Are you trying to figure out, “Why do cats sleep with their head up?”

Cats often sleep in many strange and contorted positions, so it’s no wonder you’re scratching your head when you find your kitty asleep with its head up. 

To find out, you’ve come to the right place, so, keep reading to discover more about this curious cat behavior and whether you should be concerned. 

Do Cats Sleep With Their Heads Up?

cat deeply sleeping while showing his belly

You’ve probably witnessed your cat napping in many odd positions – the belly-up position, the bread loaf position, or the contortionist.

But do cats sleep with their heads up? Yes, it’s normal for your furry friend to sleep with their heads up from time to time. 

So, don’t be too worried when you come home and find your cat asleep with its head up. It seems uncomfortable, but cats actually like it, and it doesn’t bother them. 

But how do cats sleep with their head up and not fall down? As it turns out, cats can stiffen some of their muscles, allowing them to nap with their head up. 

8 Reasons Why Cats Sleep with Their Heads Up

You can learn much about how your cat is feeling by observing your kitty’s common sleeping positions and body language.

Certain poses can be a warning sign that your cat is sick, while others express how much your feline companion loves and trusts you. 

So, why do cats sleep with their heads up? Usually, cats in this position are trying to stay alert when they’re napping or they simply enjoy resting in this position. But let’s talk about these reasons in detail. 

#1 I’m Just Napping

cat light sleeping

Do you know how much time cats sleep? According to vets, “Cats are really good nappers, sleeping from 12 to 16 hours a day.” (1)

However, cats aren’t in a deep sleep all the time. Instead, felines have many short naps throughout the day when they’re in shallow sleep, called slow-wave sleep. 

So, whenever you see your cat resting with their heads up, your feline friend is likely having a nap. Or your kitty is trying to recharge its battery while listening for the sound of the can opener. 

#2 I’m Ready to Run Away

Sleeping with their head up allows your furry friend to have a good rest while staying semi-aware of what’s happening around the house. 

Cats need to react quickly if a predator finds their sleeping spot in the wild. And sleeping with its head up allows your cat to wake up and spring into action without having to uncurl its body.

While domestic cats don’t have predators to fear, they still have this natural instinct to stay semi-alert in case a potential threat appears. 

#3 I’m Keeping Watch

As I already said, cats are semi-asleep when you find them napping with their eyes closed and heads up.

Many cats are on alert for potential prey and are saving their strength for the hunt when you find them napping in the garden in this cute position. 

Moreover, sleeping with its head up is handy because your cat can spring awake the moment they hear you open their cat food.

So, don’t be so surprised when you find your kitty next to you, even though you’ve thought it deep asleep in this position. 

#4 I’m Sick

Usually, sick cats tend to curl in a ball to protect as much of their vulnerable body as possible.

However, some cats with lung congestion or heart disease have trouble breathing when curled up, so it’s easier to sleep with their heads up. 

So, you should speak to your vet to rule out medical issues if you notice any other symptoms, such as lack of appetite, coughing, or breathing with an open mouth. 

#5 I’m Too Tired to Move 

Kittens are full of endless energy, but once they tire, they drop quickly. And sometimes kittens are far too tired to move, so they end up sleeping with their heads up, as you can see in this video.

#6 I’m Stressed

When cats are stressed, they might not be comfortable falling into a deep sleep. As such, stressed cats may prefer to sleep sitting up with their heads up to have time to react to danger.

#7 I’m Comfortable

Like humans, some cats have a favorite sleeping position. So, napping with their head up can be your cat’s way to relax and enjoy the sun. 

And as you can see from this video, cats feel very comfortable in this position. 

#8 I’m Weird

Cats are weird, and they do a bunch of stuff that makes no sense to humans. So, it’s not strange for some cats to sleep with their heads up.

It’s a perk of their character and a way to keep you on your toes, trying to guess what your cat is thinking.

