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Why Do Cats Sleep in a Ball? 3 Possible Reasons

Written by: Christian Adams

Last Updated on May 13, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

cat sleeping on the patio

Why Do Cats Sleep in a Ball? 3 Possible Reasons

There’s something delightful about watching your cat sleep while curled up into a tight fluff ball. They look so sweet and serene, and it’s amazing how their supple bodies can sleep comfortably in this position.

If you have ever wondered why your cat prefers to sleep in a ball, you will be intrigued by the reasons but also not surprised to know that they choose this position for the same reasons you choose your sleep positions.

In this article, we’ll discuss the three main reasons why you usually find your cat in a ball of fur, along with some other positions that they may prefer.

divider 2 cats

The 3 Possible Reasons Why Cats Sleep in a Ball

1.  It’s Warm

Sleep is always better when you are warm, and it’s the same for our feline friends. When cats curl up into a ball, they conserve body heat better, which means more comfort and better sleep. By reducing the surface of their body, when curling into a ball, and tucking in their legs and head, their body heat is better preserved with less loss, which is especially helpful in the cold winter months. This way their internal organs are also protected, in case there would be a predator on the lurk, which is luckily not the case with our pet cats.

Cats also have a body temperature range of 101.0 to 102.5°F, which is much warmer than our average body temperature. Curling up into a ball helps them to retain that extra warmth.

Cats are not the only mammals to assume this position to keep warm; dogs do it too, and if you think of yourself on an extra chilly night, you may curl up into the fetal position to keep warm.

However, be mindful that cats may also sleep in this position more if they are feeling unwell. So, if you have noticed your cat being quiet or lethargic, sleeping more than usual, or eating less, it’s important to get them checked by your vet as soon as possible.

Ginger kitten curled up in bed
Image Credit: Arina Krasnikova, Pexels

2. It’s Safe

Cats are natural predators, and while sleeping allows them to relax and recharge, it also makes them vulnerable as they are not on guard and ready to defend themselves from potential threats. Sleeping in a ball allows cats to feel safe. This position allows them to protect their face and vital organs.

When you are curled up while sleeping, you feel an extra sense of security and comfort, just like when a blanket covers you, and you feel more exposed when it is removed. This small comparison can help you understand why cats, and other animals, may feel safer and less vulnerable when curled up in a ball.


3. It’s Comfortable

Comfort could be the reason your cat chooses to sleep in a ball. This position could be a comfy favorite, which led it to become a default position. Cats can curl up into a ball just about anywhere: on the bed, your furniture, in backpacks, and in their favorite human’s lap. It is also a practical sleeping position.

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divider 1 paws

Other Sleeping Positions

Although a curled-up ball is a favorite sleeping position among cats, there are other positions where you can find your cat catching some Z’s. Most sleeping postures put cats in a more vulnerable position.

Feel free to use this image but please credit Catster.com

Belly Up

Belly up, or on their backs, is the cutest but most vulnerable position for a cat to be sleeping in. This position leaves their bellies fully exposed while their legs are stretched out in front and below their bodies. You will not often see a cat in this position, but if you do, it means they feel confident and very safe. While giving your cat a little rub on their exposed belly is tempting, it’s best not to interrupt their rest.

An orange tabby cat sleeping on a bed.
An orange tabby cat sleeping on a bed. Photography ©Aksenovko | Thinkstock.

The Superman

The Superman position is self-explanatory, except that your cat in this position is on a surface and not in midair. If your cat is sleeping in a Superman position, you will find them face down, on their belly with their front and back legs stretched out. This position allows cats to feel comfortable while protecting their bellies, and if they assume this position on a fleece blanket, it can help them keep cozy and warm.

On the contrary, if the air temperature is warm, this position allows them to expose their bellies to a cold surface to help cool them down.

The Loaf Shape

The loaf-shaped sleeping position resembles a loaf of bread, just as its name suggests. Their paws are curled under their body, and their head remains upright. It is a warm, comfortable, and relaxed position that allows them to pounce into action if necessary.

On Their Side

You will find your cat on their side when they feel safe around you. They will lie on their sides with their legs stretched out, which exposes their bellies. This position makes it easier for them to jump and run, which makes them feel more prepared while sleeping and therefore helps them get a restful sleep. Most cats that sleep on their side already have the needed warmth and find this position more comfortable.

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Conclusion

You will usually find cats curled up in a ball while sleeping because, other than the fact that it is comfortable, it also provides warmth and safety. Once they are curled up, they can sleep comfortably and deeply, knowing that they are secure and warm. Sleeping in a ball is a favorite feline position, and although you may find your cat in a few other postures, a curled-up ball is quite common amongst felines.

If you experience your cat sleeping belly up, you will be happy to know that they feel safe and secure enough to sleep in such a vulnerable position, but don’t think that means you can avoid a mild hand attack if you go in for some belly rubs!

Sources

Featured Image Credit: hapibu, Pixabay

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