Why Do Cats Curl Up Into A Ball? (Find Out Now!)


why do cats curl up

Cats are notoriously creative when it comes to napping. Their “can-do” attitude says that no box is too small or shelf too high to keep them from their perfect nap. Curling up in these crazy spots is a great way to show that they are happy and healthy. 

Each position that a cat sleeps in tells a different story: relaxed, trusting, on edge, and many more. Having your kitty curl up helps them retain heat as well as feel safe. When your cat shows you close affection, they are giving you a little message that says, “I love you.” 

Learning more about your cat is always a good idea, both to understand their emotions and to strengthen your bond. From understanding their genetics to deciphering their behaviors, there are hundreds of ways to learn more about your pet. Curling up is a common cat behavior and a great start to learning more about your feline friend.

Explaining Cats’ Behaviors From Their Ancient Cousins

Cats have only moderate genetic differences from their wild, ancient cousins. In fact, house cats are actually genetically 95.6% tiger. This lets us peek into the minds of our domesticated friends and help explain some of their curious behaviors. 

Felines in the wild travel in packs, also known as prides. It is ingrained in their nature to protect themselves from other predators and protect their own. Examples of these behaviors are walking on their toes, staying awake at night, and certainly the cutest; curling up.

Curling Up

Cozying up with your curled-up kitty is arguably the best feeling in the world. Spending at least 15 minutes cuddling with a pet is proven to decrease stress. So what does it mean when your cat curls up with you?

In the animal kingdom, you frequently see big cats curling up. There are two main reasons that cats do this: safety and warmth. 

Have you ever tried to get your kitty under the covers? It probably didn’t go too well. When a cat curls up, they are conserving their heat, and being under the blankets can quickly get too hot.

This is very common to find in nature, especially in colder areas. Sometimes, even though cats are typically independent creatures, you will find them sleeping together to keep warm. 

In warmer areas, you rarely see big cats curled up. Instead, you can find them sprawled out in the shade, trying to cool off.  Curling up is also a way for cats to nap while being safe from predators. 

Sleeping is a vulnerable state for cats, and by sleeping in a ball, they feel safe and protected. This is a common position for big cats to use in the animal kingdom.

Nocturnal Behaviors

If curling up is a cat’s cutest behavior, nocturnal behavior is undoubtedly the most annoying. Nothing is worse than a 3 am zoomies session when you have an early morning the next day. Surprisingly, this has a very reasonable and fascinating explanation behind it. 

In nature, wild cats hunt at nighttime with the help of their exceptional night vision. As silly as this may seem, house cats frequently use hunting and stalking behaviors for everyday use. Nocturnal behavior can be frustrating, but it’s quite normal.

Walking On Their Toes

Take a good look at your cat while they walk, you’ll see they walk on their toes, not their feet. This is why they are so quiet when they walk. When stalking prey, big cats must be incredibly quiet, so it’s no surprise that house cats possess this same behavior. 

How To Tell If Your Cat Is Happy

Doesn’t it feel good knowing that your cat is happy and healthy? Content kitties are always the sweetest. There are tons of ways to tell if your cat is happy; here are some of the most common:

Rubbing and Kneading On you

Kitty snuggles are unparalleled. Most of the time, they’re great, but sometimes cats can get a little… intrusive. Ever try typing when your cat decides that it’s time to snuggle? 

Kneading, though a sign that your cat is happy, can be incredibly painful. So, you might want to find your furry friend some kneading alternatives. There are many toys that are pain-free ways to let your cat express their happiness. 

Increased Play

Happy cats are active cats. Engaging in play with your cat is a great way to connect with them and strengthen your bond. Activity increases endorphins which are great for their physical health and mental health.

Purring 

Once your cat snuggles up on your lap, it’s a sure bet that a big purr is coming next. Purring is from rapid muscular movement in the cat’s larynx, moving at around 20-30 times per second. As long as your cat is purring, it’s safe to say that they feel safe and happy with you.

