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5 Cat Sleeping Positions When Sick And Their Meaning

5 Cat Sleeping Positions When Sick And Their Meaning

Most cats will not easily show you that they’re in pain. This is related to their life in the wild, where they tried their best not to show their vulnerability since this made them easier prey for predators.

So, it’s not very likely that your domestic cat will whine, cry, or ask for your help in any way if she’s not feeling well.

Luckily, some cat behaviors can help their owners understand when something’s wrong. After all – you, as a cat parent, are the person who knows her the best!

Did you ever pay attention to your kitten’s sleeping position? It might sound odd, but this can actually be one of the signs that your cat is sick.

Continue reading to find out more about 5 cat sleeping positions when sick and their meaning.

1. The Loaf Position

the cat sleeps on a wooden board

This sleeping position is called the loaf since a cat sleeping like this resembles the shape of a loaf of bread.

As petMD explains, this describes a cat keeping her front paws curled underneath her body, while her head is up.

This way of sleeping could indicate that something is wrong with the cat’s paws. Maybe a cat has been injured, or there’s a foreign object stuck in her paws, and this is very uncomfortable for her.

If you notice any other signs of distress in your cat’s paws, such as difficulty walking, you should check them immediately. 

Of course, you shouldn’t do this while your cat’s sleeping, since this part of her body is extremely sensitive, and she might not like you touching them, especially without warning, and while she’s resting.

If you find anything odd with your cats’ paws, you should consult your veterinarian.

2. Sleeping Flat On Stomach

A gray cat teenager lies on its stomach on a plaid blanket, asleep on the window

If your cat sleeps flat on her stomach, while having all her paws outstretched, this could mean that she’s really hot, and is trying to find comfort in a cold surface beneath her.

Is it dangerous if your cat is feeling too hot? It can be, since this might indicate that she’s having a heatstroke.

Emily Hall and her associates [1] explain how heatstroke in pets can happen due to two factors – exposure to high environmental temperatures, or strenuous exercise.

Some of the common symptoms of heat stroke in felines are excessive drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, red gums, and panting.

This condition requires urgent medical help.

3. Lying On The Side

the cat sleeps on its side on the tiles

Your cat seems to suddenly like sleeping on her side? This could mean she might have a certain health problem that’s making it hard for her to sleep in other positions she usually prefers, like being curled up in a ball.

This sleeping condition could indicate that your cat’s having trouble breathing. By lying on the side, she’s trying to find a position that will allow her to breathe normally, and that will decrease the pressure on her lungs.

Breathing problems in felines can be a sign of many different problems, such as asthma, cat flu, heart problems, or even some tumors.

As soon as you notice any breathing difficulties in your cat, you should take her to a vet clinic.

4. Sleeping Inside The Litter Box

the cat sleeps in the sandbox

Your cat usually sleeps in her own bed, your bed, on the sofa, or some other nice and soft place, but she suddenly seems to prefer sleeping in the litter box?

This place is definitely a weird one for any animal to choose to sleep in, but is especially unusual for felines who adore being clean, and normally don’t even like their litter box close to their food and water bowls.

So, why would your cat act like this? This could mean she’s sick, and, most usually, this will be some kind of urinary health problem, such as the Urinary Tract Infection (UTI). 

According to Guilford-Jamestown Veterinary Hospital, some of the most common symptoms of this health problem are a cat’s pain or discomfort when urinating, passing bloody urine, and urinating around the house.

The sick cat will feel like she needs to urinate all the time, so she might even tend to sleep inside her litter box.

If you suspect this or any other kind of urinary problem in your kitten, you should consult your vet.

5. Sleeping With Eyes Half Open

the cat sleeps with half-opened eyes

Seeing their pet sleep with one or both of her eyes half open is definitely weird for cat parents.

This might happen due to an injury on a cat’s nictitating membrane, which is a third translucent layer underneath the cat’s two eyelids.

If this membrane is scratched or injured, a cat won’t be able to completely close her eyes, even when she’s sleeping.

Any kind of eye problem in your kitten requires your consultation with a veterinarian, especially if you notice any other symptoms, such as a cat squinting one eye, or discharge coming out from her eyes.

What Are Some Other Sings That Can Show You Your Cat Is Sick?

Cat’s sleeping position can show you your cat’s condition, but this isn’t always a reliable sign that your pet is sick.

Sometimes, she might just have changed the way she’s sleeping, and, perhaps, she will be back to her old sleeping position in a day or two.

If you don’t notice any other signs of distress in her, you shouldn’t panic, since there is a big chance nothing is wrong with your kitten.

However, some symptoms will show you your cat is indeed sick and needs your help. Some of them are the following:

• Behavioral changes, such as lethargy, lack of activity, hiding, or even aggressive behavior

• Changes in feeding habits – maybe your kitty eats more or less than usual, or refuses treats that she’s normally crazy about

• Changes in stool, such as bloody feces

• Changes in appearance – the cat’s fur can look lifeless and separated

• Changes in vocalization – many sick cats will begin to meow more often and louder

The best way to take care of your cat’s health is to take it to the vet regularly. Of course, as soon as you notice any change or symptom of illness, you should also make a call to the vet to see what you should do.


Hopefully, this article gave you a fair insight into the cat sleeping positions when sick.

Cats that are suffering from a certain condition can show symptoms, such as behavioral changes, changes in appetite and litter box use, as well as changes in appearances, but they might also change the way they’re sleeping.

I want to emphasize once more that all of these sleeping positions aren’t a one hundred percent reliable sign that your cat is sick.

To be completely sure about your cat’s health, you should consult your veterinarian, and, of course, react as soon as you notice any sign of distress in your kitten.

[1] Hall EJ, Radford AD, Carter AJ. Surveillance of heat-related illness in small animals presenting to veterinary practices in the UK between 2013 and 2018. Open Vet J. 2022 Jan-Feb;12(1):5-16. DOI, Retrieved June 09. 2023.

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