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Home > Cats > How Many Hours Do Cats Sleep? Feline Rest Needs

How Many Hours Do Cats Sleep? Feline Rest Needs

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Dr. Paola Cuevas

Veterinarian, MVZ

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Cats are mysterious and independent domesticated animals. They have their own rules, rituals, and habits, one of which is sleeping for most of the day. While many cat owners might find this strange, it’s actually quite normal for felines to sleep so much. In fact, cats tend to sleep around 16 hours per day on average. But why do they sleep so much? Let’s take a closer look at why cats nap so frequently.

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How Much Sleep Do Cats Need?

On average, adult cats need between 12 and 16 hours of sleep each day, with kittens needing closer to 18 hours of sleep each day. This isn’t because cats need more sleep than other animals but because they don’t sleep as soundly. This is called “polyphasic and fragmented sleep.”

For example, during a normal night’s sleep, humans go through four to six cycles of non-rapid eye movement (NREMS) and rapid eye movement (REMS) sleep. The sleep cycle has four stages, one of which is deep sleep. REMS is often associated with dreaming and memory consolidation.

In cats, these NREMS-REMS cycles are much shorter and occur periodically throughout the 24-hour day.

In other words, cats have short periods of slow-wave sleep, which means they spend less time in the most restful part of sleep and more time in the lighter stages. Thus, they either doze off in light sleep (which lasts between 15 minutes and half an hour), or they sleep very deeply for a short period (about 5 minutes). These cycles of light and deep sleep reoccur throughout the day — basically, every time you see your kitty taking a glamorous cat nap.

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Why Do Cats Sleep So Much?

Although there’s been a great deal of research done on why cats nap so much, there’s still much that experts don’t know. One of the most common theories is that cats take naps so they can conserve energy.

Cats are miniature predators designed to chase and hunt, which means they need to sleep during the day so they can hunt at twilight. It doesn’t matter that cats were domesticated thousands of years ago; they still retain that instinctual behavior.

Experts believe that by sleeping so often, cats are conserving energy so they can spend more time chasing and hunting.

Other theories include that some cats sleep more on cold, rainy days to keep their body temperature in check. Just like many humans, cats can be affected by the weather and just want to curl up and doze more on chilly days.

Furthermore, there is a significant relationship between aging and time spent asleep. Indeed, older cats tend to sleep much more than adult cats.

cat sleeping with its belly up on a cat bed
Photo Credit: jdblack, Pixabay

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When Do Cats Sleep the Most?

Cats are crepuscular animals, which means they’re usually most active at dusk and dawn.

So, while you might see your cat snoozing away during the day, they’re just as likely to be asleep at night, when you don’t notice. Also, when it gets cooler, most cats will spend more time in their beds, where they will likely sleep for hours. However, there’s no set pattern for how often a cat will nap during the day. It depends on each cat and its needs, behavior, age, and overall health. Some cats nap as rarely as once or twice a day, while others may nap several times a day.

When Should You Be Concerned?

Most cats typically sleep around 16 hours a day. However, if you notice your cat sleeping more than usual, it’s a good idea to see a vet to make sure everything is okay. They may have underlying health issues causing them to want to sleep more.

A nutrient-poor diet can lead to a lack of energy. A disease process can also cause your kitty to sleep more or become lethargic.

That said, it is normal for old cats to sleep more than when they were young. As they age, their circadian rhythms slow down, making them less active and more likely to nap.

persian cat checked by vet.
Photo Credit: didesign021, Shutterstock

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Final Thoughts

Cats have a reputation for being lazy, but it turns out that they just don’t sleep the way that we do. They go through drowsiness and deep sleep several times during the day and become more active at dusk and sunset. Therefore, napping for cats is not laziness but a survival mechanism that enables them to be at their peak when it comes time to hunt their prey during the twilight hours.

The most important thing to remember about cat naps is that they are normal. Indeed, one of the ways that cats stay healthy and thrive is to sleep frequently throughout the day. However, you should consult your veterinarian if you notice a sudden change in your beloved kitty’s sleeping habits.


Featured Image Credit: hapibu, Pixabay

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