Do you know that cat sleeping positions have distinct meanings?

It’s true, and each one can tell you something unique about your feline friend.

Below, I’m breaking down the 12 most common cat sleeping positions and their hidden meanings.

Let’s get started!

Cat Sleeping Positions & What They Mean

Cats like humans have different personalities.

That’s why Tom is a more feisty and enthusiastic cat whereas Garfield is a more laid-back one.

How cats sleep tells a lot about themselves and how they perceive their surroundings.

Let’s find out exactly what each position means, starting with the most common one of all: the loaf!

1. Cat Loaf

ginger cat on a loaf position

In this position, your cat is in his normal sitting state, with his paws tucked under its body and his tail curving around him.

Cat Loaf looks picture perfect and has its own hidden advantages.

What does it mean?

Loaf position indicates that your cats are ready for sleep as well as some action. They’re happy in their surroundings but, will spring to action if need be.

Consider the Loaf position, a position for a power nap. Our cats need to destress from time to time as well.

2. All Curled-Up

The Cinnamon Roll needs no introduction. In this position, your cat tucks herself in a tight ball with its tail securely wrapped around its crescent body.

This seems like the most comfortable position to sleep in, let’s see what it means.

What does it mean?

When cats sleep in a curled-up position they’re preserving their body heat and protecting all of their vital organs.

In this posture, the cat feels protected while being aware of its surrounding.

3. Paws across the face

cat hiding her face with her paw while sleeping

Admit it! When your cats sleep with their paws across their face, a few pictures are a must. 

Even though it’s an extremely adorable site and you want to share the cuteness with your friends and family, don’t click too many pictures. Here’s why.

What does it mean?

When your cat covers his face especially its eyes with his paws, it’s an unintentional gesture. It usually happens when a kitty is in a deep sleep.

It is to block the unnecessary light filling its sleeping area. So, the camera flash and its sound may wake up your kitty.

Look at it as a “Do Not Disturb” sign and if possible, turn off the lights and shut the blinds.

4. Monorail cat

cat sleeping on top of a sofa

Have you ever wondered why your cat sleeps on the armrest of the sofa or similar narrow surfaces?

In this position usually, one or more limbs are suspended on the sides while your cat’s body is parallel to the surface.

This position has some ancestral significance.

What does it mean?

It’s not news that our pet cats are related to big cats.

At one point in time, the ancestors of our furry feline lived in an environment full of threats.

Back then survival was the prime motive. Although, the threats are almost non-existent now this sleeping position is best for general surveillance.

You might have seen big cats lounging on a thick branch in a similar position. This allows the cats to keep an eye on the surroundings while they relax.

5. Belly-up

cat sleeping with his belly-up, one of the cutest cat sleeping positions

One of the most comfortable and adorable positions for cats to sleep in is the belly-up position.

When your cat lies flat on its back and exposes her belly while sleeping, know that it’s in peace with its surrounding.

What does it mean?

For any animal to expose its belly means a certain level of vulnerability, let alone for a cat who is extremely wary of new things and people.

If your cats show off their soft belly while sleeping, they trust you 100%. Only a cat who is comfortable with the environment sleeps in this position.

Plus he wants a belly rub!

6. Sideways sleeper

cat sleeping in sideways

Do you know cats have two types of sleep? One an alert sleep and another deep sleep.

When your cat is sleeping on the side with paws and hind legs stretched to one side and stomach partially exposed, it’s a sign of deep sleep.

Check our separate guide on the cat sleeping on side.

What does it mean?

This position indicates that cats feel safe in their surrounding. They do not feel the need to be vigilant in their sleep.

Usually, you can see your cat sleeping in this position when they’re in a familiar environment.

7. The Box Lover

cat deeply sleeping in the box

Have you ever wondered what is more fascinating about a box than a $100 cat bed?

Well, certainly from our perspective a cat bed excels in comfort, space, and warmth.

Our cats have a different view of it. Let’s decode this sleeping style from our pet’s angle.

What does it mean?

If your cat is sleeping in a box too often, it’s more than just for amusement.

Although it may come as surprise, cats opt for boxes instead of cat beds because boxes offer more protection.

Is there something or someone in your house that your cat is scared of? A new pet, guests, or a vacuum cleaner?

