Why Do Cats Cover Their Face When They Sleep? 9 Motives For It


Isn’t it the cutest pose when a cat covers her face while sleeping? Oh my gosh! I don’t know how to describe when I see my cat sleeping like that. Cuteness alert! You couldn’t help but wonder why do cats cover their face when they sleep.

We are familiar with the fact that even though they are playful living beings, they love to sleep as much as they love to play. Many of their sleeping positions are actually adorable, from laying out sprawling on your bed or curled up in a ball. However, no matter the position they sleep, their paws are on their faces most of their sleeping time.

Indeed, there are reasons behind almost any behavior, and this one is not excluded. This is their top one comfortable position since it keeps them cozy and warm without any noise or light to bug them.

Believe it or not, every cat has a different personality, and according to that, it will have different sleeping positions. Still, this sleeping position seems to be a favorite for almost every cat. We will now see each of the 9 reasons in depth so we can understand our feline friends!

Why Do Cats Cover Their Face When They Sleep?

You’re an owner of a domestic cat, so you are already familiar with their love to sleep so much. Their nap is usually 15 hours long, but some who like to sleep even more will probably snooze for 20 hours.

As soon as the weather becomes cold, gray, and drizzly, soon enough, you’ll see your cat sprawled on the sofa or curled in a ball. We know it ourselves; when the weather is not nice, we just want to be under the blanket, watch Netflix and drink some hot beverage. Cats choose to use their time for sleeping but wake up from their sleep cycles to eat, drink, play and empty their bowels.

Since cats are crepuscular, they’ll use the day to rest and sleep and choose to be active at dusk and dawn. However, since they are small, they have many threats at night—for example, wild dogs, leopards, snakes, wolves, coyotes, etc.

Your purring feline makes sleep so easy to do. She can fall asleep in an instant. But it seems that whenever she falls asleep, she covers her face.

We will now explain 9 reasons for this behavior; keep reading!

1. Comfort

cat sleeping with paw cover its face on white blanket

Why do cats cover their face when they sleep – motive number one: Your cat feels comfortable.

You’ll usually see your cat sleeping in the most unusual places in your home, but it is very likely you’ll find your cat where it is comfortable and warm.

Cats put their paws on their face because it feels great and comfortable in that position. To better understand it, we can look at our sleeping positions. We usually lay on one side and on one of the hands; it is the comfiest sleeping position, especially for a nap. That is just what happens with our feline cuties.

A cat will choose a sleeping position that feels cozy and comfortable, so if that means sleeping outstretched, in a loaf position, or any other pose, it is up to them, right? The better the pose better the sleep!

Every cat is different, so you cannot expect that every cat has the same favorite sleeping pose. However, it seems like the majority of cats are fans of sleeping with their faces covered.

However, you need to know one thing. It is expected that your cat has a favorite sleeping pose, but there should be some variety in their sleeping routines. If the cat sleeps in one pose and one pose only, it could be a sign of some health issue. That’s why it is important to observe it in order to know what is usual and when is the time to worry.

RELATED: Why Do Cats Like Going Under Covers and Blankets?

2. Territory

the cat covers its face with its paw

Why do cats cover their face when they sleep – motive number two: Your cat is marking her territory.

Sometimes, a cat will mark the territory by burying its face into an object rather than its tail or paws. It is not typical behavior to mark territory during sleep, but it is highly possible that they’ve done it before they snooze off like they fall asleep while you groom them.

How do they do that? Their scent glands are located on the tail and paws, but they are also located on their cheeks. Those scent glands are responsible for releasing pheromones that happen to be unique for each cat.

However, other cats can sense the pheromones of other cats. So when they mark their territory by rubbing against it, they leave their pheromones, so other cats can be signaled that the territory is theirs and off the market.

Cats are known for rubbing their faces on objects for this particular reason. My cat often does that around my legs, but it happens to be when she’s hungry. Besides letting me know I’m her property, she’s “screaming”: Feed me, hooman!

