Housecats generally lead a very comfortable existence. Not only do they not have to worry about finding their next meal, but they also receive constant care and attention and have plenty of time to rest. Could this be too much? Don’t stress out if your cat sleeps all day. This is perfectly normal, and it serves as a helpful reminder that we may all benefit from getting more shut-eye.
Cats will typically spend the day sleeping in a sunny window or on their owners’ laps while their human caretakers are at work.
Do cats really require as much shut-eye as we give them credit for? What about cats, do they ever get too much rest?
Inverse talks to four pet experts to help unravel the mysteries of cats’ sleeping habits and how to prevent them from disturbing your rest. Perhaps you can pick up some useful tips from your cat’s napping habits.
“Perhaps cats are trying to inform us that people need more sleep,” Katherine Pankratz, a board-certified veterinary behaviorist, tells Inverse.
How Much Sleep Do Cats Need Every Day?
There is conflicting information on how long cats sleep, but most sources agree that it’s between 10 and 20 hours a day.
However, one should not judge a book by its cover. Pankratz suggests that maybe your cat wasn’t napping the whole time.
According to Inverse, cat expert and founder of the non-profit Cat Behavior Solutions, Molly DeVoss, “unlike us,” cats acquire their sleep in the form of short “cat naps” throughout the day.
The average human adult needs between 7 and 8 hours of sleep every night, however a cat’s sleep duration can vary widely based on its age and other factors. It was discovered in 1981 that most farm cats slept for 40% of their waking hours. Twenty-two percent of their waking day was spent sleeping. In addition, a 2007 study indicated that cats in shelter cages were awake or alert 71% of the time and slept 11% of the time.
7 Reasons Your Cat May Be Sleeping All Day
On the couch, the kitchen counter, the bed, behind the curtain, your computer, your printer, your head … I can’t seem to put my finger on what it is that makes these locations similar. If you’re a cat parent, you know the answer: Your cat has slept there. Those places and many more are favored resting locations for cats.
Have you ever wondered if all of this napping is normal? Cats are known to nap for up to 20 hours a day. So it’s probable the way your cat is getting his ZZZs isn’t reason for concern. Here are seven potential causes of your cat’s napping and some tips for determining whether or not your cat follows a typical sleeping schedule.
1. Your Cat May Be Nocturnal
Your cat may spend the night hunting mice in his head, which could explain why he sleeps so much during the day. Cats in the past were nocturnal or crepuscular (active in the morning and the evening). Most domesticated felines follow similar routines to our own, napping through the day and lounging around the house at night. However, it’s possible that your cat is staying true to his ancestry by continuing to hunt at night while resting during the day.
2. Your Cat Might Be Conserving Energy
Predators like cats (and also prey). Like many predators, they rest or sleep for long periods of time to prepare for spurts of intense hunting activity. You shouldn’t worry about your natural sleep/hunt rhythm.
3. Maybe He Isn’t Sleeping When You Think He Is
The quality of sleep varies greatly from person to person. Cats have been known to rest for a moment, or “cat nap,” when they need a break. Even though your cat’s eyes are closed, other body parts, such as his ears or tail, may still move. It’s unlikely he’s having a deep slumber but rather is alertly monitoring his surroundings in preparation for an immediate response.
4. Your Cat Might Be Bored
There is a correlation between boredom and increased sleep in animals. A bored cat isn’t a happy cat, and there are many things you can do to prevent boredom in your cat’s life. You might construct a catio (a cat-friendly outdoor enclosure) or some shelves for your feline friend to use as perchs. Providing enrichment toys is an easier approach to keep your cat occupied if your construction abilities aren’t up to the challenge. Cats, whether young or old, will enjoy playing with as many as three different toys per day. Keep an eye on what he already enjoys playing with, and then add new variations on those items to his collection. Finding out what kind of toy he likes best and then buying that will be a great way to prevent boredom.
5. Your Cat Might Be Stressed
Cats respond to stress and fear by hiding and being less active. Your cat may be uneasy if he avoids the family, interacts with with one member, hides during storms, or frets when you leave. Perhaps he can deal with his stress by getting more sleep. How does your cat react to stress? That’s a question for your primary care veterinarian. In some cases, she may suggest consulting with a veterinary behaviorist who has passed the board certification exam. The book Decoding your Cat can also help you understand your cat’s stress levels and how to deal with them.
6. Your Cat Might be Sick or Uncomfortable
When a cat is sick or not feeling well, it will hide and become less active. Your cat may be in pain or discomfort if he prefers to hide beneath the bed or perch on top of the cat tree instead of sleeping with you.
Excess weight in a cat might make it unpleasant for him to move, so he may spend a lot of time sleeping. Cat obesity is a major health issue that can cause mobility issues and endocrine disorders that need lifelong management. Make an appointment with your primary care veterinarian if you notice that it is difficult to palpate your cat’s rib cage.
7. Maybe You Need to Sleep More and Your Cat’s Sleep Patterns are Normal
Cats (and humans) need rest in order to restore their energy. The immune system and overall health benefit from sufficient sleep. In contrast to humans, cats appear to appreciate the value of sleep and make time for it. If anything, it could be you, not your cat, who is suffering from an excessive sleepiness.
