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Why Do Cats Sleep In A Ball? The Mystery Is Solved

Why Do Cats Sleep In A Ball? The Mystery Is Solved

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˝Why do cats sleep curled up in a ball?˝ This is a common question that cat owners often ask themselves. Cats tend to take multiple catnaps during the day as well as periods of sleep through the night when they are more active.

Although catnaps are usually short, cats can sink into a deep sleep as well, and once they do, they treat us with some of the most amazing sleeping positions you can imagine.

From sleeping hidden in a box, to proudly showcasing their bellies, to turning themself into a loaf of bread or perhaps a sleeping ball, cats have a way of tugging on the heartstrings even when they are sleeping.

In this article we explain why cats sleep in a ball, and take a look at a couple of other sleeping positions that you might find interesting.

Why Do Cats Sleep In A Ball?

curled up cat sleeping on bed

When discussing cat sleep positions, we immediately think of a cat curled up in a neat ball. When we ask ˝Why do cats sleep in a ball?˝ we don’t think of cats sleeping in an actual ball after all. (Unless the cat owner decides to shop for a bed shaped like a ball).

Curling up tightly is one of the cat’s favorite positions. One of the most common cat sleeping positions is the ball position. While it might be super cute for us to watch, a cat sleeping in a tight little ball has more meaning than it may seem.

Safety And Comfort

Like most animals, and also us humans, cats are quite vulnerable when sleeping. This is one of the reasons why cats curl up.

Being in a fetal position, hugging their back paws with their front paws, protects their most vital organs and their face from any potential dangers. Their tail is usually exposed since it isn’t as vulnerable an area as the others, and it can be curled around the body for extra protection and warmth..

Corners of couches or walls are the safest place to sleep while curled up since this means their backs are also protected.

One of the signs that your feline friend feels comfortable and has a deep sense of security is when they decide to cuddle up close to you. It can either be in a tight space between you and your couch, on your lap, or even on your chest.

When talking about the comfort of cats sleeping in a ball, we can best compare it to humans sleeping curled on their side.


cat sleeping on bed with white sheets

When exposed to the cold weather, cats sleeping curled up in a ball store more of their body heat in their vital organs. This is the key to avoiding any potential health dangers from getting too cold.

As we try our best to provide them with the comfiest beds, pillows, and blankets, sometimes they prefer taking a quick catnap away from all these items with just their natural blanket; their fur coat.

A Ball Of Love

When you see your cat curled up next to you, or even on your lap, you can take it as a sure sign of affection; a gesture of love from your cat.

Cats are very choosy about where they sleep. They select places where they feel extremely safe and that’s why it’s a good sign if they chose you as a place to nap.

When Sick

If you see your cat curled up for longer periods through the day, especially somewhere isolated, it might mean it is ill.

Cats prefer to isolate themselves and wait for sickness to resolve. If this behavior continues for a couple of days you should probably contact the vet, just in case.


Cats are known to sleep in unusual places. Most of those places are pretty tight; they enjoy squeezing into small spaces. Cats’ curled up position allows them to fit into small secret areas where they feel safe.

For example, if a cat decides to sleep in a bowl, it tucks itself up small by turning into a ball. Any other position might not allow them to fit in.

Wild Cats Vs. House Cats

curled up orange cat sleeping on bed

Some of you might be curious as to why cats sleep so much. Well, the scientific term would be that they are crepuscular, and you would be forgiven for wondering what exactly that means.

The simplest answer is that house cats, similar to wild cats, prefer being active at night, especially around midnight, which is the best time for them to stalk and hunt their prey.So during the day, our feline friends want to take lots of catnaps. The phrase, ‘Sleeping with one eye open’ could be designed to describe the way cats sleep.

All cat breeds have the ability to enter into extremely light sleep, which is an important part of their natural instincts.

While wild cats use this instinct to ensure they always have an eye fixed on their prey, house cats have it a touch easier and use it to watch what their owners, aka their human friends, are doing.

Other Sleeping Positions

So, it makes total sense that a cat would curl up in a ball to sleep. Cats are pretty simple beings. Everything they do is for a reason; to make their lives safer, more interesting, to ensure their needs are met, and to protect themselves from harm.

Here is a list of some more unusual cat sleeping positions that you might be interested in. Does your cat sleep in any of these positions?

Belly Up – Also Known As ˝The Trap˝

orange cat sleeping on bed

While talking about cat sleeping positions, the belly-up position needs to be mentioned.

Noticing our cats in this sleeping position gives us an incredible urge to pet their little bellies, which in most cases ends up in a sneaky little attack, and it never fails to deceive us.

We never learn, do we? Aside from the cat attack, exposed belly isn’t a cat behavior you would typically see from cats you aren’t familiar with, or stray cats.

