If you’re a cat owner yourself, then you know that your feline friend will engage in a whole host of strange behaviors that we human beings struggle to explain. One of the strangest behaviors that cats engage in is appearing to sleep whilst their eyes are wide open.
Seeing your cat sleeping with their eyes open can not only look incredibly creepy, but it may cause you to feel concerned if you’ve not witnessed them doing this before.
There are a few common questions that might pop into your head, including whether or not this might be a medical condition.
If you want to find out more about this peculiar behavior, keep reading, as we take a look below.
Can Cats Actually Sleep With Their Eyes Open?
Let’s dive straight into the topic at hand and answer whether or not it is possible for cats to sleep with their eyes open.
The simple answer is, yes. Cats are able to sleep with their eyes open. Not all cats will engage in this kind of behavior, and you may just do it one in a while.
Should I Be Concerned?
It is reassuring to know that finding your cat sleeping with their eyes open, although it can appear jarring, is not a cause for concern most of the time. If you’ve had your cat for a while, and they’re approaching old age, you may have noticed them doing this for the first time.
This is very normal, as scientists have found that older cats tend to sleep with their eyes open as opposed to younger cats.
If, however, you notice that your cat is engaging in other strange behaviors whilst they’re asleep, such as twitching, then this could be an important sign that you need to take them to your local veterinarian. The reason being because your cat might be experiencing seizures.
Most of the time however, this isn’t the case. Cats have incredibly heightened senses, including eyesight, and so like to be present and aware of their surroundings all of the time, so this behavior could just be a continuation of these instincts.
It Could Be To Do With Their Sleeping Patterns
A reason why your cat might be sleeping with their eyes open could be due to their sleeping patterns. Domestic cats can sleep for very long periods of time, up to 20 hours a day even. Despite their love of snuggling up next to a warm fire, they’re also hard wired to be predators.
Because of this hard wiring in their DNA, your cat might still be on high alert even whilst they’re asleep. When they hear anything moving around in the house, it is not uncommon for them to wake up immediately and spring into action.
Their eyes might be open because they’re not yet in a very deep sleep, and haven’t reached the REM portion of their cycle, as a result their eyes might not be closed.
The stage of this sleep cycle is known as the slow wave sleep, or SWS. This is the shallowest form of rest possible. Keeping one or two eyes open allows them to react to their environment as soon as possible.
After they move into the REM portion of the sleep cycle, or rapid eye movement, you may notice your cat's eyes shutting, demonstrating that they are in a deeper sleep.
This isn’t always the case, however, and your cat's eyes may stay awake whilst they’re in this stage of the sleep cycle. Their eyes may as a result move to the back of their heads, or may twitch a little.
They Could Be Injured
Another less common reason why your cat may have their eyes open whilst they’re sleeping is because they have sustained an injury. You may be aware that cats actually have a third eyelid, as opposed to humans.
As a result, if this eyelid sustains an injury, your cat may be unable to close their eyes whilst trying to fall asleep.
If you notice any other symptoms that your cat might be experiencing pain, then you should take them to your local veterinary clinic as soon as possible. If they have indeed sustained damage on their third eyelid, then they will probably require surgery to resolve the issue.
Some other symptoms of this issue include:
They Might Be Watching You
Another reason why your cat might be sleeping with their eyes open is because they’re actually keeping an eye on you.
You might have a very strong bond with your cat, and they like to be with you at all times. If this is the case then they might not want to leave you out of their sight, quite literally.
Your cat will likely see you as their protector, and if this is the case then they’ll keep an eye on you to make them feel more secure.
If they see that you get up to go to another room, then they’ll likely get up and follow you around.
Why Do Cats Have A Third Eye?
A common question asked by people is why cats have a third eyelid in the first place. The reason why they have this special feature is to protect the cornea from injury when they attempt to capture their prey.
One of the main reasons why cats sleep with their eyes open is because of the stage in their sleep cycle that they’re in. It is completely normal, especially in older felines. If you notice other symptoms however, such as redness or swelling, it could be due to a medical issue.
At Love4Cats, our practice involves consistent collaboration with licensed veterinarians and reputable industry experts. However, it's important to note that the content provided on Excited Cats is not intended as veterinary advice. While we strive to enhance your understanding of feline care, the information presented on this blog should not replace professional veterinary guidance.