Cats seem to spend most of their time sleeping. A person needs around 6-8 hours of sleep per day. A cat needs much, much more. Cats spend around a third of their lives asleep. This means that, on average, a cat can sleep from 12 to 16 hours per day.
Why Do Cats Need so Much Sleep?
There’s several reasons why cats need so much sleep. Although the amount of sleep depends entirely on the cat. Each cat is individual, just like each person is individual, so the amount of sleep varies from cat to cat.
- Energy Conservation
Cats are predators. Your domestic feline is closely related to the big jungle cats, and some of the behaviors are very similar. For a cat to find food, it has to hunt. Once it has found a prey animal, it will stealthily approach it, moving slowly and close to the ground. When the cat is close enough, it will try to catch it. Catching the prey involves a short, intensive burst of speed, which consumes a lot of energy. Added to this, cats won’t eat prey that another animal has killed. They will only eat fresh prey.
As hunting requires a lot of energy, cats need sleep to replenish their energy stocks. They need to have more energy than they think they need for a hunt, especially as the first attempt may not be successful.
- Cat Naps
Cats take naps. When a cat is napping, he’s still on high alert. His body will be ready to react at a moment’s notice. A nap lasts between fifteen to thirty minutes.
Interestingly, a cat’s sleeping pattern is where the phrase ‘cat nap’ comes from. Although the phrase can be traced back to the 1800’s, the behavior of human naps began long before that. Ancient Egyptians worshipped cats as sacred animals. They observed the sacred cats napping behavior, and emulated it.
The age of the cat plays an important part in why the cat sleeps, and how much sleep it needs. Adult cats need a little less sleep than kittens or seniors. Kittens are busy growing and learning, which are two activities that require a lot of energy. Senior cats also need more sleep, especially if they have arthritis, or any kind of joint pain.
The weather can also affect how long your cat sleeps. You might have noticed that on cold, rainy days, or dark, dreary days, you feel more tired, and you probably yawn more. Your cat is affected in the same way. He’s going to look for somewhere comfortable to have a nap.
Your cat’s personality will impact how much he sleeps. He may simply need more or less sleep than another feline.
Other things like his breed and overall health will also affect his sleep. Some breeds, such as the Maine Coon, and the Ragdoll, are lazier, and spend more time sleeping than other breeds.
Your cat might just go for nap because he has nothing else to do. Some cats will just go for a nap because they’re bored, they don’t want to do anything else, or they don’t want to spend time with people.
- Time Of Day
Cats are crepuscular. This means that they’re more active at dawn and dusk, the twilight hours. They tend to sleep more during the day, and at night. Kittens may be more active at night, but as they grow, they will become less active at night.
Cats are quite adaptable, so they can, and do, adapt their sleep routine so that they can spend more time being active when you are. They will also adjust their patterns to accommodate their feeding routine.
Do Cats Have Sleep Stages?
People sleep in stages from slow-wave sleep to REM sleep. Cats do the same, but their cycles are shorter. They spend much less time in each stage of sleep than we do. Cats spend roughly six minutes in REM sleep, which is much less than the average for humans. People spend between ninety minutes to two hours in REM sleep. In this stage of sleep, they can dream, so you might notice your cat’s paws switching, or his whiskers moving.
Cats spend the majority of their sleep in a lighter sleep. Their noses and ears are alert, and they can wake up quickly. In this stage of sleep, they can sleep upright, or in a sitting position by tensing their muscles.
Some cats can even snore when they’re sleeping. It’s more common in short-nosed breeds, like the Persian, or the Exotic Shorthair, but any cat can snore if he’s relaxed enough. Snoring happens when their airway becomes obstructed by the extra skin from the soft palate, which is more likely to happen when he’s relaxed.
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How to Help Your Cat Sleep Better?
There are some things you can do to help your cat have a better sleep:
- Food – Feed your cat a high-quality food. Cheaper foods tend to be less nutritious, so your cat may not be getting all the nutrients he needs. This can make him more lethargic.
- Exercise – Most outdoor cats take care of their own exercise needs, but indoor cats should be encouraged to play. Otherwise, you might find that your cat tries to wake you up to play at dawn. If you’re not a morning person, you can try leaving toys that he can play with alone for him, or tiring him out just before bedtime.
- Bed – Cats will sleep pretty much wherever they want. This can mean that he wants to sleep on you, or on your bed. If you don’t want to share your mattress with your feline friend, you’re going to have to be very firm about it. You’ll also need the best cat bed you can find, and make sure he has complete ownership of it. Cats are territorial, so he probably won’t want to share his bed with another cat, or the dog.
- Mealtimes – Your cat will sleep better on a full stomach, so you can offer a meal last thing at night. If your cat wakes you in the middle of the night because he’s hungry, you can leave food in his bowl, or invest in a feeding bowl with a timer.
If your cat continually tries to wake you when you’re sleeping, then as hard as it is, you’re going to have to ignore it. If you get up and give him what he wants, he’s going to keep doing it. However, if your cat wakes you up, and it’s out of character, then he may be trying to tell you that there’s something wrong.
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Cats Are Lazy
Cats are a bit lazy. Biologically speaking, they need to conserve energy for hunting, but indoor cats are unlikely to need to hunt. They’ll sleep when they’re bored, when it’s wet, or when they’re full. Their sleeping pattern is completely natural. However, you should try to avoid touching him when he’s sleeping, or you may end up with claw marks.