The average cat will spend up to 20 hours a day sleeping and napping. It’s best to let him do what makes him happy and healthy. You look like you could need a nap, too.
Are Cats Nocturnal?
If you’ve ever awoken to the sight of your cat’s yellow eyes staring at you from the darkness, you may have puzzled about your cat’s apparent nocturnal habits.
Cats, contrary to popular opinion, are not nocturnal in any meaningful sense; nonetheless, their energy levels do fluctuate throughout the day, unlike humans.
Stelow explains that cats are crepuscular, or most active at twilight and dawn.
This crepuscular behavior evolved in domestic cats’ wild predecessors so that they could more effectively hunt prey, according to research by Pankratz and Delgado.
While their predators are most active at night and during the day, cats tend to be less active during those times, according to DeVoss. Due to their evolutionary history, domestic cats may nap during the day.
“So they will perk up when you wake up and when you return home from work,” Delgado says of domestic cats.
There are many research that confirm this.
In addition to the time of day and the temperature, the weather and feeding schedules can affect how much and how often they sleep.
Many domesticated cats may sleep more during the night and be more active during the day because they are learning to emulate the household’s routine, as suggested by Pankratz.
However, Pankratz notes that nocturnal cats may choose to rest during the day.
What If Your Cat Sleeps All Day Long?
Now you know that your cat’s seeming indifference to waking up for large chunks of the workday is probably unwarranted. What should you do if, however, your cat appears to spend the entire day sleeping? Could that be considered the norm now?
Delgado says, “I would not suggest that it is usual for all cats to sleep all day.”
There is consensus between professionals. Stelow says, “oversleeping can be a symptom of a medical concern, especially if there is an abrupt shift in sleep habits or if the cat cannot be easily engaged in a joyful activity,” such as play, eating, or petting.
If your cat is sleeping for more than 16 hours a day, says DeVoss, it could be a sign of boredom or illness.
If your cat is sleeping more than normal, this could be an indication of a health problem, says Pankratz. Increased slumber may be an indicator of emotional distress, according to Pankratz. Cats will typically retreat into their dens or become less active when they are feeling anxious or worried.
When cats are in a stressful situation, they may even act like they’re sleeping. As Pankratz puts it, in such circumstances, the cat “appears to be at rest but mentally remains tense and fakes sleep in a way to filter out the harsh reality.”
Your cat may be pretending to sleep with its ears perked up, muscles clenched, and tail tucked under its body.
If you suspect your pet may have anxiety issues, “it may be advisable to contact with a board-certified veterinary behaviorist,” suggests Dr. Pankratz. The American College of Veterinary Behaviorists has a webpage where you can locate a list of accredited veterinary behaviorists.
It is possible that your cat is ill or in pain.
In order to avoid further discomfort, “if a cat is feeling unwell or unpleasant, they may hide more or be less active – rest more,” explains Pankratz.
Changes in your cat’s behavior, especially his or her sleeping habits, may indicate a health problem. Sleeping problems in cats can be an indication of more serious health issues, so it’s important to check with your vet if you’re concerned.
How Can I Keep My Cat From Waking Me Up At Night?
Pankratz and Delgado, in an effort to prevent the dreaded nocturnal zoomies, highlight the need of providing cats with adequate activity and stimulation throughout the day (also known as “enrichment”).
“If they sleep all day, certainly, it is probable that they will wake you up overnight,” explains Delgado.
Stelow elaborates, “The most typical reasons a cat actively wakes people up are to be fed or touched; unintentionally, cats may wake people when they play with each other or simply wander the bedroom.
Cats may also wake you up in the night because of hunger. DeVoss and Stelow both advocate playing with and feeding your cat immediately before bedtime.
DeVoss recommends a robust session of prey play shortly before the last meal to help initiate the eat/groom/sleep cycle and see your cat through the night.
Pankratz suggests the following five measures to ensure your cat has a restful night:
- It’s important to cater to your cat’s emotional and social requirements. You must provide your cat has the chance to safely practice its natural predatory behaviors through play. Toys and food puzzles that have been approved by a vet are good examples.
- Follow your cat’s routine. There should be more stimulation for bored cats during the day so that they wear themselves out and sleep well at night. You can attempt training your cat to do tricks or playing with it for short periods of time multiple times a day (between 5 and 15 minutes each time). As an additional measure against boredom in feline companions, you can switch out their nightly playthings.
- You might want to keep your room door closed. You might have to try this if you find yourself tossing and turning night after night due to insomnia. Keep your cat from scratching at the door by distracting it with interesting toys and puzzles in a different area.
- Put in a self-feeding system. If your pet often wakes you up for meals before your alarm goes off, this could be a suitable solution. The natural eating habits of cats may be better served by a food puzzle that gives multiple tiny meals throughout the day. Some electronic food bowls have an alarm that may be set to go off at night.
- Stay away from the urge to resort to punishment. Any form of punishment will have a detrimental impact on your relationship with your pet. Instead, keep your cat happy and you sleeping by following the advice above.
Always keep in mind that you now have a housemate that is an animal. Always consider their needs and treat them with dignity. To put it another way, you’ll both come out ahead.