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Why Do Cats Cover Their Face When They Sleep?

You may have noticed your cat sleeping with her paws covering her face and wondered why. There are a few reasons for this behavior. In this quick guide we explain why kitties like to sleep with their paws over their faces.

Danielle DeGroot

Last Updated: March 7, 2023 | 5 min read

Cat covering face while sleeping

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Cats are known for their love of sleeping. In fact, they spend over half their days asleep. It is no secret that felines can find themselves a comfortable spot just about anywhere, and it is typical to find your purr baby napping in the strangest yet, coziest of locations. Owners may notice that their kitties often like to zone out with their faces covered. This leads owners to wonder, “why do cats cover their faces when they sleep?”

Feline behavior can seem unpredictable, but many different motivations exist behind it. Cats covering their heads with their paws while slumbering is normal, but it helps to understand why they do this. Remember, our purr babies cannot speak to us in our language, so they often communicate through their behaviors and actions.

Covering themselves while they rest is a behavior that almost every cat engages in. If you are wondering why your sweet kitty likes to cover her eyes with her paw when she naps, you are in the right place. We discuss some of the main reasons why cats do this. Let’s jump in and get started.

7 Reasons Cats Cover Their Eyes & Face When They Sleep

Let’s discuss some main reasons cats cover their eyes when they are sleeping.

They Are Tired

There are two main things felines do that use energy: grooming and digesting food. Often, they take cat naps and rest periods to recover and re-energize. This can be one of the reasons you may find your kitty with her paws over her face snoring away.

Felines are expert self-groomers and spend over half their waking hours grooming themselves. This can be pretty tiring. Grooming takes a lot of focus and energy; sometimes, kitties will fall asleep right after or even in the middle of a grooming session.

Cats groom themselves for cleanliness, but that is not their only purpose. Grooming helps felines regulate body temperature, cool down, and stimulate circulation. Grooming is more than just a matter of looking good. It helps spread natural oils throughout their coats and removes parasites, debris, and other irritants.

It is estimated that domestic felines spend about 30 to 50 percent of their awake time grooming themselves. Always keep a close eye to make sure your kitty is not overgrooming. Keep an eye out for sores, hair loss, or irritated skin.

Considering how much time kitties spend grooming, it is no wonder they may sometimes simply take a little cat nap, with their paws resting on their faces to recuperate.

Warmth

Felines are heat seekers, primarily due to their internal body temperature being higher than ours. A cat’s average temperature runs between 101.0 F to 102.5 F. It takes a lot of energy to generate heat, so kitties seek out warm and toasty spots. They may rest with their paws over their heads to keep themselves warm, especially their noses.

Block Out Light

While your kitty loves the warmth and often curls up for a nap in the sun, sleeping in bright light is hard for anyone, feline or human. Their paws can help keep the light away from their eyes while the rest of their bodies stay warm and toasty in the sun. Kitties rest a lot during the day. Some are more active at night, while some are not. This simply depends on your specific pet.

Reduce Noise

Just like trying to nap in a bright pool of sunlight might not be the most comfortable, kitties are also sensitive to noise. They always observe what is happening around them and are sensitive to activity and noises when asleep. Sometimes curling up and covering their faces is a way of blocking out unwanted and intrusive noises.

Security

Cats are huge on feeling secure. They are natural hunters who are also sometimes prey. Felines are always looking for spaces where they feel safe and secure. When kitties are sleeping, they need to feel safe and secure. Putting their legs up to cover their mugs gives them an extra sense of protection. Felines often feel more secure in an enclosed space, where they can’t be seen or heard by potential threats. This instinct is even more critical when kitties are in a deep slumber, as they are more vulnerable to being startled by loud noises or sudden movements. Placing their paws over their heads creates another barrier between themselves and any potential threats.

It’s also important to note that felines tend to be very sensitive to their surrounding environment. They can easily be startled by loud noises or sudden movements, disrupting their respite. This is why they often prefer to snooze in a secure, comfortable place, such as a bed or kitty tree.

Comfort

Felines always look for a comfortable spot and part of that comfort is feeling safe. They also feel more comfortable when they can conserve body heat. By covering their faces while sleeping, they can better insulate themselves and stay warm. Similar to how we humans do different things with our arms and hands while sleeping, felines do the same. Sometimes, putting their paws over their face is the most comfortable way to rest.

Wants To Be Left Alone

Felines are excellent at setting limits and boundaries. Placing their limbs over their sleeping faces is a way of saying, “leave me alone.” Perhaps your purr baby just wants a quiet nap, putting her paws over her face and communicating to other animals and people to leave her be. A feline sleeping in total comfort does not want to be disturbed, and most owners will not want to interrupt that peaceful slumber.

Do All Cats Cover Their Faces When They Sleep?

The answer to this question is a complex one. While some kitties may cover their heads while sleeping, others may not. Some kitties may even switch around their sleeping habits, alternating between covering their face and not covering it. This can be due to various reasons, such as feeling too warm or uncomfortable with the lack of visibility.

How Many Hours A Day Do Cats Sleep?

Felines sleep a considerable amount. According to the Sleep Foundation, about 50 percent of purr babies sleep between 12 and 18 hours a day, while 40 percent slumber over 18 hours a day. Kittens and older kitties often slumber more than active adults. However, even healthy adults will sleep about 13 to 16 hours a day. That adds up to about 70 percent of a cat’s life is spent asleep. Purr babies rest much more than most other animals, but not because of being lazy. This is simply part of their natural instinct and way of life.

Felines experience different phases of sleep, just like us. They experience rapid eye movement (REM), non-rapid eye movement (NREM), and a transitional period between the two. REM is a deeper slumber. Kitties often enter NREM sleep first and for quick naps. They spend about 3 to 8 hours a day in REM slumber.

Why Is My Cat Twitching In Her Sleep?

Kitties twitch while sleeping for several reasons. Most are nothing to worry about. They can dream and can physically respond to those dreams by twitching. They may even move their legs and paws to cover themselves while dreaming. There are a few other reasons, including allergies, muscle spasms, sensitive skin, and stress.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do cats stretch out their front paws while sleeping?

Most of the time, this is for the same reason we do. They feel good stretching out. Cats tend to splay out when comfortable, which can often include extending their legs.

What does a cat dream about?

Our purr babies can dream, but it is hard to say what they dream. Most likely, they are reliving experiences from their day. Sometimes you can see them twitch or move while sleeping, like running or eating. Kitties also probably dream about their owners and other pets. It is unlikely they dream the same way humans do, but they definitely have brain activity and dream-like experiences when they slumber.

Why does my cat knead on me when she is asleep?

Most often, kneading is a sign that your cat is content and happy. Sometimes, your cat may be trying to share her scent with you. Another reason is that your cat may find comfort in having contact with you while asleep.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to our purr babies covering their faces while sleeping, comfort and safety play a major part. A kitty often feels more secure in an enclosed space where they are away from potential threats. This instinct is even more significant in a deep sleep, as they are more susceptible to being startled by loud noises or unexpected movements. This can sometimes seem like mysterious behavior, but they do it for several reasons. However, it often serves valuable purposes. It allows purr babies to feel more secure, stay warm, and relax much more deeply.

Calm cat on back on a chair

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