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Why Do Cats Sleep In A Ball? We want to Know!

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One of the habits of cats, is that they often tend to sleep while curled into a ball of fluffy fur, with the tail tucked underneath. 

Tommy the cat .curled up in a ball asleep
Sweet dreams Tommy!

Why Do Cats Sleep in a Ball?

The number one reason why many believe cats frequently sleep in a ball, is due to a natural defensive action.

This sleeping position offers an element of protection for the cat. It is related to wild cats sleeping in the wild, before cats were domesticated.

This position helps wild cats to make themselves a smaller target for predators.
When a cat sleeps curled up, they conserve body heat and protect their vital organs.
This is a natural defensive behavior in the wild.
The curled-up sleeping position is a way for cats to stay warm and protect themselves from potential danger, as they can quickly spring into action if needed

Why Do Cats Sleep in a Ball?
Observations Of My Cats Sleeping – Including In A Ball
What Does it Mean When a Cat Curls Up Next to You?
Why Do Cats Sleep with Their Owners at Night? 
How Much Do Cats Sleep?  
Why Do Cats Like to Touch You When They Sleep?
Our Sleeping Cats

Observations Of My Cats Sleeping

Having been a cat owner for many years, I have watched cat sleeping positions closely, and what one cat does another may not do. 

  • Some cats fall asleep on their backs with all four feet in the air. A sleeping cat will not have its belly exposed unless it feels comfortable and completely relaxed with its surroundings.
  • Other cats fall asleep on their side. 
  • Some cats stretch out and sleep on their stomachs. 
  • Most cats do sleep in a ball, but why?

Those who devote their lives to the research of cats believe that the habit of a cat sleeping in a ball is perfectly normal.

At one time or another, every cat breed uses this sleeping position. Often being curled into a ball will also include a paw draped over paws covering the facial area.

a curled up kitty sleeping

If your cat is under undue stress, you may see it sleeping curled in a ball. When I watch my cats as they sleep, I am confident that they sleep with their eyes half closed.

When cats close their eyes, they become very vulnerable to their surroundings.

Some cats often sleep with their eyes open. I believe that cats are often on high alert to odd noises and activities in their surrounding area.

They are always ready to jump up and stand at attention if they feel threatened. 

When cats fall into a deep sleep, they feel safe, comfortable, and content.

When my cat Mama Mia falls into a deep sleep, she snores worse than my hubby. That cat is beyond satisfied in her little furry circle.

Sleeping in a ball offers the cat extra warmth and body heat. You would think that cats would not get cold with all that fur, but they do.

If the temperature is overly cool for you, you can bet your cat also feels chilly.

Related: Why Do Cats Purr When They Sleep?

When you go to bed, you no doubt have a specific way of sleeping. Are you more comfortable on your side, stomach or back?

Cats are no different. A cat will sleep in a sleeping position that is most comfortable for them depending on the location, body temperature, and safety.

Sometimes a cat starts out sleeping in a ball, and at some point, they wake up, turn around a few times and go back to sleep on their back.

I have noticed that when the temperatures are hot outside, my cats rarely sleep in a ball. They stretch out on their stomach, back, or side. Sleeping in a ball makes them feel too warm. A cat does not need this added warmth when the temperatures exceed more than 90 degrees outside. 

What Does it Mean When a Cat Curls Up Next to You?

  • Common sense says that your cat curls up next to you because they love you and feel safe.
  • When cats fall asleep, they become vulnerable to their surroundings. Sleeping by you means that they trust you will take care of them and keep them safe. Your cat wants to be close to you while sleeping because being close to you offers them a heightened level of security.
  • Cats are territorial, especially with their owner. A cat can curl up next to you to protect you. They are protecting their territory and everyone in their area. Your cat leaves its scent on you as a warning to other pets.

If your cat’s sleeping position does not normally include curling up next to you, but your cat starts to adopt this sleeping position, it could mean a few different things, such as

  • Your cat is getting older, and becoming more fragile with age.
  • Another reason your cat tucks up next to you is that it may not feel well and tries to convey to you that it is ill. 
why do cats sleep in a ball

Other Common Cat Sleeping Positions

Common cat sleeping positions as well as the cat curled up sleeping position include:

  1. The stretched out position is where the cat is lying flat on their stomach with their legs extended.
  2. The loaf position, is where the cat is sitting with their legs tucked under them.
  3. The cat sleeping upside-down is a vulnerable position where the cat is lying on their back with their legs in the air.
  4. The sideways sleeper position is when the cat is lying on their side with their legs extended.
  5. The donut cat sleeping position is similar to the curled-up position, but with the head bent in further.
  6. The spoon cat sleeping position is where the cat is curled up next to a human or another cat.
  7. The perched position is where the cat is sleeping on a high surface, such as a windowsill or bookshelf.
  8. The tucked-in position is where your feline friend is curled up and their head is tucked between their paws.
  9. The superman position is where the cat lies flat on its stomach with the front legs extended forward and the back legs extended backward. Love this one!
a cat in a cat bed sleeping curled up in a ball

Why Do Cats Sleep with Their Owners at Night?  

