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72–75 Weeks: What to Expect From Your Kitten

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A Guide to the Feline Sleep Cycle

Every cat from the smallest house-moggie to the mightiest lion sleeps most of the day. In fact, cats spend about 85 percent of their time sleeping or resting. Forty percent of a cat's day is spent in regular sleep, 15 percent in deep, or REM, sleep, and 30 percent resting or sitting. Newborn kittens sleep even more than adult cats. A young kitten sleeps pretty much all day and night, a pattern that may have developed because in the wild, a sleeping (and therefore silent) kitten is a safe kitten.

There are three different kinds of cat sleep:

  1. The catnap is a brief, light snooze that lasts about half an hour. During a catnap, a cat's body is not entirely peaceful and at rest, and he could be awake and running or hunting in seconds if he had to.

  2. Night sleep. Cats have two measurable sleep periods during the night. How soundly they sleep is affected by their diet, their age, and their physical environment. For instance, fat cats sleep more than skinny cats, and older cats sleep more than young cats.

  3. Deep sleep. Sometimes cats sleep deeply even during the day. A cat in deep sleep is typically lying flat or curled up with his body totally relaxed. His paws, legs, and facial muscles may move and twitch, which leads to the assumption that the cat is dreaming. Experts do believe that cats have a dream life. Another sign of deep sleep is rapid eye movement (REM), during which you can see the cat's eyeballs moving behind her closed eyelids.

It's a good idea to learn what kind of sleep cycle is normal for your cat, because changes in sleep patterns can be a sign of a potentially serious health issue. Some sleep disturbances can be related to thyroid problems. Cats that sleep less may have an infection. Cats that sleep a lot more than usual may have kidney problems or cancer. In elderly cats, changes in sleep patterns can be signs of feline cognitive dysfunction (sometimes known as “kitty Alzheimer's”).

If your cat suddenly starts sleeping in a position that's unusual for him, he may have pain or discomfort somewhere in his body. Any change in sleep patterns or posture is a sign that you should call your vet and find out what's going on.

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