The common cat-nap question: Why do cats sleep so much?

Sally Keegan

While their preferred spot is usually on the comfiest chair in the house, cats can sleep almost anywhere. It’s an enviable ability that often sees them curled up in unlikely places, cat-napping the day away. And while sleeping kitties are cute, they can leave humans wondering why cats sleep so much and whether we should be worried.

If you’re one of the many cat owners curious about your feline’s snoozing habits or are a concerned pet sitter caring for a cat, here’s everything you need to know.

How long do cats sleep for?

Cats sleep for around 12 to 16 hours a day. This cat-napping time can be considerably longer for kittens and senior cats, as well as indoor-only cats who have plenty of free time on their paws.

As opposed to dreaming the day away, a sleeping cat spends most of their time dozing and so is still alert to their surroundings. This is why you’ll often spot a sleeping kitty’s ears twitch or rotate, or eyes half opened, anticipating potential dangers or hunting opportunities.

If you want to know when your sleeping cat has actually entered a deep sleep state then there are a few signs to lookout for; sometimes they’ll twitch their whiskers and paws and even make little meowing noises. Also, like humans, sleeping cats experience rapid eye movement sleep (REM sleep) — the deepest stage of sleep — in which they’ll likely enjoy dreams of catching a crafty mouse or two.

Why do cats sleep so much?

Like many curious cat behaviours, the reason cats sleep so much is due to evolution; even the most pampered domestic puss possess innate hunting behaviours.

In the wild, cats will spend up to 50% of their time hunting their prey. Not only does this hunting consume a lot of energy, but less than 50% of these hunts are actually successful. So, to conserve their energy, cats naturally spend the rest of their time resting or sleeping.

It’s also important to point out that while it may seem that cats sleep all day and night, this is because we humans often miss seeing them at their most active; cats are crepuscular, meaning they’re most active during the twilight of dusk and dawn — when their prey is most active. Yes, cat owners, this is the reason you’re sometimes woken up in the early hours with a crash and a bang caused by an energetic kitty.

How to keep your sleepy kitty healthy

As mentioned above, most domesticated cats don’t hunt; why would they, when they have humans on hand to tend to their every need? Unfortunately for our feline friends, living a life of luxury has its consequences — it can often lead to weight gain and boredom.

To prevent your puss from piling on the pounds and keep them entertained, you can mimic their natural environment and encourage them to hunt for their food. Many kind kitty owners do this by hiding kibble around the home or challenging their clever cats with a bought or DIY dispensing feeder, such as an old yoghurt pot or empty toilet roll.

Which cat bed is best?

Just like humans, cats enjoy a comfy spot to snooze in and so we should ensure they have a choice of suitable beds and resting places.

If your cat likes a cosy spot, you could treat them to a bed that hooks onto a radiator. If your feline is often found up high, like on top of a wardrobe, then be sure to provide them with plenty of comfy elevated areas. On the other hand, if you have a senior cat who is less able, then you must ensure they have lots of easily accessible snoozing spots.

Ultimately, a cat bed needs to make them feel safe and secure, which is why so many cats enjoy enclosed areas. With a range of elevated platforms, cosy boxes and cuddly spots, a cat scratch tower can tick almost all the boxes.

For homes with multiple moggies, it’s important to make sure that any enclosed resting areas have two openings. This will allow any occupants to get out easily on the arrival of another cat, and consequently avoid any unnecessary kitty conflicts.

Worried your cat is sleeping too long?

There is no ‘normal’ when it comes to how long and often a cat should sleep, however, every puss has their own specific sleeping pattern. Cat owners need to be aware of what this is and lookout for any change in sleep behaviour, as a change could indicate potential problems. While a sudden increase in sleep may be a sign of illness, more activity and less sleep than usual can be a sign of hyperthyroidism — a common condition in ageing cats.

If you do have any concerns about a cat’s sleeping habits, then it’s important to talk to a veterinary expert. Remember, if you’re a TrustedHousesitters member, you can access such expertise for free by calling our dedicated Vet Advice Line, day or night.

Need a kind and caring person to keep your kitty sleeping safely at home while you’re away? It’s time to explore the caring community of TrustedHousesitters and connect with cat-loving pet sitters who won’t charge a penny.

Watch our short video explaining how to find a pet sitter with the wonderful world of TrustedHousesitters — the kind and caring alternative to catteries and kennels.

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