There are many reasons why your cat may want to sleep with you at night, for example, it may be warmer.

Some cats burrow under the blankets and lie at your feet. Others do not appreciate being covered up in blankets and prefer to lay somewhere on your bed on top of warm blankets or on top of you or on your legs

Related: Why does your cat want to sleep between your legs?

A cozy, warm bed is comfortable and inviting to a cat. When a cat sleeps with you, this offers the cat added security. Your cat can smell your scent, and they want to bond with you. Your other cats may have a different sleeping position.

How Much Do Cats Sleep?  

Cats are naturally crepuscular meaning that cats are most active during dawn and dusk. When you arise in the morning, your cat is ready to go to sleep. Cats do nap a lot! It is not unusual for a cat to sleep twelve to eighteen hours every day.

Never think that your cat is lazy because they nap a lot. They are far from lazy. 

Like humans, not all cats will cat nap the same number of hours. I have two cats who go to sleep every night at about 11 pm, awaken at 7 am with us, and are up most of the day.

I have one cat that really does catnap and one cat naps and wanders the house all night.

Cat experts find that kittens and older cats do sleep more. Activity has a lot to do with how much sleep your cat needs.

If your cat is very active, it may require more rest. If your cat is not active, it may require less sleep. 

Boredom in a cat’s life can account for the need to sleep more, so try setting a time for playing more with your cat.

Cats can suffer from depression, causing increased sleep. The signs are, the cat sleeps more, lack of activity, lack of appetite. However, these signs can point to an illness. Perhaps it is time to speak with your veterinarian. 

cat sleeping curled up in a ball
I’m feeling very tucked away!

Why Do Cats Like to Touch You When They Sleep?

Some cats want to have their own space and do not share it with another cat.

Most pet owners say that their cat likes to feel their face, focusing on the head area. A few years back, we had a beautiful blond cat named Butterfly. She passed away from cancer two years ago and it left a hole in our hearts.

Her favorite pastime was priming my hubby’s hair. By the time she was finished, he looked like a punk rocker.

Cats observe what is going on in the family, and they know the mood and emotions of their family members.

You need to respond when your cat touches your arm lovingly. Never react negatively. Cats are smart, and they already know how you will react.

If you do not appreciate your cat’s body heat touching you when you sleep, place a cat bed or blanket nearby.

The safety and trust your cat develops for you also forms part of the reason your cat needs to touch you while sleeping. If your cat does this on occasion, it may be that it just needs to know that everything is OK.

Your cat is looking for reassurance sometimes. Your cat will never sleep with anyone it does not trust. Your scent gives your cat a calmness and an element of security.

Related: The Cat Has Peed On My Bed! Now What?

Our Sleeping Cats

cat sleeping safely

Wee Willy Our Loving Headbutter/Headsitter

My husband’s cat, Wee Willy, cat sleeps curled under the blanket at night. At 4 am, Willy moves to the left side of hubby’s pillow, next to his head.

Wee Willy is 16 years old and started doing this as he aged. Willy is quiet until about 5 am, then he starts to meow loudly, signalling that it is time to rise and shine for breakfast. My husband gets up and feeds Willy and returns to bed.

When Willy is done eating, he also returns to the left side of hubby’s pillow. Willy never lays on hubby’s head but must lay next to and touch his head. 

This is a touching routine for an old cat.

Mama Mia, the Bedroom Queen

My cat, Mama Mia, has a warm cat bed at the foot of my bed and a warm furry blanket at my left side. Mia goes from her bed to my side and back a few times during the night.

Mia frequently lays her front paw on my arm, and I will gently pat her head. Mia often raises her nose to me for a kiss.

If I give Mia too many pats, her pretty green eyes turn into fireballs. She will likely swat at me and run away.

Give her 30 minutes, and she is back at my side, raising her nose for a kiss. All of Mia’s touches are on her time only. 

Isabella Needs Extra Reassurance

If I happen to take a rest in my recliner, my cat Isabella is sure to jump up on me. She stretches her body out and reaches for my face, gently stroking my cheek.

Our other four cats come and go but do not necessarily like sleeping with us, like Wee Willy, Mia, or Isabella.

Learning the needs of your cat and responding to those needs is the best way to have a happy cat. 

two cats
Personally I love sleeping curled up!

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