You might have realized that your cat loves to curl up in various positions when taking a nap. Whether they are lounging on the sofa or snoring away in a dark corner of the house, you will usually find them covering their face with their paws or tail. This might have then led you to an interesting question: Why Do Cats Cover Their Face When They Sleep? Here are the seven possible explanations for this behavior.
While cats are natural predators, in the wild, they were often also prey to other big animals. Over the centuries, cats have instinctively learned to keep their guard up. One of the ways they do this is by covering their faces when they sleep. Why? The face is the most vulnerable part of a cat’s body, and a sudden attack on this area could prove fatal. This is why your feline friend will feel safest when their face is safely tucked away behind their paws. Some cats will even bury their heads under a blanket when napping or burrow into your chest for extra safety.
Besides security, the most likely reason your cat covers their face when sleeping is to keep warm. Cats lose more body heat than usual when they lie still, which is common when they are asleep. Naturally, most of this heat is lost from the extremities, including the tip of the nose, the ears, and the paws. Covering their faces with their tail or paw is one way cats limit the amount of heat lost from their bodies. You may also notice that your cat curls up into a tight ball during nap times or face plants and sleeps entirely face down. Usually, you will observe this behavior during cold seasons. It is recommended that you keep the thermostat in your home at a comfortable, warm temperature reading during winter to keep your cat warm and prevent hypothermia, which can be fatal. You can also provide them with a warm snuggling blanket.
You know how you go through several sleep positions in one night, finding some more comfortable than others? Well, cats also like to be comfortable when they sleep, and they will usually roll around until they find the perfect position. Some cats will sleep on their stomachs, others on their backs, and others contorted into an impossible curl. Others feel more comfortable with their paws over their face. In such cases, your cat covering their face could be nothing more than them liking how the position feels.
4. Blocking Out Noise
Noise and light are both significant hindrances to sleep. Sometimes, your cat will cover their face with their paws to block out ambient noise that would otherwise disturb their sleep. Unlike human beings, who can achieve productive sleep cycles amidst soft noise, cats have an extremely heightened sense of hearing. It is still unclear how noise affects their sleep cycles, but most cats will rouse at the faintest noise. If your cat is sleepy and there is too much noise in their environment, they may warp their tail or paws over their face to try and mask it. You can make life easier for them by eliminating the noise. If the noise in your home is coming from outside, consider closing all open windows and doors to mute it and allow your furry companion to rest.
5. Blocking Out Light
Contrary to what many people believe, cats are not technically nocturnal. As Newsweek explains, they are crepuscular, which means they spend most of the day sleeping and are most active at dawn and dusk. The fact that they sleep when it is light outside could explain why they cover their faces – to block out the light. Light is another major hindrance to peaceful sleep. You will notice that your cat avoids it by choosing relatively dark spots in your home to take its nap. In fact, some cats will only sleep in a dark room. If they cannot find such a room, they will resort to covering their eyes using their tails or paws. Think of it as a natural sleep mask for your feline companion.
6. Too Tired to Move
Cats are high-maintenance balls of energy. Did you know that cats spend one-third of their waking hours grooming themselves? Imagine all that work and energy. Naturally, such a cat would be exhausted by the time they are done with a grooming session. They might be so tired that they fall asleep while cleaning their face and fall asleep with their paw over their eyes. In this case, covering their eyes is not a deliberate action but a rudely interrupted grooming session.
7. Needing Rest
Last but not least, your cat could be covering their face to send you a message: that they do not want to be disturbed. Sometimes your cat does not want to play or be touched and just needs their rest. They will usually signal this to you by moving away and retreating to their favorite corner. Covering their face with their tails and paws could be used to reinforce the message that they just want to sleep.
So, Why Do Cats Cover Their Face When They Sleep? Most cats cover their faces when they sleep to keep their bodies warm and block out excess noise or light. In addition to draping their paws over their faces, you will notice that most cats will also curl into a ball when they sleep. This is an attempt guided by natural instinct to retain maximum heat and facilitate peaceful sleep. However, although this is the main reason for this behavior, we have established that your cat could cover their face for many other reasons, including interrupted grooming. Note, it is vital that you differentiate between covering the face when sleeping and head pressing. Head pressing happens when your cat presses their head against an object in response to pain. If you notice this reaction, consult your vet as soon as possible.