Why Does My Cat Turn In Circles Before Laying Down?
Unlike humans, cats rarely lie down in bed before making a fuss. Instead, before snuggling in for the night, they prepare their bed carefully. You may have noticed cats turn around in circles like a dance before settling in. Why do they do this?
First things first, why do cats sleep so much?
Cats are known for enjoying a good nap. The average cat sleeps between 12 and 16 hours a day. However, all cats sleep often, not just old, tired kitties. Cats sleep for two-thirds of the day, even when they are young and healthy. The weather, hunger, cramped muscles, or an ailing joint may occasionally disrupt cats’ sleep time, but cats love to sleep regardless of these interruptions.
Your housecat’s sleeping habits are inherited from generations of their wild ancestors. When cats lived in the wild, their survival depended on their ability to hunt. A successful hunt usually results in the cat sleeping for a long time after a filling meal, just as humans nap after a big Thanksgiving dinner. If a hunt were unsuccessful, wild cats would sleep to conserve energy. In either case, naps were important. Even though domestic cats don’t hunt, their sleep-centered lifestyle hasn’t changed much.
Theory 1: Cats circle before sleep to regulate their temperature
A cat’s ritual of circling before lying down for a nap has many possible explanations. According to one theory, cats circle around and tightly coil their bodies to conserve body heat. When the weather was cold, cats in the wild wound their bodies into tight balls to stay warm—generally, the tighter the tuck, the warmer the cat. In addition, other family members compacted their bodies together to share body heat effectively.
In hotter climates, wild cats scratched the ground to remove soil and grass that retained and radiated heat from the sun. By removing the topsoil and grass, the sleepy cat gained some relief from the heat. Thus, cats optimized a biological reason to turn around before sleeping in cold or hot climates.
Theory 2: Cats circle before sleep to position their bodies to protect themselves from danger
To keep a close eye on their surroundings and potential predators, cats position themselves most advantageously while most vulnerable. They aim to position themselves so they can quickly detect the scent of an intruder by following the wind patterns. As cats travel in packs, they place alpha cats outside family circles to protect the young and elderly.
As a result of this nesting procedure, unwanted inhabitants, such as deadly snakes or insects, were also exposed. Moreover, moving grass or leaves indicates to other wild cats in the area that this spot had been claimed for the night, which decreased territorial disputes.
Despite living indoors, domestic cats still follow the sleeping ritual of their ancestors, regardless of predators or inclement weather.
Can the circling be a warning sign?
Seeing our cats turn around before bedding down is amusing, but it can also signify something is wrong. For example, when cats are in pain, they circle excessively to find a more comfortable position. Then, before fully reclining, they may crouch and rise several times.
Consult your veterinarian if your cat has difficulty settling down after making several revolutions. In addition, nighttime circling can become painful due to orthopedic disorders, such as arthritis, or neurological disorders, such as spinal cord and back problems. However, bedtime can once again become a comforting and relaxing ritual with proper evaluation and therapy.
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