Cats are often known for being lazy and sleepy, but have you ever wondered just how true this is? Although it may seem your cat is sleeping the day away, do you ever worry they’re sleeping too much? If so, we’ve got all of the information you need on what’s normal for a cat’s sleeping habits!
How Long Do Cats Sleep?
According to the Sleep Foundation, more than half of all cats sleep for 12 to 18 hours every day, while 40 percent of cats sleep more than 18 hours a day! Young cats tend to sleep fewer hours than older cats, with the average hours asleep going up as your cat ages.
Although this is a lot of time asleep, cats don’t sleep the same way that humans sleep. Instead, cats have a polyphasic sleep pattern, meaning they sleep in shorter periods rather than one long period. In fact, that’s why you may hear the term “cat nap” when people talk about taking a nap. These famous “cat naps” average around 78 minutes. However, your cat may be asleep anywhere from 50 to 113 minutes at a time!
Why Do Cats Sleep So Much?
Scientists are still working to understand why any of us sleep as much as we do, making the sleeping habits of your housecat even more mysterious. However, there are some factors which can be contributed to why you’ll find your cat snoozing more often than not.
First, it’s important to remember that our cats are hunters by nature. Although the cats we keep in our home have been incredibly domesticated, they still hold onto some elements of their predator lifestyle. Sleeping as much as they do allows them to conserve their energy for a hunt. Your housecat may not be hunting for food, but they still stalk and hunt their toys or even our feet! You may also notice that your cats only play in bursts of time, which can be contributed to the same thing.
Other reasons your cat may sleep as much as they are can be compared to why humans sleep more from time to time. Your cat may sleep more if they are bored or if they need to improve their mental well-being. Sometimes, sleep simply passes the time until their next activity.
Your Cat’s Sleep Cycle
Our cats have a circadian rhythm, much like we do, which allows their body to understand the idea of a 24-hour day, guiding them through similar sleep-wake periods each day. However, while we are more likely to be awake during the day and asleep at night due to our circadian rhythm, cats are different.
Cats are what’s known as crepuscular, meaning they have two distinct high-energy periods in each 24-hour period. Many people think that cats are nocturnal, but their internal clocks are more complicated than that. In fact, your cat’s two periods they are prone to having the most energy are in the early morning before the sunrise and then again in the evening. Because of this system setup, it’s a good idea to plan to either play with your cat around these times or make sure they have stimulating toys available to them if you aren’t home.
The likely reason your cat is wired to have these two distinct wake periods comes back to their lineage of predators. Many animals of prey for a cat have different sleep schedules, so our cats are likely wired to be awake and hunting at two times of day where they’re most likely to have luck hunting.
What a Cat’s Nap Looks Like
One thing that cats have in common with humans is that we both have similar sleep cycles. Your cat experiences both rapid eye movement (REM) and non-rapid eye movement (NREM) periods during their sleep cycle.
When your cat begins getting drowsy, they will doze off and go into NREM sleep. This period of their sleep is rather light, leaving your cat ready to wake up and jump to action if needed. It’s common for your cat to have a short NREM period, wake up and be alert, get drowsy, and go back into NREM sleep a few times at the beginning of their sleep period.
Eventually, your cat will move from NREM to REM sleep. This is a much deeper sleep and is named REM because of the eye movement experienced during the period. In fact, you’ve probably seen your cat go through REM sleep! Your cat’s eyes may move side to side, or their body may twitch or go limp during this time of their sleep cycle. Although it can be startling the first time you see it, these reactions are completely normal!
When to Worry About Your Cat’s Sleeping
Knowing that it’s normal for your cat to sleep most of their day away can be a reassuring piece of information, but there is still such thing as too much sleep when it comes to your cat! Plus, if your cat isn’t sleeping enough, this could be worrisome as well. Each cat is different, so it’s important to know what a normal sleeping routine looks like for your cat so you can know if something is off.
If you notice your cat is sleeping more or much less than usual, it’s a good idea to talk to their vet about it and have them checked out. This is especially important because cats tend to hide illnesses or injuries until much later in the progression.
If your cat is sleeping too much, it could be a sign of:
kidney disease: likely also seen with excess drinking, eating less, and being more vocal
deafness: other symptoms include weight loss, reduced appetite, and more vocal
hypothyroidism: other symptoms include overall lethargy, hair loss, and decreased appetite
On the other hand, if your cat is restless or not getting enough sleep compared to their normal schedule, this could be a warning sign as well. Some underlying causes of less sleep include:
Lack of stimulation: while not an illness, this can be an issue that becomes a behavior problem later on. Playing with your cat or letting them run outside during the day can help.
Hyperthyroidism: other symptoms include increased appetite and weight loss.
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV): cats may have trouble falling asleep or get less sleep.
If you notice anything out of the ordinary with your cat’s sleeping habits, the best thing for you to do is take them to the vet to have them checked out. You know your cat better than anyone. If you think they’re sleeping too much or too little, it doesn’t hurt to get peace of mind from their vet!
Cats sleep for a large portion of their day, but they don’t sleep as we do as humans. Instead, cats sleep in little bursts of time that typically span between one and two hours, adding up to around 18 hours a day total. Many of your cat’s sleeping habits come from their predator backgrounds and lineages, though our domesticated cats aren’t hunting for their food. Instead, your cat is wired to sleep for most of the day, storing up energy for a couple of big bursts of energy throughout the day!