Why Do Cats Curl Up?

Why Do Cats Curl Up
Image: istockphoto.com / Ilya Rudyakov

Cats are playful and loving companions with a penchant for weirdness. Take, for instance, how they sleep. They may sleep on you or between your legs and may stick out their tongue when in deep slumber.  You may also have noticed that they like to curl up into a ball when they go to sleep. 

You may instinctively curl up yourself when you sleep especially during chilly nights to ward off the cold and it may be the same with your cat. Cats curl up like a ball and with the tails surrounding their bodies and their heads tucked in their chests. Why do they do this when they sleep?

Why do cats curl up?

Cats curl up for safety. 

Felines curl up when they sleep to protect and keep themselves safe.  Kittens are defenseless as they sleep and curling up gives them a sense of security.  In this position, they are less likely to have life-threatening injuries should they be attacked by enemies. 

Your cat may be curling up as she sleeps to protect her vulnerable organs from injury. Pregnant female cats curl up to protect their unborn young. This is an instinct that all cats have regardless if they are protected and pampered indoor cats. 

Cats curl up for warmth. 

Cats can snooze and nap anywhere and in random places. The problem is, that the temperature is not always ideal for your cat’s tastes. But it is not a problem for cats because they only have to curl up like a ball and they are off to slumberland. Cats curl up to keep themselves cozy and warm as they sleep. It conserves body heat and the curling position acts as a natural blanket to keep them warm. 

Cats curl up for relaxation.

Cats curl up like a ball especially when they sleep because it helps them to relax and stretch their spine. Cats are very flexible and they can rotate their supple spines more than many other animals.  The strong bones on their back are flexibly connected and have elastic cushioning discs. Cats are endowed with limber spines that allow them to perform graceful acrobatic feats and run very fast. 

Other sleeping positions of cats 

Here are other common sleeping positions of cats:

1. The belly up 

If your cat is sleeping in the belly-up position then you are one lucky cat parent. This means that your cat is completely comfortable and confident in her surroundings so much so that she is letting her guard down.  A cat’s belly is its most vulnerable body part and they are at its most exposed position since it takes too long to jump on her feet should anything dangerous come up. 

2. The loaf 

A cat is in a loaf sleeping position if she is not really into planning to have a full-on nap but just a snooze.  This position is characterized by a cat tucking her front paws under her body but remaining upright.  This means she is ready to spring to action anytime, aware of what is going on around her but also enjoying the comfortable position.  If your cat is in a collapsed loaf position with her forehead on the ground, this may mean she is enjoying a full-on nap.

3. One eye open 

one eye open
Image: istockphoto.com / chie hidaka

Cats that sleep with one eye open may be taking a quick rest but are also alert enough to react or spring to action. This sleeping position means that cats are in light sleep but still very alert and may easily react to what is happening around them.  Surprisingly, cats can be both awake and asleep, their way of taking multi-tasking to a whole new level!

4. The contortionist 

Ever wonder why your cat can still sleep while dangling on a fixture or squeezing between corners? Cats are natural-born contortionists and they can sleep upside down. They may also tuck their heads under their legs which may seem like a very uncomfortable position. Unbelievably, cats sleep in utter peace and contentment since they find these contorted positions very comfortable.

5. Under a couch or blanket 

Cats sometimes like to sleep under the couch or burrow under your blanket. This only means one thing, she does not want to be disturbed and wants to sleep in peace. So, the next time you see your cat sleeping under something, let her be and do not disturb her. 

6. On their side 

Cats also love to stretch out and sleep on their side. If you notice your cat sleeping like this, it means that she feels relaxed and secure in her surroundings and she is treating herself to a well-deserved nap. 


Cats have unique but also weird sleeping positions such as curling up like a ball. They curl up because they are seeking warmth and comfort and to secure and keep themselves safe from impending threats and enemies.