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Why Is My Cat Suddenly Sleeping in Odd Places: 7 Vet-Reviewed Reasons

Written by: Chantelle Fowler

Last Updated on May 12, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

grey tabby cat sleeping on warm radiator

Why Is My Cat Suddenly Sleeping in Odd Places: 7 Vet-Reviewed Reasons


Dr. Maxbetter Vizelberg DVM Photo


Dr. Maxbetter Vizelberg DVM

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

Learn more »

Did you know cats can sleep between 12 and 18 hours daily? It’s true, and studies suggest that almost 40% of cats1 will sleep more than 18 hours in a single day!

Since your kitty spends so much time sleeping, you might get used to seeing them in their favorite napping spots throughout the day. But what happens if your cat suddenly starts sleeping in strange places they’ve never slept before? Should you be worried that they’re sick?

Keep reading to find seven reasons your cat might suddenly swap out its old bed for somewhere new.

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The 7 Reasons Your Cat Is Suddenly Sleeping in Odd Places

1. Their Instincts Are Kicking In

gray and white cat sleeping on a wood
Image Credit: ANURAK PONGPATIMET, Shutterstock

Your cat may seek a new sleeping spot simply because of their instinctual behavior. Cats in the wild are used to sleeping in different places and sometimes bringing their family members with them. You may have seen this behavior at play if you’ve ever had a cat that’s given birth. Mother cats will sometimes move their entire litter to a new location to keep them safe and protected.

You might also notice your older cats switching their sleeping spots if you bring a new pet into the home. You may not know it, but there is a hierarchy in your home amongst your pets. Bringing a new kitten into the mix can change the hierarchy and may make your dominant cats claim a new sleeping spot.

2. The Seasons Are Changing

cats sleeping near leather boots
Image Credit by: Piqsels

You might switch out your light blanket for something more substantial to keep you warm during winter. Naturally, cats seek to do the same thing.

If you live where there are four distinct seasons, you may find your kitty seeking a new spot when the weather warms up and when it cools down. Your cat might be sprawled out in a sunny area during the summer months or snuggling in under blankets when the snow starts flying. Your cat might retreat to the cool basement to prevent overheating or make a bed in front of a heat source when it’s cold.

3. They Want Privacy

Cat Sleeping
Image Credit by: super-mapio, Pixabay

You wouldn’t want your bedroom to be in the middle of your living room, nor does your cat. Your cat may be sleeping in a new and odd place simply because they’re seeking out some privacy. At risk of anthropomorphizing, they might be tired of you waking them up in the middle of their nap to pet them or tell them how cute they are!

A sense of security comes with finding a new spot to nap, too. Cats are pretty good hiders, so you might not even be able to find your pet’s new sleeping spot (and they probably like it that way).

4. They’re in Pain

cat sleeping on the patio
Image Credit by: hapibu, Pixabay

If your cat has a chronic health condition, such as arthritis, switching up where they snooze may help them find relief from their pain. If their usual sleeping spot is up high or in a hard-to-reach spot, their pain may make getting there difficult. Instead, they may seek a soft bed that’s easy to get into or even cuddle up on top of a blanket or near a direct heat source.

Typically, if it is pain that’s causing your cat  to find a new sleeping zone, you’ll also notice other signs such as:

  • Limping
  • Lethargy
  • Hunched position
  • Uncharacteristic irritability

Many cats prefer to be alone and will retreat to avoid any contact with humans when they’re in pain. Your hurting cat might seek out a hidden sleeping spot that’s difficult for you to access, such as under your bed or behind boxes in your storage room.

5. They’re Traumatized

cat sleeping on a tree trunk
Image Credit: Crepessuzette, Pixabay

Cats can become startled by sudden loud noises, such as those from a too-loud television or the construction crew down the road. If your cat’s nap was disrupted by a sudden noise that startled them, they might be less likely to go back to that exact spot to sleep in the future.

Your cat’s negative association with their bed can come from more than just sudden noises. They may equate their sleeping spot with a painful sensation or uncomfortable memory. For example, an ear mite infestation they struggled with or physical trauma such as being stepped on.

6. They’re Afraid or Stressed

cat sleeping above the trash can
Image Credit by: Khoir Gallery, Shutterstock

Fear can be another catalyst for sleep-related changes in cats. For example, a major and stressful event, such as bringing a newborn baby or a new pet into the home, might prompt your kitty to find a safer space to sleep.

Things like road work or construction going on near your home can also cause stress in our cats who thrive on consistency in their daily lives.

Those caring for anxious cats understand the struggles and discomfort that their companions feel on a daily basis. The innovative bowl shape of the Hepper Nest Bed provides nervous pets with support and its high sides offer a sense of security, diminishing stress and worry. To learn about how to the Hepper Nest can provide solace to your cat, click here.

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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!

7. They’re Sick

nebelung cat in vet clinic
Image Credit by: Juice Flair, Shutterstock

If your cat is battling an illness, minor or major, they may start sleeping in new spots. For example, a cat with a urinary tract infection may sleep in or near their litter box so that when the urge to urinate hits, they’re already where they need to be.

If your cat is sick, you’ll likely notice other signs, such as:

  • Inappetence
  • Sleep pattern changes
  • Inappropriate elimination
  • Changes in social interaction
  • Changes in activity level

If your kitty is showing illness signs and sleeping in a new, unusual spot, it is ideal to have them evaluated by their vet.

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Final Thoughts

While a new sleeping spot can indicate pain or illness, this isn’t always the case. Your cat may be sleeping somewhere new simply because you won’t stop bugging them or because the construction crew across the street is making too much of a ruckus. They may sneak away to sleep in a new hidden spot because they associate their old spot with the time you accidentally stepped on their tail while they were napping or because the seasons are changing and their old sleeping area is cold.

That said, if a personality change accompanies your cat’s new sleeping position, you should take them to the vet to rule out any illnesses.

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Featured Image Credit By: Xseon, Shutterstock

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