Why Does My Cat Smack Me When I'm Sleeping?

cute adorable black white kitten
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You're fast asleep, cozy in your bed with your feline friend, when all of a sudden, BAM— your cat starts smacking you right in the face! And attacking your feet! And generally doing everything in their power to wake you up!

Why? Why did that cat who spent most of the day napping in the sunbeam next to the window just hit you in the face?

Here are a few reasons that your cat might feel inclined to practice their boxing skills with your sleeping face.

Dull daytimes

If your cat is left alone a lot, is an indoor cat or a solo cat, the daytime can be pretty tame. When left alone, cats might decide to spend most of that alone time getting a day-long cat nap. Research has shown that domesticated cats will adapt to the activity cycle of those they live with. So if the house is empty or inactive most of the day, the cat might assume everyone is resting and take that time to store up their strength. Then when you're home and sleeping, your cat will wonder why you aren't up and moving, and may try to help you realize that you should get moving by giving you a little smack awake.

The cat hanging on the couch.
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Cat stress

Cats are largely indoor animals now, but of course, they didn't evolve that way. Cats living in houses might feel especially stressed out by things we don't even think about— how loudly we talk, how hot the room is, the way the heater clunks in the middle of the night. Cats can also feel nervous about being separated from family members at night, or navigating a dark house at night.

Some recommend that you have a whole room just for your cat to reside and play in, so they have a space just for them. However, if that's not possible, a little nook all of their own will go along way toward helping an anxious cat feel a little more at ease.

Older cats

If you have an older kitty, they might be more restless at night due to the fact that their eyesight or hearing loss can affect how well the cat is able to sleep. Sometimes an older cat might even be experiencing joint pain which can cause them to lose sleep and wake you up in hopes that you will be able to fix what ails them. Their nighttime activity might even be the result of them having trouble navigating their way to the bathroom in the middle of the night. If this is the case, it's best to set up an appointment with the veterinarian so you can fully understand what is going on physically with your older cat and maybe put a couple more easy to access kitty litters around if possible. Knowing the health of your cat will better help you understand why they might be jumping on you in the middle of the night.

close up photo of senior cat
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Kitty communication

Most of all, your cat isn't able to communicate with you (verbally, at least), so when they wake you up in the middle of the night, it's because they want to communicate something. If this becomes a trend, check out their health and make the effort to keep them active during the day. If they're happy and busy in the daytime, it's less likely that they will come bopping you in the head in the middle of the night. Make sure to make a little playtime for your furry feline and it will make a difference when bedtime rolls around because they'll be just as tuckered out as you are.