Are you a new cat parent? Or maybe you’ve owned cats for a while now and have always wondered why they sleep so much? Then you’re about to find out.
Our feline friends are the masters of sleeping at any time, any place, and under any circumstance. In fact, they sleep for the majority of the day. The only animals that get more sleep than cats are bats and possums.
So why do cats sleep so much and how much sleep do they really need?
Cats are Crepuscular
Crepuscular is a zoological term that describes animals that are active during twilight hours, which means the hours between dusk and dawn.
This is the reason why your cat sleeps all late morning and afternoon, wakes up at dusk, and runs around in circles all night.
Cats Need Sleep for Energy Conservation
In the wild, cats hunt for their food. Cats are natural predators and they need to conserve their energy for all that running and hunting, which explains why your cat can sleep for long periods of time. She’s resting in preparation for the big hunt as hunting requires energy. Moreover, cats in the wild are both predator and prey, which means there’s more stress added to the act of hunting itself.
Though pet cats are domesticated, they do still retain many of their primal instincts, which includes their biological cycle of sleeping, hunting, feasting, and getting back to sleep.
Cats Sleep with One Eye Open
Though cats do sleep deeply, only about 25% of their sleeping schedule is spent in deep sleep. About 75% of the time, they sleep with one eye open. This means although they may look like they’re in deep sleep, they actually position their body in a way that they can spring up and get into action at a moment's notice.
Their senses are still sharp for most of the time they're sleeping, such as their sense of smell and hearing. They can spring into action when they smell or hear a mouse nearby.
How Much Sleep Do Cats Need?
Newborn kitties need to sleep over 23 hours a day and only awaken when they nurse. As the cat develops and goes into adolescence and becomes an adult cat, their average sleep can range from 15 hours a day to 16 hours. Older cats, or senior cats, can sleep an average of 20 hours a day.
In addition to deep sleep, cats also need brief moments of sleep, also known as a cat nap, lasting anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes.
According to the director of the Animal Behavior Clinic at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tuft University, Nicholas Dodman, he states that cats need adequate sleep as this is important to their health, mood, and longevity. If you notice some changes in the amount of sleep they have, it may signify an illness or condition, and you must check with your veterinarian immediately.
A cat that’s sleeping a lot more than usual may have an underlying medical condition, while a cat experiencing frequent wakefulness could be suffering hyperthyroidism.
Just like humans, cats sleep a little longer when the weather is colder, such as when it rains. They do love to stay in longer when the climate and environment is a little cold or gray.
Some Cats May Adjust Their Sleeping Patterns
While cats do require an average of 15 to 16 hours of sleep per day, wake at night and run all over the place, there may be some cats that do change their sleeping patterns.
Some cats adapt their biological clocks depending on their owner. When they have a strong bond with you, cats can adjust their schedules so they are awake when you are awake and play with you when you’re around. Similarly, they also sleep when you sleep so they can cuddle up next to you as you doze off.
A lot of people may think that cats are lazy creatures because of all the sleeping that they do but there’s actually a lot of biological reasons for that.
While domesticated cats are born and raised indoors, they still do retain their wild tendencies. This includes their biological clock, which is hardwired for hunting. Because of this, they need to conserve energy, so they can have a lot of energy to hunt for their food upon waking.
If you notice your cat sleeping more or less than usual, then it may be a good idea that you consult your veterinarian to make sure your feline friend is not suffering from any underlying condition that could disrupt her natural sleeping habits.