Healthy Sleeping Schedule

Too much or too little sleep for your pet can be concerning. Anxiety can cause sleep loss, and depression can cause lethargy. Taking relaxing naps and lounging are great signs that your cat is on a healthy sleeping schedule. 

Your Cat Is Grooming You

Having your cat groom you is one of the ultimate compliments they can give you. All of those tiny licks are them saying “I love you” a hundred times. Cats are naturally tidy creatures, and when cats groom themselves, they release endorphins. 

Using Their Litter Box

When cats are under high stress, it can often manifest as urinary issues resulting in avoiding the litter box. When your cat uses the litter box properly, like burying feces, this shows that your pet is content. 

Ways To Make Your Cat Feel Safe

As cat lovers, there is no greater joy than knowing that your kitty feels safe and secure. If you’ve noticed that your cat seems agitated, try some of these methods to help your kitty feel at home. 

Provide Ample Vertical Space For Your Cat

Not all cats are intrinsically sociable creatures; in fact, it’s rare to find a cat that doesn’t need alone space. Vertical space refers to cat towers or areas that they can sit on to view the entire room. It’s imperative for cats to feel safe and in control of their surroundings. 

Keep Your Cat On A Consistent Schedule 

Cats notoriously hate surprises. Keeping a consistent schedule is important for all animals but especially cats. Your cat’s brain is 90% similar to humans, so it’s easy to imagine how important consistency is for them.

Supply Your Cat With Engaging Activities

Cats are incredibly intelligent, and keeping them engaged is essential for their health. Unfortunately, not everyone has the time to give their pet adequate playtime to keep them satisfied. Supplying stimulating toys is an easy way to engage them when you aren’t available. 

Not all cats have the same amount of energy, and yours may need little to no play at all. Sometimes just providing a space for them to sit by a window and watch nature will suffice. 

Finding stimulating toys doesn’t have to break the bank. There are hundreds of toys on the market ranging from free to hundreds of dollars. Now, there are even apps that can keep your kitty distracted for hours.

Generally, toys with bright colors, interactive sounds, enticing textiles, and crinkly things are the best for engaging cats. By keeping their minds busy, you are helping decrease their stress and making them feel safer.

Give Cats Their Space

Have you ever wondered why your cat is basically a contortionist when it comes to napping spots? There is a reason why our kitties can’t get enough cardboard boxes. 

Same as humans, cats need time to be alone and decompress. When things get overwhelming, new people in the home, another pet, etc., cats need a private space to recover. This lets them be in control of when they are around people and any stressors.

Respecting your cat’s signals is vital for their stress and your relationship. When your cat becomes agitated, let them distance themselves until they are ready to return for more cuddles. 

Supplement With Relaxing Pheromones 

If you are still noticing stress in your cat, added pheromones could be a good option for you. There are many forms that these pheromones come in, but the most common are sprays and wall plug-ins. This is a budget-friendly option that can work for any cat.

Related Questions

What health concerns does stress cause in cats?

Stress can cause some significant health concerns for our furry friends. This can range from behavioral issues all the way to physical conditions. 

Behavioral issues that are the most common signs of stress are aggression, eating changes, withdrawing from others, and bathroom issues. Thankfully, this is very manageable with the right tactics. 

Physical issues can manifest as urinary diseases, bald patches and sores, and lowered immune system response. If you are noticing any of these symptoms, you should consult a veterinarian immediately. 

Do cats understand kisses? 

For humans, it’s easy to understand that kisses are a symbol of affection. It can be hard to remember that animals don’t always understand human emotions, and kisses are a great example. While some cats may tolerate kisses, in general, cats don’t equate kisses with affection.

Stacy Randall

Stacy is a lifelong animal lover who truly believes life just isn’t complete without pets. She’s had pets her whole life (including three dogs and a cat living under the same roof, somewhat harmoniously). She currently resides in NOLA with her husband, son, and two pups, Scooby “Dooby” Doo and Zoey. Stacy always makes a point to learn everything she can about her fur babies, and she has been writing about the pet-parent life for over two years.

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