Home Cat Behavior Why Do Cats Cover Their Face When They Sleep?

Why Do Cats Cover Their Face When They Sleep?

by Guest Contributor
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Do you ever wonder why cats cover their face when they sleep? It seems like a strange thing to do, doesn’t it? Believe it or not, there is a scientific reason behind this behavior. Keep reading!

Covering their face when they sleep is seen in many cats, but no one seems to know the reason behind it. Is it because they’re cold? Are they trying to hide from something? Or is there another explanation entirely? In this article, we will explore the scientific reason behind why cats cover their face when they sleep. We will also discuss some of the cats’ sleep behavior. So if you’re curious about this feline quirk, keep reading!

cat sleeping

Facts about cats’ sleep that you might not know

Cats are among the most popular pets for many reasons. They’re low-maintenance, independent, and affectionate creatures that make great companions.

Most people are familiar with the fact that cats sleep a lot. In fact, cats spend an average of 16 hours per day sleeping. It means that they spend nearly two-thirds of their lives asleep! However, you might not know a few cat sleep facts. For example:

  • Cats enter a state of semi-consciousness between sleep and wakefulness. This state is known as “torpor” and allows cats to conserve energy. 
  • Additionally, cats sleep in short bursts throughout the day instead of one long stretch. It helps them to stay alert and react quickly to predators or other threats. 
  • Cats don’t experience REM sleep until they’re three months old. While adult cats usually sleep soundly through the night, kittens can often nap during the day. 
  • While humans tend to enter a deep sleep for around 90 minutes at a time, cats enter what is known as a “light sleep” state for just 15 minutes before entering a deeper sleep for another 15 minutes. This cycle repeats throughout the night, meaning that cats get much more sleep than we do.

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that cats often like to sleep in unusual places. While some might prefer a cozy spot on the sofa, others might opt for a sunny windowsill or even the top of the fridge.

Why do cats cover their faces when they sleep?

We love watching them sleep, but have you ever wondered why cats cover their face when they sleep? It turns out there’s a surprising and scientific reason for this behavior. There are several theories about this behavior:

  • When cats sleep, they enter into a state known as REM sleep. It is the same state that humans enter when they dream. During REM sleep, the brain is very active, and the body is paralyzed. It is to prevent us from acting out our dreams. Cats cover their faces while sleeping to protect their eyes from getting damaged during this active stage of sleep.
  • Cats have a third eyelid, also known as the nictitating membrane, a clear or translucent flap of skin that protects their eye from debris and keeps it moist. This third eyelid will partially cover the eye when a cat is relaxed or sleeping. So if you see your cat with its eyes half-closed and lashes drooping, it’s likely just taking a little nap. Of course, every cat is different, and some may choose to keep their third eyelid closed all the time. 

Besides, we gathered some more reasons for cats to cover their face during sleeping.

cat sleeping

Maintain a comfortable temperature

One reason your cat might cover their face when they sleep is to maintain a comfortable temperature. Cats are susceptible to temperature changes and prefer a warm environment. They try to cover their nose, as it’s an essential sensory organ. By covering their face, they can trap heat and keep themselves cozy.

Protection from sunlight

One of the reasons your cat may cover their face when they sleep is for protection from sunlight and drafts. If your cat sleeps in a spot where there is direct sunlight, covering its face with a paw or tail will help to keep them comfortable and protected from the sun’s rays. Similarly, if your home is drafty, your cat may cover their face to stay warm and cozy.

Indicator of weather changes

Cats are very aware of their environment and can sense changes in the weather. They have acute hearing and can pick up subtle changes that we humans may overlook. When a storm is coming, or when it gets cold or rainy outside, your cat may start to act restless and even try to hide. One way to keep warm is to cover their face with their paws. This way, they try to protect themselves from the cold wind and rain.

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Although this behavior may seem strange to us, from the point of view of the cat world, it makes perfect sense. After all, they are experts in staying warm and dry when the weather turns bad!

A sense of security

Cats are very independent creatures, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need a sense of security. When they’re sleeping, they’re vulnerable and exposed.

Cats cover their face with their paws while sleeping, and it’s called “tenting.” Tenting is an instinct for felines that dates back to their wild ancestors. In the wild, covering their face helped keep them safe from predators while they slept.

Today, most domestic cats don’t have to worry about predators. But the instinct to a tent is still strong in many of them. When they cover their face while sleeping, it makes them feel safe and secure. It’s also thought to help them regulate their body temperature.

There’s also a scientific reason cats cover their face when sleeping. Cats in the wild rely on their whiskers to help them navigate and hunt for prey. These sensitive hairs can pick up even the slightest vibrations, so covering their face helps them to relax and feel safe.

cat sleeping

Comfortable position for deep sleep

Most of the time, when we see a cat sleeping, they’re in what’s known as the “lordosis position.” They are stretching their back legs behind them and are tucking their front paws under their chest. They often look ready to pounce, but this position is very relaxed for cats.

In this position, cats can easily drift into a deep sleep. And since they’re not using any energy to move around, they can afford to use more energy to heal and repair their bodies. Deep sleep is essential for cats because it helps them restore their physical and mental health after a long day of hunting or playing. And covering the face with paws helps to prolong deep sleep.

Blocking environmental stimulation

Cats are susceptible to environmental stimuli. They want to avoid anything that could wake them up or startle them when resting or sleeping. Blocking out all visual stimulation allows them to relax and fall asleep more easily. It is similar to why humans sometimes cover their eyes with a blindfold when trying to sleep. It just makes it easier to drift off into dreamland.

It is also why you’ll often see cats tucking themselves into small spaces when they sleep. They feel more secure and comfortable when walls surround them. It’s like being in their little cocoon where nothing can bother them.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are a few reasons why cats like to cover their face when they sleep. It could be for warmth, security, or even just because they feel comfortable that way. However, the most likely reason is that it’s an instinct left over from their days as wild predators. By hiding their face, they can stay hidden and avoid becoming prey. Whatever the reason, it’s clear that cats enjoy privacy while they sleep, just like we do. So next time you see your cat sleeping with its face covered, don’t worry — they’re just enjoying a good nap!

About the Author

I’m Peter Emmanuel Rossi, a professional hot tub designer, expert, and founder of ByRossi.

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