Most cats spend the majority of their time lounging around the house and sleeping. They will do so in many different areas of the house and in many different positions. But can cats sleep with their eyes open? Is this something that you have noticed or are intrigued by and if so what does it mean and what do you need to know? I decided to research the topic. I’d like to share my findings with you here today.
So, do cats sleep with their eyes open? Cats can sleep with their eyes open and many do so on occasion. If you notice that your cat is sleeping with its eyes open, this should be no cause for alarm – it is normal behavior. However, you should monitor your cat and look out for other behaviors/symptoms like seizures/shaking to ensure your cat is safe, healthy, and well.
Certain animals like chinchillas will sleep with their eyes open more often than not.
While cats are able to sleep with their eyes open, it may not happen every time and differs between cats.
Some will do so more often than others.
This can cause concern with owners and rightfully so – it can be very worrying the first time you see it or if you notice any change or even trends.
So let us discuss the subject further to ease any potential concerns and to ensure that you know exactly why they do this and what it can mean.
Can Cats Sleep With Their Eyes Open?
Cats can sleep with their eyes open. Some cats do more so than others; it’s not a trait that all share nor will your cat likely do it all the time. In fact, it’s been observed to occur more in elder cats.
A cat sleeping with its eyes open will look a little spooky if you have never seen it before!
It may appear like something is seriously wrong or that the cat has even died.
If you find your cat is sleeping with its eyes open, it is more than likely that nothing is wrong.
“A lot of cats are known to do it,” says veterinarian and animal behaviorist Nicholas Dodman, professor emeritus at Cummings Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts University.
He has conducted a lot of research into the traits and characteristics of domesticated felines and confirms it should not be cause for concern
This is completely normal behavior, however, you should also be sure to keep an eye on your cat (no pun intended).
If you notice that your cat is sleeping with its eyes open, you should monitor them to see if they show any other concerning symptoms.
The two main ones to watch out for are seizures or shaking.
If they are exhibiting these symptoms as well as sleeping with their eyes open then this may be an indication of something more serious.
The best thing to do in this scenario would be to take them to a vet to get them to check out.
Why Do Cats Sleep With Their Eyes Open?
Now you know that it is definitely possible for cats to sleep with their eyes open. You are probably still wondering why they do it.
Many cats can sometimes fall asleep without even realizing it, especially younger ones.
Like us, cats can tell that they are experiencing a sleep sensation but might not give in due to natural survival instincts.
This can lead them to fall asleep with their eyes open.
Cats usually only have their eyes open for the first part of the sleep cycle. Like humans, cats also experience different stages in the sleep cycle.
These include light sleep and deep sleep (REM sleep). Most cats will not display their eyes open during the REM sleep stage, however, it is still possible.
Another reason your cat may sleep with their eyes open is due to an injury.
Cats have a third eyelid which is more translucent than the rest. If this is injured it may result in it staying open.
Occasionally the eyelid of a cat may become damaged and require a surgical procedure.
It is likely that it will be clear that there is damage and you will probably notice it, especially while they are awake.
If you see that your cat is sleeping with their eyes open, this is probably not the reason.
You should definitely still check it out if you notice any other symptoms like mentioned earlier, cats often don’t complain a lot or doing anything to let you know they are injured unless it is very bad.
You should keep a lookout and check them regularly to make sure they look alright. If you notice anything check with your vet over the phone if it is reasonable to bring them in for an examination.
How Much Do Cats Sleep And When?
Studies have shown that on average cats tend to sleep around 15 hours per day. People have noted that they have seen their cat sleep as much as 20 hours within a span of 24 hours.
I think it is safe to say that cats would win a gold medal if there were a sleeping Olympics!
Cats often do most of their sleeping during the day since they are most active at night.
The reason for this lies in their psychology. Cats are natural predators and are made to hunt mostly at night.
This is because their excellent eyesight will allow them to catch prey while being relatively quiet.
House cats are domesticated and obviously are not like lions and tigers, however, they may still display some behaviors.
