Layne has worked in shelter medicine for over six years and likes to share her advice with fellow animal guardians.
How Many Hours Do Cats Sleep?
We love our feline companions. Their independence and majestic nature is a pleasure to be around. Around the age of 2, cats start to change their behavior. They go from attacking everything in the house, running up and down the furniture, and harassing other family members (including pets), to slowing down, grooming more, and acting more adult-like and mature. With this comes a tendency to nap more.
It can be alarming at first when an owner notices that their cat is sleeping a lot. We may wonder if they are sick, depressed, or if they are injured or hurt. It's not abnormal to be alarmed by your cat's day-long cat naps, but it's important to understand more about the feline species to identify what is normal and what is not normal.
Is It Normal for a Cat to Sleep All Day?
First and foremost, you need to rule-out any medical issues. Generally, if your cat is younger and you do regular vet visits, your vet is likely to catch any abnormalities. But as an owner, it's important to note any immediate changes (acute conditions) as well as chronic issues (long-term) that might spring up. This way, you can report these details to your vet and make sure that your cat is simply enjoying the luxuries of life and nothing else more serious is going on. (Medical conditions are addressed further down.)
How Many Hours a Day Does a Cat Sleep?
Cats are said to sleep between 12–16 hours a day with an average of 15 hours, according to WebMD.com. Some cats sleep even more and may even sleep closer to 20 hours in a day. But why is this?
Cat Sleeping Positions Explained
Cats Are Crepuscular
Cats tend to be active between dawn and dusk, in other words, they are crepuscular by nature. Their hour of activity is twilight, and you can see this behavior in wild felines out in nature based on their stalking and hunting behavior. It's important to note that cats' circadian rhythms are naturally synced to solar light.
As with all species, our sleep cycle depends on UV exposure. Unfortunately, when cats become indoor companions, their sleep cycles may get interrupted based on our poor habits—leaving lights on past sundown, turning lights on before sunrise, and leaving blue-light-emitting devises on like computers and TVs well after the sun has set.
Cats, too, are affected by weather. Like humans, cats tend to be more drowsy during wet or overcast weather. Cold weather and stormy days tend to slow them down, too, just like us. Keep an eye out next time the weather is wintery and you might notice that your cat is more subdued.
Indoor cats tend to adapt their sleep schedule to spend time with their human companions as they are social creatures. As much as they would naturally rather be active at dawn and dusk, they will tend to sync their behavior to yours.
Cats Hunt at Night
Don't forget that your feline friend is a predator. They instively, stalk, chase, hunt, and kill. Yes—you live with a miniature predator! You can observe this hunting activity in large felines like lions—they hunt primarily at night. Hunting requires a huge amount of energy, both physically and mentally. So it is no surprise that after your kitty expends energy throughout the day that they will want to take a big cat nap.
What Is a Cat Nap?
Cats like to snooze. They may sit there with their eyes barely shut, rolled back into the head, or they may sit and stare in a daze. This type of light napping allows them to spring up at any moment. It is thought that cats experience deep sleep only for short busts, and through the rest of the day, they tend to doze. Their depth of sleep is quite similar to that of humans—they waiver between light and deep sleep.
Why Does My Cat Just Sit and Stare at Me?
Cats are funny creatures. If you're a feline lover and have a cat companion of your own, you may notice that they sit and stare at you. It's likely that your cat is staring at you simply because they love you. We also wonder what is it they are thinking. Do they see me as prey? Do they recognize me as their owner? Why do they follow me? Are they sad when I leave?
Yes, cats are quite smart. Sometimes they are staring at us to see if we are packing up our belongs to go somewhere in which case they will be left alone. Sometimes they are curious to see if we are preparing their food. Sometimes they are staring because they want to play with whatever it is we are handling. Cats are very observant. Most of the time, however, if they are staring at you, they are probably either hunting, scared, or simply giving out kitty kisses (if they look relaxed). If this is true, this means they adore you.
What Is a Kitty Kiss?
If a cat blinks at you slowly while holding eye contact, they are sending you love! Kitty kisses show vulnerability. For cats, eye contact is something that predators hold between on another, but when they lower their eyes in a kitty kiss, they are telling you that they feel safe and content in your presence. Congratulations, your companion loves you!
How to Give Your Cat a Kitty Kiss
Is My Cat Sick?
Here are some health issues you should look out for that may be linked to over-sleeping:
- Loss of appetite: Is your cat disinterested in food? Are they rejecting their favorite treat? Anorexia in cats can be a sign of a major underlying health problem.
