How Much Do Cats Sleep?

Domestic cats are sweet and friendly human companions capable of giving huge amounts of love. If you love them and want to have one as a pet, then you must know some facts about cats, including how much they sleep and why sleep is so important for them.

Cats spend approximately two-thirds of their lives sleeping. That is around 16 hours daily, and in the world of mammals, besides cats, only sloths, opossums, and some bats sleep for so many hours.

Cats are mainly predators and hunters just like their ancestors were and that’s why their body clocks ensure that they are awake at dusk and early morning hours when their prey is likely to be active. They are always awake at this time although their owners provide them with everything they need and they rarely go out.

Cats are usually quite active during specific periods of the day, particularly during their feeding hours or when they manage to get the full attention of their owners. However, cats will sleep soundly after a big meal, when surroundings are warm, or after a strenuous exercise. Here are facts that you should know about cats and why they sleep so much.

Why Cats Sleep So Much?

Most wild predators tend to have a similar sleeping cycle to that of cats, spending most of their time sleeping. Chasing, hunting, stalking, and killing prey usually takes up a significant amount of energy and requires more sleep to help get the energy they need. Furthermore, since cats are mainly active during dusk and dawn, then there is plenty of time for them to sleep during the day.

Most house cats tend to sleep mainly out of boredom, particularly if they are on their own for a long period of time. But, even when sleeping they are on high alert.

Besides this, cats seem to have the ability to sleep in the most awkward positions. They can sleep curled up, in a big pile, spread out, on their back or twisted. Cats never seem to be bothered much with their sleeping positions. In warm, cats will sleep sprawled out to dissipate heat and when feeling cold, they will sleep curled up like a ball in order to conserve heat.

How Much Do Cats Sleep?

All living beings have certain requirements regarding their rest and the time they spend awake. They need the right amount of rest and sleep to keep their bodies active and capable of handling their regular everyday tasks with ease.

Cats have similar needs. They usually sleep for 15 hours every day, but they can also sleep for over 20 hours. Generally, cats will spend most of their time during the day sleeping because they tend to be active during the night.

Although some animals sleep little, almost all species on our planet need sleep. Sleep deprivation can cause slow thinking, illness, or even death.

Among most domesticated animals, cats are known to be the sleepiest creatures. All cats are naturally sprinters, including bigger cats. They tend to chase their prey and then rest so that they can gather their strength and be prepared for their next sprint. This is one of the reasons why cats need to so much sleep.

  • Kittens – Kittens usually spend approximately 12 hours sleeping.
  • Adult cats – Adult cats normally sleep for 7 to 12 hours every day, but these sleep hours may go up to 15 hours or more.
  • Older cats – These cats tend to sleep just like adult cats, but their sleep tends to be more fragmented.

It is obvious that within a period of 24 hours, your cat must get the necessary amount of sleep. Cats are naturally predators and their bodies and brains are programmed to be active and hunt mostly during the night. Even though cats are domesticated, they still show many behaviors that are characteristics of wild cats like tigers and lions.

Are Cats Crepuscular or Nocturnal?

Most kitty owners usually assume that their cats are nocturnal, meaning that they are awake during the day and active at night. Even though cats tend to be active at night when compared to human beings, cats are naturally crepuscular.

This means that they are always awake and active at dusk and dawn. They tend to sleep more and deeply during the middle of the day and in the dark of the night. However, they will be active and awake at dawn and dusk as they hunt their favorite toy or mice.

Wildcats usually do more stalking at night, and domesticated cats still have these innate instincts to be quite active during the twilight hours when their favorite preys are also active. Cats are likely to spend their time sleeping during the day so that they can conserve energy and use it to hunt at night.

Domesticated cats can also adjust their sleeping schedules to suit the schedule of their owners. This means that they will sleep less when their owners are around and more when they are not.

The crepuscular nature of cats is usually a source of frustration to most cat owners because they do not appreciate being woken up at around 5.00 am every day. However, keep in mind that your cat is just doing what’s in their nature. So,if you have a cat scratching the door, meowing, or bouncing over your head as you sleep, you should learn to ignore it as getting up to play with it or giving it food will only encourage such behavior. 

