I have been devoted to cat rescue for 35 years, and I have discovered and learned over these years many surprising things about the feline species. I learned that a cat fiercely protects its undercarriage or belly.
Cats have a pocket that hangs lower towards the back of the stomach by their hind legs. This pocket of fat helps protect the cat should it be attacked.
A cat never exposes or shows its belly unless it is very confident and secure in its surroundings.
Do Cats Normally Sleep on Their Back?
I would have to say that from my years of caring for cats and with all that I have read, cats frequently sleep on their backs. So, if you notice your cat sleeping on its back with legs stretched outward and head curled towards its body, that cat is seventh heaven bliss.
Cats, like humans, sleep in different ways; on their belly, back, or sides. Usually, cats sleep on their stomach with their paws folded underneath them.
My cats like to sleep this way while curling their heads and tails around their bodies. I believe that cats sleep like this to help preserve the body’s warmth. I think that cats feel safer and more comfortable, and this seems to be the more natural way for cats to sleep.
If your cat is aged, ill, or obese, it is not likely to sleep on its back because it is too hard to move and reposition. Cats are never going to sleep in any way that does not allow for comfort or will enable them to stand at attention at a moment’s notice should something unusual disturb them.
Some cat researchers believe that if your cat is aged, is pregnant, or obese, you may find these cats sleeping on their back to remove excess weight from the abdomen.
Related: My cat likes sleeping between my legs. I don’t mind but why does he like it?
In our household, where we have six kitties, it is never unusual to see a few of our cats sleeping on their backs with legs stretched out on the floor in a patch of sun. If the weather is sweltering and humid, it is routine to see our cats sleep on their backs with legs outstretched to keep cooler.
If our cats want some extra attention, they will flip over on their backs and scoot around on the floor. They want their fur fluffed, and their bellies rubbed. However, our cats do not go to strangers for this type of attention.
Cats must totally trust that person before they show their belly to anyone.
It is normal for a female cat to sleep on her back when in heat to attract a mate. If your cat sleeps typically on its abdomen and suddenly starts to sleep on its back, monitor your cat for any underlying health issues.
Watch the usual things such as regular peeing, pooping, eating, drinking, and activity. If you notice any health changes, you should consider taking your kitty for a vet check. Otherwise, it is no cause for concern to see a cat sleeping on its back.
What Does It Mean When you see Cats Sleeping on Their Back?
There could be several different reasons why a cat sleeps on its back. You must remember that a cat is going to do as it pleases. Cats have always been from the Me Generation. Cats never do anything except for good reason, and they always look out for number one, themselves.
The following are reasons why a cat may sleep on its back.
- The cat is comfortable, and feels totally secure in its home surroundings, fully trusting those around them.
- The cat found a patch of warm sun coming through a door or window and wanted to soak up the warmth.
- The cat wants some extra attention and would like you to rub its stomach. This is equivalent to a human receiving a backrub. It is relaxing, comfortable, and feels so good.
- Perhaps your cat just ate a big meal, and its belly is packed to the brim. Would you feel comfortable sleeping on your stomach if you just finished eating your turkey dinner?
- Your cat may be ill, and sleeping on the abdomen may cause discomfort.
Is It Bad For Cats To Sleep On Their Backs
No, it is not bad for a cat to sleep on its back. Cats are not going to do anything unsafe, insecure, or uncomfortable.
Cats have different reasons for sleeping on their backs. Today it is because they want to soak up the sun. Tomorrow could be another reason. Just know that your cat is looking out for them only. Your cat is its number one priority.
It would be bad for a cat to sleep on its back if it is ill and not feeling well and sleep this way for some relief. Even this is not really a bad thing. They sleep like this because it is not comfortable in any other position. Then you should seek the advice of your vet.
Why Does My Cat Lay On His Back Asleep With His Legs Open?
My guess is that a cat sleeps on its back with its legs open, as this is the perfect way to air and ventilate its body. Compare this to you lying spread eagle in bed, sweating to death, in front of a fan on high, because it is the only way you can cool off and get a good night’s sleep.
Cats are the same way. With the exception that cats seem to sleep this way when the notion hits them and only if they trust their environment to remain safe and sound.
Frequently, I will find one of our cats sitting on the sofa with its back to the back of the couch and its legs spread outward. Each time I have to run for my phone and take a picture of them. They are not even lying down; they are sitting propped up, legs spread outward. The whole scene is so funny. When I see them sitting like this, I think to myself,
“You sir, or madam, kitty is just way tooooo comfortable.”
You have no idea how many times I give up my recliner to a cat who is lying on its back, legs stretched out and sound asleep snoring. That cat at that moment was in REM sleep, a deep dreamland. As much as I would like my recliner, I would never think of moving that lovely sleeping beauty. I just wait for my turn to come, and it does, eventually.
Sleeping in this position tells me that cats love their home, there are no threats to their safety or surroundings, and they are the epitome of comfort.
Why Do cats Turn Their Heads Upside Down When Sleeping On Their Back?
Cats have highly enhanced senses of smell, taste, hearing, vision, and touch. Researchers say that these senses are ten times stronger than human senses. Some researchers and pet owners who believe in the spirit world swear that cats see things that we humans cannot see, such as a fleeting spirit passing through.
My cats have episodic events of sitting and staring at the wall while they follow something with their eyes. Nothing is evident that I can see, including some minor bug like a fly or ladybug that sometimes gets into the house. When this happens, I look closer to see if I am missing something; usually, I find nothing out of the ordinary. I am sure you would have the same experience if you had cats. The sense of a cat are far more highly tuned than ours.
Frequently, cats turn their heads in weird positions when sleeping to keep their sense of smell active and ensure their nose is not covered. Other reasons why cats sleep with their heads upside down are:
- For warmth
- For safety and to keep the eyes and ears covered
- For comfort, as this takes some pressure off the head, so the body can fully relax
- For complete rest and the ability to respond if suddenly awakened
- Cats are always on high alert for their surroundings.
After all that is said and done, it is not unusual or out of the norm to see your cats sleeping on their back, and it is generally nothing to worry about.
A few exceptions may be cause for concern, and you will know if your cat is sleeping this way because of a health issue.
It would be best to speak with your vet and have the kitty checked out in these rare circumstances.