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Do Cats Fake Sleep?

By The Daily Cat experts

Do Cats Fake Sleep?

Many different animals and insects “play possum” by pretending to be asleep or even dead. Usually they do this in reaction to a physical threat. A spider that you capture in a cup might keel over with its legs in the air, looking as though it just dropped dead. In reality, the spider could be alive and well, but just hoping you’ll fall for the ruse and leave it alone.

Cats do something akin to this by engaging in fake sleep. This is when a feline curls into a sleeping position, closes its eyes and takes on the appearance of a sleeping kitty. It could, however, be wide-awake and only pretending to sleep. In his book Cat Body, Cat Mind: Exploring Your Cat’s Consciousness and Total Well-being, Michael W. Fox explains that such behavior often occurs at animal shelters, where cats can feel stressed out. In this case, pretending to sleep may help ward off threats, while also providing the cat with a sense of calmness.

In a home situation, hopefully the environment is calm enough that resident cats won’t feel compelled to sham-sleep. When they close their eyes, they are then likely to be enjoying true rest and relaxation.

Tags: cat behavior


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Posted on February 22, 2012

Calico Mom says: Laura...ignore the insensitive comments. I have three cali's (all rescues) and they are fine. I would not take in anymore because of I don't have more space or else I would. As long as you have enough room so that they can go to different areas when they want to be alone, and can absorb the financial responsibility, 5 cats is fine. And as another poster stated, it is quite enjoyable to watch them interact especially when they play "hide & seek".

Posted on December 18, 2011

Crazy Cat Man and PROUD!!! says: Ophelia, your totally right. Take it from the Predator, of the movies, the ultimate hunter, it will not go after you, if you are not a threat ha ha. and laura, ignore all those negative people, I once lived with a lady who had 10 cats!!! while it was extremely enjoyable and a lot of fun, because there was always at least a few playing at all times, it was however too much. I however have 3 rugrats, and none of them are stressed out, two boys, brothers and then another, girl, came along. the boys have always been together, and even though the third has always been a loner like her old man, the others still welcome her in, in fact because my boys have completely different personalities and are a few years older than the 3rd, the 3rd brought back the inner kitten inside one of my boys, and no matter what they always have a companion. but 3 is definitley where i draw the line, even though they are all rescues.

Posted on October 3, 2011

Fido says: Beats me how anyone can like house cats. They are completely useless and do nothing interesting at all. Cats in the barn are a different story and then I like cats. They are great at catching their food rats, mice and birds and as long as you don't feed them anything they will do a good job at killing pests.

Posted on September 27, 2011

Shayde says: Laura does not have too many cats at 5, I have an aunt that has 23 cats and another that has 15 cats and 9 dogs. Both have followed the laws of the communities in which they live, have very clean, well kept homes, a significant other, and provide excellent care for their pets. Crazy cat ladies they are, but 5 cats is not that big a deal.

Posted on September 22, 2011

Brenda says: just wanted to say 'AMEN, brother!!' to Steve. I've been on both sides of the "take in" situation, as the one taking in & as the one taken in.

Posted on September 4, 2011

susan says: victoria, use a lightly wet sponge on all of them. it's the smell that your little one is prob objecting to. make sure they all smell the same. let me know your email and i will send u other tips (i have 7)

Posted on September 1, 2011

Victoria says: I have two cats and my mother just moved in with me rough times she had no other choice... She has tree cats. All of them get along except for my little girl Cali she isn't taking to any of them I'm 7 mnths preg. N I believe she is not only trying to protect me but also stressed by the current situation ive done everything kept them in a separate room for a few weeks to allow them time n space they eat separate and share separate litters. I give her a ton of attention and I just dont know what else to do to help her along in this change... Help please!?!?.. I also fear in two short months if she doesn't start coping with the other pets me having my first child will set her over the edge!?!?

Posted on August 29, 2011

Fran says: Steve is so right!

Posted on August 18, 2011

Steve says: We have 5 cats and use a feline pheromone spray that mimcs the smell of a mother cat to calm down the aggressive one (2 strays, 3 shelter cats). Surprisingly the stray that is a Japanese bobtail is a holy terror, even the 80-lb dog is afraid of her. BTW, we live on a 1/4 acre lot near woods so the cats have lotsa elbow room, so if the lady with 5 cats has enough room and they're all fixed, cut her some slack. Sometimes ya just gotta take in a stray that would otherwise die--whether its human, feline, canine or even an in-law.

Posted on August 16, 2011

Ophelia says: @maru - some predators will not eat carrion, so prey they did not kill is not tempting to them, and they'll leave it alone.

Posted on August 13, 2011

maru says: Why would pretending to sleep ward off threats? I would think sleeping is a vulnerable position.

Posted on August 11, 2011

RFW says: Laura, you have too many cats. My vet tells me that if you have more than two cats, it's likely that at least one is going to be pretty stressed out.

Posted on July 28, 2011

Name82 says: Lincoln, you're a moron. obviously Laura is a crazy cat person

Posted on August 7, 2011

Rufus says: Just goes to show that cats can't be trusted.

Posted on July 20, 2011

Someone says: Rich, really was that necessary?

Posted on June 3, 2011

Rich says: laura, you might want to look for the appropriate forum for asking advice. also, five cats? you might be the crazy cat lady if...

Posted on July 9, 2011

Rae says: My cats snore loudly enough to raise the roof. I think that's about as real as sleep can get!

Posted on July 19, 2011

Lincoln says: Rich: I am dismayed by your discouraging response to Laura. Are we not all concerned here about the welfare of cats?

Posted on May 29, 2011

laura says: i have 5 cats and the youngest is 4yo and he bullys 2 of my older cats one is 18 and the other is 11. i say bully but really he stalks them and starts biting and fighting them. i use a spray bottle when i see it happen but i'm afraid he is going to really hurt one of them when i'm not there to stop it. any suggestions on how to stop this?

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