Do Cats Sleep With Their Eyes Open?

Do Cats Sleep With Their Eyes Open

Have you observed your cat in a loaf or curled up position, breathing evenly, looking peaceful but with eyes open? Chances are, your cat may just be enjoying a blissful nap discreetly. This may be confusing and creepy to witness because it is an unusual way to sleep from a human perspective. 

Do cats sleep with their eyes open?

Yes, cats do sleep with their eyes open and most of them will do so on occasion. Some cats will do it more than the others while some rarely do. This habit is observed among senior cats more often. If your cat is sleeping with her eyes open, there is no need to worry as this is considered normal among felines. 

According to Nicholas Dodman, an animal behaviorist and professor emeritus at Tufts University, a lot of cats sleep with their eyes open and that it is not a cause of concern. However, keep an eye on your cat if she is doing it habitually and if it is accompanied by other odd behavior like shaking or seizures. In this case bring her to the vet as it may imply an underlying health condition. 

Why do cats sleep with their eyes open?

Cats sleep with their eyes open for the following reasons:

1. It may be due to their natural survival instinct.  

Felines are predators but they are also perceived as prey by larger animals and despite being domesticated, this survival instinct is still ingrained in their system. By keeping their eyes open as they sleep they can detect any threats nearby and may be able to escape from their enemies.  

2. It may be that they are experiencing the first part of the sleep cycle. 

According to scientists cats have two sleep stages, the rapid eye movement or REM stage and the non-REM stage.  They usually slip into slow-wave, light sleep or non-REM stage at first and then move on to the deep sleep or REM stage. During the non-REM stage, cats are most likely to sleep with their eyes open. 

Meanwhile, when they move on to the REM stage,  cats tend to dream just like humans and you will notice that their tails, paws and whiskers are twitching. There are rare cases where some cats may sleep with their eyes open despite being in deep sleep. Nevertheless, this so-called REM stage usually lasts just more or less six minutes according to cat experts.  

3. It may be due to an injury in the eyes. 

Sometimes cats may encounter fights with fellow cats that result in eye injury. This could lead them to sleep with their eyes open since closing it may be painful for them. Cats have a third eyelid or nictitating membrane that is more translucent and if it is injured it may also cause a cat to sleep with her eyes open. 

Cats tend to hide pain so always be vigilant if you notice changes in your cat’s behavior and sleeping habits. Check your cat regularly and if you notice odd behavior along with sleeping with her eyes open, consult your vet.  

What could happen if cats sleep with their eyes open?

If cats sleep with their eyes open habitually or for long intervals, it may result in dry and red eyes. If you notice that your cat starts to blink excessively and is scratching her face or the area around her eyes, bring her to the vet for a checkup. He will most probably recommend eye drops unless there are other underlying health-related issues involved. Do not administer eye drops intended for humans without your vet’s supervision as it may just harm your cat. 

How long do cats sleep?

Cats normally sleep for 15 hours a day although some cats may sleep for up to 20 hours a day. An important factor that affects how long a cat sleeps is their age. Kittens are considered voracious sleepers and when they become teenagers their sleeping pattern will also change as they become more active.  Similarly, senior cats tend to have lower activity levels, sleep early and snooze more often for a longer period compared to adult cats. 

How to help your cat sleep better?

Here are some tips and tricks to help your cat sleep better:

1. Feed her with a nutritious diet. 

Cats need healthy food and nutrients to be able to function well including their bodily processes. Providing them with the right nutrition helps them to sleep soundly while inappropriate food may disrupt their sleep resulting in agitation and lethargy.

2. Schedule playtime with your cat.  

Cats are playful and active so be sure to keep them engaged especially during the daytime. Allot at least 15 minutes of playtime with them at least twice a day. This will allow them to use and release energy so they may be able to sleep better. Provide interactive toys to keep your cats mentally and physically stimulated.

3. Make sure that your cat has a regular sleep schedule and location 

Try to keep a dependable sleep and wake schedule for your cat by making sure that their environment is constant. Designate a secluded area in your home as your cat’s sleeping spot and place her bed there. Cats are masters of routine so always make sure that the schedule is established as sudden changes may make a cat stressed or anxious. 

4. Feed your cat at night.

Schedule your cat’s meal at a later time during the night because cats tend to sleep well after a good and satisfying meal. If your cat eats at an earlier time there is a tendency she may wake up at an unholy hour because she is hungry. 

Conclusion 

Cats are known as devoted sleepers and may spend 15 to 20 hours a day just sleeping or snoozing. They do sleep with their eyes open on occasion and some cats tend to do it more than others. It is something that is usually not a concern and is considered as part of normal cat behavior. However, it may also imply an underlying health condition if it is accompanied by seizures at which point you should consult your vet for the proper diagnosis and treatment. 

Image: istockphoto.com / SVproduction

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