Why Do Cats Switch Their Sleeping Places?

Cats spend up to 16 hours a day sleeping. The older the cat, the more time it spends resting. Cats usually have preferred sleeping places, but they like to vary where they sleep. This is part of the survival instinct of cats.

In a study of 1,177 cats, scientists found that most cats have five preferred sleeping places. Feral cats regularly relocate their nests and colonies to avoid detection by predators. However, cats also sleep in various places to assert territory, enjoy privacy, regulate body temperature, or respond to stressful experiences.

It may be that your cat sleeps in the strangest places. But these are places that are familiar to her.

It could be that the place is pleasantly quiet for her because people do not frequent it. Or it is quieter because it is in the back of the house.

Why Do Cats Change Their Sleeping Places?

It is common for cats to sleep in different places in the home. The optimal sleeping place for cats meets the following criteria:

  • Small, enclosed space.
  • Warm, but not too hot
  • No drafts
  • Quiet and private
  • Part of the claimed territory
  • Far enough away from the litter box and food to avoid odors.

Cats change roosts frequently to ensure their survival.

They can’t afford to become too predictable. Predators know precisely where to look if they always sleep in the same place.

Predatory Requirements

Cats only feel comfortable in a territory that they have claimed for themselves. This is usually done by scratching or marking with scents.

To back up this claim, the cat then sleeps in this area. If she stays in one place for an extended period of time, the cat’s scent will become even stronger.

Your cat will try to claim as much of its home as possible. This way, the cat will always feel like it has a safe place to retreat.

In this case, the territory can refer to a whole room or just a small corner.

You will see this behavior more in busy households. If you have children, the noise level may overwhelm your cat.

In this case, the cat will retreat to a place it knows is quieter.

This behavior will be even more pronounced if you have other cats. In a multi-cat household, the territory must be divided among the cats.

If you get a second cat, you may find that your previous cat sleeps all over the house. This is then a battle for territory.


Cats are so-called mesopredators. This means they are predators on smaller animals and prey on superior predators.

This gives cats a unique perspective. They know what it’s like to be the hunter and the hunted.

Cats use this to their advantage when they choose a sleeping position. They know that they should seek out rodent roosts when looking for mice.

Cats do like to hunt moving prey. But they are also not averse to gaining an advantage by surprise.

For this reason, feral cats regularly change their roosts. They fear that a fox or other predator will learn where they are sleeping and ambush them.

In addition, cats leave a distinctive scent behind when they sleep. Regularly seeking out new territory, predators can’t track cats as easily.

Domestic cats, of course, are not exposed to such risks. Nevertheless, domestic cats regularly change their sleeping place.

Their instincts, developed over thousands of years, do not disappear quickly, no matter how inviting the home environment may be.


Cats may also change their sleeping place to maintain their privacy. Few things upset a cat more than having its sleep interrupted.

When cats think children, house guests, and other pets know where to find them, they feel less secure.

This leads to the fact that the cat sleeps in different hiding places.

Many cats claim an elevated place as a place to sleep. This can be, for example, on a cabinet or a scratching post.

Temperature Regulation

The average body temperature of cats is between 100.4 and 102.6 °F (38.0 and 39.2 °C). A cat is uncomfortable if it is warmer or colder than this temperature.

All breeds are different, but a room temperature of around 69 to 72 °F (21 to 22 °C) keeps most cats happy and content.

Cold Temperatures

According to scientific evidence, a cat’s body temperature drops during sleep. However, if their temperature is below 99.8 °F (37.7 °C), they are at risk of hypothermia.

Therefore, in winter, cats are drawn to warmer places to sleep. These can be places where there are artificial heat sources.

Cats then like to sleep on radiators or in front of fireplaces.

Hot Temperatures

Cats tolerate too much cold better than too much heat. They have small sweat glands on their paws, and heat leaves the cat’s body through the ears.

When a cat is too hot, it may take a while to cool down.

