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How Is My Cat Sleeping with Their Head Up? Vet-Reviewed Facts & FAQ

Written by: Patricia Dickson

Last Updated on May 13, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

gray and white cat sleeping on a wood

How Is My Cat Sleeping with Their Head Up? Vet-Reviewed Facts & FAQ


Dr. Maja Platisa Photo


Dr. Maja Platisa

DVM MRCVS (Veterinarian)

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

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As cat parents, we already know that cats are strange creatures. They run through the house in the wee hours of the night, expect their food bowls to be refilled at certain times of the day, and they sometimes even play with their food and treats. Our cats also sleep in the oddest of positions as well. One of those positions is with their heads up. Shouldn’t a cat be uncomfortable sleeping with their head straight up? Will that position hurt the cat’s neck?

There are a few sleeping positions cats take that we think are strange. Below, we’ll discuss how cats sleep with their heads up and other common feline sleeping positions.

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How Can My Cat Sleep with Their Head Up?

While it may look like the cat is uncomfortable, they’re not. What the cat is doing is being on alert for any environmental disruptions so they can take cover right away. This goes back to their predatory instincts.

Your cat’s ancestors come from the wild, and they retain many of their unique traits. A wild cat never knows when something in their environment will change or when a predator could attack, so snoozing with their head upright is the cat’s way of protecting themselves while resting. This position is often called a loaf position, although there may be variants of it.

As your cat starts to feel even more relaxed, and begins to drift into the light stages of sleep, they will eventually drop their head down and pick a more comfortable position to actually sleep in. They may rest their head on their paws or on the ground, and they may tuck their legs under their body. This is a good way for your cat to conserve heat, while protecting their internal organs.

Isn’t This Uncomfortable for My Cat?

No, this position indicates that the cat is relaxed and preparing to rest, while still being alert enough and able to respond to any potential changes in their environment. It is also a completely normal position for your cat to sleep in, so there’s no cause for worry in most instances.

a tabby cat sleeping on a pillow
Image Credit: KatinkavomWolfenmond, Pixabay

Could This Indicate a Health Problem?

Although it’s normal for your cat to sleep with their head up, there are a few instances where something might be wrong. Some of those instances are if the cat has respiratory issues, due to heart or lung disease, and it may be easier for them to breathe in this position. If you notice that your cat is only sleeping or resting in this position, with a wider stance of their front legs and a stretched neck, or they have any difficulty breathing, signs of reduced appetite or lethargy, it’s best to contact your vet for an appointment as soon as possible. Your vet can rule out any problems that may be happening and assure you that your cat sleeping this way is normal in most cases.

Sometimes pain and discomfort can cause a cat to sleep with their head up, so if you notice any changes in your cat’s behavior, including their sleeping position, it’s time to see the vet.

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What Other Positions Do Cats Sleep In?

As a cat parent, you’ve probably noticed that there are many positions your cat favors while sleeping. We’ll talk about a few of those positions in our next section.


Feel free to use this image but please credit

Curled in a Ball

Cats like to be warm, so sleeping curled into a ball helps them retain their body heat.

Superman Pose

The Superman pose is when the cat lies on their belly, then stretches their front legs out in front of them and stretches their back legs behind them. This generally helps keep them cool, according to where they lie, because their bellies are on the ground. It also protects their abdomen, which is a vulnerable area as well.

On Your Head

We’ve all had our cats curl up on top of our heads to sleep. They do this because cats usually adapt to their pet parents’ sleep schedule and might want to be near you. Also, cats like comfortable places to sleep, so sleeping over your head means the cat gets to share your comfy, soft pillow. Some cats, however, prefer to sleep on their owner’s legs, at the bottom of the bed.

Here are a few other positions and why your cat may sleep in them.