Only cats that are extremely comfortable with their owners, and love them with their whole heart end up taking the belly-up position. Showing the underside shows vulnerability and ultimately this is a gesture of trust.

If you see your cat sleep in this pose you can proudly call yourself the favorite person in your cat’s eyes.

Contortionist – Circus Cat

This sleeping position is one of those positions that makes you wonder if your cat even has bones. It is mostly combined with the belly-up position, but in addition, the cat’s legs go east, south, west, and north all at the same time.

In some cases, this pose occurs right after the cat is done stretching, often stretching is a preparation for taking this pose.

Sideways – ˝Half Belly-Up˝

This sleeping position is also considered quite a vulnerable position. It might not be as exposed as the belly-up position, but it still shows that your cat trusts you and feels safe and comfortable in its surroundings.

Loaf Of Bread

orange cat sleeping on floor by window

The loaf position is an indication that the cat is relaxed but not fully asleep. Even though the eyes are closed and it looks completely relaxed, the cat is alert, it’s just taking a quick catnap.

The body is in an upright position while the back and front paws are hidden under the body. This is a little bit like a quick charge-up before continuing with the day.

The loaf position could be considered as half and half, meaning that they are comfortable enough to snooze a bit, but also positioned and alert enough so that when something interesting happens they can react quickly.

Joke alert: What would you call a cat sleeping in this position?

A cat loaf. Comedy isn’t my strong side, I know.

Paws Across The Face – Do Not Disturb A Sleeping Cat

When you see your cat in this sleeping position you should probably let them have some alone time. When the paws are up, cuddle time is delayed.

This position is an indication that the cat is fully asleep and most likely put its paws up unknowingly, or maybe they were protecting their eyes from the sunlight.

This doesn’t mean that the cat has any less love for you, but you need to be prepared that if you ignore this ˝Do not disturb˝ sign you might end up with a cat that is not in a very good mood.

Sleeping Position With A Lot Of Names

cute cat covering her eyes while sleeping

This pose has quite the names; superman, cat diver, cat flying, sprawled out, accordion cat. This pose is characterized by the cat lying on its belly with both back and front paws fully stretched out in front and behind. This cat can be considered extremely relaxed.

If It Fits It Sits

We are all familiar with the fact that cats choose to sleep in some of the strangest areas of the house. One thing that is also very common to many cats is the fascination with small spaces.

Any box left unintended can all of a sudden be transformed into the most interesting and comfiest place to sleep.

Drawers, sinks, and bathtubs are just some of the unusual places where cats choose to sleep, and these are just some of the most normal ones. Catnap in a box has got to be the most popular.

Cat In A Box

Cats may have a choice of various spacious places where they can lay down, but still choose the most cramped places, the favorite one being a cardboard box. This is nothing unusual, and it makes sense if you consider the wild origin of the domestic cat.

In the wild, cats need to be quiet and hidden in order to survive and sleep in open areas where they are more exposed to other dangerous predators.

Sleeping in a box also helps them maintain their body temperature. Sleeping in a ball is the sleeping position that is mostly used when sleeping in a box.

High Royalty

Most of us have probably seen The Lion King movie. With his family and tribe, the king of the lions lives high above the other animals.

House cats are not that different. Sleeping on a higher-level is common. Sometimes it is just for fun and exploring purposes.

Mostly they like to climb higher so that they feel safe. Cats are very sensitive animals so a lot of things can scare them. Sometimes it’s getting a new pet, a dog for example.

This can create behaviors associated with fear or aggression, so to avoid the cause of the stress they choose to climb up to higher structures to feel safe.

Another reason for cats to climb is that they just love to watch over their surroundings. Even in higher and smaller spaces cats can almost always find a comfortable position to take a catnap.

Cat Beds: Are They Necessary?

cat sleeping in cat bed

Many cat owners are wondering if cats actually need a bed. As we already know and mentioned, cats can sleep anywhere and one of the reasons that this might be happening could be the absence of a proper cat bed.

Cats will often try to find a place from which they can escape easily. Providing them with a cat bed is a good way to provide them with this safe place.

Filling the beds with soft toys, blankets, and pillows can only increase the level of comfort and security for your cat.

There are various types of beds on the market (especially on Amazon). You can even find high-tech beds that warm up by themselves.

Of course, you don’t need to spend a lot of money for your cat to be happy. You can choose from various styles and sizes to meet your budget.

Putting some blankets and toys in a regular box can work just fine; as we learned previously, cats love boxes.

In Final Thoughts

Cats have a special place in our hearts. Some unusual behavior is always to be expected and should even be welcomed.

So, why do cats sleep in a ball, in a box, in the sink, on our laptops, on the side, belly-up, etc? Well, they might all have their own reasons, but we can all agree on one thing; they sure look darn cute whatever they are doing.

If you’ve liked this article, you might want to check out: 10 Cat Sleeping Positions When Sick: Understand Your Feline