The Characteristics of Cat Sleep

Just like humans and other animals, cats also undergo different phases of sleep. Cats usually have two sleep cycles, the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) and non-REM sleep.

During the REM sleep cycle, the body and face of your cat will move unexpectedly. This is mainly triggered by the increased brain activity during the REM sleep. You can easily notice their eyeballs moving and their ears and whiskers twitching. The limbs can also make some minor movements as though your cat is hunting while in its sleep. Just like human beings, cats will also dream during the REM sleep cycle.

During the non-REM phase, your cat will be resting deeply as in the non-REM cycle of sleep, the cat’s body goes into a deep slumber and remains relaxed and still for extended periods of time. During sleep, the cat’s body regenerates and repairs itself, rebuilding the immune cells, bones, muscles, and other body parts.

Time

Cats will spend about 75% of their lives sleeping. The Rapid Eye Movement (REM) cycle usually takes up about 60% of the entire sleeping time of felines. The non-REM or the deep sleep phase takes the remaining 40%.

Every REM phase usually lasts for about 15 to 20 minutes in felines, unlike in humans who spend approximately 20% of their entire sleeping time in their dreaming phase. Younger cats and kittens tend to spend more of their sleeping time in the deep sleep phase when compared to older cats.

Dreams

Just like human beings, cats also dream when sleeping. It is not hard to tell whether your cat is in the dreaming or REM stage of their sleep. When dreaming, their eyes usually move beneath their eyelids, their breathing patterns change and you may also notice changes in their facial expression.

In addition, their tail, ears, and whiskers also twitch when they dream. Some felines make running motions with their feet or even make certain sounds while sleeping. Cats can also have bad and good dreams just like human beings.

Deep Sleep

Cats can dream during the deep sleep or non-REM sleep phase as well. However, these dreams are not so vivid and there are no physical changes that show signs of dreaming. The non-REM sleep phase in cats is when the immune system and body parts are repairing themselves, and the bones and muscles of young animals or kittens are developing and growing.

Cats will also spend some time napping and they will remain alert to changes that occur around them and will quickly wake up in case of anything. However, this is just napping and not deep sleep. When the cat is in a deep sleep cycle, you will always find it alone and tucked away in a place where it feels safe and comfortable.

The Significance of REM and Non-REM Sleep

It is crucial for your cat to get an adequate amount of both REM and non-REM sleep. Just like humans and other living animals, when your cat is deprived of sleep, that will ultimately affect its behavior and health.

A cat that does not get adequate amount of sleep is more likely to get sick because of the stress that sleep deprivation exerts on its body. A sleep-deprived cat will become confused and may behave in a strange way, for instance, it will not use its litter box appropriately. A cat can also become grumpy when it stays up too long past its usual nap time.

Cats Have a One-Eye Nap

Like humans, cats can either sleep deeply or doze in a light sleep. One behavior that is easily noticed in cats and kittens is the open-eye nap. Most times when cats sleep during the day, they will leave one eye open. This allows them to have a power nap and still remain alert and capable of jumping at any moment.

Weather Affects the Sleeping Patterns of Cats

Weather tends to affect the sleeping patterns of cats. During different weather conditions the behavior of your cat will vary depending on its overall health, breed, age, and temperament.

During winter and rainy days, cats tend to sleep a little longer when compared to the summer months. You may notice long and frequent naps during the cold weather which are normal according to the cognitive needs of your cat. They may have challenges getting out of their warm and cozy sleeping spots to engage in activities or hunt.

Cats and Snoring

If you sleep with your cat in bed, you can be awakened by their snoring. With cats, snoring usually happens when the airway is obstructed by the extra skin on their soft palate. This mainly happens when the cat is completely relaxed.

Cat snoring usually occurs during the non-REM phase of sleep when they tend to be fully relaxed. If you notice your cat snoring occasionally in their sleep, there is nothing to worry about. All cats are usually prone to occasional snoring.