  • Paws over eyes: For warmth and comfort
  • With other cats: Because they are bonded
  • With a dog: Companionship, bonding, warmth, and comfort
  • Tucked in/under the covers: Familiarity, warmth, and comfort
  • In the litter box: Comfort and familiarity, hiding particularly in case of stress or territorial dispute with other cats. This can also be due to a medical reason, so you need to make an appointment with the vet
  • In a box: Security, and because boxes are fun!
  • Between your legs: Warmth, safety, and an easy escape route
You are free to use this image but we do require you to link back to for credit

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Creating a Safe Space for Your Cat to Sleep

You can expect your feline pal to sleep 14 to 16 hours daily, give or take a few hours. While they have many strange ways of sleeping, it’s important for your cat to have a safe space to sleep in. If you’re a first-time cat owner, we’ll give you some tips on creating that safe space below.

Choose the Right Bed

While you’ll find your cat sleeping anywhere and everywhere throughout the house, it’s best to create a space with a cat bed for the cat to retreat to when they feel the need. You want the bed to be soft, comfy, and off the ground. You also want the bed to be warm when your cat needs it to be. You can achieve this by adding a warm fleece blanket to the mix.

sleepy cat
Image Credit: rsteve254, Pixabay

Choose the Right Location

No matter how comfy the bed is, if it’s not in the right location, your cat will ignore it in favor of better sleeping spots. Some spots to consider putting the cat bed include the following:

  • Any bedroom
  • Lounge couches
  • Bay windows
  • Quiet office area
  • Perches
  • Anywhere on the window sill where a sunspot is in the afternoon

In other words, you can put the cat bed anywhere comfortable, soft, warm, and safe, and the cat will probably be fine. Ideally it should be out of reach of other pets, such as dogs, and somewhere nice and quiet where your cat will not be disturbed.

Choose the Safest Spot

You want any location you choose for your cat’s bed to be safe. This means putting the bed in a quiet place with very little foot traffic. You will also want water and food nearby so your cat doesn’t have to go far to eat and drink.

This isn’t going to stop them from sleeping in strange and comical positions, but at least you know the cat will be safe, warm, and happy while doing it.

Our Favorite Cat Bed Is ...

Paying close attention to where your cat enjoys sleeping is part of the magic in finding them a bed that's suitable to their individual needs. Factoring in their comfort requirements, length of naps, and where they prefer to be when they rest are considerations you must take when choosing the purrfect bed! After plenty of research, this was our top pick for practicality, design and comfort.  

The Hepper Nest Bed 

Hepper Cat Nest Bed
  • HAPPY COZY CATS - Your kitty will bask in luxurious sherpa-lined comfort while feeling warm, safe,...
  • MODERN DESIGN - Contemporary styling with upholstered fabric construction; just like your human...
  • WARM FLEECE LINER - Self warming, thick sherpa fleece with microfiber trim.

Cats are known to be particular about their beds which is why finding the right one often poses a challenge for pet owners. The modern design of the Hepper Nest Bed was thoughtfully created for maximum coziness that many cats cannot resist. Molded into a comfy bowl shape that cradles your cat with a self-warming fleece insert, you’ll have a hard time getting your cat up from their daily naps. One of the Nest's best features is that is portable - meaning you can easily provide your cat with a comfortable place to sleep, regardless of where they plan to catch some zzz's!

At Catster, we’ve admired Hepper for many years and decided to take a controlling ownership interest so that we could benefit from the outstanding designs of this cool cat company!

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Final Thoughts

Cats are strange, furry, yet lovable creatures. They do weird things that most pet owners can not explain. Sleeping with their head up is just one of the unique ways you’ll find your cat sleeping. As previously mentioned, it’s vital for your cat to feel comfortable, safe, warm, and cozy when they sleep, so getting them a cat bed and putting it in a safe location should help. Once that is done, you can sit back and laugh at all of the funny positions you will find your furry friend sleeping in, along with everything else your cat does along the way.

Featured Image Credit: ANURAK PONGPATIMET, Shutterstock

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