Cats are renowned for spending most of their time sleeping. Their rest periods are broken into short, frequent naps over the course of the day, with bursts of activity in between. Most of their energy is saved for the evening and early morning hours. On average, most adult cats will sleep between 12 and 18 hours a day 1.
Some cats might sleep more or less than this, depending on their age, energy level, and health. Most of the time, though, sleeping so much is completely normal for cats. While we humans sleep in one stretch during the night, cats are perfectly content with their brief catnaps. We put together this guide to tell you why.
Why Do Cats Sleep During the Day?
A cat napping in a patch of sunlight, wherever and whenever they can, is something that we’re all familiar with. If you own a kitten, you probably also know how much mischief your kitten gets into while everyone is sleeping.
This tendency of cats to sleep during the day leads many people to believe that these felines are nocturnal. But cats actually aren’t that active at night. Their circadian rhythm—their sleep cycle—is crepuscular 2. This means your cat will be most active at two times of the day: before sunrise and when the sun is setting.
You might have a cat that’s more active during the day or prone to wandering the house all night, but typically, their activity is focused on these two times. They are crepuscular because they are predators, and their prey, such as birds and rodents, are commonly active during daytime and night, respectively. To ensure that they have access to both, cats will be most active during dawn and dusk to catch their prey just as they wake up.
Why Do Cats Sleep So Much? 6 Possible Reasons
Despite how it might seem, cats don’t sleep deeply all the time. This is why they’re always ready to go if disturbed from their slumber. It’s also why many of them sleep in the adorable “loaf” position. They might be completely relaxed, but they’re more than ready to get up and chase after their favorite ball if it jingles. Your cat might even launch straight back into playtime once their 15–20-minute nap is over.
The amount that your cat sleeps is determined by many things. Also, some cats will not sleep as much as others. Here are a few reasons that cats sleep so much 3.
How often your cat sleeps can depend on their age. Senior cats, especially if they have mobility issues, are more likely to take frequent naps simply because they have less energy and are less agile. Kittens will also nap frequently, but since they’re more mobile, they’ll be incredibly energetic whenever they’re awake. There are also the restless, erratic sleep habits of adolescent cats and the steady routine of an adult cat’s naps.
If you’ve got nothing else on your to-do list, sometimes a nap is all you can do to stave off boredom. Cats will take a nap if they’re bored too. Maybe they’re tired of playing with the same jingle ball or they’ve worn out the catnip toy for now. Or perhaps they just don’t have enough to do at all.
You need to be careful here. While your cat might be sleeping off their boredom now, it can grow into a bigger problem. A bored kitty can be prone to over-grooming or destructive tendencies. Give them something to do, or play with them regularly to ward off bad behavior.
3. Cooling Down
Summer is a great time for catnaps, and on warm days, you’ll likely find your cat fast asleep somewhere. While you might assume that they’d gravitate to a sunny patch, they’ll probably surprise you by choosing somewhere cool and quiet. This is their way of conserving their energy during the hottest part of the day and regulating their temperature. They’ll sleep because it’s too hot to do anything else.
4. Health Issues
Sleeping frequently is just something that cats do, and most of the time, it’s completely normal. More or less sleep than usual, however, can be a sign of illness or an injury that your cat is trying to sleep off. Health issues that affect your cat’s sleep can be minor or severe. Your cat might even sleep off a cold before you realize that they’ve got one. However, you’ll need to see a veterinarian if your cat is showing signs of serious illness.
The simplest reason for a catnap is recharging. This is particularly common for kittens or adolescent cats that spend much of their waking hours engaging in vigorous, unrelenting playtime. You’ll find your cat will nap more after playtime, a meal, or a visit from a friend. All that social interaction is exhausting, after all!
Sleep can be affected by stress. If you’ve ever had your routine interrupted and ended up forgetting something important, you’ll know how a cat feels when their schedule is ignored.
Unfortunately, cats can’t reason away the changes as well as we can. Something that we think of as easily explainable—like needing to paint your bedroom your favorite color—is likely to stress out your cat. They might sleep less because they’re worried about the moved furniture or hide away for longer naps to stay away from all the noise.
When Should You Be Concerned About Your Cat’s Sleep?
How much your cat sleeps often comes down to their personality. If they’re sleeping as much as they always do, there’s no reason to be concerned about their constant napping. It’s when there’s a significant change in your cat’s sleeping habits that you should pay closer attention.
Fortunately, as a pet owner, you will become familiar with your cat’s habits incredibly quickly. They might wake you up like clockwork for breakfast every morning, and you’ll also learn things like their favorite food, the toy they love best, and even how much they sleep. This knowledge will help you notice whenever something is not quite right with your cat.
A sudden, drastic change in your cat’s sleeping habits might be a sign of a health issue or an injury. Your cat might be restless and refuse to settle down to sleep at all, or they might take their sleeping habits to the extreme and sleep the day away. It’s wise to pay attention to other possible signs, such as a lack of appetite or sudden weight loss.
With our sleep often being disrupted by noisy neighbors or stress about the work day, it’s admirable how easy cats find it to sleep anywhere and everywhere. They’ll easily spend 12–18 hours a day snoozing away, with bouts of activity in between.
Some cats will sleep more than others, and recognizing your feline’s sleeping habits will ensure that you know when their routine is normal and when it could be a sign of a health issue or injury. Age, energy level, health, and temperature can all play a huge part in how much your cat sleeps.
Featured Image Credit: Carlos G. Lopez, Shutterstock