Cat’s are adorable enigmas. Not only are they picky little things, only luxuriating only in certain boxes and with particular toys. They're also sneaky, lying on their backs and luring you in with belly rubs, only to snap at the hand that pets them. Their sleep habits, however, are less of a mystery.
Felines sleep a lot, clocking as much as 16 hours of shuteye per day. This is all a result of their previous lifestyle: In the wild, cats needed to chase and capture prey in short, quick bursts, so time not spent hunting was spent conserving their energy. (Just take a look at lions.)
During their long bouts of rest, cats sleep in a variety of awwww-inspiring positions, each of which is determined by how secure they feel in their environment. To find out more, we contacted Dr. Elizabeth Colleran, a vet and former president of the Association of American Feline Practitioners, who took us on a walking tour of kitty dreamland.
Sleeping curled up with its tail wrapped around its body shows that a cat senses no immediate threats. The compact shape also conserves heat on cold days.
The Cuddle Puddle
Have multiple felines? Cats will sleep touching other cats if they’ve known each other since they were kittens. When it comes to co-sleeping, cats only trust the feline companions they consider family.
Like many animals, cats love the security and comfort of sleeping in warm, dark places. That’s why you’ll often find them curled up inside a linen drawer or under the covers near your feet. Whether or not it's good for people to share beds with cats is a different question
The Half Close
For the first 10-30 minutes of sleep, cats are on high alert. Although they may appear to be totally knocked out, the slightest sound will jolt them awake. This is an inherited state, as their larger, fiercer ancestors were wary of things that went bump in the day and night.
The Press Paws
Sleeping on all four feet could be a sign that a cat feels unsafe and wants to be in a position that enables a quick getaway. However, it could also indicate serious health issues. To prevent compressed lungs, a cat with problems like pneumonia will try to keep its chest elevated above the ground by resting on its paws.
When a cat sleeps with one eye open, it perceives a potential threat in its surroundings. One side of the brain sleeps, while the other stays awake. This is called unihemispherical sleep and also occurs in birds and aquatic mammals, who must rise to the water's surface to breathe air while they’re sleeping.
Only a truly comfortable cat will sleep in this vulnerable pose, because it would too long to assume a position to flee. Consider yourself lucky if your feline regularly naps in this manner. Just be careful when you go for its belly. The only thing more bite-y than a cat is a drowsy cat.