Why Do Cats Sleep in a Ball? [2022 factsheet]

Why Do Cats Sleep in a Ball?

So, it’s time for bed again and you watch your cat curl its body into a tight little ball before they fall asleep. Night after night, this is the only way they’ve slept.

You barely ever see them sleeping sprawled out and it’s a rare occurrence to see them napping on their back. What does this mean? Is something wrong? Why do cats sleep in a ball?

These are a few common questions that every cat owner has considered at one point or another. So stay calm, because there are perfectly normal explanations for your cat’s behavior.

Why do cats sleep in a ball? Is it Normal?

Cats are amazing pets with some pretty comical and unique personalities. That being said, it’s hard to always understand what is normal versus abnormal behavior patterns for them.

Seeing your cat curl up in a ball to sleep every night might be a little alarming. Fear not, cats sleep in a ball for protection, warmth, normality, and comfort. Yup, you read that right, sleeping in a ball is a completely normal thing for your cat to do.

They actually prefer to sleep like this for a few reasons that we will explain later. It’s hard not to worry, but rest assured that your cat is not having a difficult time sleeping every night.

If this sounds like something you have been wondering a lot about, keep reading to learn more about why cats find this sleeping position so appealing.

Cats sleep in a ball for protection

Similar to humans, most of their vital organs are located within their midsection/stomach area. In the wild, they would naturally sleep in a curled-up position in order to protect themselves from a potential attack.

Sleeping sprawled out on their backs leaves them vulnerable to any potential predators. If they were to be attacked, their vital organs and head will be tucked close together away from harm. They can also react quickly to any potential danger in this position, all they have to do is stand up.

A sleeping cat is an exposed cat, so they prioritize sleeping in a position that allows them to react quickly. A cat sleeping in a ball every night does not mean they don’t trust you though. In fact, it’s actually the opposite.

Imagine spotting a bear outside and going over to sleep next to it, not the greatest idea in any situation. If your cat is curling up next to you for bed, this is a great sign of trust between you.

Protecting their vital organs is just a natural instinct they have, so don’t take it personally when they curl up next to you.

So, one of the main reasons a cat will sleep in a ball is for protection. This doesn’t mean they are wary of you, it is just in their nature to be aware of any potential danger, even if none exists.

People do the same thing. If someone flinches, you are immediately moving away without even having to see the potential danger. Just know that your cat is not sleeping like this because there is something wrong, they just want to be prepared.

Cats sleep in a ball for warmth

If your cat is curled up in a ball all the time, make sure you check the thermostat to see if the temperature might be too low. Cats will curl their body as tightly as they can to try and generate more warmth for themselves.

If your cat is always in a ball, even when they aren’t sleeping, it might be a little too cold in your house.

Of course, some cat breeds will struggle with getting cold quicker than others. If you have a hairless cat, remember that they don’t have the necessary fur to block out any cold weather. Even the slightest breeze can leave them shaking and shivering.

Even a cat with fur may struggle to stay warm if the environment is too cold for them. Sleep is important for everybody, cats included, so do your best to create a cozy environment that they feel comfortable sleeping in.

If the thermostat is broken or you can’t afford to have the heat on all the time. Consider getting a sweater or some pajamas that your cat can wear to bed. This will help them not have to work so hard to stay warm at night.

They may still sleep in a ball, but it won’t be because they need to preserve every bit of heat. Also, as mentioned in the previous section, cats will prioritize heating their midsection because their vital organs are there.

If they live outside when it’s cold, they will want to sleep curled up in a ball to keep their main organs from shutting down. It most likely isn’t THAT cold in your house, but cats have natural instincts that kick in when needed.

Cats sleep in a ball for normality

One of the less common reasons that your cat might be curling up in a ball is because it’s something they have done their whole life. There are plenty of cat owners that rescued their cats from less than ideal situations.

If a cat has come from a mill or a breeder that forced them into cages, making themselves as small as possible might be second nature for them. There is little to no extra room in breeding cages to sit down, let alone sleep.

So any chance they can get to rest will be in a tight ball in order to take up as little space as possible.

While this is a sad reality for many cats, it actually is more common than you may think. If you are concerned this could be your cat’s past, look into their background a little to see what you can find.

Even if you discover that your cat was forced into small spaces with a bunch of other cats during their time at a mil, try not to worry. Sleeping curled up in a ball may be their coping strategy, but it isn’t dangerous.


Even if your cat had a difficult past, do your best to give them a brighter future. Don’t stress over them sleeping in a ball, if that is what they’re used to, let them do it. Just remember to keep an eye on them and to create a space where they feel comfortable and safe around you.

Cats sleep in a ball for comfort

The fourth and final reason that cats sleep curled up in a ball is for comfort. What is your favorite position to sleep in? Well, that’s the equivalent of sleeping in a ball for cats, it’s just really comfy.

Plus, they won’t have to worry about their safety when they are already in the safest position to sleep in. They can let down their guard a little and really fall into a deep sleep. Cats are pretty efficient in everything they do, even in their sleep they prioritize their day.

If you see your cat sleeping in a ball almost every night, don’t disturb them. Imagine someone seeing you sleeping soundly and they keep shaking you awake to ask if you’re okay. You obviously just want to keep track of your cat’s wellbeing, but they might not see it that way.

Constantly disturbing your cat’s rest can lead to a bunch of other problems, so let them sleep when you find them in dreamland. This is a perfectly normal sleeping position for them, and it’s actually the one they prefer.

Sleeping in a ball allows your cat to have both safety and comfort at the same time, the best of both worlds.

So, if you see your cat curled in a ball fast asleep, maybe take a picture to remember the moment, but try not to wake them up. Your cat is in dreamland catching fish and chasing mice, so let them rest and catch up on the sleep they definitely earned.

Conclusion


So, if you were thinking to yourself “why do cats sleep in a ball?”, hopefully, you can take a deep breath knowing your question was answered here. Cats can be so picky about their environment and how things are set up.

Seeing your cat sleep in a ball all the time might have set off a few alarm bells that either something was wrong or you messed up in some way. Well, rest assured that cats sleep in a ball for protection, warmth, normalcy, and comfort.

Although your cat sleeps in a position that is similar to many other species, your fur baby is still very unique, so learn their behaviors and see what works best for both you and them.

We always want the best for our feline friends, meaning that you never want them to be uncomfortable or in pain. It’s always reassuring to find out that your cat is not behaving in a way you should be concerned about.

So, next time you go to bed, get comfortable knowing that your best friend is sleeping soundly beside you.

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