BEHAVIOR & TRAINING

How Much Do Cats Sleep: Getting into Your Kitty’s Snoozy Head

Two young domestic cats sleeping and snuggled.
Stella Noble
Written by Stella Noble

How much do cats sleep? This is a question pulled right out of many a cat parent’s minds. It is mostly prompted by concern over their tendency to snooze the whole day away. Whether it is on your bed, in his bed, or on the couch, it is no secret that your cat spends a significant part of his day sleeping.

Saying that it is normal for cats to sleep for the better part of their lives is just the tip of the iceberg. There is so much more surrounding this habit. From your own lifestyle to the very aspects of your cat’s life, we have explored every possible avenue to help you better understand your cat. By learning more about your cat’s sleeping habits, you will be able to detect if anything is amiss quickly. Also, you’ll be able to sleep better at night by attuning your feline friend’s pattern to yours.

kitten sleeps on the back like a log

Apart from clearing the fog on the question of how much cats sleep, we will also explain the amount of sleep that cats actually need. We will then detail several factors that contribute to your cat’s sleep, tips to help him sleep better, and also some sleep disorders that you need to be on the lookout for.

How Much Do Cats Usually Sleep?

Cats are known to sleep away up to 60% of their lives. It is not unusual to see cats spending between 12 and 20 hours a day sleeping. Kittens and senior cats usually sleep more than adults. This is due to a combination of factors, with their evolutionary path shouldering the majority of the blame.

In the wild, cats sleep between meals to conserve energy that they need to stalk, chase, and kill their prey. They don’t sleep at night like humans; theirs are regularly distributed catnaps throughout the day.

Orange with white kitten sleeping on the floor

During three-quarters of their sleeping time, cats just snooze. Their ears will turn towards any noise, and they may also open their eyes a little. This ensures that they get a good rest while remaining alert enough to spring into action at a moment’s notice.

During the other quarter, they fall into a deep sleep. It is at this point that they are capable of dreaming. A good indicator of this is a curled and completely relaxed body. Twitching whiskers and paws could mean that your kitty is enjoying his journey into dreamland.

Factors Affecting Sleep in Cats

You’ve been made aware of how much cats usually sleep, but biologically speaking, how much sleep do cats need exactly? For you to be precise with your cat’s sleep pattern, several conditions have to be kept constant. There are several determinants of the amount of sleep that a particular cat needs. Among them are age, health status, and level of activity. These determine when, how, and for how long your cat sleeps.

Factor #1: Weather

Do you sometimes oversleep on a rainy day? Well, the same behavior is observed in our furry friends. On cold or rainy days cats tend to be less active. They will probably just spend the day sleeping. During extremely cold weather like in the winter, cats will tend to sleep more to conserve their energy.

Tabby orange cat sleeping in a rainy day

On a bright and sunny day, your cat will most likely be drawn to outdoor activities like tree climbing, bird watching, playing in the water, or with their friends among others. This can reduce the daytime sleep duration of your cat.

Factor #2: Amount of Activity

When you engage your cat in activities, the amount of time he sleeps off during the day is reduced. He will sleep more at night and less during the day. Active cats need more sleep to recover the energy lost and to rest. It is because of this that indoor cats will generally need less sleep as compared to outdoor or street cats that have to work hard for their meal.

Kitten sleeping in a shoe

It is also important to note that while cats may tend to blend into their human family’s routine, they are naturally crepuscular. This means that they are more active at dawn and dusk and less active during the day. You may also want to note that overstimulating your cat can lead to extreme sleep and the same will happen if he doesn’t get enough activity.

Factor #3: Disease

It is hardly a big concern when kittens sleep a little excessively. However, when your adult cat starts oversleeping, it could be a sign of an underlying health problem. A sick cat will require more rest and would also be less active. Some of the health problems that could lead to excessive sleep include chronic kidney disease, arthritis, or even pain from an injury.

Fluffy cat sleeping on the kitchen's floor

On the other hand, if your cat doesn’t seem to be sleeping enough, it could be a cause for concern as well. Hyperthyroidism is known to cause hyperactivity in cats among many other symptoms. In instants of changes in sleeping durations for your cat, a visit to the vet would come in handy to put your mind at ease.

Factor #4: Age

When kittens are awake, they spend most of their time exploring and playing. This uses up a lot of energy. To replenish the lost energy, they sleep a lot. A kitten who sleeps for up to 20 hours a day shouldn’t be a cause for concern. However, if he spends almost all his time asleep and is disinterested in his surrounding when awake, it could be a sign that something is amiss.

