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Why Does My Cat Sleep in High Places?

 
By Matthew Nesbitt, Journalist specialized in animal research. July 7, 2020
Why Does My Cat Sleep in High Places?

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Cats are well-known for enjoying heights. With their supreme jumping ability, it would seem a shame not to use their natural skills. Cats will not only jump up to high places, but they can spend long periods sleeping there. It is a behavior of both cats in the wild and domestic cats. Although the impulse behind cats sleeping in high places is the same for both, the context changes for cats which live in the home. Although cats are well-known for their ability to land on their feet, this doesn't mean we don't need to be careful with cats and heights.

At AnimalWised, we bring your 5 reasons why a cat sleeps in high places. We also provide some information to help express this natural behavior in a safe and helpful way.

You may also be interested in: High-Rise Syndrome in Cats

Why do cats sleep in high places?

If we analyze the behavior of felines, we quickly observe resting to be a vital part of their routine. On average cats will sleep between 12 and 16 hours a day. However, this amount is even greater when they are particularly young or old. Kittens sleep because their bodies are still developing and senior cats often sleep more because their bodies are tired.

When a cat is able, they will often choose to sleep up in high places. What benefits does it bring to them? Do they simply enjoy heights or is there something else at work? Here are the five main reasons why cats like to sleep up high:

  1. To enjoy themselves
  2. To feel more secure
  3. To achieve better rest
  4. To better regulate body heat
  5. To manage stress and anxiety

We explain these reasons why cats sleep in high places in the sections below. However, if you want to know more about what cats do and why, you can take a look at our complete guide to cat behavior.

1. To enjoy themselves

Domestic cats are famously curious animals. They will not hesitate to sniff something in the corner, chase something flying past their line of sight or creep somewhere they shouldn't. However, this does not mean they do not need an enriched environment to satisfy this curiosity.

If there is not enough in their environment to stimulate their cognition, they will look for it elsewhere. For this reason, cats will often investigate heights because it is something to do. When the cat climbs up to a high place, their curiosity may be satiated and they remain for a rest while they are there. While in a high place, cats can also have a better view of their environment and can watch what is going on in their world.

Why Does My Cat Sleep in High Places? - 1. To enjoy themselves

2. To feel more secure

More than curious, cats can also be sensitive creatures. There are many elements in their environment which can make them feel in danger. Although cats have been going through the domestication process for thousands of years, even domestic cats will be wary of predators. If they feel threatened, it is understandable they will want to retreat. An example may be when someone brings a dog they don't know into the home.

However, it is not only predators which can scare a cat. Loud noises, strange sights or even certain certain fruits such as cucumbers have been known to provoke fear. If a cat is feeling scared, going up to a high place allows them to feel they are in a safe place, but it also allows them to survey their territory for a potential threat.

3. To achieve better rest

Cats spend most of the day at rest, so much so we could say that it is their favorite activity. For cats to have supreme rest, they often find places in which they feel most comfortable. This is one of the reasons cats will often hide in dark places.

When a cat sleeps somewhere high, it is not simply a favorite place to sleep. It is also practically conducive to having rest. Since most homes can get busy with foot traffic and the noises which come from our daily routines, somewhere high helps a cat to evade these problems. They allow the cat to isolate themselves form the hubbub and achieve a more relaxed state of being.

4. To better regulate body heat

Although cats have fur, it is not right to say that they are comfortable in the cold. For example, come cats will often sleep more in the winter as they can find somewhere to feel warm and comfortable for extended periods. In the hot summer months, you will more likely to see a cat laying on the ground, often to try to make the most of the relatively cool floor. Conversely, in winter, cats will often sleep up high as these places can be warmer due to heat rising.

It is also possible that some high places in the home are simply better suited to comfort during colder periods. They may fall asleep on a shelf above a radiator or in an airing cupboard if they get lucky.

5. To manage stress and anxiety

Although domestic cats may seem very calm animals, the truth is that they are very sensitive to changes. It is easy for a cat to experience anxiety and stress for various reasons. While some cats may seek refuge in a hiding place away from people, higher perches are often suitable places to get away from whatever is causing them stress.

For example, when you bring a new kitten into the home, adult cats may take some time to get used to them. Since the kitten cannot climb as high as they can, the cat may find somewhere high to sleep so they can get away from the younger cat.

There are many things which may cause a cat to become stressed or anxious. Fireworks, storms or even household appliances can cause cats to react negatively. Climbing up somewhere high gives them a sense of security and allows them a vantage point to see what is happening in their environment.

Why Does My Cat Sleep in High Places? - 5. To manage stress and anxiety

Dangers of sleeping up high

Although the impulse to sleep in a high place is a natural one for cats, there are some concerns. Some cats suffer from something called high-rise syndrome. This is when a cat feels compelled to climb to very high places, but then falls because they are not aware of the risks. It is something we need to be very careful of when we live in tall buildings as a cat may fall when trying to catch something or simply loses their balance.

If a cat is sleeping up somewhere high, they might be scared by a sudden noise. In these instances, it is possible they will fall off a high ledge or balcony. Even cats used to being up high can have an accident. Although cats are known for landing on their feet, if they land from far enough a fall can be fatal.

Inside the home, we should provide high places for cats to sleep safely. These include special cat shelves for them to climb up to and rest. Even different types of scratching trees have platforms on the top can help the cat carry out their instinctual behavior. By placing them next to a window, you can also allow a cat to look out into their environment. This can be particularly stimulating to indoor cats.

If you want to read similar articles to Why Does My Cat Sleep in High Places?, we recommend you visit our Facts about the animal kingdom category.

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