Why do cats cover their eyes with their paws when sleeping? (5 reasons!)

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Cats are known for their long cat naps, but has your cat fallen asleep with their paws covering their eyes? Luckily, your cat is not the only one that does that!

Sometimes, sleeping with paws over their eyes could be just a coincidence; other times, they do that to make themselves feel secure. There can be other reasons too!

Read on to find out why your cat covers its eyes with its paws while sleeping, and whether you should do anything to prevent this behavior. 

Why your cat covers its eyes while sleeping (5 reasons!)

Why Your Cat Covers Its Face While Sleeping

If you notice your cat sleeping with a paw covering its face, don’t panic. It could have fallen asleep in this position for a few different reasons.

Here are 5 reasons your cat covers their face while they sleep. 

Reason 1: To keep themselves warm

A cat’s body temperature is different from that of humans. While humans can tolerate colder temperatures, cats prefer warmer spots. If your cat is covering their face with its paws, it could be doing it to stay warm. 

When they cover their face, it helps them to curl into a smaller ball shape to trap the heat in their bodies. It also helps to keep their noses warm.

Reason 2: To protect their sensitive eyes

The retina of a cat’s eyes is different than a human’s eyes to help aid in their night vision. 

Their retinas have more rod receptors than our eyes, which aid in peripheral vision and seeing in the dark. Because of this, their eyes can be sensitive to bright lights. 

Light glaring on the face can be uncomfortable when your cat is sleeping and distract them from sleep. Covering its eyes helps block out the light so your cat can sleep soundly.

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Reason 3: To feel safe

Cats are natural prey and have natural instincts to help keep them safe from predators. Sleeping is a vulnerable position, so cats sleep in short bursts instead of long, deep sleep like humans.

Your cat could cover their faces to help them feel safer and protect the most vulnerable parts on their body from potential predators lurking in the shadows.

Reason 4: To switch themselves off

Sleeping is a vulnerable activity for cats, so it’s not always easy for them to get comfortable.

If your cat is sleeping with a paw on its face, it could be because it finally found a comfortable position to lay in to get much-needed rest.

The paw over their face could be their way of saying, “don’t bother me.” They don’t want to be disturbed.  

Reason 5: They fell asleep mid-activity

Cats typically spend between 30 and 50 percent of their day grooming themselves. 

That constant grooming can be exhausting, and it doesn’t leave much time to get their necessary cat naps in. 

If your cat has fallen asleep with their paw on its face, there’s a chance it could have fallen asleep mid-grooming because they were so tired.

If they were licking their paw to clean their ears, it would lay against their face if they fell asleep. 

What to do when my cat sleeps and covers its face

What Should I Do When My Cat Sleeps and Covers Its Face

To ensure your cat gets the most comfortable sleep possible, follow these 4 tips if you see it sleeping with paws over its face. 

Draw the curtains

If your cat sleeps in a bright spot with the sun shining through the window, it could be glaring on their face and hurting their eyes. 

If you see your cat basking in the sunshine with paws on its face, draw the curtains or pull down the shades to protect its eyes. 

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Raise the temperature 

If it’s winter or you keep your house particularly cold, your cat could be folding themselves into a ball to stay warm. 

Raise the temperature in your house, if possible, to make your cat feel more comfortable. Heated beds are also a great solution to keep your cat warm. 

Move the cat’s bed

If you notice that your cat’s bed is placed in an especially sunny area or near a cold window, move the bed to a warmer, darker area. 

During the winter, placing their bed in front of a heater vent will keep their bed warm, and you can also add an additional blanket to their bed for extra warmth.

Do not disturb

The best thing to do for your cat when you find them sleeping with their paws over their face is to leave them alone. 

Cats need their sleep, and there’s a great chance that the paw is their “do not disturb” signal. 

If your cat appears comfortable, it’s best to let them catch up on their rest.

Is this behavior normal?

The good news is that almost all cats fall asleep with paws on their face at some point, and it’s nothing to worry about.

Cats are crepuscule, not nocturnal like most people think. They are most active during dawn and dusk, and in between, they sleep in short bursts, often only minutes at a time. 

They’re always on constant alert, ready to run, hide, or attack if a predator shows up. 

Because of this natural instinct to sleep for short periods in case of attack, sleeping times are precious. They don’t want to be disturbed by harsh light or the cold — this is where the paws come in.

If your cat seems uncomfortable, follow the above tips to make their sleeping area more comfortable.

If your cat still seems stressed or you notice they’re pawing at their face while awake, you should consult your vet.