Why Do Cats Cover Their Face When They Sleep?

Why Do Cat Cover Their Face When They Sleep

Cats cover their faces when they sleep for the following reasons:

1. It gives them a sense of security. 

Cats tend to cover their face when they sleep as it provides a layer of security for their face which is a vulnerable part of their body.  While they may be known as predators, felines are also prey for larger animals, thus, covering their face is part of their instinctive tendencies. Just as they curl up to protect their stomach, they cover their face to protect it from any sudden attack by perceived enemies. 

2. It provides comfort. 

Just as we have preferred sleeping positions that give comfort such as sleeping on the side, back or on our stomach, cats also have their preferred ones so they can sleep comfortably. Covering their face as they sleep allows cats to sleep in peace and comfort. 

3. It blocks out the light and noise. 

Too much light can disrupt cats when they sleep as they generally prefer a dark and isolated spot when taking a nap during the day.  Since they cannot do much to escape the glare they usually cover their face with their paws to block the light. Similarly, noise prevents cats from having a good nap especially since they have an extraordinary sense of hearing and the slightest noise can distract them. Thus, they cover their face with their paws to mask the sounds and noise around them.

4. It may mean an unfinished round of grooming. 

Cats devote at least five hours a day simply grooming themselves. But aside from it, they also have other activities such as playing, prowling and running or climbing around the house.  This can zap the energy out of these furry babies.  If you notice your cat has covered her face while she sleeps, it may be the result of her falling asleep while she was grooming.  

5. It keeps the nose warm.

Cats also tend to cover their face with their paws to keep their nose and body warm. It helps them to retain heat and they may also curl into a ball shape to retain even more heat.

How do cats sleep?

Cats are serious sleepers and they are known to sleep from 15 hours or more in a day.  Since they are crepuscular by nature, cats tend to be awake at night to hunt, play or fight off predators. Thus, they usually sleep during the day and may also take short naps but they are still alert and ready to pounce into action, thanks to their extraordinary sense of hearing and smell. 

Just like humans, cats also experience sleep stages. When they drift into slumberland, they experience slow-wave sleep before advancing to the rapid eye movement or REM stage. It is during the latter that they experience dreaming and this is manifested by twitching tails, paws or whiskers. 

Places that cats love to sleep 

These are the common places where cats love to sleep:

High perches

Just like their wild cat ancestors, cats favor sleeping on a cat tree, top of a bookshelf or other parts of your home that is elevated. This allows them to watch the world around them and also provides security and safety as they sleep. 

Your lap

Some cats prefer sleeping on your lap while you’re on the sofa reading a book or watching TV because it is a safe and warm spot for them. They also like to sleep between your legs because they are marking you as their territory. 

Enclosed spaces

Cats like to sleep and squeeze into cardboard boxes, baskets and flower pots since they feel secure in enclosed and tight spaces. It is part of a cat’s instinct to hide in confined places such as boxes where predators cannot sneak up from the side or behind.  If your cat tends to sleep in these areas, surprise him with a cat cave bed

Under a blanket 

Cats like to burrow under a blanket or comforter because they feel warm and secure especially during cold weather. They may also sleep under a blanket because they do not want to be disturbed.

Warm spots 

Since cats favor warm places to sleep on, they tend to sleep in sunny spots in your home during the day. Yes, they do love sunbathing and a window perch would be perfect for them. Senior and arthritic cats can also benefit much from a self-warming or heated cat bed

Their bed or your bed 

Some cats favor their owner’s wide and comfy bed and would willingly sleep at its foot or bottom since they feel secure in it. However, other cats also prefer their cat beds with their familiar scent.


Cats tend to sleep more during the day to build up the energy they need during the night when they are usually awake. Felines cover their face when they sleep to feel comfortable and to block out light. They may also do it to keep their nose warm and to protect their face, which is a vulnerable body part, from any impending harm. 

Image: istockphoto.com / JoanBudai