Why Do Cats Cover Their Faces When They Sleep?

A grey and white cat covering its face with its front paws

Cats are cute pets, there’s so question about it! They show off their beauty in many ways. You may find that your feline friend likes to sleep in different positions. And in most cases, your beloved little companion sleeps while covering its face at bedtime, using either its claws or its tail. You may have noticed your cat sometimes sleep with their paws covering their faces. This article uncovers the great question of “Why do cats cover their faces when they sleep”.

You clearly believe that sleep looks easy in case of cats. You must experience that a cats steps out of the back of the sofa, spread out in the middle of the room’s floor and even over this fresh laundry basket. But one thing always forces you to raise your eyebrows: she covers her face when she sleeps. This is one of the little behaviours that practically all cats have.

[icon name=”info-circle” prefix=”fas fa-2x”] You may also be interested in our article on What Are Cat Zoomies?

When it comes to animal behaviour, there are only two possible explanations. It is either inherited or acquired. So, why do cats cover their faces while sleeping? Actually, this sleeping behaviour and posture can be both acquired or inherited. Both environment and genetics play their role in this.

To understand cat sleeping pattern and behaviour, you must read the recent article published by Willian Dement M.D., which shows low voltage, fast electroencephalogram patterns during behavioural sleep in the cats.


The main reason to cover their faces sleeping is to keep the nose and body warm during sleep. When a cat pulls its claws or tail around its face, it usually converts into a lovely furball. This round shape enables the cat to retain maximum heat, thus getting a comfortable sleep. But while this is the main reason cats cover their faces while sleeping, there are many other explanations too.

How Much Do Cats Sleep?

A ginger cat laying down covering his face with his front arm

Like most members of a cat’s family, domestic cats love to sleep. Cats are known to sleep 15 hours a day, usually, while they can sleep up to 20 hours a day in some conditions.

In general, grey, cold, or drizzle conditions lead to longer sleep times. Cats have only some essential functions in their sleep cycles such as feeding, drinking, playing, stalking, and emptying their bowels.

To understand cat sleeping cycle better a young scientist Reidun Ursin recently published a research paper which indicates the two stages of slow-wave sleep in the cats and their relation to REM sleep

Cats understand that getting a good night’s sleep has a lot to do with energy. Besides, a cat may be at risk of sleep deprivation. And to successfully overcome such dangers, the cat will need to retain as much energy as possible while sleeping. Bending into a small furball reduces the cat’s surface area, and they retain maximum body heat.

Other Reasons Why Cats Cover Their Face When They Sleep:

Cats cover their faces when they are asleep for a variety of reasons. As it gives cats a sense of security, the cat’s nose stays warm, and the eyes are protected. Hiding their face, the cats feel safe and sleep well while doing that.

1.     It’s comfortable

Think about all the positions you sleep in. You can start your back with your arms around you, but you are moving/stretching one arm across your chest and the other over your head after a morning walk. Simple and easy – it’s comfortable for you. The same thing applies to cats. Cats gently cover their face as this becomes the most comfortable position for them.

2.     Position of sleep (It depend upon individual preference)

Almost every cat has different sleeping positions that are comfortable for them. Every cat has its preferences. Some cats like to stretch their front legs over their heads while sleeping on their stomachs or backs.

Some cats cover their face with their legs or tails because they find it a comfortable way to sleep. This is a relaxing way to deal with the placement of a cat’s paws.

3.     Blocking Out Light

A close up of a grey and white cat covering its face with a few

Cats cover their faces to block the sun’s rays in their eyes.They do this to prevent the sun’s rays from reaching her eyes. Cats are good at sniffing toasts, but they also like to keep the hot sun away from their eyes.

Cats love the sun and are good at finding places to sleep where they are “fried” by the sun. However, if a cat is exposed to the sun, it also catches the sun’s rays, which can be very annoying to cats’ eyes.

To confirm our claim mentioned above about the cats covering their face to protect them from shiny waves you can study the research study of Margaret S. Livingstone & David H. Hubel which shows the effects of sleep and arousal on the processing of visual information in the cat.

The exposed cat may use its claws or tail to keep the hot sun out of sight. When cats try to sleep throughout the day, many cats prefer the blackout curtains that some people have in their homes. After that, the cat is in the shade and does not need to cover its face.

4.     Cats Cover Their Face While Stretching Their Body:

Another reason cats hide their faces is when they are stretching their bodies. This is a comfortable way to sleep. Cats like to keep warm. Covering the face with claws or tail (covering the nose), the nose stays warm and the rest of the body.

When a cat is lying on its head, and its eyes are partially closed, the cat occasionally falls asleep with its moving ears. The cat’s eyes are tightly closed, and it usually rolls around in a warm place with a night of deep sleep. You often see the cat cover its face with its paws or tail when it is fast asleep.

5.     A Sense Of Security

When domestic cats sometimes act as predators, they often hunt. Therefore, they are working hard to find places to sleep that make them feel safe. Your cat may like to lie on the floor in the sun or sleep in a laundry basket, it is always important to feel safe. By hiding their faces, they get this feeling.

Also, cats need to feel safe all the time for their better growth and nourishment. This is not an easy task during a snooze session. That’s why you may have noticed that most cats shake their heads, leaving their body in a straight line.

8.     Looks Adorable And Lovely:

Cats have many ways to communicate with their owners, and in doing so, they behave differently. Detecting the behaviour of the cat becomes a bit of a challenge in some conditions.

Sometimes a kitty works so beautifully that its owner can’t help but smile and be happy. And covering their face with paws or tail is one of them. By doing this, they look adorable and lovely. They also sometimes do this to seek the attention of their pet parents.

Conclusion: Why Do Cats Cover Their Faces Whilst They Sleep

You may have seen your cat covering her face, but have you ever wondered why cats do that? They hide their face when they are asleep to keep their body warm. The main reason cats cover their faces while sleeping is to keep their nose and other body parts warm.

Cats stick out like a ball, and this is the best way to stay warm. The cats are sleep calmly under their claws. They wrap one foot or tail around their face, and this position helps keep their body retain heat.


Rochelle is a self-claimed crazy cat lady and proud cat mum to Owlie! She has owned, rescued, and fostered cats throughout her whole life. Rochelle created Cats On My Mind as a hub for likeminded cat parents to get all the information they will ever need to give their fur babies their best life!

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