My cats are continually changing their favourite locations to sleep, but one thing always remains true. My cats spend the majority of their days lazying about the apartment, always sleeping or relaxing.
Not only do my cats sleep in a variety of places, but my cats also love to sleep in a variety of positions including on their backs, hanging off the side of objects,
Now, as I’m sure you already know, sometimes when our cats sleep in odd positions, it scares us, especially if our cats aren’t responding or don’t seem to be moving. One of the events that frightened me the most was finding Beau sleeping with his eyes open.
There are many animals, such as chinchillas, who can sleep with their eyes open. But, just because chinchillas can sleep with their eyes open with no problem, does this mean cats can?
The following post will cover everything you need to know from why cats sleep with their eyes open, whether or not vets find it concerning when cats do sleep with their eyes open and what concerns a vet may have when it comes to a cat sleeping with their eyes open.
There should be no call for alarm if your cat is sleeping with their eyes open, and many cats do it.
Although there are should be no cause to worry about your cat if they are sleeping with their eyes open, you should probably still keep a close eye to see if your cat is exhibiting any other odd behaviours, such as seizures, shaking, etc.
WHY YOUR CAT SLEEPS WITH THEIR EYES OPEN
Cats often fall asleep without knowing it, especially when they are younger.
Cats can tell that they are experiencing a sleepy-spell but may fight it based on their instincts for survival. Sleepy-spells often lead cats to sleep standing up, to fall off ledges/shelves, or my personal favourite, cats to falling asleep in their food bowls.
On many occasions where cats fall asleep with their eyes open, they only have their eyes open for the first part of their sleep cycle.
Similar to humans, cats have different types of sleep, including light sleep and deep sleep (also known as the REM Cycle.)
Most cats will not have their eyes open for the deeper sleep, though if they are seen in deep sleep or REM sleep, you may witness your cat’s eyes bouncing from side to side.
Do not be alarmed; this is the way that we all dream, however, be sure to talk to a vet about whether or not your cat is experiencing any adverse side effects from this sort of sleeping if it is a regular occurrence
Cats may also appear to be sleeping with their eyes open, although they are not because they have a third eyelid that is more translucent than the others.
This eyelid may become injured, causing it to stay open or closed. Again, a cat who sleeps with their eyes open may not have issues with their third eyelid. However, it’s still a good idea to have your vet take a closer look at your cat’s eye.
There are some cases where eyelids become damaged or will require surgical intervention, though in most cases, it will be reasonably clear that there is damage to your cat’s eyelid, especially when they are fully awake.
Damage is commonly diagnosed when the eyelid is unable to close or open freely, so again, always be aware of your cat’s eyes, especially when they are awake.
Cats don’t do a whole lot of complaining or letting you know that they are in pain unless things have really progressed. So, as a safety precaution, always make sure to be checking your cat’s eyes, mouth, skin or any changes.
If you are ever concerned or if ever you see changes in your cat’s behaviour, it is strongly recommended that you consult a vet.
Your vet, or their vet tech, will commonly ask you a few questions to understand the situation you are in with your cat and will be able to let you know whether or not you should bring your cat in for examination.
EYES OPEN CAN MEAN DRY EYES
If eyes are kept open for too long, they begin getting dry and will require the cat, or human, to either blink or receive eye drops.
In many cases, cats should be fine without the use of eyedrops. If you have noticed that your cat chronically sleeps with their eyes open or they, have begun excessively blinking, watering while not sleeping, excessive scratching around the eyes or face, it is recommended that you consult a vet.
Your vet will be able to let you know whether or not they think you will require some sort of medical intervention with your cat or if there’s nothing to worry about.
In most cases, the most a vet will do is recommend eye drops, unless the cause your cat sleeping with their eyes open is a serious underlying health condition.
Do not ever facilitate over the counter eye drops, especially if they are not explicitly for the use of cats. Medications that were made for humans may be considered too harsh or extreme for cats and may cause more severe health problems than the original problem.
Not only can over the counter or human medications cause more harm to your cat, but they can also often be considered unnecessary as oftentimes, a cat’s body will take care of itself without human intervention.
DO CATS SLEEP WITH THEIR EYES OPEN WHEN THEY ARE OLD?
I haven’t been able to come across any studies or vet write-ups about this topic, though it does seem like the majority of pet parents who report this behaviour have cats who are considered to be seniors.
Though many cases of seniors cats exhibiting this behaviour have been written about on other forums and blogs, these postings do not confirm that this is a problem that is more common for seniors and should not be considered scientific evidence or proof.
Not only should it not be considered scientific evidence or proof, but it also doesn’t mean that young cats have not been seen sleeping with their eyes open.
As mentioned earlier, we’ve had the experience of seeing our cat sleeping with his eyes open and he was about 4 at the time.
I HEARD CATS ARE PRETTY MUCH ALWAYS AWAKE
You would be correct in believing that cats are pretty much always awake, though this is a matter of perspective.
Cats can spend up to 20 hours sleeping in their day but spend the majority of this time half awake. It’s REM sleep that cats don’t experience a whole lot of.
An easy way to tell whether or not your cat is experiencing deep sleep or REM sleep is by seeing whether they respond to their name or by you moving close to them.
Cats who are “napping” will commonly twitch their ears when they hear their owner speak to them or may wake up as a response.
Kalista, for example, ignores us by will commonly take a deep breath in, however, Beau will always perk up if you say his name while he is taking a catnap.
Cats who are experiencing REM sleep commonly do not respond, because they are less likely to hear you.
Due to the inability to hear and respond quickly, cats have evolved to not require great amounts of REM sleep so they can run away from predators anytime they need to.
SHOULD I WAKE UP MY CAT IF THEY SLEEP WITH THEIR EYES OPEN?
Honestly, it’s your choice, but chances are they are going to return to sleeping with their eyes open, if not now, again in the future.
If you do choose to wake up your cat, make sure that you are not abruptly trying to wake them up and instead gently pet them or call out their name.
Since it can be difficult to tell whether or not your cat is in REM sleep, there is a chance that you are going to startle your cat or make them feel scared.
While doing this once or twice is fine, making a habit of waking up your cat will cause them to begin distrusting you or may cause them to want to hide if they want to sleep, especially if they are startled.
While it’s admittedly odd when cats sleep with their eyes open, there is usually nothing to worry about if your cat does this.
As is with all things regarding cats, it is strongly recommended that you have a conversation with your vet, especially if you are concerned something is wrong.
In many cases, if your cat is exhibiting signs of a health problem, they will begin exhibiting other symptoms. So, make sure to keep a good close eye on your cat to make sure that you aren’t missing any clues or hints since chances are your cat isn’t going to tell you what’s going on.
So pet parents, I’m curious, have you caught your cats sleeping with their eyes open? What did you do when you first saw them like this? Did there end up being a problem? Let me know in the comments below!