This can drive your cat into a favorite box for quite some time.

In such cases, try to make your cat more familiar with whatever is scaring him. Eventually, fear will turn to disinterest and he’ll finally crawl out of the box!

8. Half-eye shut

cat sleeping with one eye shut only

Have you ever observed your cat sleep with her eye half shut? If yes, it is one of the most common positions for newly adopted cats to sleep in.

There is a unique reason behind it though, which again records back to their ancestors.

What does it mean?

When cats are wary of their surroundings, they prefer to sleep but stay awake at the same time.

This is mainly to protect themselves from any possible dangers. Now, this may sound insane and impossible to do, but our pet felines have mastered this art.

With a little bit of closer observation, you may notice, this sleeping style is seen in newly adopted cats.

It can also happen when your feline encounters something new in his surrounding which may be a possible threat.

9. The Split-Level

Sleeping on two different levels is the specialty of being a cat.

No other animal can do it as efficiently as our little furry friends. To be honest, there is no real reason behind it.

What does it mean?

Often this happens when your cat falls asleep during its playtime, or in the middle of an activity.

Even though it looks like kitty can’t possibly be comfortable like that, just let him be.

Remember, that cats are capable of taking care of themselves and are extremely cozy no matter in which position they sleep.

10. With Their Human

cat deeply sleeping with his owner

Does your cat enjoy sleeping on your chest, stomach, legs, and sometimes shoulder?

If yes, then pat yourself on the back because you have completely gained the trust of your little pet.

What does it mean?

It is unlikely for animals to seek human closeness unless they fully trust said human.

If your cat loves to sleep on you or beside you then, she feels safe around you. It’s tough to gain the trust of animals, let alone cats.

Felines are extremely cautious of their surroundings and if your cat sleeps with you, chances are she likes your company. Congratulations, you’ve won her trust!

11. With Another Cat/Animals

a cat sleeping with his dog friend

Just like with humans, cats sleep next to other cats or animals only if they feel safe and protected.

Little kittens sleep huddled with their siblings and momma cat for closeness, protection, food, and warmth.

What does it mean?

This is an indication of a good friendship between your cat and his companion animal.

This again needs a certain amount of trust and friendliness.

So if you notice your older cat allowing a new friend to sleep up against him, take it as a sign that they’re accepting each other.

12. Contortionist

cat contortionist sleeping position

Do you ever wonder how our cats manage to comfortably sleep in the most uncomfortable positions?

With his limbs sticking out in odd positions and head hanging from the couch, your cat is in the mood to show off his flexibility.

What does it mean?

Cats have mastered the skill of making themselves comfortable and sometimes prefer to stretch themselves at weird angles for the sake of comfort and sound sleep.

So, now when you see your cat randomly passed out on the floor or the couch in an unrecognizable position, remember that he’s comfortable, feeling extremely safe, and sound asleep!

Conclusion

Cat sleeping habits are indeed an interesting topic.

Next time when you see a cat sleeping, you can determine how it feels about the surrounding based on its sleeping position.

References

  • “Cat Sleeping Positions Reveal Personality and Health • NCHAI.” 2020. NCHAI. January 18, 2020. https://nchai.org/cat-sleeping-positions-reveal-their-personality-health-and-character/.
  • Parker, Richard. 2021. “Why Does a Cat Loaf? (the Cat Loafing Position Meaning).” Senior Cat Wellness. Senior Cat Wellness. February 9, 2021. https://www.seniorcatwellness.com/why-does-a-cat-loaf/#:~:text=A%20cat%20loaf%20is%20when%20a%20cat%20lies,can%20still%20see%20the%20side%20of%20each%20paw..
  • Turner, Josie F. 2018. “How Do I Know If My Cat Trusts Me?” Animalwised.com. Animalwised.com. August 2018. https://www.animalwised.com/how-do-i-know-if-my-cat-trusts-me-2755.html.
cat sleeping inside a wooden basket

What are your favorite cat sleeping positions? Please share with us below!

Andreea Juganaru
Andreea Juganaru

Andreea is a very passionate content creator and her purpose is to provide you with the most interesting articles, while constantly discovering new facts. She’s been freelance writing for the past five years and has created numerous articles and educational materials while managing her own business.