How much do cats sleep, and how many hours do they really need?

June 06, 2018

How much do cats sleep, and how many hours do they really need?

By Guest Blogger: Emily Parker, Catological

If sleeping was an Olympic sport, your cat would probably bring home the gold medal. They’re just absolutely expert sleepers. Whether it's during the day or in the middle of the night, kitties are always willing to take a catnap.

However, while you may assume there's nothing special about your cat sleeping, there are a lot of interesting facts concerning kitties and their naps that you should know about, just in case you start to worry that your cat’s behavior is abnormal.

Just like humans, cats vary in the amount of sleep they need. In each circumstance, it will depend on age, health, mood, and more.

If you're curious as to how much cats do in fact sleep, as well as how much sleep they really need, then let’s dive in.

How Much Do Cats Sleep?

Cats sleep an average of 15 hours per day. However, they can sleep as much as 20 hours within a 24-hour period.

In general, cats do the majority of their sleeping during the day, since they are most active overnight. If you've wondered why that is, the answer lies in their physiology.

Since cats are natural predators, their brains and bodies are made to have them hunting mostly at night, when their excellent eyesight can help them catch prey while staying undetected.

Though domesticated, our kitties still display many behaviors found in wild cats such as lions and tigers. Since hunting prey takes lots of energy, cats sleep as much as possible so they will have the energy needed to pounce on their prey, even if it is only a catnip toy or rubber ball.


How Much Sleep Do Cats Really Need?

Cats typically sleep so much of the day for a good reason. As mentioned above, they’re biologically programmed to do so.

If your cat is sleeping 15 hours per day, then you can pretty safely assume that she needs 15 hours per day.

If you’re worried because she’s suddenly sleeping more than usual, or because she’s lethargic when she’s actually awake, that’s another thing. If something like this is bothering you, definitely don’t delay talking to your vet.

Cats do go through cycles in the amount they sleep, though.

As kittens, they’ll probably sleep a LOT of the day. When they’re in their “adolescent” years, they may suddenly develop bizarre sleeping habits that have them bouncing about the house at all hours of the day (and night).

As an adult, you’d expect a fairly regular schedule (which you can help set up as a habit), of anywhere between 12 and 20 hours depending on the day and the cat.

Seniors may have more trouble moving and may start to slow down, so you would expect to see their sleep needs fall on the higher end of that scale.


Is a Cat Always in Deep Sleep?

If you think your cat is always sound asleep, think again. After all, there's a reason why they call it a "catnap."

According to researchers, only about 25 percent of a cat's sleep is actually deep sleep, while the other 75 percent of the time they are lightly snoozing.

While they are still getting plenty of rest, they are still alert enough to awaken quickly. Once again, this comes from their primal instincts.

To tell if your cat is merely snoozing, look to see if their eyes are open just a bit, and also watch their ears. If their ears are twitching and rotating toward noises, your kitty could spring to life at any moment.


Do Cats Dream and Snore?

If you happen to be in bed with your significant other and your kitty, and you are awakened by snoring, don't necessarily blame the other human in the bed. Chances are, your furry feline may be the guilty party.

When it comes to cats, snoring happens when their airway gets obstructed from skin near the soft palate. But don't worry, since it's generally not anything serious.

While all cats are prone to snoring now and then, it occurs mostly in breeds with short noses, including Persian and Himalayan cats.

Along with their snoring, cats may also be dreaming at the same time. Just like humans, cats can have good dreams or bad dreams. If you notice your cat's whiskers twitching or their paws moving as if they're walking, more than likely they are in the middle of a dream.


What Makes a Cat Sleep Less?

Since cats are very adaptable creatures, they are experts at adjusting their schedules to get by on less sleep.

For example, if a cat is exposed to higher amounts of natural or artificial light, it will sleep less than other cats.

Cats that are kept active by their owners through playing and other stimulation may sleep a bit less overall.

And if you decide to feed your cat less food than you have previously, be prepared for them to be awake more often. However, doing so also makes more of their sleep fragmented, so think carefully before cutting back on their food.


What if My Cat's Sleeping Habits Change?

If you start to notice sudden changes in your cat's sleeping habits, it may be a good idea to have them checked over by your veterinarian.

For example, if they start sleeping far more or much less than before, it could signal they are in pain, are having gastrointestinal issues, or are even depressed.

However, if your cat starts to lie down in fresh cat litter after you've just changed the litter box, don't worry about it. For reasons unknown to researchers, kitties just seem to like the feel of fresh litter under their feet.

While some people may think cats are a bit lazy due to their sleep habits, those who know them best realize they are anything but lazy - they’re just experts at slowing down and chilling. The next time you’re feeling stressed, rushed, and unable to focus, take a cue from your kitty and relax with a catnap of your own! 💕🐈

Also in Purrr

Is your apartment big enough for a cat?
Is your apartment big enough for a cat?

September 15, 2018

If you’re wondering whether you have the space to house a cat companion and are confident he can adapt to apartment living, the short answer is yes. The amount of square footage is not at all the key to the question.

Study reveals physics of how cats drink.
Study reveals physics of how cats drink.

September 13, 2018

Initially, researchers thought cats drank the same way as dogs but more politely. Turns out neither cats nor dogs drink like people. Learn about the physics of how cats drink.
The secret lives of outdoor cats revealed.
The secret lives of outdoor cats revealed.

September 08, 2018

What do cats who spend their entire lives on the street do? How long do they live? Do they socialize or fight? To answer these and other questions, researchers at the University of Illinois strapped a GPS device on 42 outdoor cats, some with human companions and some homeless.

Purrr. Newsletter

<strong>Purrr</strong> Newsletter