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Why Do Cats Fake Sleep? 8 Interesting Reasons

Written by: Christian Adams

Last Updated on February 26, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

cat sleeping

Why Do Cats Fake Sleep? 8 Interesting Reasons

Cats sleep an average of 12 to 16 hours a day, which may seem like a lot of time compared to humans, but the busy little felines need a lot of rest. However, have you ever noticed your cat stretched out in their favorite spot, supposedly sleeping, only to notice that their eyes aren’t fully closed? While your cat may be far away in dreamland, they may be faking their slumber, and there are a few interesting reasons why they display the behavior.

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Do Cats Fake Sleep?

It sounds like bizarre behavior, but cats pretend to sleep. While they may also be resting or taking a catnap, cats will generally fake sleep to trick others, including their owners, into thinking they’re sleeping but are fully alert.

It’s a strange concept that requires research, but a few sensical theories can explain this unusual behavior.

Cat sleeping on top of laundry basket
Photo Credit: Caterina Trimarchi, Shutterstock

3 cat face dividerThe 8 Reasons Why Cats Fake Sleep

1.  It Is a Natural Defense

Cats may fake sleeping as a natural defense mechanism against predators. They will get into their favorite position and pretend to sleep when alert and ready to pounce. This may help predators lose interest; your cat is ready to defend their position if they don’t.

It may also be a defense for an over-excited pet or child who may want to play, but your cat is not in the mood. Pretending to sleep can make them lose interest and leave your cat alone to rest.

2. It Helps With Stress

This can tie in with being a defense mechanism. If you have several visitors, your cat may feel a little stressed and pretend to be asleep to avoid interaction. If you have a cat-obsessed child or friend who wants to pet and hold your cat constantly, it could also make your cat feel a bit anxious, and fake sleeping can help them relax.

3. They Want to Watch You

This is a classic example of your cat “sleeping” without fully closing their eyes. They kill two birds with one stone by getting rest and being aware of what is happening around them. They may want to keep an eye on you without encouraging interaction, and fake sleeping is a great way to do it.

This makes sense since cats are very curious creatures, so if a new person is in the house, it is also a good way for them to monitor them without interacting.

cat with a sleeping baby
Photo Credit: Sharomka, Shutterstock

4. They are Trying to Steal Your Food

Cats can fake sleep to keep an eye on you and to avoid unwanted interactions, but their reasons may relate to hunger. If you are busy eating lunch or preparing food, they may curl up close by and have you believe they are sleeping. When you move away or are not looking, that is their opportunity to snatch a snack off the table or your plate.

So, don’t be fooled! Next time your cat seems asleep near the dinner table, don’t turn your back on your food, or you may lose a sizable portion!

5. They are Testing to See If You Still Love Them

If life has been distracting and you haven’t had the time to show your cat affection, their fake sleeping may be a test of your love for them. Cats are very perceptive and will easily pick up on any changes in your behavior. They may fake sleep to see if you notice them and come in for petting or affection.

6. Your Cat May Be Conserving Energy

Cats use plenty of energy when they play and hunt, so it only makes sense that they need a lot of rest. It may not be the best time for a nap, but they need a moment to rest without being disturbed, so fake sleeping is a great way to do that. A little rest can go a long way, so once they are done, they are ready to dart off again in their quest to hunt or play.

cat sleeping outdoors
Photo Credit: hapibu, Pixabay

7. Your Cat Could Be Catnapping

Cats often catnap for 15–30 minutes to rest their bodies and minds. During a catnap, they doze off but won’t fall into a deep sleep. This allows them to be alert to potential threats and react quickly if needed.

During a catnap, their eyes aren’t always fully closed, and you’ll notice some movement, which may lead you to believe that they are fake sleeping, but their only intention, in this case, is to get rest.

8. Your Cat May Be Ignoring You

Your cat may be ignoring you and using fake sleep to do so. But don’t worry, if your cat ignores you, you most likely didn’t do anything to deserve it. Independent kitties occasionally need alone time. It’s a good idea to give your cat space when they are resting, but don’t worry; they’ll come looking for you when they need attention.

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How to Tell If Your Cat Is Actually Sleeping or Faking It

It can be tricky to tell if your cat is resting, catnapping, or sleeping, but there are a few ways to help you distinguish which behavior is occurring.

1. Look at Your Cat’s position.

If they’re stretched out and limp, they may be in a deep sleep. Exposing their stomach is a vulnerable position, and if the tummy is exposed, they’re most likely relaxed and content to sleep.

sleeping cat
Image Credit: Jim Black, Pixabay

2. Take a Look at Your Cat’s Paws

If your cat is on their stomach with their paws not fully tucked, but its head is upright, they may be pretending to sleep or just resting. This position allows them to stay alert and ready to escape a potential threat.

3. Real Sleep Is Usually Accompanied by Deep Breathing.

If your cat’s breathing is shallow and inconsistent, it is most likely because they’re not asleep.

cat sleeping comfortably on a bed
Image Credit: Александар Цветановић, Pexels

4. If You Make a Subtle Noise, a Sleeping Cat Will Not React.

If your cats’ ears are moving as though they are trying to hear something, they are probably in a light doze or not sleeping.

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Fake sleep can often be confused for a catnap, but sometimes your cat pretends to sleep for interesting reasons. They may be on the defensive to keep interactions or predators away, looking for attention, or plotting to swipe something off your plate.

However, there are times that cats catnap because they need rest but also need to stay alert. Understanding your cat’s body language can help you determine if they are fake sleeping or catnapping, but either way, it is recommended to give your cat space and perhaps not turn your back on your food!

Featured Image Credit: Mammiya, Pixabay

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