Loves You



As you can see, cats have as many different sleeping positions as humans. Luckily, most of them signify the cat is happy and comfortable in its surroundings. You only need to be concerned if the cat hides for long periods, as this usually suggests a problem. Like humans, cats like to sleep in different positions, and what might be comfortable for one cat might not be for another, so don’t be too concerned if you don’t see the belly up or pretzel positions. It doesn’t mean your cat is uncomfortable in your home.

Featured Image Credit: kies76, Pixabay

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