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​Do Cats Really Need This Much Sleep?

​Do Cats Really Need This Much Sleep?

Posted by Andrea on 21st Nov 2021

Now that we have turned back our clocks and the long winter season is upon us, do you feel like going into hibernation? I know that I am much more tired earlier when we are in the dark and cold months. But what about our fuzzy feline friends? Do they really need as much sleep as we see them getting?

Mine sleeps all day and most of the night! She is awake mainly at dawn and dusk, which puts her into the group of animals known as Crepuscular, meaning they are awake and at peak functionality when light is low. This goes back to the cat’s ancient predatory nature, confirming that the best time to hunt is during those twilight hours, very early or very late in the day. This is the time their excellent low-light vision helps them capture prey while going undetected.

Add to this that all cats are individuals. As with people, different felines vary in their need for sleep, with some requiring more shut-eye and some requiring less. What plays into this are other factors including age, health, and mood, among other things. Let’s look at some of these sleep-influencing variables.

On the average, cats sleep anywhere from 15-20 hours during a 24-hour day. They do go through different sleep cycles throughout their nine lives. First, as kittens they will sleep most of the day away. As adolescents, they can be up and around at almost any crazy hour, as sleep pattern have not yet been established. By the time they grow into adulthood, they generally stick to a regular pattern, often based roughly on your sleep habits, plus a little extra for good measure.

The Catnap Explained: Again, the catnap also hearkens back to the feline’s ancient history. As predators, they must always be vigilant about bigger predators in the neighborhood. So, as cats developed during evolution, their survival was based on the necessity to wake up quickly and completely. Though they are still getting plenty of rest, they are only in deep sleep maybe 25% of the time. This light sleep common to felines is where the term “catnap” originated, referring to their light snoozing. If you can see their eyes are a bit open and their ears twitch occasionally, you can rest assured they are just catnapping.

Cat Dreams & Snoring: Though all cats are prone to snoring, this is most common in those breeds whose genetics produce short noses, like Persians and Himalayans. Worry not, as cat snoring tends to be light and should not wake you up. And just when you think they are out cold, you may see paws moving and whiskers twitching. There, you are witnessing a Kitty dream. As with humans, some dreams are pleasant and other dreams, not so much!

Changes in Sleep Patterns: There are numerous reasons why cats’ sleep routines can change. If a cat is exposed to more light than usual, the cat will typically sleep less. Perhaps we can ask the folks in Alaska, since they have no darkness in summer, if cats there are more active? Also, if a cat is kept awake by too much activity, such as more than usual playtime, they are too stimulated to sleep. Additionally, if you put cats on diets, this absence of food will also serve to keep them up at night. Wouldn’t you feel the same if you went to bed hungry? Finally, if you notice sudden changes in their sleep habits, whether it is too much or too little sleep, it may be a good idea to have Kitty checked by the vet. He can rule out any illnesses such as gastrointestinal issues or even stress.

As you may know, cats are the sleep experts among us. Though some people think cats are just lazy, they are not. It is their genetics that predisposes them to sleep when--and for as long as--they do. For us, it may be healthy to take a lesson from our feline friends and learn how to wind down with a nice catnap!

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