The moment you catch a glimpse of your cat sleeping face down, your heart goes completely crazy, and you think to yourself, “She’s passed away!”. More often than not, she’s happy with her bedding arrangements and taking advantage of your fears to secure as many chicken nuggets as she can while you’re celebrating.
On the other hand, there are worse things that she could be doing with her time. Sure, the fact that she’s sleeping with her face down gives you nightmares and keeps you up at night.
However, she could’ve been keeping you up at night with worse behavior. Meowing your ears off, knocking things down, and flirting with the cat across the street, for example.
And, there are always a couple of pet parents that argue how “You shouldn’t let your fluffer sleep with you!” or “You wouldn’t even know which sleeping positions she prefers IF you didn’t snoop around looking for things to worry about!”.
Truth be told, those pet parents are me! Trust me, there’s nothing worse than looking for trouble where there shouldn’t have been any to start with.
But, there’s something about witnessing your cat’s odd behavior that makes me think we’re dealing with the same troubles. Whether we’re annoyed with our sleep-sabotaging buffoons. Whether we’re freaking out because those same buffoons appear to not be breathing while sleeping face down.
“We’re all in this together”, according to the wise words of the High School Musical crew and we couldn’t agree more. That’s why we decided to do some research on why your cat keeps sleeping face down rather than being the normal, well-behaved kitty you fell for. Here’s what we gathered.
Why is your cat sleeping face down?
Cats are curious creatures, right?! God, there were times when nobody could have convinced me that my fluffer wasn’t made of rubber. She would assume sleeping positions that didn’t appear comfortable at all. She would contort her body each night at midnight and scare me to death – right around Halloween, too.
We’re thinking the same thing, aren’t we? Could there be a meaning behind your cat’s preferred positions? Could there be something you’re not paying attention to whenever she sleeps with her paw pads covering her eyes?
And, not to forget, could there be something going on that could cost you your beauty sleep?
Turns out cats aren’t light sleepers. They don’t mind contorting to make themselves comfortable. They don’t mind switching positions throughout the night and creeping you out with whatever Stranger Things/Vecna type of monstrosity they come up with.
When they’re comfortable, cats don’t overthink whether they’re going scare you away with whatever sleeping position they come up with. And, cats come up with a bunch of positions. Sleeping face down, covering the face with paw pads, or even sleeping like superheroes with paws stretched out, for example.
But, we can’t overlook the fact that those sleeping arrangements communicate “something.” Whenever your cat does something out of the ordinary, chances are she’s trying to communicate how she’s feeling, what she’s thinking, or what she wants you to do.
Cats can’t speak English, which means they resort to whatever help they can get.
Therefore, when you catch a glimpse of your cat sleeping with her face down, take a moment to observe what’s going on. There are a million reasons why she could be doing what she’s doing and none of them are necessarily bad. Other than the possibility that she’s not sleeping face down but rather head pressing!
Cat sleeping face down vs. Cat head pressing
“What are you even talking about?!” might be something you’re wondering right about now. While the prospect of distinguishing between a cat sleeping face down and a cat head pressing might make you rethink your life choices, there’s nothing too difficult about that.
We can agree that the two behaviors are similar. But, they have a couple of distinctions to make your task easier. First things first, your fluffer sleeping face down doesn’t have to be a health-related problem.
Most felines sleep that way because they’re more comfortable when they’re blocking the light. Maybe they even feel safe and secure when they’re faceplanting on top of a blanket that smells exactly like you.
Not only that, but most cats that prefer sleeping face down do that from a young age. Kittens figure out what works for them from the moment they’re born.
They observe the way their mother and other kittens sleep and experiment to check what works best for them. They realize that sleeping face down offers them privacy and a sense of security, and voila – they unlock a new habit!
On the other hand, head pressing doesn’t have anything to do with comfort. Head pressing seems to be a compulsive gesture of pressing the head against a hard surface for no apparent reason.
And, head pressing can be seen as a symptom of other underlying conditions (which might need to be addressed ASAP).
Don’t worry, we’ve gathered everything you need to know about head pressing before you try to figure out what’s going on with your fluffer. And don’t forget, you can always schedule an appointment with your veterinarian and check whether there’s a cause for concern regarding your cat’s sleeping habits.
