Why do cats cover their eyes with their paws when sleeping?

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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, most cats exhibit this behavior. 

Sleeping with their paws covering their eyes is adorable, but it can also serve a purpose for the cat’s overall sleep quality. 

Depending on what activity your cat was doing when it fell asleep, the paws over the eyes could be a coincidence, a way to feel more secure, or a way to keep the sun out of their delicate eyes.

Read on to read why your cat covers their eyes with their paws while they sleep, and whether you should do anything to prevent this behavior. 

Five Reasons Your Cat Covers Its Face While Sleeping 

Why Your Cat Covers Its Face While Sleeping

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

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

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 into their bodies. It also helps to keep their noses warm. 

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. 

When your cat is sleeping, light glaring on their face can be uncomfortable and distract them from sleep. Covering their eyes helps to block out the light so that your cat can sleep soundly. 

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To Feel Safe

Cats are naturally prey, and they 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 be covering their faces to help them feel safer and protect their most vulnerable place on their body from potential predators lurking in the shadows. 

To Switch themselves Off

Like previously mentioned, 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 they 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.  

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 their face, there’s a chance they 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 Should I 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 your cat sleeping with its 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. 

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. 

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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 to be comfortable, it’s best to let them catch up on their rest. 

Is it Normal for Your Cat to Fall Asleep with their Paws on their Face? 

The good news is that almost all cats fall asleep with their 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 predatory 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 things like harsh light or the cold — this is where the paws come in.

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

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