As a cat parent you can’t help but notice your cat spends a lot of their time sleeping, even during the day. This article will explore the four main reasons why cats sleep so much, and when your cat’s sleeping patterns may be cause for concern.
Conserving energy for when it’s needed is one of the main reasons why cats spend so much of their time sleeping or lounging around. Like their wild ancestors, cats are hunters who use intense bursts of energy to pursue and capture prey. Your cat’s instinctive behavior is to conserve energy so they’ll be ready to hunt whenever the need or opportunity arises.
Your cat might not be truly sleeping all the time. Resting cats are often dozing or sleeping lightly, which provides the physical rest they need while their senses remain on alert – you can see their eyes open a little bit, or their ears responding to noises.
Conserving energy by resting also helps cats regulate their body temperature, so they can avoid overheating. In summer, you might notice your cat snoozes through the hottest parts of the day and prefers to play and interact in the morning and evening when it’s cooler. Learn more about how to help keep your cat cool in summer.
Cats also tend to spend more time curled up resting in winter. Cats have a higher set point for body temperature compared to people—anywhere from 101° to 102.5° is normal. Because the cold affects cats more, they might prefer to curl up somewhere cozy to sleep and stay warm when it’s cold out.
Cats are crepuscular in the wild, which means they’re most active at dawn and dusk when their prey is out and about (mice, rats, rabbits and even some birds are also crepuscular). Our domestic cats’ ancestors evolved to be low-light predators, so their eyesight is keenest in low light conditions, and most cats will nap through the brightest daylight hours.
Cats can also adapt their behavior, and often adjust their sleeping pattern to be able to spend more time with you (and other pets if you have them). If you work a job with daytime hours their crepuscular instincts could actually work out well, as they’ll be most active while you’re home in the morning and evening and sleep most of the hours while you’re away.
On the other hand, your cat’s instinctive nighttime or early-morning activity can easily disrupt your sleep. There are ways to help your cat gradually change their sleep schedule so they don’t wake you up in the wee hours of the morning, but it takes patience and consistency to train them.
Your cat’s age can affect how much sleep they need:
- Newborn kittens sleep practically 24 hours a day
- Kittens 8-12 weeks old sleep about 20 hours a day
- Young adult/adult cats sleep an average of 15 hours a day (can range from 12 to 18)
- Senior cats sleep more than adults, around 20 hours a day
While it’s normal for a cat’s sleeping patterns to change as they age, you’ll want to keep an eye out for any sudden changes which could indicate an underlying health problem.
Should You Worry About How Much Your Cat Is Sleeping?
In general no, especially if their sleeping habits are consistent, your cat seems happy, and things look good at their wellness checks. But if you notice a change, especially a change in sleep patterns accompanied by unwanted behaviors, there may be an issue to address.
Unfortunately, one of the reasons some cats may sleep so much is lack of stimulation. If there’s nothing to do, your cat can wind up spending more time sleeping. Cats need both mental and physical exercise just like people do.
Make sure to spend time every day playing with your cat and giving them attention. Helping your indoor cat get more exercise is another important part of keeping them healthy. There are also cat enrichment activities you can provide to help your cat avoid boredom while satisfying their natural instincts to climb, claw and explore.
Cats tend to isolate themselves and rest more when they’re in pain or feeling sick. If you notice your cat is suddenly sleeping a lot more than usual, it could be a symptom.
Hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid) can cause cats to sleep a lot less than usual. Cats with hyperthyroidism will also have symptoms like weight loss, vomiting and diarrhea, and increased thirst.
It’s important to know what your cat’s normal sleeping pattern is so you can notice concerning changes right away and consult your veterinarian.
Hiding away and avoiding activity can also be a sign of an anxious cat. Stress and anxiety can cause changes in your cat’s behavior, including excessive sleep—though some cats may respond to stress by becoming restless. Again, knowing what’s normal for your unique cat is key to recognizing the signs of a potential problem early.
Monitoring your cat’s sleep habits is an important part of keeping your cat healthy. You can find even more tips in our guide to cat wellness!
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