Nuala McHugh

Written by Nuala M

Updated: July 9, 2024

Cat sleeping positions and what they mean

Updated: July 9, 2024

Have you ever wondered what your cat’s sleeping position is telling you? If there’s anything cats love more than food (and maybe us), it’s their sleep. Adult cats can sleep up to 20 hours a day, and you’ve probably noticed the various positions they adopt while napping.

Cats are mysterious creatures after all, but their sleeping positions can reveal much about their health, emotions, and relationships with their human companions. From the funny contortions they twist into to the times they snuggle up next to you, each arrangement has its own unique meaning.

Also, understanding how cats lie when sick or stressed is important for a pet parent. Changes in their usual sleeping patterns might indicate that something isn’t right. Likewise, cats sleeping in unusual places such as the litter box can indicate digestive upsets that call for intervention.

So, if you’re wondering “What does it mean when a cat sleeps next to you?” or Does your cat love you if they sleep with you?” we are here to help as this article explains the most common catnap positions and what they might mean.

Cat positions meaning


If your feline is curled up like a croissant, they might be feeling a bit chilly or vulnerable. This crescent sleeping position is the most common way for cats to nap, as it helps them protect themselves while maximizing body warmth.


Quite a funny cat sleeping position and one of the most popular is the loaf. Your cat will keep their front paws curled underneath the body resembling a fluffy loaf of bread. If you catch your cat sleeping in the loaf position, know that they are relaxed, but are ready to spring into action if needed. 


When a cat is hiding while sleeping, it often indicates they are feeling stressed or anxious. Cats may seek out secluded spots to feel safe and secure, away from potential threats. Providing them with a cozy, quiet place can help them feel more at ease.

Side Sprawl

A cat lying on its side with limbs stretched out is comfortable and feels safe in its environment. This position shows that your cat trusts you and feels no immediate threats. It’s a sign of a happy, relaxed cat.

Belly Up

When a cat sleeps on its back with its belly exposed, it’s a sign of ultimate trust and relaxation. The belly is a vulnerable area, so if your cat shows it while sleeping, they feel completely safe and secure in their surroundings.


In the monorail position, a cat drapes themselves over the back of a chair, sofa, or other elevated surface with their legs hanging on either side. This position shows that your cat is feeling relaxed and content, enjoying a good vantage point.


The pretzel position is when a cat twists and contorts its body in seemingly impossible ways. This indicates that your cat is very comfortable and flexible, taking advantage of its natural agility. It’s often seen in playful and carefree cats.


A faceplant position is when a cat sleeps with its face buried in a blanket, cushion, or even its own paws. This position can suggest that the cat is extremely tired or wants to block out light and noise to get some uninterrupted rest.

Cuddle/With Pet Parent

When a cat cuddles up with you or sleeps next to you, it shows they feel a deep bond and trust with you. This is a clear sign of affection and a way for them to feel warmth and security. Cats are selective about where they sleep, and choosing to snuggle up with you shows they feel secure and bonded to you — congrats!


Headpressing against you or a surface while sleeping can indicate a sign of affection or comfort. However, if your cat’s head pressing persistently, it could be a sign of a medical issue, and you should consult a vet. 

With Other Animals

When cats sleep with other pets, it shows they feel safe and consider them part of their social group. It’s a sign of bonding and mutual trust among the animals.

In the Litter Box

If your cat is sleeping in the litter box, it could indicate stress, illness, or a desire for isolation. This behavior warrants a check-up with the vet to rule out any health issues or environmental stressors.

Strange Cat Sleeping Positions

These are only a selection of the most common ways for cats to sleep and your cat is likely to form all kinds of unusual shapes. You may think some appear awkward but cats are incredibly flexible and what seems bizarre to us, is comfortable for them.

The discs in a cat’s spinal column are very elastic, allowing cats to twist their bodies into unusual shapes. Also, a cat’s shoulder blade is attached very loosely, giving them an extremely large range of motion in the shoulder joint. [1.

Do Cats Sleep with Their Eyes Open?

As weird as it might seem, cats can sleep with their eyes fully or partially open. As your cat falls asleep, you might be able to observe rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. REM sleep is the stage in which humans (and probably cats) dream. 

Cats sleeping with their eyes open is usually nothing to worry about but if it’s paired with any eye problems such as swelling, discharge, or pawing at the eye, seek veterinarian advice immediately. 

We uphold the highest editorial standards when creating the authoritative content pet parents rely on and trust.

Every piece of clinical content on the Cat Food Advisor is reviewed by our certified Veterinary Advisory Board, which consists of licensed veterinarians and medically certified specialists.

Our reviews are completely independent; we are not paid by any pet food company to promote their products favorably. We do not accept money, gifts, samples or other incentives in exchange for special consideration. For more information see our Disclaimer & Disclosure page.

Vet with cat