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Why Do Cats Sleep So Much? 6 Vet-Approved Reasons

Written by: Christian Adams

Last Updated on June 5, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

cat sleeping on the patio

Why Do Cats Sleep So Much? 6 Vet-Approved Reasons


Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca Photo


Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca

Veterinarian, BVSc GPCert (Ophthal) MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

Chances are that while you’re reading this article, it’s probably quite likely that your cat(s) are sleeping: on your lap, in the sink, next to the cozy cat bed that you purchased specifically for your kitty. Cats spend an excessive amount of time sleeping. In fact, they spend an average of 15 (and some up to 20) hours every day asleep.

Why on earth does any critter need so much sleep time? Well, if you’re wondering why or you’re worried that your cat seems to be sleeping too much, please read on, and we’ll address the reasons and any concerns you may have.

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Top 6 Reasons Cats Sleep So Much:

1. Building Up Energy

Most cats – wild and domestic, big and small – are most active at night. They sleep during the day and then hunt (or get into mischief) at night. Hunting actually takes a great deal of energy – lying in wait, stalking, running, and pouncing.

Obviously, the average domestic cat doesn’t hunt prey quite the same way as their lion cousins. However, they do enjoy a good hunt, whether it’s an exciting crinkle ball or your feet (interesting fact: house cats and lions share 95.6% of the same DNA). However, the same hunting instincts lie in your cat and, therefore, they have the same need to sleep the day away to conserve energy so your cat can entertain herself while you try to sleep.

cat sleeping on its condo
Image Credit by: Roy Buri, Pixabay

2. Cats Are Crepuscular

What on earth does crepuscular mean? While cats are quite active during the night, they are most active during the twilight hours (which is both at dawn and dusk). These times make it safer for the cat to avoid predators but can still hunt while it’s still light enough. Several other mammals are categorized as crepuscular such as coyotes, porcupines, and many songbirds.

Therefore, you might find your cat sleeping most of the day but becoming much more active around dinner time, and chances are, an indoor cat will sleep more than a cat that goes outside.

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3. Whether or Not to Sleep?

The weather can impact how much your cat sleeps as well. On cold days or virtually any kind of day that makes it harder for you to get out of bed, it will also affect your cat and how much they will enjoy some extra sleep on a dreary day. So, on those dark rainy days when you wish you could sleep a little longer, you might find your cat sleeping a little more than usual.

sleepy cat
Image Credit by: Josephchae, Pixabay

4. How Old Is Your Cat?

The age of your cat will also determine how much sleep she gets.

  • Kittens will generally have small energetic bursts of play between meals but will sleep for most of the day.
  • “Cattens” (basically your average teen cat) will intensely play between random patterns of sleep.
  • Adults start to settle into a more regular sleeping routine that can range from 12 to 18 hours every day.
  • Senior cats tend to sleep more than when they were younger as they have less energy and are usually less mobile.

5. Cat Naps

Sometimes your cat isn’t necessarily sleeping but is just dozing lightly. Cat naps typically occur when they’re lying in a position from which they can quickly leap into action at the blink of an eye. You’ll also notice your cat’s ears rotating as they continue to pick up noises around them, and their eyes might be slightly open.

This light sleep occurs approximately 75% of the time, and the rest of their time is spent in a deep sleep. Usually, your cat will curl up and put their tail or front paws over their face while they sleep, and you might notice them twitching their tail and legs. Yes, they’re dreaming. It’s thought that cats dream about hunting and chasing or escaping from a predator.

cat sleeping on a tree trunk
Image Credit: Crepessuzette, Pixabay

6. Keeping Cool

While cats do enjoy being warm or even hot (compared to our own standards), many cats will sleep the hottest part of the day away if it’s exceptionally scorching. Because sleeping conserves energy, it can also help to regulate your cat’s body temperature.

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When You Should Be Concerned

There are no set or specific rules on how much sleep your cat should have; however, the most alarming sign would be if you notice a sudden change in your cat’s sleeping habits. Generally speaking, if your cat appears to be sleeping more than 20 hours a day and most of it is deep, you should take them to the vet. As a cat owner, you are the expert on how your cat is behaving and whether or not there’s a problem.

If you observe your cat sleeping a lot more than what is normal for them, it could indicate that your cat is ill or in pain. On the other hand, if your cat is sleeping less than usual, they could be having issues with hyperthyroidism or other medical conditions. You should also think about a visit to your vet if your cat seems to be sleeping at times when they are usually awake and active (those twilight hours). Other conditions that could impact their sleep are depression, anxiety, blindness, lack of nutrients, and pain.

Some cats might sleep more than usual because they are bored. If your cat just seems to eat and sleep and nothing else seems to be wrong with them, they could be bored, so you need to spend time playing and interacting with them. You should be able to tell the difference between a bored or sick cat so take them to the vet if you suspect the latter.

If your cat isn’t sick and you’ve attempted to relieve her boredom to no avail, then you might need to think about finding an animal behaviorist to work with you and your cat and talk to your vet about your options.

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Almost nothing is cuter and more comforting than watching a sleeping cat. We certainly have enough opportunities to watch our cats napping since they spend so much of their time snoozing (some cats even snore). Since your kitty is spending so much time recharging their batteries, you can expect them to fit in a ton of activity when they’re awake. Why else do they seem to enjoy waking you up with the zoomies?

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Featured Image: hapibu, Pixabay

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