Skip Nav

Why Does My Cat Sleep With His Head Up?

While It Looks Uncomfortable, It's Probably Fine If Your Cat Sleeps With His Head Up

Cats doze in some odd positions, but there's something strange about watching a cat sleep with its head up. Isn't it uncomfortable? Why doesn't their head droop down as your cat descends into dreamland? POPSUGAR talked to two veterinarians to learn more about this odd (yet adorable) cat behaviour.

How Can My Cat Sleep With Its Head Up?

While it may not look fun, sleeping with their head up only indicates that a cat is alert to any possible environmental disruptions and ready to take cover if needed, said Maureen Murithi, DVM. "This goes back to their predatory traits as seen from other members of the feline family like lions and cheetahs." So if a firetruck with its siren on goes wailing by your front window, your cat will already be in position to hop straight off its sunny nap spot and dive under the bed for cover.

As to how it happens, the answer is simple: "A cat sleeping with his head up means that it's relaxed and has stiffened its muscles for support," said Dr. Murithi. Cats can actually stiffen some muscles while they are relaxed, much like when they are twitching their tails or moving their ears while snoozing. Dr. Murithi said that being able to stiffen the neck muscles while relaxing the rest of the body can help cats stay semi-alert to any potential dangers while they are resting. Dr. Muruthi also assured us that a cat sleeping with the head up is completely normal and nothing to be alarmed over, in almost all cases.

Might Sleeping With the Head Up Indicate a Health Problem?

It's probably normal, but if you notice your cat only sleeping with their head up, it could be related to respiratory problems, lung congestion, or heart disease, Joanna Woodnutt, MRCVS, a veterinarian on the advisory team at Miss Cats, told POPSUGAR. Cats who suddenly begin exclusively sleep with their head up or who appear to have difficulty breathing while sleeping with their head up should see a veterinarian to rule out these possibilities.

"[Cats with these conditions] may choose to sleep with their head propped up in order to keep their airways open," Dr. Woodnutt explained, noting that if this is a short-term behaviour, it could also be the feline flu. "Be on the lookout for cats that pant, cannot exercise, or breathe rapidly during rest, as these are signs of hidden heart disease that can be dangerous."

Latest pets