Cats sleep a good portion of the day. Look around you. Where is your cat right now? She's probably snoozing in one of her favourite spots. Have you ever wondered why your cat sleeps so much? And how long do cats sleep on a 24-hour day? On average, an adult cat sleeps for 15 to 16 hours a day. Young kittens and senior cats spend even more time snoozing. They can sleep up to 20 hours daily!
How long do cats sleep daily?
Reports vary but most experts suggest these hours. Newborn kittens typically sleep 24 hours a day. As the kitten grows and matures, the amount of sleep required diminishes to an average of 15 hours a day. The sleeping hours increase again in their senior years.
The cat's sleep pattern
Cats are natural predators. They are crepuscular hunters which means they hunt during dawn and twilight hours. Their prey – small mammals, birds, insects – are quick and elusive. Hunting is exhausting work. Wild cats work hard for their food. During the day, they sleep to recharge, getting ready for their next hunt.
Experts suggest that cats have two types of sleep – the famous catnaps which typically last between 15 to 30 minutes, and the real deep sleep. Catnaps are slow-wave sleep (SWS). Cats spend most of their sleep time catnapping as opposed to actual deep sleep. Only a quarter of their sleep time is in deep sleep. During catnapping, cats are still in a “ready” position. Their senses of smell and hearing are still “on”. The cat may look peaceful with her eyes closed, but she is ready to react instantly. She is ready to pounce on her prey!
Why do cats need so much sleep?
1. Conserving energy, getting ready for the next hunt
Cats are predators (and also prey). Like many predators, they conserve energy by resting or sleeping, saving up their energy for the next hunt. Because cats hunt during dawn and twilight, they will spend most of their day sleeping.
You may wonder about your domestic, indoor cat that doesn’t need to hunt. All her meals are provided for and all she must do is walk over to her bowl during mealtimes. Why is she sleeping so much? Domesticated or wild, indoor or outdoor, as a species, cats are born predators. They carry the genes and the instinct to hunt. Your cat’s internal clock is hardwired to that of a crepuscular hunting species.
Today, most domesticated cats have “adjusted” their sleep pattern to their humans’. They sleep for most of the night and hang with us during the day. Young kittens are especially active at night. As they spend time with us, they will slowly learn to acclimatize their sleep/wake pattern to ours. Of course, we cannot discount that some cats might just be keeping to their ancient roots, acting as predators at twilight, and sleeping it off during the day.
A bored cat can be a very sleepy cat. When there's nothing to do, a cat may spend more time snoozing. To get your cat moving, you could add more climbing shelves or add a cat tower near a window. She can perch and observe her surroundings from the window.
Play is an excellent way to prevent boredom. Create a hunting and foraging game for your cat. Hide tiny pieces of treats around the house. This will keep them busy, searching for these yummy snacks! Choose treats that come in smaller pieces to avoid overeating. Higher protein, single ingredient treats like this Kit Cat Freeze Bites Cod Fish Grain Free Cat Treat are excellent choices.
Offer your cat a variety of toys, different types of toys that encourage different play. Something like the KONG Cat Active Space Ball Cat Toy will ignite her hunting instinct, encourage chasing, and pouncing. For independent play, the Kong Window Teaser Cat Toy (Purple) is a good choice. Set it up near a window. The bright feathers and a crinkle sound will stimulate your cat to swat, trying to capture the bright feathers.
Every cat is different. You might not get the right toy, something that she favours with your first few purchases. The trick is to get different types of toys and watch what she likes and then purchase similar types of toys. By finding her preference and then purchasing the toys that she likes, you'll help head off boredom.
Hiding and sleeping (even pretending to sleep) are stress-coping mechanisms. Sleeping more is a sign of stress. If your adult cat is sleeping more than the average 16 hours daily, it could be a sign of stress or other medical issues.
Signs of stressed cats can include:
becoming more withdrawn or hiding more than usual
becoming less tolerant of people, hissing or growling
hesitating or becoming reluctant to use the litter tray
eating or drinking less OR overeating
If you notice any of the above signs of stress, please talk to your vet. He or she may refer you to a board-certified veterinary behaviourist.
You may want to consider providing more hiding spaces for your cat. Let your cat hide away until she's ready to emerge. A cardboard box is a good hiding spot. You can also consider the FuzzYard LIFE Cat Cubby Bed (French Blue) which is both a cat cubby and cat bed. Keep it upright for your cat to hide away or collapse the roof to turn the cubby into a luxurious cat bed.
4. Feeling sick, in pain and uncomfortable
Cats hide and are less active when they are sick or in pain. If your cat is spending most of her time hiding away in her cardboard boxes, under the bed or high up in the cat tree, she may be in pain, stressed or uncomfortable. Cats are very good at hiding their pain. As such, they will often go unrecognized by their owners.
Here are several conditions that cause pain in cats:
Kidney or bladder stones
Bladder inflammation (cystitis)
Periodontal disease or tooth fracture
Eye problems such as glaucoma, uveitis, or corneal ulcers
The first thing to do is to get her to the vet for a proper diagnosis and treatment. If the pain is mild, with no signs of disease as confirmed by the vet, adding an anti-inflammatory supplement may help to reduce inflammation and pain. The Kin+Kind Healthy Hip+Joint Dogs & Cats Supplement is a good anti-inflammatory supplement. It contains turmeric, a powerful anti-inflammatory food which works to reduce joint pain, as well as overall systemic inflammation.
Sleeping up to 16 hours a day is normal for our feline friends. If your cat is energetic during her waking hours, she's interacting, playing, and eating well, it just means that she is healthy. Just go with it. If you suspect your pet is in pain or sick, thus the lethargy and increased sleeping hours, call your vet immediately.
Katherine is a Pet Nutrition Specialist and GDP’s Pet Wellness Advisor. She is committed to helping pet owners make informed dietary and lifestyle choices in nurturing healthy pets. Katherine is also a practicing Nutritional Therapist (human nutrition) and has been helping hundreds of clients to heal naturally with nutrients.