RELATED: Why Does My Cat Rub Against My Dog?

3. “I Like To Be Warm And Comfortable”

Shy Cat on Bed

Why do cats cover their face when they sleep – motive number three: I want to be warm and cozy at the same time.

The most logical reason your cat covers its face while sleeping would be in order to keep itself warm. Since cats have higher body temperatures than us, they need more warmth, and that’s why you’ll always see your cat searching for warm places to sleep or just lay down.

The body heat is lower during sleep since they’re just lying there. And parts, where the most heat will be lost are the tips of their noses, ears, and paws.

When they cover their face with their cute paws, they’ll reduce the amount of heat lost while sleeping. This is normal since she just wants to have a comfortable sleep. Besides covering the face with paws, your cat might even stick its head into an object in order to keep the body heat.

The sleeping position you see your cat most of the time is also when cats sleep in a ball; for this reason, of course, they keep their body heat while sleeping.

This covering behavior is likely to be seen in cold seasons, while they like to sleep sprawled out on summer days. We can’t blame them. They do it out of instinct, and when we think about it, it is the cutest, right?

If your cat is cold, make sure to set the temperature that both you and your cat can agree on. Or you can think of getting a heated cat bed that you can purchase from Amazon. However, if your cat covers her face while it is very hot, then behind the covering is totally another reason.

However, this is probably the main reason cats pick this sleeping position, and they just want to be warm and cozy at the same time.

RELATED: Why Do Cats Like Going Under Covers and Blankets?

4. “I Don’t Want To Hear A Thing”

cat sleeping at home

Why do cats cover their face when they sleep – motive number four: Your cat may be blocking out the noise that disturbs her in her sleep.

Cats are known to have an exquisite sense of hearing, and it is logical that even the tiniest sound can make their nap a bad nap. That’s why they often bury their head or cover it to block out all possible noises that can prevent their beloved nap.

However, each cat is different, and if your cat is a deep sleeper, the tiniest sounds won’t wake them up, nor some loud noises; however, there are cats that need complete silence in order to have a good sleep.

They are jumpy beings, and they can easily be scared, and we can connect it with their instinct for survival since wild cats need to be aware of their surroundings each second of their time.

But, in our houses, there is no threat, and that’s why cats block the noise since they know that nothing can harm them. Paws are there to cover up the ears. Or they’ll bury their head into an object.

But be aware that you need to know the difference between a buried head for blocking the noise and head pressing, which can be a sign that she is in pain.

5. “ I Need Darkness”

Cute Tired Orange Cat sleeping with paw on face

Why do cats cover their face when they sleep – motive number five: Your cat may be blocking out the light.

Let’s say that it is a summer day; it is very hot. You see your cat covering its face while sleeping, and it is certain that she doesn’t do it for warmth, so what could it be? Oh, of course, the light from the sun is bothering her daily nap.

Since their activity is mostly during dusk and dawn, their rest is almost constant during the day, when there is light outside.

They constantly seek toasty places to sleep; however, they are not fans of the sun rays going directly at their eyes while they’re adjusting themselves or turning to the other side for a more comfortable position.

Even though cats are heavy sleepers, they can’t fall asleep anywhere, anytime. They prefer it in the dark just like we do. When they put their paws on their face, they block out the light; they have a higher chance of having a great catnap, just like we turn the lights and shut our curtains before we sleep.

As we learned, even though they need a bit of darkness to fall asleep, they are usually in the sunlight; they have a higher body temperature we discussed above. The warmth is more important than the light, hence their sleeping position in the sunlight with their paws on their face.

If you want to help your cat, you can purchase blackout curtains to keep the room cozy and dark.

RELATED: Are Cats Afraid Of The Dark?

6. “Not Available At The Moment”

Thai cat sleeping at home

Why do cats cover their face when they sleep – motive number six: Your cat doesn’t want anyone to disturb her.

