Why‌ ‌Do‌ ‌Cats‌ ‌Sleep‌ ‌Curled‌ ‌Up?‌ (Making Sense of It)

By Phil / November 10, 2019
Why‌ ‌Do‌ ‌Cats‌ ‌Sleep‌ ‌Curled‌ ‌Up

There are few sights cuter than seeing a cat all curled up nice and snuggly taking a nap.

But have you ever thought about why cats sleep curled up and what it means? If you’re here reading this, chances are you have.

I think I can provide some interesting insight into answering this question.

Here’s everything we know about cats and why they choose certain sleeping positions, such as curled up in a ball:

It’s the Best Position to Keep Warmth In

Cat sleeping curled up to keep the warmth in

The two main things cats look for when finding somewhere to sleep are; security and warmth.

Sleeping curled up in a tight ball meets both of these needs. Looking at the warmth factor; curling up, wrapping their tails around their bodies, and tucking their heads in is about as good as it gets for keeping body warmth in.

This is why you’re more likely to see your cat sleeping in this position during the winter months when it’s colder. That’s not to say they won’t sleep like this when it’s hot, they might feel the need to or just prefer to. But it’s less likely for sure.

I know I’ve noticed this with my cats over the years. During the winter months, they can be found curled up in front of the fire or on blankets. During the summer they might stretch out to sleep as it’s cooler. Or, make that famous cat loaf position, of course.

If you’re concerned your cat is too cold, please read this post about what the ideal temperature for indoor cats is.

It’s a Position Wild Cats Use for Security

Cat sleeping curled up for security reasons

The curled up position is one of the most common sleeping positions for cats in the wild because it’s the most secure.

Their organs are protected, they are able to tuck themselves away in a small space, they can open an eye to see what’s approaching, and jump up quickly if needed.

I’ve written a few times about some of the behaviors domestic cats display that comes naturally to their wild cousins. It’s not an indication that they feel threatened at home, it’s just their natural instinctual behavior.

They’re being a cat, basically.

I adopted a 10-year old tabby a few years ago, and it was interesting to watch his sleeping posture. He started off curling up somewhere high up keeping a good eye on what’s going on around him.

Over the weeks, and as he became more comfortable in his new surroundings, he started to let his guard down. He’d sleep with his head down, fully buried in his tail. Then, almost as if I saw the change gradually over a couple of weeks – he’d stretch out more.

Until one day I came home to find him laying on his back with all four legs stretched out and totally oblivious I’d entered the room. It was a pretty cool sight.

It’s a Comfortable Position (Otherwise They Wouldn’t Do It)

Natural instincts and conspiracy theories aside, we both know cats like to get comfy and settle down for a long sleep. Hence why they like to sleep on your clean clothes, the foot of your bed, and other comfy places.

So, sleeping curled up in a ball has to be comfortable for them. Maybe they’re motivated by some of the other reasons I’ve covered too, but even though it looks like a bit of a body twister for us it works for them.

In Summary – Why Do Cats Sleep Curled Up?

Sleeping curled up comes naturally to cats as it serves a few purposes vital to their survival in the wild, namely:

  • It’s the best position for retaining body heat and keeping warm
  • It protects their vital organs by coving their tummy giving them a greater sense of security
  • It’s a comfortable position for them (even if it looks uncomfortable to us) and they can move quickly

If your cat sleeps like this all the time, it’s nothing to be concerned about. It’s one of the most common sleeping positions for cats. It doesn’t mean they’re too cold or on high alert for threats approaching!

Still, it’s always interesting looking into the body language and sleeping habits of cats. I hope you found this article interesting. Feel free to drop me a note below if you have any feedback or comments, thanks!

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