We all know that cats love to get their forty winks whenever they get half a chance, but how much do you know about the sleeping habits of your feline? You may be wondering how many hours a day cats sleep in general and whether your furry friend fits in with the average. And you will already be aware that cats sleep a lot longer than other animals, but you may not know the reasons behind this. Well, we are here to answer some of your most common questions about cats and their sleep patterns.
How Many Hours a Day Do Cats Sleep
Let’s start with the question of how many hours a day cats sleep. Well, this tends to average out at around 15 hours a day. But if you have noticed that your furry friend likes to sleep even longer, some felines can sleep for as many as 20 hours in a 24-hour timeframe. In fact, of all the creatures on the planet, only bats and possums can beat them in the sleep Olympics! On average, this is around double the amount of sleep that humans need, but cats also sleep in a different way to us. Instead of a single extended sleeping session, they usually prefer to sleep in naps – both long and short.
In terms of the sleep stages that cats go through, they are quite similar to ours. Cats usually fall asleep quickly after expending a big burst of energy. Slow-wave sleep is first, and this is then followed by REM sleep. The latter stage is when you may notice their paws, whiskers, and tails twitching. Also, just like you, cats tend to sleep more when the weather outside is gray and wet. After all, no one wants to go outside in these conditions!
Why Do Cats Sleep So Much
Now, we come onto the question of why cats sleep so much in the first place. Well, they fall into the category of crepuscular animals, so their most active hours are between dawn and dusk. Since your little ball of fluff is a natural predator, he or she is programmed to do a lot of their hunting at night. Wild cats also have enemies, so it makes sense that they spend a lot of time quiet and still. The sleeping habits of household cats have evolved through their evolution, physiology, and nutritional habits.
Of course, your kitty is firmly domesticated, but these hard-wired instincts don’t die out so easily. You may wonder what your cat is getting up to during the night, and if you were to follow them, you would probably notice a lot of predatory behavior like pouncing and prowling. All of this requires high reserves of energy, which they need to build up through all that sleep during the daylight hours.
While it may seem like cats are fast asleep, their senses are often on relatively high alert, so they can be up and ready quickly when they need to be. Cats’ preferred sleeping positions are curled up or stretched out. Some even prefer to be sitting up. Their muscles will stiffen to keep them in position.
Sometimes, the bond between cat and owner can be so strong that it overrides their circadian rhythm. Many felines like to be awake to play with you during the day, so they will sleep during the night as well.
Different Types of Sleep
As we mentioned in the section above, cats sleep in different ways. In fact, as much of three quarters of their time asleep is spent ‘snoozing’. In this state, they still get plenty of rest, but they are ready to wake up whenever they need to. You will notice a heightened state of alertness through a couple of different factors. When there is any noise around them, their ears will often twitch and point towards the noise. You may even see their eyes are open a little bit. Even when it seems like they are in a totally unsuitable position like sitting up, they can still enter this snoozing mode.
But around a quarter of the time, your cat will be sleeping deeply. In older cats, this can extend to 30 or 40% of their sleeping hours. Often, cats are curled up tight and their eyes are closed much more fully. Some kitties even like to put their tail over their face in a ‘sleep mask’ style. Just like you, this period of deep sleep is when a lot of restorative work is done by the body, so these hours are very important to your feline friend. During this time is when your cat will dream, which will be indicated by the twitching movements which we discussed earlier on.
You may even notice that your cat starts to snore, which is caused when their airway is obstructed by extra skin from the soft palate. Usually, this is most common in short-nosed cats, and it will probably occur when they are especially relaxed.
Changes in Sleep Habits
Keeping track of your cat’s habits is one of the best ways of making sure that they stay in good health. So, if you are worried that your cat is sleeping too much or too little, you should get in contact with your vet as soon as possible to see if they can diagnose whether or not there is an issue. Too much sleep could be an indication of illness such as anemia or hyperthyroidism. Not enough sleep could be the cause of some underlying pain which your cat is covering up. This could be caused by feline arthritis.
