Why do Cats Curl in a Ball When They Sleep?

Why do Cats Curl in a Ball When They Sleep?

Why do Cats Curl in a Ball When They Sleep?

Whether they are sprawled out or curled up into a ball, cats are absolutely adorable when they are sleeping. But what does it mean when a cat chooses to sleep all curled up? Is it different than with the other common sleeping positions for cats?

There are several different reasons why cats sometimes curl in a ball when they sleep. Most of the time it is just the most comfortable sleeping position for them. However, other times it may be a sign that a cat is cold, stressed, or not feeling well.

In this article, we will be describing all of the reasons why cats curl in a ball when they sleep in greater detail. We will also be getting into the other common sleeping positions for cats and what they mean. Alright, let’s get into it.

4 Reasons Cats Curl Into a Ball When They Sleep

There are four main reasons why cats sometimes curl into a ball when they sleep. Most cats will do this simply because they are comfortable or are trying to stay warm. Other times though, curling up into a ball while sleeping can be a sign of stress, anxiety, pain, or illness in cats. Here are the four reasons cats curl up when they sleep.

They Find it Comfy

Many animals will curl up in their beds or blankets when they sleep because it is very comfortable. Cats will especially do this when in round cat beds or small spaces. Some cats sleep this way more than others, so if this is a common sleeping position for your cat you most likely do not need to worry.

Even if this is a somewhat uncommon way for your cat to sleep, it is most likely fine if they are showing no signs of stress, anxiety, pain, or illness. Sometimes it is just comfier for cats to curl up for their nap.

Why do Cats Curl in a Ball When They Sleep in Cooper City, FL

They are Feeling Stressed or Anxious

Stress and anxiety can also cause a cat to curl up into a ball when they sleep. They do this because it helps protect their head and vital organs. This is a defense mechanism that cats innately have to protect them from harm in the wild. Although not every cat will necessarily curl up to sleep because they are stressed or anxious, it is still helpful for cat owners to know the signs of stress and anxiety in cats. Here are some signs of a stressed or anxious cat to look out for.

If you believe that your cat is experiencing chronic stress then it is a good idea to consult with your vet. This way they can give you advice on how to make your cat feel more comfortable, and they may even be able to prescribe your cat some anti-anxiety medication.

They are Trying to Keep Warm

It is incredibly common for cats to curl into a ball when they sleep simply because it helps keep them warm. This is yet another survival instinct that helps cats survive in the wild. So, if it is a bit cold and your cat is doing this, this is most likely the cause. It is also something that cat owners do not need to worry too much about.

They are not Feeling Well

Cats will sometime also curl up into a ball because they are experiencing pain or illness. Though not necessarily an incredibly common cause of this sleeping position, it does occur. The best way to discern if your cat is curled up because they are not feeling well is to look for signs of pain or sickness in cats. Some common signs of pain in cats include:

  • Sitting or walking with an abnormal gait
  • Excessive grooming or a sudden lack of grooming
  • Increased vocalizations
  • Having difficulty walking, jumping, climbing, or changing sitting/sleeping positions
  • Painful facial expressions

It is also a good idea to be aware of and know the signs of illness in cats. Here are some of the most common symptoms that cats emit when they are sick.

  • Vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation
  • Nasal discharge
  • Discharge coming from the eyes
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Reduced appetite
  • Coughing or sneezing
  • Unusual odors
  • Increased or reduced urination
  • Heavy, shallow, or labored breathing

If you suspect that your cat is sick or in pain then it is recommended that you take them to the vet immediately.

Other Cat Sleeping Positions and What They Mean

There are other common sleeping positions for cats besides curling up into a ball. Here are some of the other cat sleeping positions and what they mean.

Sprawled Out

Oftentimes cats will lay sprawled out because they are trying to cool down on a hot day. This is especially the case if they are laying on a cool surface such as a tiled floor. Some cats will also sleep in this way if they are feeling comfortable.

Laying Like a Loaf

When cats sleep sitting up with their legs tucked underneath it is often referred to as the cat laying like a bread loaf. This is due to the appearance that the position makes. When cats lay this way it helps protect their vital organs and stay warm, much like curling into a ball does. However, when cats lay like this they can also get up to run or defend themselves at a moment’s notice.

Laying With Their Belly Exposed

As we have mentioned previously, cats instinctively curl in a ball when they sleep to protect their important organs. So, when a cat is laying with their belly exposed this means that they feel very safe and they are confident that they are not going to be startled or injured.

Laying on Their Side

Side sleeping is another very common sleeping position for cats. Like with laying on their backs, their belly is exposed when laying on their side. This means that the cat is feeling safe and comfortable taking a nap.


Cats curl into a ball for a number of reasons. When your cat is sleeping around you, let them have some peace and quietly observe to make sure that everything is okay with them. If your cat is sleeping more often, seems lethargic, or sick, it might be time to see a vet.

If you are located near  Cooper City, FL  and looking for a veterinarian to see your cat, Embassy Lakes Animal Hospital is here to help. Our expert veterinarians can be reached at (954) 432-5811, or you can Request an Appointment Online.

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