Hunting prey requires a lot of energy. Due to this, cats tend to sleep a lot so that they will have the energy to pounce on prey.
Since they live in your home their prey will likely be a rubber ball or toy!
Sleeping Positions Of Cats
Let’s now take a look at some common sleeping positions that cats exhibit. You may notice these alongside your cats open eyes.
The most common sleeping positions that cats practice are;
- Curled Up
- On their sides
- Paws across their face
Curled Up In A Ball
This is perhaps the most common pose that cats tend to gravitate toward while sleeping. This is a position lots of animals do naturally in the wild.
They do this in order to maintain warmth as well as protect vital organs.
On Their Side
A cat sleeping on their side indicates that they are quite relaxed and in a deep sleep.
Your cat’s limbs will be stretched out and its belly will be somewhat exposed.
Your cat feels safe and in a good place.
Paws Across Their Face
This is another common pose that cats do. This pose indicates that they do not want to be disturbed. This usually happens unknowingly while they are asleep.
Another reason they may do this pose is that they are trying to block out a bright light or the sun.
How Can You Help Your Cat Sleep Better
As an owner, thankfully there are some practical things you can do to ensure your cat gets all of the sleep they need for optimal health.
The best ones are:
Feed A Healthy Diet
Cats require a lot of nutrients in order for bodily processes to run optimally. In fact, they actually need the right nutrition to be able to sleep efficiently.
Cheaper foods or inappropriate foods are known to disrupt sleep leading to agitated and lethargic cats.
Play With Your Cat
Cats love to play and to be relatively active. Be sure to keep your cat engaged during the day with regular short playing sessions.
This will enable them to use up their energy and be willing to rest and sleep when the time comes.
This interactive toy from Amazon is excellent and will keep your cat occupied for hours. It can keep them entertained even when you are out of the house.
Toys are very effective; and there are even ones that you can get that will enable your cat to play while you are asleep without waking you up!
Catnip rolls are a great example of this that you can get on Amazon.
Keep A Consistent Sleep Schedule and Location
Just like us humans, your cat will want to keep a regular sleep/wake schedule and will do best by sticking close to it.
Not only will this help them sleep but will also be beneficial for their health.
Cats are creatures of habit, so you should look to keep their environment constant and do not change where you want them to sleep.
For this reason, you should designate a place in your home for them to sleep or to put their bed.
If you want them in your bed with you make sure it is sufficiently large enough for you not to wake each other up.
You’ll also need to be willing to commit to this long-term.
Once you allow your cat into your bed, it can be confusing them if you later decide to change where they sleep or are inconsistent with where you want them to do so.
Ignore Your Cats Pawing
If you want your cat to settle down during the evening, ignore any pawing they attempt to give you during this time.
If you begin to play with them they will learn that this gets your attention and will look to continue to do so at this time in the future.
Feed Your Cat At Night
Cats are known to sleep well after a good meal.
So, it makes sense to move your cats feeding to later in the night.
Cats can and do sleep with their eyes open from time to time. For some cats, it will be more often than it will be in others.
Sleeping with their eyes open may be done for a variety of reasons; although it usually does not mean anything is wrong. You should also expect it in older cats.
Just be sure to monitor your cat and look out for any abnormal behavior or signs of distress. Night terrors are something they can and do experience.
If you were to notice something was not quite right, contact a vet at the earliest opportunity.
It’s not worth the risk.
Ultimately, while this can be a shocking discovery initially, it’s totally normal behavior for the most part.
It’s the same for tail wagging, too.
Other cat sleeping guides you may want to read:
- Why Does My Cat Sleep On My Pillow? [Should You Stop Them?]
- Why Does My Cat Sleep on My Bed When I Am Away?
- Cat Sleeps With Face On Floor [Why & Need You Worry?]
- Cat Sleeps On My Chest [Why & Should You Let Them?]
- My Cat Sleeps In My Arms Like A Baby [Why & Should You Let Them?]
- Do Cats Like To Be Petted While Sleeping?
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.