Why Do Cats Sleep So Much?

That cat’s asleep again! All cat parents have probably said this over time. On the couch, in the garden, and even in the washing basket! They always find the most comfortable places to take a nap and don’t they get into some wonderful positions when doing it. We know they seem to sleep an inordinate amount of time, but why do cats sleep so much?

This article aims to explain and clarify exactly why cats require so much slumber time. There is no definitive answer to this question, cats are individuals and no two will have the exact same sleep patterns.

Natural predators

All cats are natural predators, yes even your house cat. Feral cats will hunt their prey to sustain themselves, but your house cat still has the same basic genetics and are programmed to hunt.

Well-fed domesticated cats will often hunt and kill mice or birds, and of course deliver them at your door! It is purely and simply a part of their nature, but if well fed, they will not eat their catch, and have therefore been coined “surplus killers” as they do not need the kill to survive. But the hunting process takes great amounts of energy. From springing into action, the chase and of course the pounce to kill, all take energy, so this is one reason why they need a lot of sleep, both to get ready for the kill and to recover after it.

Sleeping patterns and age

The kitten

New-born kittens sleep close to their mother and siblings as they are unable to regulate their own temperature so it keeps them warm. It also gives them the feeling of security they require when small. New-born kittens will sleep up to twenty hours a day, they need this snooze time as this is when their muscles and bones grow. This sleep is essential for development of the nervous system, as well as the brain.

Kittens do not always sleep through the night, and it is common for them to waken up, this is usual feline behavior so do not worry when this occurs. When asleep you may notice lots of twitching especially facial features, this is commonly known as “rapid sleep” and is quite natural. The more active the kitty when awake, the more they will need sleep to recover at this early age.

The adolescent cat

Teenagers always sleep more, and yes cats are the same at this stage in their lives! A cat reaches adolescence anywhere between seven months and two years. Although they do not actually need as much sleep as the kitten, they will often take time out for an added snooze.

Cats have two modes of sleep, deep sleep and dozing but they continue to hear sounds whichever sleep pattern they are in. They often have more erratic sleep patterns; this is usual behavior in the adolescent kitty. While they may have lots of time out, this is balanced by concentrated periods of play. The adolescent cat is still learning what is best for them, their erratic behavior does calm as they grow into an adult.

They will often prowl and play through the night; this is quite normal as this would be their hunting time if in the wild.

The adult cat

Adult cats have sorted their sleep pattern out for themselves. On average an adult cat sleeps about the same amount of time as the adolescent kitty, but they have worked out exactly how and when this suits them. They have also found areas in the house or garden that suit them best, that cozy couch, a nest of blankets and even the laundry basket! You may often find them basking on the patio as they do like the warmth.

As a cat parent you will find that by the time your cat has become an adult, you will find them in odd positions as they sleep. This is quite normal in the feline; they are as we know creatures of comfort and exhibit this by stretching out and contorting their bodies while asleep. The adult cat will sleep between twelve and twenty hours a day.

The Senior cat

The older the cat, the less energy they have and are often compromised by reduced mobility so your senior cat will sleep more. They require more sleep time to repair and rejuvenate their bodies, and like us humans this happens when we are asleep.

Practical things to remember as your cat ages are, ensuring that they have fresh water daily, a good diet and cozy warm places to sleep. The older cat may not be able to reach its favorite napping spot, so compromise and try and make their comfort place accessible to them. Yes, move that favorite blanket, pop their bed under a radiator, they may not thank you for it, but this offers them consistency of their favorite bedding and that much needed extra heat.

Be advised, that regular health checks are crucial to their overall wellbeing at this age. Regular x-rays and blood tests will pick up on serious health issues, ensuring your cat continues to be in tip top condition.

Cat Napping

Day time napping

Whatever age your cat is, they will often take naps through the day.  We have all heard the old adage, “cat naps!”  This is literally a short period of time to rejuvenate their body and energize them for either hunting or playing. Cats expend so much energy when playing throughout the day, chasing toys, playing with people so need that time out to recoup. Cat’s that hunt for survival obviously need nap time to recuperate before their next hunt.

Cats are early risers, and often up at dawn. Be they feral or housecat, this is a natural time for them as the hunt instinct is in their makeup. Cat flaps are good if your cat likes to explore his territory in the early morning.

They will sleep after their first meal of the day and you will often find your kitty in a comfy spot taking a morning nap.

Night-time napping

Cats are nocturnal creatures, but also may exhibit crepuscular behavior, which is a kind of semi-nocturnal sleep pattern, which sees them being active during the dawn and dusk hours. This is why often after snoozing throughout the day, you may find that your kitty has lots of energy at night-time. It is simply another genetic throwback to their predatory ancestry.

This can trigger the behavior pattern often referred to as  “night-time crazies”. This is when your cat has a lot of excess energy through evening and into the night. This is the time of day that they will get into mischief. Scampering up and down the stairs or hallways, prowling about wanting to play. It is a good idea to increase their play at this time, as this will burn off some of that excess energy.

Let us not forget that you need your sleep as well. If you have allowed your cat into the bedroom, they will probably disturb you through the night with their antics. From chasing you toes, to jumping on your legs, nibbling at your ears or perhaps meowing to get attention.

There are many thoughts to change their behaviors at this time, and the following will offer some suggestions:

  • Do not allow your cat in your bedroom, so they do not disturb you.
  • Feed them just before going to bed, they will be able to munch through the night at their leisure. If he’s a greedy kitty and eats all his dinner, he is more prone to be full up and sleep due to that.
  • Leave the curtains or blinds open in the room that your cat will spend the night in, as this will give them some stimulus through the night.
  • Ensure your feline friend gets plenty of exercise and play throughout the day, this will lessen their evening and night-time energy.

The weather can play a part in how much your cat sleeps, cold rainy days often finds them snoozing a bit more. Wintertime will find your cat becoming lazy and perhaps sleeping more, this is quite normal behavior for them. They often curl up more when sleeping in wintertime as this keeps their body temperature regulated, and also why they like small spaces to snuggle up in.

Sensible creatures really!

Health and sleep

A cat’s sleep is made up of dozing which equivalates to about three quarters of their snooze time, and only one quarter is a deep sleep. But do not be fooled into thinking they are not aware of noises when asleep, they continue to be aware. As a cat parent you will know their schedule and it is important to do something about it if you notice anything out of the norm.

It is awfully hard sometimes to be aware if your cat is unwell, they really do not show us discomfort or illness very well. If your cat is taking extra naps and is lethargic, outwit their usual patterns it is advised to get this checked out at your veterinary surgery, as there may be a medical reason for it.

Some reasons for changes in sleep pattern can be:

  • Cat bite abscess – your cat has been in a fight and has been bitten or deeply scratched by another cat.
  • Kidney disease – all cats are prone to kidney damage, caused through infection, cancer, toxin damage, and poor immune system are some of the reasons.
  • Diabetes – just like humans, cats develop Diabetes due to lack of insulin to balance glucose in the system.
  • Poisoning – there are many things that are poisonous to cats, toxins in onions and garlic, chocolate even so don’t feed them these. It should be noted that unfortunately deliberate poisoning is on the increase.

As you cat ages, their sleep pattern alters slightly, and regular check-ups are essential in maintaining their optimum health as they go into their geriatric stage.

Your cat is more prone to falling asleep if they do not have enough stimulation. A cat tree with a scratching post is ideal for them. As are toys to stimulate and keep them busy, and of course interacting with you is time well spent. A cat that does not have enough stimulation will sleep more and this will have a detrimental affect on their muscle strength as well as weight gain. Play time is particularly important to you both, it keeps that connection between the two of you and has lots of benefits for your kitty.

Conclusion

We have found that cats really do need a huge amount of sleep throughout their lives. They are natural born predators, even the domesticated kitty and that instinctual need to gear up for the hunt lives within them all which is the main reason they nap so much.

Keeping your feline friend entertained through the day is beneficial for them in so many ways. It keeps them stimulated, ensures a good exercise routine and keeps their body in good shape. And it also helps in getting their sleep patterns more intune with your own.

Cats have always conjured positive and negative views, the Egyptians valued and protected cats and even worshipped them. The Chinese believed cats would bring fortune and long life to the owner. Sailors of old thought it brought good luck to the ship if a cat was on board. We have all heard the saying don’t let a black cat cross your path, as it brings bad luck.

Cats are one of the most popular of house pets, and rightly so. They are low maintenance, require little training, although they can be trained to do many things. Studies show that there is thirty percent less chance of heart conditions in cat owners, they calm us down a great deal and lessen our stress levels.

So, they sleep a lot? Yes they do, but they give so much to us that without them our lives would be so much poorer.

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