Catster is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Why Do Cats Sleep in a Circle? Vet Reviewed Reasons

Written by: Chantelle Fowler

Last Updated on May 8, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

a siamese cat in a curled up sleeping position

Why Do Cats Sleep in a Circle? Vet Reviewed Reasons


Dr. Lauren Demos (DVM) Photo


Dr. Lauren Demos (DVM)


The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

If you own a cat, your smartphone is likely filled with photos of your cat sleeping. They always find interesting positions and places to crawl into for a nap, but perhaps their coziest-looking sleep posture is curled up into a ball. Why do cats like sleeping in a circle formation? This sleeping position is also known as the ‘crescent’, and we will teach you all about it today. Read on to learn more.

cat + line divider

Why Do Cats Sleep in a Circle?

There are two main reasons why cats choose to sleep in a circle: comfort and security.

The simplest likely answer is that it is the warmest and coziest position. When they curl up into a ball, they can conserve their body heat to stay warmer for longer.

The second reason cats prefer this sleeping position is that it protects their most vulnerable areas (the chest and tummy) from predator attacks. The crescent allows your cat to protect their vital abdominal organs by surrounding them with the less essential muscle and bone. While your kitty is unlikely to be attacked by any predators in your home, this survival instinct has been passed down from their ancestors. This position is still important for wild cats and is how many choose to sleep.

cat sleeping after neuter operation
Image Credit: ozanuysal, Shutterstock

Is It a Problem When Cats Sleep in a Circle?

Maybe. There are some reasons why cats may sleep in a circle that indicates a problem.

They are feeling ill or unwell. It can be hard to tell if a cat is ill just based on this sleeping position because it is quite common. To give you a better understanding if your cat is sleeping in a circle due to an illness, look for the following signs:

  • Difficulty moving or walking
  • Increased vocalization
  • Reduced appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Diarrhea and/or vomiting
  • Change in normal breathing

Cat ball divider 1

What Other Sleeping Positions Do Cats Like?

While the crescent position is probably the most common sleeping position for cats, they do have other poses they enjoy sleeping in.

1.  Loaf

cat sleeping in loaf position
Image Credit: StockSnap, Pixabay

The loaf is another common position where your cat sleeps with their body upright, tail, and feet tucked in. This gives them a square shape, not unlike a loaf of freshly baked bread. The reason for this position is similar to the crescent as it allows your kitty to conserve their body heat while also protecting their vital organs. It also allows them to spring into action if they find themselves in danger.

2. Side Sleeping

orange cat sleeping on grass
Image Credit: ivabalk, Pixabay

Cats will sometimes sleep on their sides with their legs stretched out. This position allows your kitty to jump up and run away if necessary, though it exposes their essential organs. Seeing your pet sleeping like this means they’re extremely comfortable around you and trust you wholeheartedly.

3. On Their Backs

the cat is sleeping or dead cat
Image Credit: PHONSIN AUPPACHAI, Shutterstock

Cats sleeping on their backs with their bellies fully exposed feel safe and confident in their home. As you probably have noticed by now, cats mostly prefer sleeping in positions that they can either spring into action from or ones that allow them to keep their organs protected.

4. Superman

a cat sleeping with its limbs stretched out lilke superman
Image Credit: daphne.t, Shutterstock

Cats assuming the Superman position will lay on their bellies with their front and back legs stretched out, just like Superman in flight. Cats are relaxed in this position, but all four of their limbs are extended and ready to spring into action if they feel a threat is nearby.

5. Contortionist


Image Credit: Nataliya Kuznetsova, Shutterstock

The contortionist is an interesting position. When cats assume this pose, their limbs appear to go in every way. Part of their body may hang off the bed or sofa, and their backs may look twisted in a physically impossible way. If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably wondered how such a position could be comfortable enough to sleep in. This pretzel-like pose is often chosen as it makes it difficult for potential predators to predict the cat’s next move, and as impossible as it may sound, cats find it comfortable.

6. On Your Chest

Ginger cat is sleeping on the woman's chest
Image Credit: Lutic, Shutterstock

Is there anything sweeter than your kitty crawling on top of you to catch a cat nap on your chest? Well, if this is one of your pet’s favored sleeping positions, you should know they’ve likely chosen this spot for a nap because they want to be close to you to hear your voice or hear your heartbeat. Not to mention, your chest will provide them with a cozy source of body heat.

7. Tucked In

Image Credit: Laurent Planson Crequer, Pexels

Cats can tuck themselves in for a nap by snuggling under blankets or pillows. If your cat prefers this sleeping position, they probably love the warmth and comfort it brings them. If they’re choosing your bed, chances are they find your scent comforting, too.

3 cat face divider

Final Thoughts

Cats certainly have a lot of strange sleeping positions, but the crescent pose is typically one of their favorites. Hopefully, our blog has helped shed some light on why your kitty chooses to sleep that way. Being in tune with your pet’s preferences will help you better understand what behaviors are ordinary and unusual.

Featured Image Credit: Lanova Daria, Shutterstock

Get Catster in your inbox!

Stay informed! Get tips and exclusive deals.
Catster Editors Choice Badge
Shopping Cart


© Pangolia Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved.