Have you noticed that your cat often sleeps with their face on the floor? A little strange, isn’t it, at least to you and me? It doesn’t look the most comfortable, after all. So why would a cat do this, and more importantly, is it normal behavior in cats? Is there anything to be concerned about? Do you need to do anything, even? Here are the answers to these questions and more.
So, why does my cat sleep with their face on the floor? Cats typically sleep with their face on the floor either because their noses are cold, they want to block out too much light, or they want to hear better. Some cats simply prefer a face-down position for sleeping.
In the majority of instances, this is normally not something to worry about.
But it can be.
So keep reading to find out when you may need to be concerned and how you will need to respond.
But before we do, let’s delve into the typical reasons a bit more, shall we?
Why Do Cats Sleep With Their Face On The Floor?
Cats can sleep with their faces on the floor to block out the light or warm up their noses. This position also helps them hear better to stay vigilant while napping, as both ears are uncovered. Then there are those cats who love sleeping this way because they find it comfortable.
Their Nose Is Cold
Cats enjoy curling up in the warmer parts of our homes, as they are a bit warmer-blooded than we are.
As the nose is one of her extremities, your cat’s nose and the tips of her ears are areas that are most likely to feel the cold.
When your cat lies face down, she is perhaps shielding her nose from the cold.
Often a cat will burrow its face or nose in a blanket or a pillow to keep warm. Or she’ll snuggle up to you to share your body heat.
You may want to read this: Do Cats Get Cold At Night? [This Is Essential To Know]
They Want To Block Out Light
If your cat is sleeping with her face down on a warm summer day, you can be fairly sure she’s not doing it to keep her nose warm.
Sometimes cats will sleep face down to try and block out bright light like sunlight.
Your cat may sometimes use her paws, too, to cover her face: it’s a bit like people who use an eyemask or who shut the curtains before bedtime.
Even though cats love to nap and seem to be able to sleep just about anywhere and in any position, they do sleep better in the dark.
Most of the time when your cat sleeps during the day, she isn’t really asleep – she’s just having a cat nap!
They Want To Hear Better
When you see your cat napping with her face down, she’s still very much aware of her surroundings.
You may notice her ears respond to noises while she’s napping.
If her face is down and her ears are up, this helps her to rest effectively while being able to hear what’s happening around her.
This type of position for napping is natural in cats and comes from a time when, as prey for larger animals, cats had to find a way to rest during the day while still being on the alert for danger.
Large animals who prey on cats are often most active in the daytime, so cats had to find a safe way to nap.
When a cat sleeps on her side, she is blocking off one of her ears.
But by having both ears accessible while she naps, she can get up quickly and either run away or fight with her claws if she hears anything worrying to her.
Even though our homes are relatively safe from cat predators, some cats may carry this instinctive behavior into choosing faceplanting as their favorite sleeping position to feel safe.
They Are Comfortable
Your cat might just love sleeping with her face on the floor because she finds it comfortable.
Every cat has her favorite sleeping position, and your cat might prefer faceplanting.
Being comfortable while sleeping is essential for your cat to help her fall into a deep sleep to repair and grow her body and absorb nutrients she’s ingested through her food.
Cats will cycle between deep sleep and REM sleep (the dreaming cycle).
You’ll know your cat is in REM sleep if you see her twitch in her sleep. Cats do dream, and REM sleep helps their learning and memory.
Is It Normal For Cats To Sleep With Their Face On The Floor?
If your cat enjoys sleeping with their face on the floor, this can be totally normal behavior. As long as you see some variety in her chosen sleeping positions, they are probably fine. You might see them adopt this position a lot, though, if they are too cold or unwell.
Normal Sleeping Behavior For Cats
Normal sleeping behavior for cats is:
- Sleeping for close to 20 hours a day
- Sleeping in a variety of positions (not just with their face on the floor)
- Being crepuscular (most active at dawn and dusk)
If your cat is often choosing to sleep with her face on the floor, it could be she’s unwell.
Some cats sleep in this position because they’re exhausted and possibly unwell.
Other cats engage in head pressing, which can be a sign of a serious illness (see below).
Some cats will adopt this sleeping position because they are too cold to be able to sleep well, which is a normal reaction to an abnormal situation.
While a cat’s nose can get too cold compared to the rest of its body (see above), your cat can suffer if the temperature gets too cold.
The ideal temperature for cats is from 60 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
Anything above that, and your cat can become overheated or dehydrated. Below that temperature, it could be too cold for her to get enough sleep.
Some cats sleep with their faces on the floor because they’re worn out after a busy play session.
As long as this only happens once in a while, there is probably no cause for concern.
It’s only if your cat often faceplants that you might need a vet visit (see below).
Making Sure Your Cat Gets Enough Sleep
If you believe your cat is warm enough and is generally in good health, you can do any of these things to make sure she’s getting a good night’s sleep:
- Play with her before bedtime to wear her out.
- Feed her right before bedtime.
- If she has a cat bed, make sure it has high sides and is the right size so that she feels enclosed enough to be secure.
- Give her comfy blankets and cushions to snuggle up in and keep warm.
- Make sure her bed is away from any drafts.
- Keep to the same routine each day (cats thrive on having a regular routine in their lives).
If you have taken these steps and you suspect your cat might still be sleeping with her face on the floor a bit too often, you may become concerned (see below).
When To Be Concerned If Your Cat Is Sleeping With Their Face On The Floor
You will want to be concerned if your cat is sleeping with her face on the floor due to long periods of exhaustion (as opposed to wearing herself out after playtime). Head pressing is another concern, as it is a sign of serious medical conditions (often fatal).
Your Cat Is Exhausted
Some cats will sleep face down if they’re exhausted – they are so worn out that they can’t be bothered to curl up into a ball, so they faceplant and flop down where they are.
Most cats have lots of energy, especially kittens and young cats.
We’ve all seen those pictures of a kitten faceplanting in her food bowl: she’s probably played and played until she just can’t stay awake!
Occasional bouts of exhaustion are usually nothing to worry about, but if your cat is consistently sleeping this way and seems to sleep more than usual, she may not be feeling well.
Feeling extra tired or lethargic is a sign of many illnesses, some quite serious.
While your cat’s body tries to recover and her immune system is fighting off a disease, she may not have much energy to play or do much else than sleep.
Common medical conditions that can cause lethargy (and regular faceplanting) include:
- Bacterial or viral infections
- Parasitic infections
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Kidney or liver disease
- Musculoskeletal injuries
- Respiratory problems (like asthma)
- Diabetes mellitus
- Gastrointestinal problems or illnesses
- Certain types of cancer
- Neurological disorders
You can see that there’s quite a long list of possibilities, and each has distinctive clinical signs.
Pay attention to other signs you might notice in your cat to help your vet reach an effective diagnosis, such as:
- Diarrhea (perhaps a gastrointestinal upset)
- Vomiting (idem)
- Lack of appetite (this could be anything)
- Excessive itching (maybe fleas or a skin infection or allergy)
- Disorientation (possible neurological problems)
- Difficulty breathing (possibly asthma or another respiratory condition)
- And more
Basically, if you notice other odd behaviors or unusual symptoms alongside your cat’s faceplanting, take your cat to the vet.
Your Cat Is Head Pressing
It can be easy to confuse faceplanting with head pressing. Head pressing should never be ignored, as it is typically an indication of a serious medical issue.
What Head Pressing Is
Head pressing is when your cat frequently and on purpose presses her head against any hard surface: the floor, a wall, or a door.
Cats can sleep in this position as well as head press when they are fully awake.
Head pressing indicates several serious health problems, including:
- Liver failure
- Exposure to poisons or other toxins
- Water on the brain
- A brain tumor
- A stroke
- A vascular brain injury
Note: Because the above conditions are all potentially life-threatening emergencies, you must get your cat to the vet as soon as possible if you see this behavior.
How To Tell If Your Cat Is Head Pressing Or Faceplanting
Here’s how to tell whether your cat is faceplanting (usually not a cause for concern) or head pressing (which is always a cause for concern):
- Is your cat pressing against a hard or soft object? Cats who head press will do so against hard surfaces, such as a wall, a doorway, or a wooden floor. Cats who faceplant will usually choose soft surfaces, such as cushions, blankets, a couch or chair, a blanket, or their bed.
- Is your cat asleep or awake? If your cat is sleeping while her face is on the floor, she’s probably just faceplanting. Cats who head press tend to do this both while asleep and awake. You’ll notice the behavior more often if your cat does it while she’s awake, as it’s so unusual.
- Is your cat tense or relaxed? A cat faceplanting is usually relaxed and comfortable, whereas a cat who is head pressing often has a stiff and tense body, as if they are in a lot of pain.
- Are there other symptoms you can spot? If you don’t see anything else unusual, your cat is likely just faceplanting. However, cats who are head pressing will usually display other symptoms like pacing, vision problems, or something else (see above). You might also notice facial injuries on your cat if she’s been head pressing, as cats usually do this with quite a lot of force.
Cats tend to sleep with their face on the floor from time to time.
In other cats, it becomes more of a regular behavior
Sometimes, they do it for a period of time and then resort to other sleeping positions.
It can be highly seasonal in some contexts – especially if it’s the start of the winter or a particularly cold season.
Other than this, most of the time, it’s nothing to worry about.
But it can be a sign of head pressing.
If you suspect that, see other signs or symptoms, or are just generally in doubt, then do contact a vet.
Other cat sleeping guides you may want to read:
- Cat Sleeps On My Chest [Why & Should You Let Them?]
- Why Does My Cat Sleep On My Pillow? [Should You Stop Them?]
- My Cat Sleeps In My Arms Like A Baby [Why & Should You Let Them?]
- Why Do Cats Wag Their Tails While Sleeping?
- Do Cats Sleep With Their Eyes Open? [What Owners Should Know]
- Why Does My Cat Sleep on My Bed When I Am Away?
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.