To the casual observer, cats never do anything, and they sleep all the time, which gives them the reputation of being lazy. There are several media depictions of fat, lazy housecats, regardless of whether they are accurate. Why are cats so lazy, and why do they sleep so much?
Cats are not lazy, but they need at least 12 hours of sleep per day or more. As with humans, cats can become bored in their surroundings and lack the motivation to do anything. Or, they might be lazy due to their age. Toys and catnip can help your cat be stimulated.
Before you try to get your cat to do more during the day, you need to understand why they need so much rest. If you want to encourage your cat to be more active, keep reading.
Cats Need 12-16 Hours of Sleep per Day
Are cats lazy, or do they need a lot of sleep per day? They need between 12 and 16 hours of sleep per day and will conserve energy to hunt when they need to. But while cats seem to sleep a lot, much of their sleeping time during the day is light yet restful. Have you heard the term “cat nap?” It is a light, restful sleep that doesn’t go deep enough to get into REM sleep. Cats take these types of naps frequently.
Even though cats sleep a lot, they are still aware of their surroundings. Any sounds or smells that pop up suddenly will wake a cat up immediately. Or, if you pet a sleeping cat, they will pop their head up quickly but then can go back to sleep.
Does this make them lazy? Or does this mean they are conserving their energy? Dogs sleep almost as much as cats, yet don’t have the same stereotype that cats do. However, if your cat sleeps longer than 16 hours a day, that might indicate a serious problem that warrants a call to your vet to get a wellness checkup for your cat.
Could Be Due to Genetics
The ancient ancestor of the domestic cat is the large wild cats of Africa, and they spend their days sleeping and their nights hunting. Domestic cats still have this hard-wired need to conserve their energy and sleep most of the time. While this might appear to be laziness to the casual observer, it’s part of their genetic makeup.
Large cats still sleep during the day and hunt at night, but domestic cats have evolved to be the most active at dawn and dusk. As you might have noticed, if you have cats of your own, cats are active first thing in the morning, sleep all day, then get active in the evening. You might also notice that things are out of place in your home when you get up in the morning, resulting from your cat playing overnight.
Cats evolved to have a schedule that doesn’t align with human beings’ schedule, making it seem that they are lazy. But they are simply following their biological code and do what they want when they want. As long as they get fed and have a warm place to sleep, there’s no need for them to be any different.
Boredom Might Have a Lot To Do With It
Cats get bored as you do and will sleep when there is nothing else to do. With the recent pandemic quarantine, you can probably relate to a cat sleeping because there is nothing else to do, right? Your cat might be bored because you’re gone a lot due to work or for vacation, or it might be due to a lack of stimulating toys or activities.
Instead of sleeping all the time, however, cats will sometimes run the Indy 500 up and down your stairs or hallway. If you have two cats, they might decide to chase each other to burn off extra energy.
Cats need social stimulation and attention from you. If you want to get your cat to exercise and play, get some toys like plastic springs or catnip balls to throw and let your cat chase them. Laser pointers work well to spur your cat into action, as you can move the pointer all over the house, and your cat will chase it.
Age and Diet
Older cats, like humans, have less energy and will sleep more often. In particular, indoor cats put on more weight as they get older, which can impair their ability to be more active. Arthritis can also set in their joints as they age, which keeps them less mobile, as their pain stops them from doing too much.
Diet can also contribute to a cat’s energy levels, and if they aren’t getting the proper nutrition, they won’t have the energy to run and play or hunt. Many commercial cat food companies put grains and meat by-products in their products as a way to cut costs, but it could be sapping your cat’s energy, especially if they spent a lifetime eating that food.
One way to help your cat have more energy is to find a brand that uses meat as the first several ingredients or even feed your cat raw meat. You might wonder if raw meat is dangerous to cats, but if you realize that they catch and eat small animals like mice raw, then you’ll see that raw meat is healthy for cats.
A healthy diet is critical to keeping a cat active, and with very few health problems.
How To Stimulate Your Cat’s Activity Level
When cats aren’t sleeping, they are looking for things to do and will get into your things if they don’t have other things to do. If you’ve ever woken up to your toilet paper all over the floor and scratched up beyond usable condition, then you understand that cats need to stay busy.
There are some things you can do to stimulate your cat’s activity level and perhaps keep them from sleeping all day.
Provide Fun Toys
Everyone loves fun toys, and cats are no exception. They love crinkly toys that mimic prey in the wild, toys that smell like catnip, and string-like toys. String-like toys are like snakes, which cats will either avoid or hunt. Catnip toys stimulate a cat’s energy and make them very active. Even if you don’t use toys, catnip itself on the floor can make your cats active.
Grab a Laser Pointer
Laser pointers provide endless fun for cats as they try to catch that little red dot. If you think your cat isn’t getting enough activity during the day, use the laser pointer to get your cat to run up and down stairs or even in circles. Some cats will run in circles for several seconds trying to catch that dot, much to the amusement of their humans. Once they go in circles for a while, they are ready for that nap!
Cats are not as lazy as people think they are, simply because they need a lot of sleep and rest time. But not all of their sleep is deep sleep. In fact, cats have “catnaps” more often during the daytime hours, which are light naps where they can be up and running instantly if necessary. So, in reality, cats have less deep sleep sessions and more of these lighter napping sessions.
They are also conserving their energy if they need to run from prey or hunt their next meal, even if they are fed gourmet food.
- Pet MD: Three Essential Food Nutrients That Keep Your Cat Energized
- Reader’s Digest: Why Do Cats Sleep So Much?
- The Nest: Why Are Cats So Lazy?
- Kittyclysm: Honestly, Why Are Cats So Lazy?
- I Heart Cats: 9 Positive Ways to Encourage a Lazy Cat to Be More Active
Pam is a self-confessed cat lover and has experience of working with cats and owning cats for as long as she can remember. This website is where she gets to share her knowledge and interact with other cat lovers.