Have you ever seen a cat sleeping with its eyes open? Sounds spooky, right? You’d probably think your cat is dead, or it might freak you out if you believe in ghosts. Jokes apart, cats sleeping with their eyes open is absolutely normal, and you should not worry about it. However, the reasons behind this may surprise you or make you marvel at your cat even more.
Before digging further, let’s get a brief overview of cats’ sleeping patterns so that you can understand your pet a little better.
Do Cats Sleep With Their Eyes Open?
To be concise, yes, cats do sleep with their eyes open. However, the frequency may vary. Some cats might do this more often, while others would rarely sleep with their eyes open. Keep in mind that such behavior is normal in cats, and you should not panic. It is highly advised to keep a check on the frequency of such behavior—if it is habitual, you should consult a vet to see if there is an underlying medical issue, although it’s rare.
Should You Be Concerned?
Generally, cats sleeping with their eyes open is absolutely common, and as previously mentioned, you should not worry about it unless your cat is showing additional signs like seizures, fever, twitching, and other unusual behaviors. In such situations, it is recommended that you talk to a vet immediately.
Why Do Cats Sleep With Their Eyes Open?
It’s no hidden fact that cats act strange at times. Their unusual behaviors may surprise novice owners, but it is totally normal—cats are active creatures who love exploring and trying out new activities that they find fascinating.
The creepiest thing cats do is when they sleep with their eyes open. If you’re a novice cat owner, such behavior may freak you out or get you worried about your pet’s health. However, if your cat does this occasionally, there is nothing to panic about. There are several reasons why cats sleep with their eyes open. Let’s explore the potential causes.
Just like humans, cats have a certain sleeping cycle with different stages. They are most likely to sleep with their eyes open during the light slow-wave sleep (SWS). Cats often sleep this way to protect themselves from possible danger around them. It is believed that cats inherited this habit from their ancestors, who used to sleep with their eyes open to protect themselves from falling prey to other animals.
If your cat sleeps with one or both eyes slightly open, she is not in her deepest sleep stage. Cats are more likely to have their eyes opened during the light sleep stage. As a result, even the slightest disturbance or noise would wake them up.
Injury in the Eyes
Another possible reason why cats sleep with their eyes open is due to an injury in their eyes. As mentioned earlier, cats are hyperactive creatures, and they love playing and jumping around. However, they sometimes hurt themselves while indulging in such activities. If your cat has accidentally hurt herself in the eye, she would possibly sleep with her eyes open as closing it would be painful.
Additionally, injury in the third eyelid can make it lacerated—this is common among cats who are actively involved in fights and other playful activities. If your cat has recently started sleeping with her eyes open, check to see if she has hurt herself in the eye.
Injury in the eyes can also cause cornea ulceration—which can be extremely painful for cats. Look for the signs of eye trauma if your cat sleeps with her eyes open. Some of the possible signs include watery eyes, discharge, noticeable scratches, redness, inflammation, and cloudiness. If you see these signs, take your cat to the vet for timely treatment.
Contaminants in the Eyes
Besides eye injury, another factor that might be preventing your cat from sleeping with her eyes shut is contaminants—sand, thorns, debris—within the eyes. Contaminants within the eyes can cause painful sores or can even lead to infections if not treated on time. It is highly advised that you keep a regular check on your cat’s oral health, including the eyes, ears, mouth, and nails. It is not only hygienic but would also prevent your pet from developing painful health complications.
Additionally, contaminants within the outer surface of the eyes can be removed by local anesthetic. But if it goes deeper, your cat would need surgery to get it removed. In any case, consult your vet, and they will propose a better way forward.
Read: Why Does My Cat Bite Me?
Cats—especially domestic ones—do not really worry about environmental dangers. However, they still sleep with their eyes open when the surroundings are too noisy, and a lot is happening around them. Precisely, when a place is full of people, including strangers, cats would cram themselves away from the crowd to sleep while keeping their eyes open to prevent any possible dangers they might need to run away from.
If you notice your cat being uncomfortable around a crowd, it is advised that you provide a separate and quiet space for your furball to relax and sleep in the rapid eye movement (REM) stage. Keep some toys with her or anything she might find fascinating and feel comfortable with. This would allow your cat to sleep in the deeper stage—without opening her eyes during sleep.
