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Why Do Cats Curl Into Balls When Sleeping? 3 Reasons For This Behavior

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

cat sleeping outside

Have you ever wondered why do cats sleep in a ball? If so, you have come to the right place. In this article, we learn the top three reasons why cats sleep in this way and mention some other sleeping positions to lookout for in your sweet cat.

Chances are that the reasons that your cat sleeps in this position won’t be too shocking. In fact, you will likely find that your cat prefers sleeping in this way for the same reasons you prefer sleeping in your favorite positions. Let’s get started.

Top 3 Reasons Cats Curl Into Balls When Sleeping

tabby cat sleeping in a ball position on a cat tree
Image Credit: Doris Metternich, Pixabay

Although we can never say for certain why cats or other animals sleep the way they do, scientists believe they have a pretty good understanding as to why cats sleep in a ball. Most likely, sleeping in a ball is the safest, comfiest, and warmest position for your cat.

1. It’s Safe

Sleeping is considered of vulnerability as well as a necessity for most animals. Although sleep is required to rejuvenate the body, animals are not on guard or ready to defend themselves in the case of an attack. For this reason, many animals find places and positions to sleep in that can protect them in the case of the worst.

Sleeping in a ball is considered one of the safest sleeping positions for cats and many other animals. Just about every mammal sleeps in a ball at some point or another, including humans. A cat sleeping in a ball is very similar to a human sleeping in the fetal position, for example.

When in a ball, all the most vital organs and face are protected from potential threats. If the cat were to be attacked while sleeping in a ball, its back and tail may be exposed, but the organs that are required for life are better protected. Plus, it’s harder to be snuck up on in this position.

If you notice that your cat curls up around you often, it’s not because your cat feels exposed. Instead, it simply means that the cat feels safe enough that it can sleep soundly around you while still providing extra comfort and safety.

cat sleeping on a bench
Image Credit: Dimitris Vetsikas, Pixabay

2. It’s Comfy

Even if your cat does not feel threatened, it likely loves to sleep in a ball because it is simply a comfy position. For cats, sleeping in a ball is very similar to how humans sleep on their sides. It is simply comfy and their preferred way to sleep.

There’s a very high chance that the increased safety of this position led cats to find this position comfy as well as effective for protection. So, the ball position hits two marks since it protects the cat while also providing it a comfy position to sleep in.

cat sleeping in a ball on cat bed
Image Credit: Angela Lo, Unsplash

3. It’s Warm

There is another major reason why cats sleep in a ball. When sleeping in this position, the cat’s body heat is trapped around the cat’s organs and middle part. Hence, cats are kept warmer while they’re sleeping in a ball.

For house cats, this warmth simply adds to the comfort and relaxation of the sleeping. In comparison, many outside cats find the added warmth a necessity for survival. In the winter, wild cats will often sleep in a ball to ensure their organs are kept at a reasonable temperature despite the cold weather around them.

Other Sleeping Positions to Be On The Lookout For

Although cats often prefer to sleep in a ball, there are other sleeping positions you can lookout for. These other sleeping positions tend to be more vulnerable, which is why house cats sleep in these positions more than feral cats.

Belly Up

cat sleeping with its belly up on a cat bed
Image Credit: Jim Black, Pixabay

Belly up sleeping is considered one of the most vulnerable positions, which is why very few animals sleep in this manner in the wild. In many ways, sleeping belly up provides the opposite experience of sleeping in a ball.

Obviously, a belly-up positioning exposes organs and the cat itself to dangerous if not fatal scenarios. If your cat sleeps belly up around you, it means that the cat is completely relaxed and feels protected by you. It knows there is nothing to fear in your home.


cat side sleeping by the window
Image Credit: Christophe Schindler, Pixabay

Many cats sleep on their side. Side sleeping is very similar to sleeping in a ball, but the cat’s body isn’t wound up quite as tightly. This sleeping position is safer than the belly up, but it is still more vulnerable than the ball position.

If your cat sleeps on its side, it likely finds this position to be the most comfortable. Many house cats sleep on their side because they already have the needed warmth and protection from their surroundings, making the ball position less necessary.


siamese cat napping in a loaf position
Image Credit: anarosadebastiani, Pixabay

The loaf position is whenever your cat sits upright with its paws tucked underneath the body. Most cats do not sleep at night in the loaf position. Instead, it is their ideal position when they’re just taking a quick catnap. The loaf simply provides a convenient spot to rest for a second while still providing a position to take off in the case something interesting happens.


In short, cats often like to curl up in a ball when they sleep for protection, warmth, and comfort. Often, cats sleep in this position for all three reasons, even if they feel completely secure and at peace in their home. So, there’s no need to worry or think your cat fears you if it prefers sleeping in a ball.

If you watch carefully, you will likely find your cat sleeping in other positions as well, such as on its side, back, or loaf. All these positions express comfort and relaxation in your home.

Featured Image Credit: hapibu, Pixabay

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