Adult cats sleep for around 15 to 18 hours a day. This can be affected by other issues such as levels of activity, the weather, and overstimulation. In spite of this, if there are sudden changes in the sleeping pattern of your cat, you should have him checked out to be on the safer side.

cute kitten sleeping on a pink blanket

Senior cats typically sleep more than adult cats. They average around 20 hours of sleep. If yours starts sleeping less and less, he should be checked to rule out hyperthyroidism.

In short, kittens and senior cats need more hours of sleep compared to adults. While kittens sleep because of their high level of activity and the need to rejuvenate, senior cats on the other hand easily get tired due to their advanced age and hence need more sleep.

Factor #5: Environment

Cats sleep better where they feel safe. This explains why your cat will sleep in your bed, in your lap, on top of you, etc. Cats like to sleep in quiet, warm, and comfortable places. When it is hot and sunny, they will snooze away in shaded spots. When it is cold, they look for warm places near heat sources.

Kitten sleeping in a quiet place

A sudden change in residence or sleeping area can significantly reduce the duration and quality of your cat’s sleep. He may need some time as he tries to get acquainted with the new environment. Especially in an environment with extreme weather conditions and noise, your cat’s sleep pattern is bound to be disrupted.

Factor #6: Meals

Cats are predatory by nature. This means that they are wired to hunt, eat, and sleep. When your cat has a constant supply of food, it is just normal for him to eat and sleep more.Reducing the amount of food that you give him will interrupt his sleep while over-feeding him will make him lazier and obese. An established feeding pattern consequently stabilizes his sleeping pattern.

Tips to Help Your Cat Sleep Better

A cat that’s acclimatized to your sleeping schedule is the ultimate wish of any owner. By the time they are mature, most cats’ sleep will be in sync with your night schedule. Although, this mostly depends on how long your little friend has stayed with you.

Kittens and new cats can be disruptive especially when they have been having short naps in the morning and the afternoon, so they are more active at night. Below are some tips to help your furry friend sleep better and to get him to follow your sleeping schedule.

Tip #1: Regular Exercise

Schedule plays during the day to reduce the number catnaps which affects his night-time sleep. Interactive toys like lasers pointers and motorized toy mice are ideal for tiring him out. These toys mimic his environment in the wild where he has to give chase to catch prey in a mock hunt. These sessions should be frequent and more so right before bedtime.

Kitten playing with a toy

When your schedule keeps you away from him during the day, consider investing in food puzzles. Investing in a web camera with talk features can also be fun for the both of you. A bird feeder outside the window or even feline videos and music will also keep him busy.

Tip #2: Proper Meal Schedule

Schedule the main meal right before your bedtime. Just like your cat’s cousins in the wild, he will sleep more after a sizable meal. Left to their own devices, cats will feed on small portions spaced out across the entire day. To regulate this, start by putting away his food for short periods of time. Continue extending the periods as days go by until such a time when his feeding schedule is favorable to your goal. During this regulating period, an automated-feeder will come in handy.

grey cat eating food

During the night, you can time it to dispense food once or twice. When hungry, he will wait by his food dispenser rather than pull on your hair or chew your toes. If he is an early riser, then avoid feeding him at the moment he wakes. Do other activities first like showering. This will make him dissociate meals with you waking up.

Tip #3: Tough Love

Unless he is sick, avoid being at his beck and call. A cat is a creature of habit. If you wake up every time he starts meowing, then it becomes a routine to him. Some tough love is required when he refuses to follow the desired sleeping routine. It may seem harsh, but it may be the only way to condition him.

Fluffy kitten sleeping on the floor

Locking him out of your bedroom removes you from the picture during the night. Place things that he is afraid of—such as citrus-scented sprays—at the door to discourage him from scratching it. A knobby vinyl carpet or a prickly mat will also do the trick.

You can also use noisy remote-controlled appliances like a vacuum cleaner which will startle him the moment he starts meowing or scratching and deter him from returning. Setting up a sleeping crate and a litter box in a different room out of earshot can also work.

Tip #4: Conducive Sleeping Environment

Cats are easily startled by loud noises and will spring awake at a moment’s notice. Keep his bed away from windows and other noisy areas of the house. If you are the type that dozes off to music, then ensure that he sleeps away from the radio or play music that also soothes him.

If you need to get a glass of water or use the bathroom every now and then, ensure that you do so in a way that causes minimal disturbance. Allowing him to get involved will interfere with his sleeping pattern.

A cat hidding in a box

Your cat will sleep better if he feels safe. Our feline friends associate our presence with safety. He will probably sleep better on your chest to the rhythm of your breathing and heartbeat. This may not be ideal for you, however. To make him feel safe away from you, provide a cozy cat bed lined with blankets or snuggle toys with your scent.

