Why Do Cats Sleep So Much? We Have the Answer
There could be worse things to be in life than a house cat. Every meal is laid out before them, practically on a silver platter, they get all the attention they want, and they sleep the day away. Literally.
But do cats sleep too much? And why do they sleep so much?
Cats can often be found curled up in a cozy nook or laid out in a sunny spot, snoozing while their owners are hard at work. If you’re lucky, your cat may even like dozing in your lap!
If you find yourself worried about how much your kitty is sleeping, it’s probably nothing to be concerned about. House cats sleep a lot and that’s normal. In fact, we humans should probably learn from them and sleep more!
The sleeping patterns of cats can actually get quite complex, but don’t worry. We have everything you need to know to ensure your feline friend is happy and healthy, and we just might be able to help you keep them from waking you up at night!
How Many Hours of Sleep Do Cats Need a Day?
The exact number of hours of sleep a cat needs a day varies. Most experts believe the average amount of time house cats spend sleeping is between 12 and 15 hours a day. However, they could sleep as little as 10 hours a day, or as much as 20 hours!
Anywhere in that range is considered normal.
But don’t be fooled. Your cat may not be sleeping that entire time.
Ever heard of a cat nap? They’re called cat naps for a reason. Cats can sleep in short portions throughout the day, unlike humans who get their sleep in one large chunk.
Most experts recommend that humans should get 7 or 8 hours of sleep a day, but that number is quite different for cats spending on their environment and age.
In 1981, a study found that farm cats sleep 40% of the time and tend to sleep at night. During the day, those same farm cats rest 22% of their time. In 2007, experts discovered that shelter cats who lived in a cage were oftentimes disturbed or hyperaware of their surroundings 70% of the time. They also only slept only 11% of the time.
What Causes Cats to Sleep So Much?
The importance of sleep for any creature is still relatively unknown by scientists. So it can be hard to determine why cats especially sleep so much more than humans and other animals.
Though experts don’t know exactly why cats sleep so much in the form of small chunks throughout the day, they can look towards evolution to try and come up with a reason
Short periods of sleep allow cats to have short bursts of activity afterward which seems to be an evolutionary product of their hunting days. Typically, these short bursts of activity would be when cats would hunt. After, they usually would end it with a bite to eat and a quick snooze.
So your cat’s ability to snooze for so long is just a natural part of their lifestyle as predators who love to stalk, chase, run, climb, and pounce.
However, all those hours your cat logs with the snooze button aren’t all attributed to genetics. Older cats sleep more than younger cats. And sometimes, cats simply sleep because they’re bored or even depressed.
If you find that your cat starts sleeping more than normal all of a sudden, then it may be time for a vet visit.
But before you do that, consider if you’re cat is actually sleeping as much as you think they are. You may think your cat is sleeping, but they could be resting because they’re hot or simply grooming themselves. You may also find that during rainy days your outdoor cat tends to rest more.
Most cats’ other activities, such as grooming, are not as noticeable, so it can often appear as though they are sleeping when they are not.
Are Cats Nocturnal Creatures?
There’s not much that’s creepier than waking up in the middle of the night to find your cat’s glowing eyes peering at you from the darkness. And for that very reason combined with their ability to sleep so much during the day, you may have been curious if your cat is nocturnal.
Many people believe cats are nocturnal. But they aren’t! At least, not in the traditional sense.
They have energy levels that fluctuate throughout a 24-hour period, meaning they could feel active at nighttime or feel like sleeping.
Technically speaking, cats are crepuscular, a behavior that developed in domestic cats from their wild ancestors to help with hunting and keeps them mostly active during dusk and dawn.
Not to mention, cats like to mimic the behavior of their owners. So they also tend to perk up the moment your alarm clock goes off and the second they hear the keys go in the door when you come home.
Some other things that affect their sleeping patterns include feeding schedules, weather, and household activity.
However, the more active your cat is during late hours, the more likely they will be sleeping all day long.
What if My Cat Sleeps Throughout The Whole Day?
As you’ve read so far, It’s absolutely normal for your cat to sleep for long periods of the day. But, what if they seem to sleep all day long?
If your cat is constantly sleeping without seeming to play or groom themselves or any of the other activities cats partake in in-between cat naps, it could be a sign of illness.
Oversleeping or a sudden change in their normal sleep patterns could be a sign of a medical issue or even stress, especially if you can’t get them to engage in things they would enjoy like playing, feeding, petting, or the extra sleeping is accompanied with hiding.
When cats are stressed, they like to pretend to sleep and appear to be at rest though they remain emotionally tense. They do this as a way to try and block out their stressors.
Some signs of stress in your cat may be strained muscles, raised ears, and if they wrap their tail tightly below the body.
If you suspect that your cat is stressed or that they are sick or in distress, use that as a sign to consult a veterinarian.
Cats sleep more to try and protect themselves. And if you notice this behavior change in your cat, your veterinarian is the best person to help you ensure that your cat gets back to feeling happy and healthy.
What Should I Do If My Cat Keeps Waking Me Up In My Sleep?
If the only issue you have with your cat’s sleeping patterns is their nighttime zoomies, then we have some easy tips to ensure they don’t wake you up the next time you’re trying to get some zzz’s.
The best way to keep your cat from being too active during the night is to provide them with enough stimulation and exercise during the day. Without it, they may wake you up intentionally for food or pets. They may also wake you up unintentionally by playing around.
To avoid all of these scenarios, try to play with your cat and feed them right before bedtime. This should trigger their cycle of eating, grooming, and then sleeping to get them through the night without waking you up.
The key is to ensure that they don’t get bored. Stimulate them during the day so they are too tired to wake you up at night. Playing with them for several 5 to 15-minute sessions throughout the day is another great way to do this.
Try alternating cat tricks so they don’t get tired of the same-old, same-old. You can even train them to do tricks!
Another way to help keep your cat calm at night is to give them possibilities to safely, and quietly, engage in their predatory behaviors. Playtime is perfect for letting them release those hunter instincts and they can do this on their own with veterinarian-approved food puzzles and toys.
An automatic feeder could also be just what you need if you find that your cat is waking you up extra early in the morning for food. Food puzzles that allow them to eat small snacks throughout the day may be even better since it’s like their natural eating patterns.
If your cat seems to wake you up almost every night to the point you’re losing sleep, try closing your bedroom door as a last resort. Your cat may not be happy about it, but you still need your sleep. Scatter toys and puzzles around another room to keep them from scratching at the door and waking you up that way, as well.
And no matter what, don’t use negative punishment to keep your cats from waking you up at night. This will only make them fearful and hurt you and your furry friend’s relationship.
Sharing your home with another animal isn’t as simple as you think. It takes some time and consideration of their natural habits in order to achieve peaceful cohabitation.
Thankfully, cats are some of the easiest roommates to have! Even if you wonder “why do cats sleep so much”, they will always bring a smile to your face.