Signs that a cat is overheated include:

  • Panting
  • Increased heart rate
  • Restlessness
  • Constant pacing
  • Lethargy
  • Discoloration of the gums

To address this, your cat should sleep in a colder place. Kitchens and bathrooms with tiled floors become favorite places to sleep when it’s hot.

Pain Response

Your cat may be suffering from chronic pain, such as arthritis.

However, the cat may think its bed or sofa is responsible for discomfort.

Your cat will then change its sleeping place to feel better.

Your cat may not limp or seem lame even though she is in pain. She will more likely try to hide symptoms, seeing them as a sign of weakness.

Signs that your cat is arthritic include:

  • Lethargy
  • Slouched posture
  • Uncharacteristic aggressiveness and irritability
  • Refusal to be touched
  • Weak, atrophied muscles.

Set up a primary bed for your cat. This should be near the floor and in a quiet location.

Provide the following for added comfort:

  • A soft bed that is easy to climb into.
  • Blankets and pillows
  • A direct source of heat

Negative Experiences

Cats remember frightening or traumatic events. If a neighbor’s cat bullies your cat, it will avoid certain streets in the future.

The same is true in the home. Your cat remembers something scary and associates it with a particular place.

Cats can be frightened and stressed by many things. Some of them are avoidable, and others are not.

Loud noises are among the primary triggers of stress in cats. These can include:

  • Televisions and radios.
  • Loud conversations and shouts
  • Construction sites and road noise
  • Car alarms and horns.

Your cat may not always understand that these noises are coming from outside. Your cat may believe that sleeping in a specific place attracts noise.

If this happens, she will look for a new place to sleep.

Your cat’s negative experience may also have nothing to do with noise. It may also be related to a sensation or memory.

Examples include:

  • Flea or ear mite infestation.
  • Physical trauma, such as a kick on the tail.
  • Strong smells or aromas
  • Fights with other cats

These incidents are firmly associated with a particular place in your cat’s mind. This means that the cat no longer feels safe there.

This causes the cat to find a new place to rest and recuperate.

Changes in Home Furnishings

Cats like things to stay the same. This is especially true for the interior of the apartment.

If you have rearranged your apartment or moved furniture, the cat must get used to it. This will cause stress at first.

Your cat will have to relearn its terrain and search for and find the resting places that are most comfortable for it.

Moving your cat’s bed back to its previous location may not be enough.

The changes in the environment can upset your cat. For example, moving particular furniture may have caused a draft.


If your cat has a mild illness, he may start sleeping elsewhere.

For example, a cat with a urinary tract infection will want to sleep near the litter box. In rare cases, cats will even sleep in the litter box.

This means that the cat may be rejecting its usual bed.

If a cat is very uncomfortable, it will become increasingly withdrawn. Your cat will probably give people and other pets a wide berth.

A cat will want to sleep in a cool, dark place if it fears being physically vulnerable. Such places may include:

  • In the backyard
  • Under bushes
  • In garages and sheds
  • Under cars
  • In basements or sub-basements

If you are worried that your cat is not well, check your cat’s sleeping place. Maybe she has changed places.

Summary: Why Do Cats Change Their Sleeping Places?

Cats change their sleeping places frequently. This is basically because the cat follows its primal instincts.

However, there are different reasons why cats change their sleeping places. They want to assert their territorial claims.

But also for safety reasons, they change their sleeping place. Predators cannot ambush them so quickly, then.

Other possible reasons are searching for privacy, acute pain or illness, and escaping unpleasant temperatures.

But negative experiences they associate with a place can also be a reason for changing their sleeping place.

Finally, simply moving or replacing furniture can cause cats to change sleeping places.

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I, Daniel Popovic (Place of residence: Germany), process personal data to operate this website only to the extent technically necessary. All details in my privacy policy.
Data protection
I, Daniel Popovic (Place of residence: Germany), process personal data to operate this website only to the extent technically necessary. All details in my privacy policy.