Your cat may be trying to tell you that you don’t disturb her in her sleep. Or she’s notifying other pets to be left alone. Their paws on their face maybe mean that they don’t want any contact for some time as they want to be in peace. They are not in the mood to cuddle, play, or do anything rather than sleep.

But I know you cannot help yourself when you see her all cute and stuff with her paws on her face. She will sometimes acknowledge you with purring, but she mostly grumps that she wants to be alone.

If you see her like that, leave her with her favorite thing to do, catnapping! She’ll cuddle and love you after she’s rested in her deep sleep.

7. Sense Of Security

Ginger polydactyl cat hiding face with large paws

Why do cats cover their face when they sleep – motive number seven: Paws on your cat’s face give her a sense of security.

When cats cover their face with paws, it may give them some sense of security. Since in the wild, cats are prey for other larger animals, and it is obvious that they’re the most vulnerable in their sleep, they need to cover their most vulnerable part of the body, which is the face.

Even though your cat is a domestic cat and the chances she will be attacked in her sleep are compared to zero, the behavior is passed down through many years of evolution. It’s their instinct; cats hide their faces while sleeping to feel safer.

While searching for security, your cat can sleep pressed up against you in order to feel safe and secure. That means she trusts you enough to be so close to you in their vulnerable time. And, it is evident that they love the body heat you give off, so she feels more safe, cozy, and comfy.

So the reason might be that she’s protecting her most delicate area in a cat’s body, and she doesn’t want a sudden attack to ruin her face. She desires peaceful sleep, so don’t mind the cute paws on her little face.

Some cats would have a great sense of security only if they choose to bury their head under the blanket or in a laundry basket.

8. “I’m Exhausted”

White cat curled up on a couch with paws covering her face

Why do cats cover their face when they sleep – motive number eight: Your cat might be exhausted.

Your cat may cover her face if she feels tired. Let’s take a look. Cats don’t only cover their face while sleeping, but also they use their paws while grooming. So your cat may have fallen asleep while she was grooming herself, just in the middle of her grooming session.

After the cat wakes up, she will instantly start to groom again, probably picking up where she left. And sleeping with her paws over her eyes, she makes it easy to continue grooming after the catnap.

Her grooming session can exhaust her, leaving her paws on her face. It is not a strange behavior; it is just pure exhaustion.

9. Keeping The Nose Warm

Bashful Gray Cat with Paws over Face

Why do cats cover their face when they sleep – motive number nine: Your cat is trying to keep her nose warm.

As we have learned by now, cats have higher body temperatures, and sometimes, a cat will cover its face with paws to retain the heat of its nose since the nose is usually the coldest part of the cat’s body.

Sometimes they’ll tuck their feet under it and wrap it with a paw or tail to keep the nose warm.

What Do Cats Do When They Sleep?

When a cat falls asleep, she’ll slowly drift into slow-wave sleep before the known REM phase. REM sleep is the stage where cats can dream, and you can notice it by tails, paws, or their whole body twitching.

Wrapping It Up

Why do cats cover their face when they sleep is the question that we hope we answered pretty well and detailed. We are aware that cats will fall asleep in the most unusual places in the strangest poses; however, the pose with their paws over their face seems to be the cutest of them all.

However, to us, it is cute, but for them, it brings them comfort, safety, warmth, and a great way to block the light and noise that stops them from having a good catnapping. Sometimes they’ll groom, get tired of it, and just fall asleep in the middle of their face wash. Ooor, just maybe, your cat is telling you to leave her alone for a couple of hours so she can rest.

With so many offered reasons, it is hard to know which could be the one at a specific moment; however, while you don’t know the reasons behind your cat’s behavior, their sleeping poses make us love them and admire them even more.

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Iram Sharma

Fur-tunare enough to have had cats her entire life, Iram has spent years learning about these fluffy little hunters. Today, Iram is a professional veterinarian and a passionate cat mom who uses her skills to help felines in need. Surrounded by her own feline friends, Iram shares her knowledge and experience with all cat lovers.

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