But excessive sleep could also be a sign that your cat is bored and doesn’t have enough to do to fill their waking hours. In this case, you could try buying them some new toys and learn a few new games to offer a little more mental stimulation. Another reason why your cat could be sleeping a lot is that they are overweight. Feeding your cat a healthier diet could help to increase their energy levels and reduce their tendency to oversleep. Which brings us nicely onto the next section…
How To Help Cats Sleep Better
While some owners have no need to help their cat sleep better, others may struggle a bit more. There are a few things that you can do to give them a nudge into the land of nod. First, you can try sleeping your cat at night as felines often love the feeling of having a full stomach. If you have the problem of your cat bothering you while are trying to sleep, a timed cat feeder may help with this issue. While we are on the issue of diet, you could try feeding your feline healthier food. Cheaper kibble usually contains fewer nutrients, which can contribute to lethargy but not necessarily good quality sleep.
Cats tend to sleep better when they are mentally and physically exhausted, so you should try to keep them engaged as much as possible. Offering plenty of interactive play sessions is one of the best ways of doing this. As well as games which you can enjoy today, you should also try to come up with some ways to keep them entertained when you are not around. This should help to reduce the number of times that your cat tries to wake you by pawing at the bedroom door. However, if you find that this continues to be an issue, you should give in to him or her. Otherwise, this behavior will be rewarded and you are more likely to find that it is repeated.
Another question which you need to answer is whether or not you are going to invite your cat up to your bed. Some owners prefer to do this, but you need to come up with a solution one way or the other. If you allow your cat in, it can be extremely confusing for them if you suddenly decide to change your mind. Luckily, there are plenty of the best cat beds out there which will certainly help your furry friend to sleep. It will also give them a place to call their own. Cats are very territorial creatures, and many appreciate having their own bed.
Different Cat Sleeping Positions
Through many happy hours spent staring lovingly at your cat, you have probably noticed them sleeping in a whole host of different positions. In fact, if you observe what position your cat sleeps in, you can learn little details about them. As we just mentioned, the better you get to know your cat, the better you will be able to identify any changes in their beahvior and respond accordingly.
Firstly, you have the ‘cat loaf’ position, where all four of their feet are tucked under their body and their tail is curled around. Their head and body will remain upright. This is quite an alert position which gives your cat the opportunity to spring into action at a moment’s notice when they need to. It is a defensive position which also allows your cat to keep their feet warm. Generally, this is not a position which cats take up when they are going into deep sleep. If you live in a noisy area or household, you may notice your cat taking up this position more. Giving them a quiet corner with a cat bed can help to improve their sleep.
Next, you have the side sleeping position with all their limbs stretched out in front of them. Unlike the previous one, this is the kind of position that cats can take up when they want to enter deep sleep. Cats generally have to be comfortable with their surroundings and feeling like they can let their guard down a little bit more. If your cat has a strong bond with family members and feels like they don’t have anything to fear, you may find your cat in this position more.
The classic cat sleeping position is when they are curled up into a ball. All their legs and tail will be tucked firmly underneath their body. As well as preserving body heat, this is a position which provides the feeling of protection. Often, cats go into this position with their backs resting on something so they can’t be snuck up on from behind.
One of the cuter and funnier positions that cats sleep in is on their backs with their paws in the air and their belly exposed. You may find this one slightly strange, but it means that your kitty is very relaxed in their environment and doesn’t feel under any immediate threats or dangers. While it may be tempting to scratch your cat’s belly in this position, this should generally be avoided, unless you know your cat is comfortable with it. They may respond in a startled manner, which could lead to you getting your hands clawed and scratched. Plus, how would you like to be woken up when you were having such as great sleep?!
If your cat sleeps around 15 or 16 hours a day, they fit well within the normal range. While this would seem high for a lot of creatures, felines have evolved this way through years of living in the wild and will not be changing their ways anytime soon. This is largely down to their predatory and hunting instincts, which means that they expend a lot of energy chasing down smaller creatures – or at least stalking them a little bit! If you are concerned that your cat is sleeping too much or too little, it is a good idea to get in contact with your vet at the earliest possible opportunity. They will be able to tell you if anything is wrong and there is some sort of underlying caused which needs addressing as soon as possible.
- Why Do Cats Sleep So Much? 5 Facts About Sleeping Cats – Catster
- Why Do Cats Sleep So Much? – PetMD
- How Much Do Cats Sleep? – Tuck