It’s the rare cat owner who hasn’t looked upon their peacefully sleeping kitties with envy from time to time. After all, cats seem to be able to sleep just about anywhere, anytime, and for hours on end.

Indeed, cats sleep more than most mammals. The average cat logs an impressive 10-16 hours of shut-eye per day. For anyone who has ever wondered why cats sleep so much, you’ve come to the right place. Your friends at AIMSS have done the research, and we’ve got the low-down on your cat’s, well, low down.

Why Cats Sleep so Much

The cats of yesteryear were likely much more active than the felines that occupy today’s homes. Previous generations of cats earned their catnaps by chasing down rodents, defending their territories, and pursuing mates. The fact that today’s cats, who lead lives of comparative luxury, still spend most of their time sleeping leaves many cat owners to wonder why their cats sleep so much.

As it turns out, your cat’s body runs at peak efficiency, whether he appears to be expending any energy or not. The large amounts of protein eaten by our tiny carnivores require energy to digest. Combine this with the fact that, whether they are living in the wild or not, feline DNA requires them to rest in order to conserve energy for the hunt, and you have a recipe for a sleepy kitty.

The Cat Nap

Cats spend significantly more time in light sleep than in deep sleep. Cats in the wild need to be able to spring into action at a moment’s notice, whether to grab nearby prey or to defend themselves from a larger predator. Cats engage in short cycles of deep sleep, only about 10-15 minutes at a time. So, while it may appear that kitty is sound asleep, chances are he is merely “resting his eyes.”

Internal Clocks Count

Although it seems like cats do nothing but sleep, they do have an internal clock that tells them when to rest and when to be active. Cats are crepuscular, meaning they are naturally more active between dusk and dawn. In an outdoor setting, the types of  cats that would hunt would also be more active during those hours.

For many cat owners, this cycle of sleep-all-day-bounce-off-the-walls-all-night can be more than a little irritating. Some cats eventually learn to adapt to the human sleep cycle, but others need a bit of help. Try the following tips to help ease your cat into a good night’s sleep:

  • Provide plenty of opportunities for play and exploration throughout the day in the form of toys, cat tree, jungle gym, scratching posts, etc.
  • Make sure to give your cat one or more play sessions each day.
  • Ending the evening with a play session, followed by dinner, may make your cat feel tired and more inclined to sleep at night.
  • Don’t get up early to feed your cat if he wakes you. Instead, use a timed food bowl so he gets used to having breakfast at the same time each day.

If you have any questions or concerns about your cat’s sleeping patterns, or if you feel that something is “off” with your cat’s behavior, please don’t hesitate to contact us.