Why Does My Cat Sleep So Much?
Authored by Jodi Helmer
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Authored by Jodi Helmer
Your cat is the queen of cat naps: She naps on the windowsill, dozes off under the bed and and always seems to be looking for another chance to catch a few zzzz’s. If it seems like your cat sleeps all the time, you’re right. Cats are champion sleepers who spend most of their lives in blissful slumber.
The number of catnaps a cat takes depends on their age and health.
A newborn kitten sleep almost 24 hours a day, waking only briefly to eat. As kittens mature, they need less sleep—but only slightly less; kittens between the ages of eight and 12 weeks (about 3 months) old sleep around 20 hours per day.
Adult domestic cats sleep between 10 and 13 hours per day but could sleep as much as 20 hours. Unlike their owners, who go to bed and sleep for seven to nine hours per night, cats tend to sleep in shorter stretches. Research shows that cats sleep for 50 to 110 minutes (about 2 hours) at a time, which may be where the term “cat nap” comes from. Multiple cat naps throughout the day add up to a whole lot of time spent slumbering.
Blame evolution. Wild cats needed to conserve energy to hunt, which meant resting until it was time to go out in search of prey (and resting again after the hunt and a full meal). Even though you deliver food to their stainless steel bowls twice a day, your cat hasn’t lost the biological drive to preserve energy for the hunt.
It’s also common for cats to sleep more when they’re not feeling well. Illnesses like diabetes, heartworm and bacterial infections can cause lethargy and lead cats to spend more time slumbering. Anytime you notice a sudden change in your cat’s sleep patterns, called the vet to rule out illness.
Boredom could also cause cats to spend more time in bed. Provide your cat with toys, tunnels, cat trees and other opportunities to engage in active play to ensure they don’t succumb to boredom, which could lead to health issues like depression and obesity.
Cats do spend time in deep, restorative sleep; it’s an important part of good feline health. But cats also spend a lot of time in the lighter stages of sleep, dozing but still aware of what’s going on in their surroundings—and definitely alert enough to pounce on predators or run from prey.
Your cats might wish they could hang a “do not disturb” sign on the door of their kitty condo but you don’t have to change your routine when your cat is asleep. Cats will continue dozing while you vacuum, watch TV or prep dinner—and, if a sudden sound wakes them, they’ll look around long enough to make sure nothing is amiss and go straight back to sleep.
Hear your cat jumping off the counter or padding across the room in the middle of the night might make you think that cats are nocturnal.
Cats are crepuscular, not nocturnal. Animals that are crepuscular, including lions, rabbits, bears, possums and several species of birds and flies, are most active at dawn and dusk. (Crepuscular is derived from the Latin word for twilight). Even though cats can be awake and might move around in the night, they are not nocturnal.
Interesting research shows that house cats may change their sleep/wake patterns to coincide with the sleep/wake cycles of their owners. Italian researchers divided domestic house cats into two groups: Half had access to smaller spaces and were kept inside at night while the other half had a larger space and access to a garden at all hours; the cats that stayed inside at night were more likely to sleep through the night (when their owners slept) and remained awake during the daytime, perhaps to seek out interaction.
Your cat spends part of the day curled up in a ray of sunshine that falls across your bed—and she doesn’t want to move when it’s time for you to crawl under the covers. Should she be allowed to stay? It depends.
Some research shows that pet owners felt comforted and were better able to fall asleep when their pets were in their beds but scientists have also found that cat owners were less likely to get the recommended seven (or more) hours of sleep per night.
Whether you let your cat sleep with you or not is a personal decision. Remember, your cat will definitely find another place to sleep (for hours and hours) even if she’s not allowed in the bed.
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