Tip #5: Sleeping Schedule

Cats love predictability and routine. The goal of a sleeping schedule is to mentally prepare him for sleep. This should be a series of activities that ultimately ends up with both of you going to bed. Be sure to maintain the same order near bedtime every day.

Activities such as making the bed, brushing your teeth, or even playing a certain song right before switching off the lights are examples of routines that you can establish. Although he may not be there to pay attention to what you’re doing, it’s important to realize that the noises you make will be hardwired into him and as such associate him with bedtime.

A cat sleeping on a wall mounted table

Also, involving him in things that he enjoys will go a long way in establishing his sleeping schedule. Grooming, cuddling, and feeding him special treats before bed are some of the ways that can be used to routinely prepare him for bedtime.

Sleeping Disorders in Cats

Although he is a heavy sleeper, your furry friend might suffer from some sleeping disorders. These might go unnoticed and may be dismissed as normal sleep. This could lead to an escalation of the disease and even fatality. It is therefore important for all cat lovers to be on the lookout for the symptoms associated with these ailments. Below are some cat sleeping disorders and the symptoms to keep an eye out for.

Disorder #1: Sleep Apnea

This occurs when your cat experiences difficulty in breathing while sleeping. It is observable during the Rapid Eye Movement sleep phase. This condition commonly affects the Persian and obese cats. This is due to their shortened muzzles which cause them to temporarily stop breathing at times throughout their sleep.

Orange obese cat sitting at the window

Fatigue and laziness will be evident during the day with the cat appearing sluggish and generally weak. Another common symptom is loud snoring. The interruption of breathing over a considerable amount of time leads to deprivation of oxygen in the brain, and this can be fatal. In extreme cases, surgery will be recommended.

Disorder #2: Narcolepsy

This is one of the less common disorder but highly alarming. It manifests itself in sudden bouts of sleepiness in cats, even though he seemed to be excited just moments prior. There is yet to be any cure for the disease, but you can take solace in the fact that it’s painless and non-fatal.

Symptoms include collapsing and sudden bouts of unconsciousness lasting anywhere from a few seconds to half an hour. Depending on the severity, the episodes can occur daily or weekly. Cataplexy or visible muscle paralysis is another symptom. Flaccidity will be observed in the facial muscles—making the cheeks droop.

Close-up of a cat sleeping

The remedy is to wake him up. This can be done by making a loud noise, waving the smell of his favorite treats in front of him, or with normal petting. Once awake, the cat will be going back to his normal state—completely oblivious to the episode. Persistent narcolepsy requires a vet’s examination since the symptoms share similarity to other diseases such as epilepsy and diabetes.

Disorder #3: Hyperthyroidism

This is another common disorder that manifests itself in sleep disruption. It occurs when the thyroid gland produces excess hormones that lead to increased metabolism and hence hyperactivity. The condition is common in young adults and older cats.

Weight loss, deterioration of the coat, diarrhea, and excessive feeding are some of the symptoms associated with hyperthyroidism. Behavioral changes such as restlessness and increased activity at night are very common. These changes may go unnoticed in cats that are not conditioned to a sleeping pattern. This underlines the need to familiarize your furry friend with a feeding and sleeping routine.

Kitten sleeping on a pillow in bed

The common treatment is anti-thyroid medication, which is introduced to the thyroid gland to regulate the secretion of the hormones. In severe cases, the vet may recommend the complete removal of the affected gland, radioactive iodine treatment, or chemical ablation.

Wrap Up

It is perfectly normal for cats to sleep away two-thirds of their life. The amount of sleep that your cat needs is dependent on factors such as age, health status, and his level of activity. Moreover, other factors ranging from nutrition to the environment can determine exactly when and how long he sleeps.

Attuning your cat’s sleeping schedule to your own will go a long way in ensuring that you and your furry companion will enjoy harmonious living. From scheduling his meals and sleeping times to instilling discipline, there is so much that you can do to achieve this. In addition to this, a little exercise and a conducive sleeping environment are a big plus.

Grey cat sleeping between two windows

Also, a few sleeping disorders can escape your notice if you are not vigilant. These include sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and hyperthyroidism. In case there is any sleep-related issue that arouses your concern, consult the vet to ensure that your kitty will receive help before it is too late.

How often does your cat sleep? What’s his sleeping pattern? Does he sleep when you do or does he become more active at night? What did you do to help him sleep better? We highly appreciate any extra information you can provide, so please post a comment below!

About the author
Stella Noble
Stella Noble

Stella Noble lives in Warren, Michigan with her family and three cats. She is a Certified Cat Trainer and a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants.

0
0
Total
0
Shares