1. What’s head pressing, for crying out loud?
Don’t panic! Head pressing doesn’t seem to be something you want your fluffer to do. But, there are always worse things she could be doing right meow. And, there’s always a possibility she’s sleeping faced down rather than head pressing (depending on the circumstances, of course).
But, to repeat what we’ve mentioned beforehand, head pressing’s pretty much a compulsive gesture where your cat keeps pressing her head against the wall, the floor, or any other hard surface. It typically means that your cat keeps repeating the action frequently over the course of time.
And, while your cat might be sleeping face down, head pressing occurs while she’s awake and aware.
Why should head pressing worry you, though? Head pressing looks wholesome. When you catch a glimpse of your kitty in the corner of the room, seemingly staring at the wall, you might think, “Aww, she’s lonely and she needs cuddles!”. Or, you might think, “She’s exhausted and wants to sleep!”.
And, while these things could be true, chances are she’s showing symptoms of other conditions. While head pressing might not be dangerous when observed alone, such strange behavior normally signifies there’s something wrong with your four-legged friend.
2. What are some of the most common symptoms to keep an eye on?
Unfortunately, there’s always a possibility your cat might not be sleeping face down. Observing her behavior while she’s awake, keeping track of the number of times you catch her pressing her head on the floor or the bed, and researching the symptoms might help you figure things out early on.
Distinguishing between sleeping face down and head pressing might not be an easy task (more on that later). But, with proper analysis of the symptoms, you might be able to ease your mind at least. Now, the symptoms depend on the condition your fluffer might be dealing with.
First things first, some of the most common conditions connected to head pressing seem to be liver disease, different brain niggles (brain tumors, vascular brain injury, and water on the brain), exposure to toxins, and bacterial, fungal, or viral infections.
Sure, you shouldn’t be alarmed by the size of the list. But, you shouldn’t shy away from taking your fluffy friend to the vet the moment you notice something’s wrong. As for the symptoms, there are a couple of general occurrences you might want to keep an eye on.
As mentioned before, cats that deal with head pressing generally do that while they’re awake (rather than while they’re asleep). And, they aren’t aware of what they’re doing. You might notice your kitty looks tense, unrelated, and surprised when you utter her name.
3. How do you distinguish between head pressing and sleeping face down?
Right off the bat, you should schedule an appointment with your vet the moment that you suspect something’s wrong.
Sleeping face down shouldn’t be a cause to freak out. But, head pressing during waking hours should at least be a cause to have a conversation with your vet and run a couple of tests (when deemed necessary).
On the other hand, there are a couple of things to keep an eye out for when trying to distinguish between the two. Firstly, there’s the pretty self-explanatory difference between your four-legged friend sleeping with her face down and putting her face down while she’s awake.
When you observe your cat’s sleeping habits, you might notice she prefers when she’s snuggled between the bedding and the bed, with her face buried between the pillows (granted that she sleeps with you).
But, when she’s awake and pushing her head against the floor at random times during the day… She’s probably head pressing.
Secondly, observe whether she’s pushing soft or hard things while she’s doing that. More times than not, a cat would seek a comfortable surface for sleeping purposes, but a hard surface (such as the floor, the wall, or a wooden surface) for the head pressing.
Lastly, notice whether she’s tense or relaxed. Cats are generally relaxed when sleeping (face down or otherwise), but tense when head pressing.
Contact your vet the moment that you start suspecting your fluffer might be dealing with the latter. But, don’t forget to read the rest of the article when you figure out she’s simply sleeping face down.
6 reasons why your cat might be sleeping face down right now
1. She’s cold and trying to bring some heat to her snout
Back to the light-hearted reasons for your cat burying her little snout between your sheets, there’s always a chance she’s cold. Cats are notorious for seeking warm spots throughout the day and napping wherever they feel comfortable.
Whether that’s your laptop charger or your laptop while you’re working on a paper. Who would’ve thought you would be contacting your boss on a Sunday night begging for an extended deadline?!
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with your curious creature sleeping face down when she’s cold. Cats tend to deal with cold snouts and tips of the ears. And, that’s why they spend a lot of time looking for warmer spots during the winter.
So, when your cat’s sleeping face down, she can easily deal with the problem while having the best time of her life.
But, given that your cat sleeps that way a little too often, you might want to check whether you’re heating the apartment enough (or at least the room she sleeps in). More times than not, the purrfect temperature for your cat should be between 60 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. She’s trying to block out the light
“Oh, but, she’s not cold! She’s boiling hot because it’s summer and it’s a hundred degrees outside!”