Cats that are predisposed to snoring are those that have short noses like Exotic Shorthair, Himalayan, and Persian cats. These cat breeds have flatter faces compared to other cats. Their elongated soft palates and shortened nasal passages can trigger noisy sleeping. Overweight cats also have the tendency to snore when sleeping. In addition, when cats sleep in odd positions, they may end up snoring temporarily.

In most cases, cat snoring is usually harmless and cute. However, cat owners should be able to recognize the signs that indicate something serious so that they can get the cat to the veterinarian.

Changes in Sleeping Patterns

When it comes to cats, any change in their regular sleeping patterns can be a sign of trouble. It is quite easy for cat owners to notice a change in the sleeping schedules of their cats. You should consult your veterinarian if your cat starts sleeping less or more than usually. A sudden change in the sleeping patterns of cats can be caused by different medical conditions.

Excessive sleep can be a sign of pain or illness, while frequent and extended wakefulness may indicate medical problems such as hyperthyroidism. The health of your cat is important and to maintain its perfect health, you must closely monitor the activities of your cat and visit the veterinarian whenever you notice any changes.

Where Are Cats Likely to Sleep?

The amount of their sleeping time will vary from one cat to another and will also depend on their personality and age. Generally, felines will spend about 13 to 16 hours of their day curled up in slumber.

When cats want to sleep, they pick warm places because they love to feel cozy and warm. As a result, cats will look for a place where they feel safe, more comfortable, and have the best temperature for napping. Cats are well-known for their love of cozy and warm places including snuggling up with another pet or family member and sleeping just close to the heater.

When the weather is warm cats usually sleep in areas where they can stretch out and cool themselves. During the cold winter days, cats will find a place that is close to a source of heat where they can curl up with their face between the paws to help reduce their body heat loss. 

Common Sleep Disorders That Affect Cats

Just like human beings, cats can also suffer from sleep disorders. Most people assume that cats are excellent sleepers. However, some cats may suffer from sleeping disorders that can affect their sleeping habits.

In cats, sleep disorders are usually primary or secondary. This means that the sleep problem may be triggered by the disorder itself or secondary factors such as brain tumor, heart problems, epilepsy, or other things. These sleep problems can affect the behavior and welfare of the cat and must be taken seriously. Some common primary sleep disorders in cats include the following:

Insomnia

Even though cats love sleeping, they may experience restlessness, particularly at night. These cats will wake up in the middle of the night and roam around the house, look for food, play with toys, or even try waking you up.

This behavior can also be attributed to the nocturnal nature of the cat and most domesticated cats will wake up several times during the night. However, cats that suffer from insomnia will frequently wake up at night and will stay awake for an extended period of time. Restlessness can also be carried over into the day and you will have a cat that does not get an adequate amount of sleep during both during the day and night.

If your cat shows signs of insomnia accompanied by crying or meowing, you should consult the veterinarian so that you can see what’s wrong with it. 

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is normal in human beings and other animals as they experience this type of respiratory pause when in the deep REM sleep. However, extended and frequent apnea can cause excessive lethargy during the day or even death. In cats, sleep apnea is usually progressive and will develop slowly over a long period of time. One of the common symptoms of sleep apnea in cats is loud snoring, spasms in the diaphragm and gasping for breath.

Sleep apnea is noticeable in Persian cats that have shortened muzzles that make them susceptible to breathing problems. Obese or overweight cats are also at a high risk of developing sleep apnea. It is best to visit a veterinarian if you suspect that your cat suffers from sleep apnea. This will ensure that your cat gets proper treatment and in extreme cases, the vet may recommend surgery.

Narcolepsy

A sleeping cat is nothing out of the ordinary. However, if a cat shows signs of sudden sleepiness or falls into an unconscious state, it may be suffering from a sleep condition known as narcolepsy. This sleep disorder is less common in cats, but there are cat populations that can be affected.

Even though narcolepsy is not dangerous or painful, it can be quite alarming for cat owners who do not know what is happening to their pets. It is important to take your cat for correct diagnosis by the veterinarian because the symptoms of narcolepsy usually mimic those of diabetes, epilepsy, or heart disease.

