Why Do Cats Cover Their Faces When They Sleep

Cats have some truly fascinating habits. No matter how long you have cared for companion cats, you probably learn something new every day.

This is why cats can also make great teachers. As you watch your cat, you may catch yourself wondering why your kitty likes to cover their face when they sleep. This leads you to do some research to see what other cat owners say.

Why do cats cover their faces while they sleep? Let’s find out now!

Why Do Cats Cover Their Faces When They Sleep?

If you have ever used an eye mask or covered up your face with your pillow or blanket while sleeping, you have already discovered one possible reason cats cover their faces while they sleep.

Covering the face and eyes is a great way to block out the light. It is also a great way to feel more calm and relaxed, which makes sleep come easier.

Learn About the Most Common Cat Sleeping Positions

This short interesting YouTube video explains the most commonly-observed feline sleeping positions both in the wild and in a captive setting.

As you will notice, some sleeping positions may indicate you need to make some adjustments to your cat’s area to provide more security and a sense of calm.

In this second short YouTube video, you can learn more about possible reasons why your cat may choose to cover their face while sleeping.

Possible Reasons Your Cat Covers Face While Sleeping

Short of inventing a “cat to human” translator, we really can only guess at why many can cover their faces while they sleep.

One thing we do know – courtesy of cat owners around the world – is that this behavior is pretty common in pet cats. Many cats will choose to cover their faces while they sleep.

But why is this such a common cat behavior? Why does it keep showing up even in places where nearly everything else about a particular pet cat’s surroundings, lifestyle, and home might be very different?

If cats do it no matter what type of living situation they are in, what their particular breed is, what time of day or night it happens to be, their age or gender, or stage of life, then this points to some level of evolutionary or instinctual response.

Interesting. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular theories for why cats like to cover their faces when they sleep.

Your cat is seeking security

As Catwatch Newsletter points out, cats may be predators, but they can also be prey.

In other words, even though your cat lives a pampered life as a companion feline, those instincts to self-protect remain strong.

It is quite possible that your cat feels more secure drifting off to sleep with their face covered up.

Your cat is conserving body heat

Depending on your cat’s breed and age, as well as what season it is and how much shedding is going on, that lovely thick fur coat may not always be so thick and insulating.

Kittens have finer, more sparse coats than do adult cats. Senior cats often have some degree of hair loss with age.

Plus, as Web PetMD points out, seasonal shedding happens to every cat (even the so-called “non-shedding” breeds).

Your cat is trying to block out light

Cats don’t have the same day and night wake and sleep cycles that people do. Although it is likely you already know that if you keep a daily company with a cat!

As The National Sleep Foundation reports, a typical cat will sleep as much as 16 hours per day, and some cats will sleep as much as 20 hours per day.

When you sleep 16 to 20 hours per day, you are definitely going to be sleeping during the day as well as at night. This means sometimes you will have to deal with bright light as you are trying to fit in yet another nap.

It is quite likely that cats may cover their faces when they sleep to help block out ambient light and get a deeper rest.

Your cat is too tired to change positions

There is some speculation that cats may sometimes sleep with their paws over their faces because they are quite simply too tired to move.

As the Animal Care Center Veterinary Clinic highlights, some cat breeds are naturally more high energy than other cat breeds.

So if your cat is naturally low energy to start with, it probably doesn’t take much to tucker them out. Similarly, a high energy cat that has to do a lot of running and playing to rest well will probably be wiped out when nap time finally arrives.

Your cat just likes to sleep that way

It can be interesting to observe your cat see if they seem to have a favorite sleeping position.

As this funny Bored Panda post outlines, cats can have some pretty strange sleeping positions. And for a really tired cat, pretty much any sleeping position will do – even the ones that seem downright dangerous from our point of view.

So if you see your cat sleeping with a covered face day after day and night after night, it is possible this is one of your kitty’s favorite snoozing positions.

This is especially likely if your cat has other positions for naps but always covers their face no matter what position the rest of their body may be in.

Could Cats Covering the Face Mean Your Kitty Is Sick?

Like nearly all animals, whether wild or domestic, cats still have a very strong inner drive to conceal all signs of sickness or weakness.

This is a nod to the many millennia cats spent in the wild, where showing weakness could mean you were the easy target for hungry predators.

One question many cat owners worry about is whether a cat covering their face during sleep could possibly mean their cat is sick.

VCA Animal Hospital points out that any sudden or gradual change could potentially be a warning sign of the onset of illness or disease.

This is especially true if your cat is getting older and if you see signs of a change in overall energy levels as well as sleep position.

Joint pain or arthritis

For example, a cat suffering from joint pain such as arthritis might be less likely to move around a lot to get comfortable for sleeping because it hurts to move.

Low body temperature

As Senior Cat Wellness points out, if your cat sleeps curled up in a little ball with a covered face, this could mean they are trying to conserve body heat, especially in the nose, ears, and paw pads.

respiratory or dental infection

A cat that is sleeping on their side might be having trouble breathing due to respiratory infection or inflammation. Paws over the face might mean there is facial pain due to inflammation from infection in the nasal passages or teeth.

Facial pain or injury

A cat that sleeps with paws over the face might also be trying to conceal pain or an injury in the covered area.

Toxic exposure or systemic illness

Because cats have a third eyelid, called the nictitating membrane, it is possible for them to sleep with paws over their face while still technically keeping their eyes open.

This is a sleeping position a sick cat might adopt to be ready to react quickly without having to expend extra energy.

Is There Something Wrong if Your Cat Doesn’t Cover Their Face During Sleep?

While many cats do like to cover up their faces during naps and sleeping, each cat is unique.

If you have been reading through this article and are now worried because your cat never covers their face during sleep, it is important to know there is nothing specific you need to worry about.

The only time you should worry is if you see a sudden change in a typical sleep position or in how much or how well your cat sleeps. While some cats love to cover their face while sleeping, other cats sleep perfectly well without doing this.

The best approach to take is to reach out to your feline veterinarian if you see changes in your cat’s sleep positions or frequency or quantity of sleep and you suspect there may be something wrong.

Cats can suffer from hormonal imbalances, joint pain, and other health issues that also plague people at different stages throughout life. These health issues can affect sleep.

Your feline veterinarian can examine your kitty and do relevant tests to find out if there is anything that is causing your cat discomfort or pain.

This is the fastest way to put your mind at ease and also make sure your cat stays well-rested, healthy, and happy.