Your Cat Is Attached to You
It is believed that cats get emotionally attached to their owners to feel protected and secure—and would develop separation anxiety if they are absent for a long period. If cats feel the emotional need to stay connected to you, they would follow you wherever you go. They would sleep with their eyes open to track your movements, and if you move to another place, they would know so even while sleeping and would follow you.
Waiting for Food
If your cat is hungry, she would probably go in the lighter sleep mood with her eyes open to stay alert. When they know the food is near or it’s near dinnertime, cats become more awake even while sleeping. This behavior is common in cats, and you should not panic. However, it is advised that you feed your cats at fixed timings every day. This would prevent them from being greedy and overly hungry.
As we’ve discussed the six possible reasons why cats may sleep with both their eyes open, let’s dig further into the sleeping habits of cats and other possible questions that might be juggling up in your mind.
Why Do Cats Sleep With Their Eyes Half Open?
Studies show that when cats sleep with eyes half-open, their third eyelid is exposed. The first two eyelids form when a cat closes her eyes—on the top and bottom, meeting in the middle. The third eyelid is commonly known as the nictitating membrane, used as a windshield that protects debris, sand, and other contaminants from going inside the eyes when the cat blinks.
During the deep sleep stage, the third eyelid would gradually open to protect the cornea and to keep the eyes hydrated. Even if the eyelids are closed at first, they would open once the cat is peacefully asleep.
While the third eyelid is commonly seen during sleep, if your cat’s third eyelid is visible even when she is fully awake, it might be an indication of an underlying disease. If such a situation arises—along with other symptoms like changes in the appetite, increased or decreased urination, and frequent thirst—consult your vet as soon as you can for timely diagnosis and treatment.
What Can You Do to Make Your Cat Sleep Peacefully?
If your cat is habitually sleeping with her eyes open and you are worried about her sleeping pattern, here is what you can do to ensure your pet sleep peacefully.
Plan a Fixed Sleep Timing and Place for Your Cat
Cats usually require 15 hours of sleep in a day. They are active creatures who exert their energy when awake and require proper rest after every playful session. It is highly advised that you plan a sleeping routine for your cat and follow it strictly. Keep in mind that cats are super organized when it comes to their routine. You could use this point to your advantage and train your cat to follow your planned routine.
Similarly, along with fixed sleep timings, provide your cat with a separate sleeping space—make it super comfortable and organize it the way your cat would like. This would allow your cat to sleep peacefully without developing anxiety.
If you are confused about the sleeping space or bed for your cat, we would suggest you opt for some of the best cat beds available in the market. Check some of them out below.
It is no hidden fact that a healthy diet is the key to a healthy life. The same rule applies to cats—they need a proper and nutritious diet to stay healthy and their body to function better. Feeding them healthy food would make the cat sleep fondly and peacefully. Keep in mind that an unhealthy diet can disrupt the cat’s sleep resulting in agitation and lethargy.
Here is what you can feed your cat—super healthy and nutritious products that are free of preservatives and easily available:
Feed Your Cat at Night
To make your cat sleep better at night, make sure you feed her at the latter part of the night. Cats tend to sleep well when they are full. If the cat gets hungry during the night, she might wake up and disrupt the sleep pattern.
Plan Playful Activities for Your Cat
Cats are hyperactive—especially when they are young. It is highly advised that you indulge your cat in playful activities for at least 15 minutes twice a day. This would allow the cat to exert all the built-up energy and sleep better at night. When cats are tired, they sleep fondly.
The concise “do cats sleep with their eyes open” is a straight yes. However, keep in mind that this is very common in cats, and you must not panic if you are a novice cat owner. Just keep a regular check on your pet’s oral health, including the eyes, mouth, ears, and nails, to ensure a hygienic lifestyle and to prevent painful health complications. As mentioned and thoroughly discussed above, cats sleep with their eyes open due to several different reasons, and most of the time, it is not harmful and does not indicate any health issue, but as a responsible cat parent, we advise you to keep a check on the frequency of this habit along with other symptoms—seizures, twitching, fever, etc.
If there are visible signs of other health issues, comply with your vet immediately for proper diagnosis and timely treatment.