In most cases, narcoleptic episodes usually occur during the day and are often preceded by playing, eating, or any type of excitement. A cat can collapse suddenly and then fall into deep slumber and wake up moments later as though nothing ever happened. The narcoleptic episodes may last from a few seconds to about half an hour and during this period, your cat can twitch or experience cataplexy or temporary muscle paralysis.

Most cats will awake on their own or may be revived by a loud noise or petting. When the cat wakes up, it will return to its previous normal state. The frequency of these episodes usually varies depending on the severity of the sleep problem. Some cats may be affected daily, weekly, or even monthly.

Unfortunately for cats, there is no cure for narcolepsy. Cats that experience frequent narcoleptic episodes currently can be given antidepressants or stimulants. 

The tricyclic antidepressants help decrease the frequency and severity of the episodic paralysis. Stimulants like Ritalin and Modafonil can also be prescribed to help in combating hyper somnolence. Your veterinarian will assist you in deciding the treatment modules that are appropriate for managing narcolepsy in your cat.

Factors That Affect Your Cat’s Sleep

All cats are quite different and will have different sleeping patterns depending on where they live, their breed, age, etc. The abundance of prey, the possibility of leisure activities, and time of year will also affect sleep and wake patterns of domesticated cats. Some of the factors that can affect the sleeping patterns of your cat include:

Medical Problems

Most medical conditions can significantly affect the quality of sleep in cats and their sleep patterns. For instance, cognitive dysfunction syndrome that mainly affects older cats will increase the total time that the cat spends sleeping and will make their sleep more fragmented.

Amount of Food

Reducing the quantity of food given to the cat will not only reduce the total time that it spends sleeping, but it will also make their sleep more fragmented. When you feed your cat more than it is needed, it will cause excessive sleepiness and also lead to obesity. Even in the wilderness, cats tend to be more active before hunting or a meal but will take a nap soon after eating.

When food is readily available to your cat when it wakes up, the cat will stay in a continuous sleeping state and will only take short eating or snacking breaks and this can eventually cause long-term problems in your cat. However, this is how most indoor pets live. You can change this by creating meal schedules for your cat and planning some activity for them before their feeding time.  

Light

Cats tend to be extremely responsive to light. As a result, their sleeping patterns and reproductive systems are usually regulated by the changes in the amount of light during the day. When there is more light, cats will spend less of their time sleeping and this includes both artificial and natural light.

Cat owners should not be surprised if their pets become more active when spring is approaching. Even though singing birds may contribute to this, the major trigger is usually the amount of light. This means that bad weather such as cloudy days can make your cat feel sleepier. This should not be surprising because the amount of light affects human beings in a similar manner.

Stimulation and Activity

When you interact with your cat more frequently by playing and talking to it, it will spend more of its time awake during the day. However, interaction may not always affect the total amount of time that your cat will spend sleeping. Nonetheless, social interaction is an important practice because your cat will be inclined to sleep more at night and will be less likely to interfere with your sleep.

Conclusion

Even though cats tend to nap for hours, they are usually considered to be light sleepers. Their ability to wake up at the slightest touch or sound is a significant survival mechanism that they inherited from their wild ancestors. In nature, when cats sleep during the day, they tend to be more vulnerable to predator attacks. The ability to easily wake up allows them to escape predators.

Cats need more sleep when they are in transition from kitten to adulthood. However, excessive sleepiness can also be indication of certain problems such as illness, depression, or boredom. By familiarizing yourself with the sleeping patterns of your cat, you can easily figure out its needs and address any changes in its behavior.

In our homes, cats may sleep anywhere. However, since sleep plays a crucial role in their life, you should ensure that cats have more than one sleeping spot. Their sleeping areas should be situated in some of the quietest parts of your home to ensure that they get an adequate amount of sleep.

By doing so, your cats will always have a place where they can snuggle and get their much needed rest away from the hustle and bustle of the entire household. Give your cat a beautiful and comfortable place to sleep like are some of the mattresses that we have reviewed and that we heartily recommend so that they can enjoy their sleeping time. Click here and pick a perfect mattress for you and your beloved pet.