The Reason Why Your Cats Sleep with Their Eyes Open


When it comes to cats, there's no saying what to expect! If you are a first-time feline parent, you are in for an adventurous ride discovering all their cute antics and shenanigans.

From licking your face to literally fitting into any small space, many such activities will make you go crazy. One similar issue you might encounter is your pet sleeping with its eyes open.

Initially, it might cause a great deal of worry about your cat’s health. However, you will be glad to know this is a common phenomenon. Continue reading to learn more on the topic.

Can Cats Sleep with Their Eyes Open?

Seeing these cute little creatures behave strangely should no longer be a surprise. But one aspect that can worry every cat parent is their sleeping pattern. After all, is it even possible for your pet to sleep with its eyes open?

The answer to this question is YES. Your little feline buddy is perfectly capable of sleeping with partial shutters open for the rest of the world. Remember, they are instinctively hardwired to be hunters and have different genetic traits than most pets. Cats rest in multiple phases, and during the slow-wave sleep, you will often find their eyes open.

Why do Cats Sleep with Their Eyes Open?

Once you have confirmed that cats indeed have varying sleeping habits, you might want to know why it is actually happening. Is it due to a change of environment or some past trauma preventing them from resting easily?

Considering that each kitty is different and can behave strangely for several reasons, there is no fixed answer to this question. For exact information, it is always better to get in touch with the veterinarian and get a professional opinion for the same.

However, the below-listed pointers are some of the common reasons you might want to note.

Your Cat Might Not Be Asleep

Genetically speaking, cats have evolved into lazy creatures over time. This is because staying lethargic helps them save more energy, survive on less food, and conserve all efforts for the hunting process.

Due to this specific reason, you will often find that your cat is not ready to move or play around like a regular pet. Since felines usually sleep for about 15 hours on average, this behavior is normal.

Therefore, one possibility for your cat appearing asleep with eyes open might mean that it is actually awake. As such, you might be fretting for no reason at all.

Sleep Cycle

Much like humans, you will find that cats also have a fixed sleep cycle with different phases. In such cases, you might notice the feline sleeping with one or both eyes open. It predominantly happens during Slow-Wave Sleep (SWS), when their senses are still active and responsive to the environment.

Fewer cats also appear to be asleep with eyes open during Rapid Eye Movement Sleep (REM). In this situation, the pet loses muscle function and is most likely dreaming. Due to twitching in the eyes or ears, you might also think that the cat is asleep at a quick look.

Noisy Environment

No one likes to rest easily when there's plenty of chaos around. Cats are no different and feel uncomfortable sleeping in a noisy environment. Even though most domesticated felines don't worry about environmental dangers, it is still a crucial factor governing their sleeping behavior.

Additionally, cats have exceptional hearing and can catch sounds much more easily than you think. In fact, exposing your pet to constant hearing over 95 decibels can likely result in hearing damage. Therefore, cats tend to cram away from many people and hide in a corner to get the much-needed rest with eyes open for safety.


There's no denying the fact that cats can be brutal and quite violent. You probably have a lot of arm scratches to confirm this behavior. So when they step out of the house and find another pet in the same area, they can act quite territorial. The scuffle might leave them with an injury, thus causing pain while closing their eyes.

The nictitating membrane is a third layer present beneath both eyelids of the cat. The cat might face significant trouble and require surgery when it gets wounded. Some common symptoms you should look out for are inflammation, cloudiness, redness, etc.

Natural Instincts

If you read more about the cat ancestry in detail, you will find that they used to be wild creatures who had to preserve energy for sprinting. As such, the hunting nature influences their overall behavior till the date and gives them the signal to sleep with their eyes partially open.

Also, cats like to be aware of their surroundings and all the instances happening around them. They keep the eye shutters open to stay vigilant and watch out for their owner or kittens. Doing so will help them properly check the environment and keep their survival instincts intact.

Should You Be Worried About Cats When They Sleep with Their Eyes Open?

For most people, the answer to this question should be a big no! Cats often sleep with their eyes open, which is part of their anatomy. However, if you notice different symptoms like fever, seizures, twitching, or eye trauma, you might want to book a vet appointment soon.

A professional will be able better to guide you about the cat's present medical condition and advise accordingly. In most cases, they might write up some eye doses for extra dryness around the lids. Regardless of the outcome, cat parents must remember that a cat sleeping with its eyes open is no big deal.

What Can You Do to Make Your Cat Sleep Peacefully?

Is your feline creature regularly sleeping with its eyes open? If so, it is understandable to be spooked out or worried about their overall health. However, in such situations, you can simply follow the below-mentioned steps instead of stressing too much. After all, sleeping well is bound to improve their overall health.

Ensure Enough Playtime

Cats might seem small and dainty but remember, these creatures have a lot of energy in their body. Young felines are more playful and need to calm down from all the hyperactiveness. As such, play with your cat for at least 15 minutes twice daily. Getting tired will help them sleep like a baby.

Feed a Healthy Diet

Like humans, cats also need a healthy diet with proper nutrition to stay fit. When you give them proper meals throughout the day, their body will function much better. As a result, the chances of falling asleep peacefully increase drastically. Remember, felines are carnivorous and need a significant portion of animal-based protein in their diet.

Keep a Consistent Sleep Cycle

Sticking to a fixed sleeping schedule from the start can help make things a lot easier. Considering that felines sleep a lot, always try to get them to nap after each playful session. Once you train the cat, you will realize that they tend to be very organized and sleep on time.

Feed at Night

Felines sleep well once they have had a proper meal and feel content. If you end up feeding them during the evening hours, they will probably wake up in the middle of the night due to hunger. To avoid any sleep pattern distractions, you must always ensure they've had food before dozing off.


James Herriot, a British veterinary surgeon, once rightly said, "Cats are connoisseurs of comfort." You must have noticed this trait if you have recently brought a feline pet home. However, seeing them sleep with their eyes open can freak anyone out.

If you're facing a similar situation, it is crucial to note that this is a common trait and nothing to worry about. Cats tend to sleep a lot with shutters open to stay vigilant of their surroundings due to the inherent hunting behavior.

To ensure better sleep for your pet, you can ensure to feed them healthy meals, especially at night.


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