Cats love to nap. But is there such a thing as sleeping too much? A lot of sleep isn’t necessarily a problem. Most healthy cats sleep from 12-20 hours a day. So, if your cat seems like she’s always sleeping, remember not to judge by human sleep needs. But even though cats sleep a lot, oversleeping can be a sign of something wrong. Here’s some advice to help you figure out if your cat’s sleep is normal.
Deep vs Light Sleep
Cats sleep for up to 20 hours a day, but that doesn’t mean all sleep is the same. Just like humans, cats have various types of sleep. The kind you’ll see most during the day is a light nap. These naps usually last for less than an hour, and the cat never sleeps deeply. You might notice your cat basking in the sun, stretched out, eyes slightly closed. If you approach, your cat will probably wake up—and she’ll definitely wake up if you startle her.
Cats also have deeper sleep cycles. Their deepest sleep session usually occurs at night—they’ll sleep from late in the evening to just before sunrise.
When your cat sleeps deeply, she’ll go through different stages, from medium sleep down to deep sleep and back. You might see her curled up tightly or notice paws twitching and REM as she dreams.
Cat Sleep Cycles
You can expect your cat to be awake more at some times than others. Most cats are very active in the evenings and mornings. The night is when your cat sleeps deepest. Some cats sleep for long periods through the night, while others alternate between sleep periods and wake and active periods.
During the day, once cats are past the peak energy phase, they’ll usually have several short naps, waking up a few times an hour before falling back asleep. Some cats also have a deep sleep cycle during the day for a few hours.
So, putting that together, what might a regular schedule look like? Your cat might wake up at 6 AM and be awake and alert until 8 AM. She’ll start napping on and off until mid-afternoon and then sleep deeply for a couple of hours. Once dinner time hits, she’s back up and alert—from 6 PM to 9 PM is energy time. After it gets dark, she’s ready for bed and sleeps deeply in either longer or alternating periods most of the night. As you can tell, that’s a lot of sleeping. But a good chunk of the time she spends sleeping is in light naps, and when she’s at her peak times, she’ll be fully alert.
Changes in Sleeping Patterns and Other Red Flags
If cats sleep so much, how can you tell if it’s too much? The biggest sign that something might be wrong is if your cat starts sleeping through peak times. If your cat goes to sleep in the afternoon and doesn’t wake up until late at night or the next morning, there might be a problem. Deep sleep for most of the day can be a problem too. If your cat seems to spend more than a few hours sleeping deeply, it might have some underlying issue.
Aside from those red flags, any drastic change in sleeping patterns could be an issue. That includes sleeping way more than usual or staying up through the night. However, not every change in pattern means that something is wrong. Cats sleep more in the winter and often will sleep extra during storms. Cats also sleep more as they age.
Oversleeping can be a symptom of a few different problems. For some cats, it is simply boredom. Obesity can also cause oversleeping. Or it might be a sign of a more serious issue like an illness sapping their energy. If that’s the case, look for other signs of health issues and consider a vet check-up. Most illnesses will come with other signs such as inappetence, reduced mobility, lethargy even when they are awake, pale gums, rapid breathing, or digestive problems.
Every cat is different. As you can see, measuring every hour your cat sleeps isn’t the best way to see if there’s a problem. Some cats might only sleep 12 hours, and others 22, without being unhealthy. But sleep can still be a sign of your cat’s health. Looking for troubling sleeping patterns will help you know if your cat needs help.