An adult cat sleeps an average of 15 hours a day. But now that you think about it, your cat doesn’t do much of anything on an average day—she eats a few meals, chases the laser toy for a good 15 minutes, and then she lays around for the remaining 23+ hours. So that begs the question: Why do cats sleep so much?
Cats sleep so much because of feline instincts. They sleep when the weather is lousy (and when the hunt is bad) and if they’re low on energy, bored, or old. Cats are also crepuscular, meaning they sleep more at night when we’re awake during the day. So they may not sleep as much as we think.
You can’t seem to wrap your head around your cat’s unusual sleep schedule. She catches Zs for 60%+ of the day and is still as lazy as ever; meanwhile, you work a busy 40-hour work-week and get by just fine with 8 hours of sleep each night. To learn about why cats need so much sleep, read on.
How Much Do Cats Sleep Each Day?
Your cat’s gnarly sleep habits began way back on the day she was born.
A newborn kitten may sleep as many as 23 hours a day, waking only to nurse alongside her littermates. By the time she’s six months old, your kitten will sleep closer to 16-20 hours a day, carving out more time in her schedule to explore her home and play with toys. Adult cats (around 12 months old) sleep the least and spend 12-20 hours each day catching shut-eye. Once your cat hits her senior years at age 11, she may return to her 20+ hours a day of dozing.
Why Does My Kitten Sleep So Much?
Regardless of whether you have a 1-week-old or 6-month-old kitten, one thing’s for sure: She’s sleeping for upwards of 20 hours on an average day. It’s completely understandable to ask why.
Take a look at a few reasons kittens spend up to 90% of their time with their eyes shut:
- Kittens don’t open their eyes until week two (Think about it: What else is there to do other than sleep and eat?)
- Kittens cannot walk steadily on their own until week three (If they can’t move with immense effort, what’s left to do?)
- Young animals always seem to sleep more than full-grown creatures (Newborn babies can sleep 16+ hours a day, and puppies may sleep up to 20 hours)
It’s normal to be concerned when you see your kitten sleeping for almost the entire day, but this is entirely normal, and her sleep schedule will level out by the time she reaches adulthood. Kittens may also eat every 2-4, a behavior that’s often followed by sleepiness.
Don’t worry about your kitten’s habit of sleeping—it’s entirely normal!
The Typical Sleep Schedule of Cats
In other words: Cats are more physically active at night and prefer to sleep during daylight hours (including both dusk and dawn). But this doesn’t hold for the average indoor house cat—particularly one that doesn’t have to hunt for rodents for food under cover of nightfall.
Cats don’t sleep for 12-20 hours straight in the same way us humans condense our sleep into a single rest between 9:00 PM and 6:00 AM. It’s far more likely that your kitty will split her daily rest into short cat naps and a few periods of deep sleep during the day.
Let’s get into a little more detail about the different types of sleep.
Research shows that adult cats only spend about 25% of their sleep in a phase of “deep sleep.” When your cat is sleeping deeply, she’ll be hard to wake up, may stretch out into a comfortable position, and could even show signs that she’s dreaming (like twitching or making noises). There’s a good chance that your cat is claiming this deep sleep when the sun is out.
The remaining 75% of your kitty’s sleep schedule will be spent napping—also known as “light sleep.” Your cat may catch some light sleep during the day or at night, jolting awake suddenly at unexpected sounds, or if you touch her (in the wild, this easy awakening protects a cat as another cat or a predator comes near).
Cats typically spend five minutes in “deep sleep,” followed by 15-20 minutes of light sleep.
Cats may not be the most exciting pets, but they sure are adorable! Take a look at this cute video of a cat relaxing, lounging, and sleeping in various locations about the house.
Is It Normal For Cats To Sleep All Of The Time?
For the most part, yes.
Having your cat hardly grace you with her presence is merely a part of being a cat owner. And if you’re not actively keeping track of what she does around the clock, you may wonder why she spends so much time lounging around or catching some Zs.
Let’s review some of the common reasons over 80% of a cat’s schedule may consist of sleep.
Weather & Time Make a Difference
Your cat’s mood and energy level will change with the weather and time of year, just like yours! Your cat may be more interested in cuddling up on the couch or napping up to 20 hours a day when it’s snowing, raining, overcast, or chilly outside. This weather-related laziness stems from a cat’s hunting instinct—when the weather is awful, the chances of a successful hunt drops.
Getting Ready to Pounce & Catch a Meal
Since birth, your cat may have been an indoor cat, but that doesn’t stop her instincts to hunt prey out in the wild. Many cats sleep (seemingly in excess) because they’re always preparing for their next hunt. Your cat may spend up to 20 hours a day sleeping to replenish her energy stores, whether she hunts, chases the laser, or wrestles with her friends.
Activity Levels Matter
Just as you may clinch a few extra hours of shut-eye after a 12-hour shift at work, your kitty will sleep a few extra hours on days she’s incredibly active. The more time you spend playing with the wand toy, laser, or mouse toy, the more Fluffy will spend curled up and knocked out at your side. Don’t be surprised if your cat sleeps more on days when there’s more going on (even if that’s merely the stress of having a new visitor in the home).
Cats Get Bored Too!
Unlike humans, cats don’t have a smartphone to play with or a car to drive away in. A cat who can’t find another cat, human, or toy to play with during the day may turn to sleep as a last resort—a cure for her boredom. Try getting your cat a few interactive toys or dedicating 15 minutes a day to stroke her interest and squeeze in a playtime.
The Older a Cat Gets, the More She’ll Sleep
As humans get older, our energy levels drop, and we need more sleep to get through the day to perform the same activities. The same goes for cats as they reach that 11-year mark. Senior cats are known to lounge around a bit more during the day, sometimes sleeping for up to 20 hours a day, and are far less active than they were in adolescence.
Your Cat Is Awake When You’re Not
As far as you know, your cat sleeps all day and doesn’t do much of anything that’s “productive” by the standard definition. But you also need to take into account that your cat is more likely to sleep when you’re awake. Your cat may be sleeping for the 12+ hours that you’re awake but spends the dim hours playing with her toys, wrestling with your other cat, or keeping watch at the sliding glass door.
You may find it problematic that your cat (or kitten) sleeps for 12-20 hours a day.
While this may be unusual for other domesticated species, cats and sleep go together like a dog and a squeak toy—it’s just the way it is!
However, you may notice that your cat’s sleep schedule has changed in recent months or that she seems more sluggish than usual. If that’s the case, you should take your kitty to the vet. Some feline medical conditions (like FIV, anemia, or diabetes) can make a cat sleepier than usual and may require treatment.
- Pet Central: How Much Should My Senior Cat Sleep?
- Sleep.org: Sleep Habits of Cats
- Wikipedia: Crepuscular Animal
- Wikipedia: Nocturnality
- Excerpta Medica International Congress: Behavioural And Eeg Effects Of Paradoxical Sleep Deprivation In The Cat
- Hill’s Pet: Charting Your Kitty’s Development
- VCA Hospitals: Anemia in Cats
- Fetch: Cat FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus)
- Cornell Feline Health Center: Feline Diabetes
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.