- Weight loss: Weight loss can be a sign of depression (yes, animals get depressed too), cancer, hyperthyroidism, kidney disease, dental issues (pain when eating), FELV, FIV, and other major underlying disease.
- Cancer: Cats of all ages and breeds and breed mixes are prone to cancer. This is a sad truth that an owner has no control over. Your veterinarian will be able to run diagnostic tests to check for indications of cancer.
- Depression/lethargy: Depression is real in companion animals. They can be sad from the absence of an owner, a change in environment, environmental stressors, or the loss of a companion. It's important to check on your companion's mental health as well. Behaviorists are good for assessing these types of situations.
- Respiratory infections: URIs (upper respiratory infections) are not uncommon and they are especially common in immune-compromised individuals and those that have come from shelters or crowded living conditions in which URIs would spread rampantly. Often, owners will notice nasal discharge and fever. Cats with URIs tend to lose their ability to smell and will also eat less.
The good news is that if you've ruled out these conditions with the help of your veterinarian, your cat is likely just being cat!
© 2019 Laynie H
Laynie H (author) from Bend, Oregon on December 18, 2019:
Hi Dora, thanks for reading. I'm glad you found this interesting. I've always wondered about daytime cat naps . .
Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on December 18, 2019:
I like cats. Thanks for explaining their behaviors so well. Very helpful to the owner who wants to understand and enjoy her pet.
Laynie H (author) from Bend, Oregon on December 17, 2019:
Hi Liz—it's funny because I would never think to write this except that my cat we found as a kitten is finally calming down and catnapping more!
Liz Westwood from UK on December 16, 2019:
A lot of what you say matches the experience I remember when we had cats at home.
Why Do Cats Sleep So Much?
Do you ever wonder about your cat’s sleeping habits and patterns, or how they manage to sleep anywhere, anytime? Cats are crepuscular, which means that they’re most active during dawn and dusk. They can get up to 16 hours of sleep a day (fun fact: they sleep more than dogs!) and are often snoozing, going in and out of light sleep and deeper sleep, but quick to awaken.
From our resident blogger, Joy:
When I was growing up, we had a black and white cat named Pepe, who would, every evening as my parents prepared dinner, sprint from beneath the couch in the dining room, through the kitchen, around the counter, and into the hallway. She did it religiously and almost always at the same time, as if she had a clock set to remind her. It always baffled me, and to this day, I can hear the sound of her little paws padding quickly on the floor. Now I understand it was always during her burst of energy at dusk! Perhaps she was playing out an elaborate fantasy where a mouse scampered from room to room, and capturing it was her only chance of survival.
Why exactly do cats sleep so much? The answer lies in genetics and evolution. Feline predators (and prey — more on that later!) sleep for long periods of time to reserve their energy after all, hunting is both physically and mentally demanding — so much so that they need to be fully rested to be the agile, quick and cunning hunters that they are. Interestingly, cats are dreamers — that is, they enter a REM sleep similar to humans and can be seen twitching their whiskers or flicking their tail during their deepest slumber.
While cats are some of the most expert nappers, it’s good practice to be aware of your furry pal’s sleeping habits and be watchful of any changes or behavior that strikes you as odd it could be a sign of illness or pain.
Why Do Cats Sleep Too Much?
Have you ever noticed just how much cat’s sleep? It seems like when they’re not eating or grooming themselves…they’re sleeping. Sounds like the ideal life doesn’t it? But why do they sleep so much? It isn’t like they work very hard. I mean unless they’re an outdoor cat, it isn’t like they have to go out and hunt for food or run from predators.
I was curious too, so I decided to do some research and I’m really glad I did.
You see, there are some pretty good reasons why cat’s sleep so much. And in this article, I’ll give you the top 7 reasons I found as to why cat’s sleep too much.
What is their sleep quality like?
Your cat may doze in light sleep, usually in a body position that allows him to spring up at a moment’s notice, or in a deep, more restful sleep. According to Catster, about 75 percent of a cat’s sleep is light snoozing, while the other 25 percent is deep sleep, which is when your cat dreams. If your cat is curled up with his eyes tightly closed and you notice his whiskers or paws twitching, he’s not catatonic – he’s just likely in a deep sleep.
How Much Sleep Is Too Much?
It's normal for cats to sleep a lot, particularly when they're very old or very young. The key to identifying medical conditions that may require special attention is noticing the changes in their sleeping schedules.
Many senior and geriatric cats experience a decline in cognitive function as they age and may show signs of sleep restlessness as a result. Cats with feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) spend more time awake and often have shorter periods of sleep than healthy cats. Changes in schedule and duration of your cat's sleep could be an indication of illness and could require a trip to the vet.