Why Do Some Cats Sleep with Their Eyes Wide Open?

Why Do Some Cats Sleep with Their Eyes Wide Open?

Have you ever caught your cat sleeping with their eyes wide open and wondered if it’s normal? Cats are known to sleep for long hours, but their sleeping patterns can be quite different from humans. In this blog, we will dive deep into the world of cats’ sleeping patterns and the phenomenon of cats sleeping with their eyes open. We will explore why some cats sleep with their eyes open and whether it is a cause for concern. Additionally, we will provide tips and suggestions to help improve your cat’s sleep quality. So, if you’re a cat owner looking to understand your feline friend’s peculiar habits, read on!

Understanding the Sleeping Patterns of Cats

Cats exhibit unique sleep behavior influenced by their predatory ancestry, often sleeping for 12-16 hours with rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. This understanding is crucial for their well-being as cats are alert sleepers, deeply entering REM sleep faster, making napping essential. Their sleep patterns play a significant role in their daily routine.

Typical Sleeping Behaviour in Cats

Cats often sleep in a loaf position, similar to a loaf of bread, to conserve body heat. Their sleeping behavior includes paw twitching, shenanigans, and catnaps. Cats sleep lightly, staying alert for potential prey or danger, and their health influences their sleeping behavior, including eye trauma, redness, or swelling.

Variations in Cat Sleeping Patterns

Cats display various sleep patterns, including luxury catnaps and deep slumber during the day, influenced by factors such as age, health, and environment. Medical issues or discomfort can also alter their sleep behavior, emphasizing the need for a comfortable and secure sleeping environment.

The Phenomenon of Cats Sleeping with Eyes Open

The nictitating membrane, or third eyelid, enables cat sleep with eyes open, maintaining vigilance during light sleep. This translucent membrane protects and moisturizes the eye while preserving the cat’s alertness, an evolutionary trait from their ancestors.

Sleep Cycle of Cats

Cats go through different sleep stages, including deep sleep and REM sleep. They also experience eye discharge and twitching during their sleep cycle. The catnap behavior involves napping periods, loaf position, and eye alertness, resembling that of other mammals.

Unusual Sleep Behavior in Cats

Cats may exhibit unique sleep behaviors, such as sleeping with eyes open, influenced by various factors like environment, ancestry, or medical condition. This unusual behavior can indicate underlying health concerns or heightened alertness. Eye problems, predatory instincts, or discomfort may also contribute to unusual sleep habits in cats.

Reasons Why Cats Sleep With Their Eyes Open

The feline tendency to sleep with eyes open stems from natural instincts and predatory behavior. Environmental influences, including potential threats and prey, impact their sleeping habits. Cats may also respond to nighttime disruptions, influenced by their ancestry, genetic makeup, and natural predators.

Natural Instincts and Predatory Behaviour

Rooted in natural survival instincts, cats’ sleep behavior, like sleeping with eyes open, mirrors their alertness and predatory nature. This behavior stems from their innate need to pounce on prey, showcasing their keen survival instincts and shrewdness.

Influence of the Environment

Cats adapt their sleeping behavior to their environment, including sleeping with eyes open. Their sleeping area and changes in light or movement influence variations in their sleep, showing their alertness and readiness for any potential threats. This adaptation reflects their keen survival instincts.

Possible Health Concerns

Sleeping with eyes open in cats may indicate underlying health issues such as eye trauma, redness, or swelling. Unusual sleeping behaviors like this could point to medical conditions requiring a veterinarian’s attention. It’s essential to monitor the cat’s sleeping behavior, including any unusual eye-related symptoms, and consider a vet appointment if needed.

How Common is it for Cats to Sleep With Their Eyes Open?

Sleeping with eyes open is relatively common in cats. It can indicate deep sleep or a medical condition. This behavior is often observed during REM sleep, and some cats even sleep with their eyelids partially closed. While it may be concerning, it’s usually harmless if the cat is sleeping peacefully. Sleeping with eyes open may be related to light sleep, alertness, or prey awareness.

Observations from Cat Owners

Cat owners frequently notice their feline companions sleeping with their eyes open, especially when they are in the loaf position or taking a nap. They have observed variations in sleeping positions and the presence of the nictating membrane during sleep. Additionally, some owners have noticed this behavior in warmer environments, suggesting a link to body temperature regulation.

Research Findings

Research reveals that cats may sleep with their eyes partially open for protection. The nictitating membrane, or third eyelid, is suggested to provide safety during cat sleep. Studies indicate that this behavior may occur during deep sleep or REM sleep, possibly linked to alertness or rapid eye movement.


In conclusion, cats have unique sleeping patterns, and it is not uncommon for them to sleep with their eyes open. This behavior can be attributed to their natural instincts, environmental factors, or even possible health concerns. While it may seem unusual to us, it is important to understand and respect their natural behaviors. If you notice any changes in your cat’s sleeping patterns or behavior, it is always a good idea to consult with a veterinarian. Creating a comfortable sleeping environment and providing enough play and activity time can help ensure that your cat gets the restful sleep they need. By understanding and accommodating their sleeping habits, you can help your feline friend live a happy and healthy life.