All of you want to watch them play, but they’re on their tenth nap of the day. You might wonder — why do cats sleep so much?
Our cats might be our affectionate little shadows, at times calm and sometimes playful — but don’t let that mislead you. They might seem tame, but in their hearts, they’re still tigers, and they retain a lot of their ancient feline ancestor’s behaviours and inclinations. One of these tendencies is to slumber for a great deal of the day.
So why is this? Let’s take a look at our feline friends and their snoozing habits and ask that age-old question — why do cats sleep so much?
Interested in learning more about the enigma that is your cat? Check out our post on why cats’ eyes glow in the dark.
How Long Do Cats Sleep For?
It’s generally agreed that cats sleep an average of 15 hours a day, with some dozing for as much as 20 hours in 24 — this is especially true if you have an older cat or a tiny kitten on your hands.
How much your cat sleeps will depend on several factors ‒ how snuggly and warm they are, how quiet the house is, how old they are and whether they’re at ease or alert. But cats are also crepuscular, which means they are more active at dusk and dawn when they can most avoid their natural predators.
You’ll notice that kittens have brief bursts of energy between meals but sleep the majority of the day, while adolescent cats have a more erratic sleep pattern, with more intense periods of play. This behaviour settles down as they enter adulthood, where their sleeping habits become more predictable. But as your cat gets to be a senior, they will generally have reduced mobility and less energy, which leads to them sleeping for longer hours.
Why Do Cats Sleep So Much?
As with most things “cat”, the answer to why cats sleep for so long is a bit involved. Nothing is straightforward with this beautiful species! They’re a complicated and adorable enigma. But it’s generally a combination of the points below:
They’re recovering from the hunt!
In the wild, cats spend a lot of time lying in wait for their prey to come scurrying forth. Then they pounce, attack, expend a lot of energy — the energy they need to recoup through sound sleep. While modern domestic cats don’t have quite as exhausting a life, they do have periods of manic behaviour, usually attacking lasers or jumping on catnip-coated balls of fluff. Playing takes it out of them, but they also have remnants of their ancestor’s feline behaviour, which demands a snooze.
They need to chill out — in a literal way
We all know our cats love a bit of warmth, but some believe cats take naps as a means of cooling down. They evolved in hot climates, and it’s believed that naps allowed them the opportunity to find a shady spot, conserve their energy and cool down.
Your cat is sleeping out of pure boredom
If your cat is more bored than usual, they might try to sleep it off. More than likely, the poor thing needs a bit more stimulation and somewhere to act out their natural instincts to climb, stalk, play, stretch and scratch.
Obesity affects cats, too! If your cat is overfeeding, they might have an imbalanced diet, and perhaps they don’t have the vitamins they need, which will lead to excessive sleeping. Take special care to give them the right amount of food and suitable types of food. You might also be interested in our guide on how to get a fat cat to exercise!
Illness and injury
It’s sad but true. If your cat is distressed, ill or injured, they’re likely to sleep more intensely to recover. As long as the vet has checked them out and they have everything in place they need to recover, it’s best to leave them be!
Is My Cat Really Sleeping?
You might have your suspicions about whether your cat is genuinely sleeping or just faking it. Rest assured (pun intended); he’s not trying to fool you. It’s just that sometimes a cat nap is all that’s needed, rather than a full-fledged sleep.
Sometimes, cats sleep deeply, but sometimes all they need is a quick snooze. According to Britannica, roughly three-quarters of a cat’s sleep is a “shallow, almost-waking rest”. This sleep is known as slow-wave sleep (SWS). You’ll be able to distinguish this from real, deep sleep as your cat will be sleeping in a kind of ‘ready’ position, almost as if they could pounce at a moment’s notice. Their ears might occasionally twitch, and the nap will likely last up to thirty minutes.
The remaining quarter of the time, your cat is truly asleep, reaching REM sleep. Keep an eye out for trembling paws as a sign of dreaming — they’re more than likely hunting a mouse in their sleep!
Why Do Cats Sleep on You?
For a cat owner, this is possibly one of the best, most adorable and most rewarding parts of cat ownership. The time when a cat chooses you — comes up to you, snuggles down and falls asleep on your chest. For a species that is renowned for its independence and aloofness, it is truly an honour! But if you are wondering why they have picked you over their lovely, comfy bed, here are a few reasons:
- They are seeking warmth. Yes, your cat loves you, but you’re also a lovely source of heat to them, like a giant, squishy hot water bottle.
- They think you’re a comfortable option. No matter how ripped and muscular you are, you’re also soft.
- They genuinely love you and trust you. A cat wouldn’t get so up close and personal with just anyone. So, yes, you should feel honoured.
How Much Sleep Is Too Much Sleep for Cats?
Are you worried that your cat is potentially sleeping just a bit too much? We understand. Pets are an endless source of joy, but they’re also a source of stress and concern — let’s not pretend otherwise! After all, we love them, and we want them to be happy and healthy.
First of all, you should be keeping an eye on your cat. How much sleep is normal for them at this point in their lives? If they usually sleep for around thirteen hours a day and all of sudden they barely open their eyes, you might want to visit your vet. It’s not necessarily anything to worry about, but if this behaviour is combined with a disinclination to eat, drink or play, then it’s best to be proactive for your own peace of mind. Your cat may be suffering from hyperthyroidism, or another condition.
While you’re here, have a look at these quick and simple cat health checks you can do at home
How Can I Encourage My Cat to Be More Active During the Day?
If you’re worried that your cat is sleeping too much, or perhaps you’d rather they be more active during the day, so they aren’t attacking your feet at night when they happen to poke out from under your duvet — good news! With a few adjustments, it’s possible to help them shift to more nighttime sleeping.
First things first — play with your cat during the day. Taking time out to play might be hard if you’re working during the day, but if you have the opportunity before or after work, grab your laser pen or your cat’s favourite dangly toy and interact with them — some people have even taught their cats how to play fetch! Give them plenty of attention and praise, and be sure to feed your cat during the daylight hours.
You should also consider activities they can do by themselves — this is why so many people love our designer cat climbing frames — with them, cats can run around, get high up, exercise and play. The more exercise and stimulation you give your cats during the day, the more tuckered out they’ll be at night, when you’re sleeping, too.
Catipilla creates safe, secure places for cats to roam, climb and exercise freely. To find out more about our range, check out our elegant cat furniture products.