Of course, there’s a chance you’re going through the article while you’re sunbathing with your favorite four-legged friend. And, she’s definitely not sleeping face down trying to warm up.
But, she’s probably sleeping that way because she’s trying to block out the sunshine. Cats might not be that similar to humans. But, they sleep better when they’re not getting annoyed by the sunlight (or the streetlight) creeping inside the bedroom.
As a matter of fact, cats cover themselves all the time when they’re sleeping. Whether that means they’re sleeping face down, covering their eyes with paws, or even crawling under your sheets.
Now, that might be hard to believe considering cats spend most of the day napping without regard to anything that might be annoying them. But, they do sleep better at night when they’re surrounded by darkness and peace. And, we sleep better when we wear those sleeping masks and turn the blinds down, right?!
3. She doesn’t want to cover her ears because she needs to hear what’s going on
So, when you catch a glimpse of your cat sleeping face down, you may think to yourself “Oh, she’s not sleeping, she’s napping and waiting for something to happen to open her eyes and cause trouble,” right?
But, that’s because you haven’t heard of catnapping and haven’t thought of the possibility she’s doing that to keep her ears free.
What do we mean by that? Wild cats often develop strange sleeping habits because they’re constantly on the lookout for danger. When they’re sleeping, they’re not able to react the same way they would on the off chance that they weren’t completely out of the loop.
But, when they’re catnapping (kind of sleeping, but aware of the surroundings), they’re able to react appropriately whether they’re attacked or ready to attack the prey.
Now, your precious princess couldn’t be further from the wilderness (unless she’s a Bengal). But, her hunting aptitude and prowess don’t disappear solely because you feed her, bathe her, and dress her on a regular. There’s no running away from your ancestry.
Therefore, there’s a chance she’s sleeping face down because she’s keeping her ears free and alert to react when necessary. Whether she’s waiting for you to open a package of Fancy Feast or turn on Dahmer on Netflix, she’s not taking any chances.
4. She’s comfortable when she’s sleeping face down
Come on, you had to have gone to sleep the same way your fluffer did at least once. There’s hardly a better feeling than sleeping so hard without waking up even though you can’t breathe because you’re literally crushing your lungs with your weight.
But, your fluffy friend weighs a couple of pounds and prefers sleeping that way because that’s what makes her sleep better.
Truth be told, you shouldn’t have a hard time grasping that your cat’s sleeping face down because she’s comfortable. Cats are strange – they do things we would never even think to do and they somehow get away with everything.
Strange sleeping habits seem to be the least of your concerns when you’re talking about your mischievous monster.
Trust me, cats know what they’re doing when they’re picking a pose for sleeping. They’re great at figuring out what works best for them because they need the energy to do the things they do on a regular – such as munching on your food, knocking your things down, and getting on your nerves.
5. She’s exhausted from knocking things down
While we’re on the topic of knocking things down, that’s another reason why your curious creature might be sleeping face down. She probably spent the entirety of the day running from room to room, chasing after crawling creatures, hopping on the highest shelves, and (you guessed right) knowing things down.
She didn’t have enough time to reach her bed, assume her favorite position, and sleep. Though that might seem strange, that’s one of the most common reasons why cats have strange sleeping habits. Whether they’re sleeping outside on the porch. Whether they’re sleeping in their litter box.
More often than not, cats are simply too tired to think of the consequences. Trust me, they don’t lie face down and think to themselves “Mommy’s going to think I’m dead!”. They’re too busy for that kind of thinking, and that’s a lesson we should learn from them.
6. She’s checking whether she marked her territory
Most cats are big on the whole territory marking thing. There’s hardly anything surprising about the prospect of your cat marking her territory by sleeping face down. Cats have scent glands within the cheek area and they often employ those glands to release scent on different surfaces.
Maybe you’ve caught your kitty rubbing her teeth on you, pawing at the floor, or pressing her head on the furniture. And, as you might have guessed, each of those actions communicates “That’s mine and nobody should touch that!”. Most of the time, cats do that when they share the apartment with other animals or when you have somebody over.
They’re making sure everybody knows they’re the “boss of the house,” and there’s something endearing about that. So, when you notice your cat sleeping face down, don’t freak out. Chances are, she’s making sure she’s marking everything as her own and sleeping while she’s there.