So, your cat sleeps with its head up. But you’ve probably also seen your kitty sleeping with its head pressed down on the bed, or a head turned upside down and tucked close to the body. 

So, why do cats turn their heads upside down?

Like sleeping with their heads up, the upside-down position has several possible cat positions meaning, depending on your cat’s overall body language. 

ALSO READ: Why does my cat sleep on my head?

5 Reasons Why Does My Cat Sleep with His Head Upside Down

When you have cats, you’ll often find them in many different poses. But one of the most common positions is napping with their heads upside down, so let’s see what it means. 

#1 I Trust You

If you find your cat asleep with its head upside down and belly exposed, it’s a great sign of trust and affection for you.

As vets explain, “Cats instinctively protect their vulnerable organs, so if a cat is sleeping with their belly exposed, it means they feel very safe and confident.” (2)

Moreover, when your cat is in this vulnerable position, it will need extra time to react to potential threats.

Also, your cat’s ears are pinned in this position, so they can’t hear as well to protect themselves from dangers. That’s why you’ll rarely see stray cats napping in this position. 

#2 I’m Seeking Warmth

Why does my cat sleep with his face down? Well, maybe your cat is cold and wants to keep its ears or nose warm.

In general, cats run a bit hotter than humans, so they seek an external heat source, curl their bodies, or tuck their heads to keep up their body temperature. 

Moreover, it’s not easy to fall asleep when your ears or nose are freezing, so it’s normal for cats to sleep on their faces when they’re cold. 

#3 I’m Smelling Everything

While the upside-down position presses on your cat’s ears, it also exposes the nose. As such, your cat can smell better what’s happening around the house.

So, don’t be surprised when your cat startles awake the minute you take something delicious out from the fridge to snack on!  

And some cats like to smell their owners because it makes them feel safe and allows them to let their guard down. 

#4 I’m Comfortable

Like humans, cats change their sleeping positions throughout the day/night. So, it’s normal for cats to turn to sleep with their heads upside down.

Moreover, this position allows your cat to relax its muscles and enjoy a restful sleep without straining to stay alert.

#5 It’s Too Loud

As I already said, your cat’s sense of hearing isn’t as good as usual when they’re napping with their head upside down and ears pressed on the ground.

Some cats prefer to sleep in this position because it’s far too noisy in your house for your cat to have a peaceful nap. 

Why Do Cats Tuck Their Heads When They Sleep? 

So, let’s talk about another comfortable position for cats – sleeping with a head tucked close to the body. You might even notice a cat sleeps on its face.

#1 Blocking Distractions

orange cat sleeping covering her face

Often when cats sleep with their head tucked close to the body, they’re trying to block distractions – noises and lights, especially during the day. 

But why do cats sleep during the day? Well, cats are crepuscular animals, so they’re most active at dawn and dusk.

They spend the rest of the time conserving energy for important tasks, such as bugging you for food or hunting. 

#2 Conserve Body Heat 

Another reason why a cat sleeps on its face is for warmth. As I already said, cats don’t like to be cold and will keep their noses and ears tucked to preserve body heat. 

#3 I’m Seeking Comfort

cute kitty hugging his owner

Why does your cat bury its head in your arms? Sometimes cats sleep with their heads tucked close to you because they love you and trust you to keep them safe.

#4 I’m Feeling Vulnerable

Stressed cats will cover their heads and curl in tight balls to avoid the attention of a potential predator or avoid another danger.

In this position, your cat’s ears are exposed so that it can hear the approaching threat and have enough time to dash under the bed or another hiding spot.

#5 I Fell Asleep

It’s not unusual for your fuzzy friend to tire while grooming, especially after a hard day of climbing up the drapes and running around the living room.

So, your cat may fall asleep with its head tucked in because they’re far too tired to move into a more comfortable position. 

When Do You Need To Visit The Vet?

Usually, there’s no reason to worry about your cat’s odd sleeping positions. Your cat won’t hurt its back, no matter how much they contort it. 

