Have you ever noticed your cat sleeping in weird positions? Some cats curl up like a ball when they sleep, while others nap in a ‘loaf’ position. Still others snooze in a very cute pose, covering their mouths and faces with their paws.
Why do cats cover their mouths and faces when sleeping?
It gives them a sense of security.
Cats are skilled hunters, but are also considered prey by larger predators, so it is instinctive for them to seek sleeping areas where they feel secure. Covering their mouth and face is something that gives them a sense of security. You may have noticed that many cats also sleep with their head buried under a blanket or inside a bag or box.
It blocks out the sun while they sleep.
Cats love to take naps in warm places, such as near a sunny window. However, the bright light from the sun could get in the way of getting some shut-eye. The solution: they cover their faces with their paws to block out the sun.
It gives them a feeling of comfort.
Just as humans have various sleeping positions, cats also have their favorite ones. Some cats stretch their front legs over their heads, while others may squeeze inside a bag or a box in a ball-like position. Covering their mouth and face gives many cats a feeling of comfort that allows them to sleep more soundly.
It keeps their noses warm.
Chilly weather could be too much for cats, and they retain heat by curling up into a ball when they sleep. They may also wrap their paw or tail over their face to keep their nose warm, so they can sleep more comfortably.
They might fall asleep while grooming and leave a paw resting on their face.
Cats are clean animals and spend half their waking hours just grooming themselves. All this grooming can get a bit tiring, so a cat could fall asleep during the grooming process and leave a paw on its face while it catches some Zs. With a paw covering its mouth or face, it will be easy to pick up later where it left off.
They do not want to be disturbed.
Sleeping with its mouth and face covered means that your cat does not want to be disturbed. This can be a ‘back-off’ sign and your cat may do this when in a deep sleep.
Other popular sleeping positions for cats
1. Crescent, or curled up position
Cats usually sleep like this during chilly weather or if they feel insecure, because it maximizes warmth and also protects their vital organs. For felines, it is instinctive to secure themselves as they sleep to protect themselves from other predators. This position resembles a croissant, or a crescent, thus the name.
2. In a box
Cats often favor cramped, enclosed spaces like boxes, as they provide protection. Sleeping like this provides deep cover and is the perfect hideout, so that predators will not find them. Some cats may also hide or sleep inside a box if they are stressed, such as when there is a new pet or another sudden change in the home.
Cat parents find this an amusing position: the cat lies back on the floor, splays its legs and exposes its full belly to everyone as it naps. If felines sleep like this, it is an indication that they have a great relationship with their owners. It shows great trust in their surroundings and the people around them, since this is a very vulnerable position for a cat to be in.
4. Half-shut eyes
Cats can catch some sleep even with their eyes half-open. This means they are still aware of their surroundings and fully alert to any potential threats.
5. The ‘loaf’ position
Some cats sleep in an upright position with their front paws tucked underneath their bodies to conserve warmth. Just like the previous position, this shows that they are only napping, and are still aware of their surroundings.
This position is similar to the belly-up position, although not quite as open as the latter. In this position, cats still expose their vulnerable bellies to some extent, which indicates that they are comfortable in their surroundings. They usually sleep sideways when taking a nap, rather than sleeping deeply.
7. Superman position
Cats are extremely relaxed when they assume this sleeping position. They lie on their bellies and stretch their paws to the front and the back like Superman in mid-air. They are usually in a deep sleep when they do this.
8. Sitting up
Cats may sometimes grab a quick nap just by sitting up and wrapping their tails around their paws. They may stay in this position for 20 minutes or so, and are still fully alert and aware of their surroundings.
Cats are smart, curious, sometimes mischievous animals, with certain behaviors that cat owners find amusing, yet puzzling. For instance, you might wonder why they cover their mouths and faces when they sleep. They may do this because it gives them a sense of comfort and security, but it could also mean they do not want to be disturbed, or they are just keeping their noses warm.
Image: istockphoto.com / madsci