As any cat parent knows, cats sleep for very long periods during the day and night. It might seem that they are always asleep and only get up to eat and use the litter box. How many hours a day do indoor cats sleep, and how many do they need?
Cats sleep an average of 15 hours a day, but not all of those hours are spent in a deep sleep. Many of those hours are light rest periods called catnaps, where cats can wake up with the slightest sound. If cats sleep for more than 15 hours, you might want to call your vet, as they could be ill.
If you’re worried that your cat is sleeping way too much, stay tuned to learn when to call your vet and when to change up their routine.
Cats Sleep an Average of 15 Hours a Day
While the average amount of sleep for humans is around 8-9 hours, cats sleep an average of 15 hours per day. They might sleep as little as 12 and as much as 16 hours a day, which is normal. Most of these hours are during the day between dawn and dusk, and the middle of the night. If your cat sleeps more than that, there could be other issues that need vet care.
What Makes a Cat Sleep Less?
Domesticated cats that live indoors are more exposed to artificial light than cats in the wild or those who live outdoors. The extra light affects their circadian rhythm and causes them to sleep less than normal. If your cat seems like it needs more sleep, try providing a warm place to sleep in a dark room to encourage your cat to sleep without artificial light.
Other reasons cats might get less sleep include more activity during the day and if their food is cut down due to weight reasons. If you play with your cat more often, then it will naturally be more active during the day. Or, if you cut back on their food slightly because you’re concerned about their weight, they might not sleep well because they are hungry.
What Makes a Cat Sleep More?
Cats will also sleep more if they are bored, sick, are older than they used to be, or are depressed. Try stimulating your cat more with toys or climbing structures, or teach your cat to play fetch with a small toy. Yes, you can teach cats to play fetch if you start them out as kittens. Throw a favorite small toy, and they will run after it and bring it back to you.
Older cats will sleep more than they used to, as they might have arthritis or sore joints and will sleep to keep the pain at bay. If you’re concerned about your older cat and its joints, call your vet to ask what you can do to alleviate some of your cat’s pain.
Depression can affect your cat just as much as it can affect you, which might be why your cat is sleeping more often.
Why Do Cats Need So Much Sleep?
Domestic cats are descendants of wild cats, so they have that predator instinct to sleep as long as they can so they have the energy to hunt later when their prey is out foraging. When large cats don’t hunt, they don’t eat, or if they don’t have the energy to make that last big jump to kill their prey, the prey gets away. Much of that same instinct is still present in domestic cats.
After they eat, they take a large nap because the protein creates sleepiness in cats, much as it does in humans. However, unlike you, they have the luxury of taking a long nap while you need to go to a job.
Cats also sleep more when the weather is bad or gray, such as rain or snow. A cold day or rainy day, as with other species, sends your cat searching for a warm, dark spot for some shut-eye.
What’s the Difference Between Sleep and Catnaps?
Catnaps are periods where cats are in light sleep and can instantly get up to run from a predator or chase their dinner. But sleep periods differ in that cats go into a deep brain sleep, or REM sleep, where they get the most rest. You can tell when a cat is ready for deep sleep or needs some light sleep by the position they get themselves in.
If a cat lays down in a position where they are ready to get up and run, they are more than likely taking a ‘catnap.’ But if they are curled in a ball, they are ready for deep sleep.
Another way to tell if they are sleeping deeply is that they will sometimes snore. Why do they snore? They sometimes get their heads tucked into their bodies, which can restrict the flow of air near their soft palate’s skin. But only when they sleep deeply does this happen. When they sleep lightly, that usually isn’t the case.
Are Cats Really Nocturnal?
Because large cats in the wild hunt at night or are nocturnal, many people seem to think that domestic cats are nocturnal too. However, cats are more energetic at dawn and dusk but then sleep during the middle of the day and the night. If you’ve woken up to your smaller trash cans knocked over and the trash all over the floor, you’ve experienced a cat’s sleep and wake cycle.
Your cats will play and hunt in the early morning while you’re asleep, then get up around sunset to have a small meal. The term for this is crepuscular, meaning that cats are the most active during the sunrise and sunset hours of the day.
However, cats are adaptable and will adapt to your circadian rhythm, so they are awake with you and sleep at the same time as you do. Some cats will bug their humans by meowing and rubbing up against their legs when it’s time to take a nap if they haven’t done so yet. The routine that you make is the one that your cat will remind you of if you forget.
How Much Sleep Is Too Much?
If cats get more than 20 hours of sleep or more per day, there might be something wrong with your cat, and they may need a vet visit. Kittens need more sleep than young adult cats, while older cats also need more sleep. But cats will go through cycles where they get less sleep some days and more sleep other days.
But cats who seem lethargic or don’t take pleasure in their toys that they once did might have deeper issues such as an illness or depression. If you think your cat is sick due to how much it is sleeping, you might want to take it to the vet for a checkup. Chances are, there’s nothing wrong with your cat. But if there is, the vet should determine what it is and treat your buddy.
While it might seem that cats sleep more than usual, they need at least 12 hours of sleep or more per day. That doesn’t mean they are in a deep sleep for that long; it just means they are resting that long per day.
It might seem that cats are lazy, but in reality, they are using their downtime to rest up for their many games of hunt and chase. Their human parents might want to take a cue and rest a little once in a while as well.