However, some cat sleeping positions can indicate that your kitty is in pain and need urgent veterinary attention. 

#1 Head Pressing

As animal specialists explain, “Head pressing is when a cat deliberately presses their head against an object such as a wall.” (3)

Head pressing is a sign of an underlying medical condition, such as stroke, brain tumors, exposure to toxins, and infections.

So, when you see your cat sleeping with their head tucked close to the body, you should ensure they’re napping and not head pressing. 

cat being checked on a vet

And you should take your cat to the vet as soon as possible if you discover your kitty’s head pressing its face on the beddings. 

#2 Tightly curled

Curled in a ball is a common cat sleeping position. It’s not usually a cause of alarm unless you observe other signs of illness, such as lack of appetite, lethargy, runny nose, or fever.

Moreover, sick cats tend to hide somewhere you can’t find them and curl in a ball to protect their bodies from potential predators.   

#3 Meatloaf Position

When cats are in pain, they sit with their nose pointing to the ground and paws out of the body. Specialists call it the meatloaf position. 

If you think that your cat looks dull and seems uncomfortable, you should speak to your vet as soon as possible to determine the cause. 

#4 Not Changing Positions

Healthy cats will often change several sleeping positions throughout the day. So, if your cat is sleeping in the same position, it may be a cause for concern.

#5 Sleeping with Open Eyes

kitty lying on the bed with her eyes slightly open

Interestingly, some healthy cats sleep with their eyes partially open, especially when they’re nervous about their surroundings.

However, sleeping with one eye open can indicate an eye problem 

FAQs

WHY DOES MY CAT ALWAYS TWITCH IN HIS SLEEP?

So, why does my cat always twitch in his sleep? Cats twitch when asleep because they’re dreaming about something or having a nightmare. 

WHAT DOES A CAT’S SLEEPING POSITION MEAN? 

Cat sleeping positions can mean anything – from your cat seeking security to your cat asking for help or showing trust. 

HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN A CAT IS IN DEEP SLEEP? 

Usually, cats in deep sleep will twitch, wiggle, and even meow because they’re dreaming. But most of the time, cats are in light sleep, ready to wake up at the first sign of food or danger. 

Conclusion 

Why do cats sleep with their head up? Your kitty is probably keeping an eye on the household and trying to get some rest before they get up and do their usual activities.

However, if you’re concerned about your cat’s sleeping pose because your kitty seems ill or in pain, you should speak to a vet as soon as possible. 

cat sleeping outdoor

What do you think about these reasons why cats sleep with their heads up and down? How does your kitty like to sleep? Share your thoughts in the comment section. 

Resources:

  1. “Acute Hemorrhagic Diarrhea Syndrome in Dogs (Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis) | VCA Animal Hospital.” Vca, vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/why-cats-turn-around-before-lying-down. Accessed 28 May 2022.
  2. “20 Cat Sleeping Positions and What They Mean.” Www.petmd.com, www.petmd.com/cat/general-health/cat-sleeping-positions-and-what-they-mean.
  3. “Why You Should Never Ignore This Unusual Cat Behavior.” Everhart Veterinary Medicine, 8 Feb. 2019, www.everhartvet.com/blog/why-you-should-never-ignore-this-unusual-cat-behavior/. Accessed 28 May 2022.
Grigorina S
Grigorina S

I’ve grown up surrounded by animals – dogs, cats, cows, goats, sheep, and horses and that has shaped me into what I am today – a crazy cat lady who always has a place for one more cat (or a dog). I’ve got two female cats – Kitty and Roni, and two tomcats – Blacky and Shaggy, but I also feed my neighbors’ cats when they come for a visit. I just can’t say no to them.

I discovered that writing is my vocation early in my school years. Since then I’ve taken part in several literature contests – writing horror and fantasy short stories and novellas.
For the past three years, I’ve been an ELS teacher, pouring my heart into showing children and teenagers how important English is for their future and trying to educate them how to treat their pets with care.

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