Is a Cat Sleeping in Unusual Places a Sign of Sickness?

Chances are your cat has some favorite sleeping spots. Maybe he sleeps in the rocking chair or prefers the sunny spot just in front of the slider. It's a sure bet that you can find your cat in his favorite spots until one day when he's decided to sleep somewhere else. Cats may change their sleeping spots for a number of different reasons, but if your cat is sleeping in strange places, this may also signify a health issue.

Black cat sleeps in the kitchen on the sink
Is a Cat Sleeping in Unusual Places a Sign of Sickness?
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Understanding cat sleep

If you're looking for an animal who understands the value of a great sleep, then you only need to look at your cat. According to Catster, cats can sleep up to 16 hours a day, and older cats often sleep up to 20 hours a day. This inclination for sleeping comes from a cat's evolution because wild cats would hunt and then sleep to conserve energy between their meals.

Although your cat may seem to be asleep all the time, cats are actually snoozing for about three-quarters of the time that they appear to be asleep. When snoozing, cats are getting the rest that they need, but they're still alert enough to wake up in just seconds.

You'll see that your cat develops particular sleeping habits both in terms of the times and locations where she decides to sleep. However, there are also some factors that may prompt your cat to change her sleeping patterns.

Your cat's instinct

Cats seek out different places to sleep out of instinct, states Petful. In the wild, cats would sleep in different places as a way of varying their routines and protecting themselves from predators. This is the same instinct that prompts mother cats to periodically move their kittens to new locations in an effort to keep them safe. Rotating sleeping spaces in the wild had the added benefit of minimizing fleas and other parasites, keeping the cats healthier.

In the wild, hierarchy among cats came into play, and that instinct continues in today's domesticated cats. Dominant cats claimed their sleeping spots first and would then allow more submissive cats to share those spots with them. A change in the hierarchy would prompt a change in the sleeping spots, so if you bring a new cat into the home, you're likely to see your current cat sleep in different locations.

Temperature changes

You will probably notice that your cat's sleeping locations often coincide with significant temperature changes. On cooler days, your cat may prefer to sleep in the sun that comes in through a window or may curl up in front of the radiator or stove. When the weather gets warmer, your cat will probably seek out cooler places to sleep, like a cool linoleum floor or a breezy bedroom. This behavior is normal and is part of how cats keep themselves comfortable.

Pain-related sleep changes

According to the Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, a cat sleeping in strange places can indicate that the cat is in pain. A cat who has developed arthritis may seek out softer, more comfortable places to sleep. If a cat is in pain, she may try to avoid contact with humans by sleeping in areas that are hard for you to access, such as under the bed or in a closet.

Fear-based changes

Cats may also change their sleeping locations out of fear. A major stressor, like bringing a new animal into the house, may prompt a cat to seek out safer places to sleep. For instance, if you bring home a new dog, your cat who normally sleeps on the couch may start sleeping in higher locations, like in a cat tree or on top of a tall piece of furniture.

Signs of a sick cat

While there are plenty of logical reasons behind cats changing up their sleeping areas, a cat sleeping in strange places can also indicate that the cat is sick. If your cat suddenly sleeps in odd locations without any apparent reason behind the change, it may be time to head to the vet.

In addition to seeking out unusual sleeping places, a sick cat may demonstrate changes in his sleep patterns, such as sleeping much more or much less than usual. Pet Health Network states that if your cat suddenly changes from being up during the day to being up all night and vocalizing, he may be indicating that he isn't well by showing these sick cat symptoms. Schedule a trip to the vet to get your cat checked out if you have any concerns.