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Why Do Cats Sleep So Much? Everything You Need to Know!

cat sleeping in cat tree

Eventually, it might start to drive you crazy: you rush around all day, hard at work, but every time you look at your cat they always seem to be sleeping. What a life, you think, sleeping all day with not a care in the world! Of course, your cat never actually sleeps all day and often wakes up just as you are ready to go to bed, fresh and ready to play.

Have you ever wondered, as you step over your snoozing cat for what seems like the 100th time, why it is that cats sleep so much?  Pet cats sleep so much because their wild ancestors developed the need for long periods of sleep to rest and prepare for hunting food. Stalking, chasing, and capturing prey takes tons of energy and the wild cats needed plenty of sleep to make up for it. Even though pet cats usually don’t need to hunt their own food, the instinct to sleep and conserve energy remains.

hepper cat paw divider

How Much Do Cats Actually Sleep?

cat sleeping in bed outdoor_Yulia YasPe, Shutterstock
Image Credit: Yulia YasPe, Shutterstock

A cat’s sleeping patterns and hours asleep vary based on their life stage. Very young and very old cats usually sleep the most.

Young kittens sleep almost all day, timing their periods of waking and activity around mealtimes.

“Teenage” cats usually sleep the least as this is the most active and playful period of a cat’s life. Their sleeping patterns are unpredictable at this age.

By the time they mature into adulthood, cats have settled into their sleeping ways. The average adult cat sleeps 16-20 hours per day, usually in a consistent pattern.

Elderly cats are generally less active overall. They may return to sleeping for much of the day and move more slowly when they are awake.

What Are A Cat’s Usual Sleeping Patterns?

Many cats, especially young ones, seem to take great pleasure in playing loudly in the middle of the night. However, cats aren’t truly nocturnal animals.

Wild felines are most active around dawn and dusk. This allows them to rest during the heat of the day and hunt during the time their usual prey is also awake. Wild cats also avoid nocturnal predators by laying low during those hours.

Pet cats may also adopt similar sleeping patterns as their wild relatives. However, a pet cat may also adapt their awake times to more closely match the rhythm of their household. For example, your cat may figure out when you are busy or working and sleep during those times, waking up when you are available to spend time with them.

Red-Cat-playing-with-a-bow-on-a-string
Image Credit: Alexander Sobol. Shutterstock

Cat Sleep: The Basics

Like humans, cats cycle through periods of light sleep and deep sleep. Light sleep, or dozing, occurs for 15-30 minutes at a time. A dozing cat is still alert enough to be aware of their surroundings. They may keep their eyes open slightly or swivel their ears towards noises. Dozing cats also keep their body in position to wake and move quickly if needed.

Deep sleep occurs for about 5 minutes at a time. During deep sleep, cats are not as aware of what’s going on around them. This cycle of deep sleep and dozing continues until the cat is rested and ready for their next adventure.

Should You Worry About How Much Your Cat Sleeps?

As we’ve seen, it’s perfectly normal for cats to sleep the majority of their life away. However, there are certain instances when you might need to give your sleeping cat a second look.

A cat’s sleeping is meant to help them rest to expend energy. If your cat suddenly both sleeps excessively and also seems lethargic or out of it when they are awake, you could have a sick cat on your hands.

grey cat sleeping on couch
Image Credit: Vidar H. Andersen, Pixabay

Older cats usually sleep more than younger ones but if your older cat seems reluctant to move rather than truly napping, they could be sick or in pain. Older cats can develop arthritis or other bone and joint pain just like elderly humans.

Indoor cats of any age sometimes tend to sleep a lot because they’re bored. Try to make sure your cat has plenty of toys or other environmental enrichment objects especially if they are left alone a lot during the day. Also try to make sure you’re spending one on one time with your cat every day, playing with or petting them.

If you are concerned that your cat may be sick or in pain, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with your veterinarian. Cats are excellent at hiding their health problems and you want to try and catch any issues before they get more serious.

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Conclusion

While it may seem that cats are lazy, the truth is all their sleeping serves a specific purpose. And as anyone with a cat can tell you, cats certainly make up for their snoozing with plenty of energy when they are awake. As long as your cat is otherwise behaving normally, you can let sleeping cats lie without worry, knowing that they will wake up refreshed and ready to grace your life with their presence!


Featured Image Credit: Roy Buri, Pixabay

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