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Why Do Cats Sleep So Much? Everything You Need to Know

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If you own a cat then you know how much they love to sleep. Our feline friends can sleep for up to 16 hours per day when young, while older cats can spend an astounding 20 hours per day sound asleep. You may have also noticed that they can easily fall asleep any place and under any circumstances. Why do cats sleep so much?

Cat sleeping on a pillow
Cats sleep so much more than other animals. Why?

It’s all about the genes

Why do cats sleep so much? Cats sleep a lot because they are crepuscular predators. This means that they are active in between dusk and dawn. Most people assume this means that they are nocturnal animals, but that isn’t exactly accurate. Nocturnal animals sleep during the day and are active only during the night. With crepuscular animals, although they spend more time sleeping during the day, they can also be active when necessary at a moment’s notice. This is why cats tend to sleep in short bursts throughout the day.

Just like wild cats, house cats prefer to hunt at night. Their sharp vision makes it easier to see in the dark, giving them a decisive advantage over their prey. Cats roam around at night to catch mice and other small mammals. Even young kittens practice their hunting skills by going after insects. They are often “stalking and hunting” inanimate objects, like balls or toys, as a way of practicing their hunting skills.

This is why cats sleep so much throughout the daylight hours. It’s also the reason why they are active and running around during the evening and early in the morning. When I first got a kitten, I was definitely surprised to see him running around during twilight hours, exploring and snooping in every corner of his new home.

This sleeping habit may be a result of evolution. Before they were domesticated, small cats lived in the wild just like like lions and tigers still do. In the wild, cats don’t have humans to provide them Meow Mix on a regular basis. They have to hunt for their food instead. The entire hunting process takes up a lot of energy, which leaves them feeling exhausted, which is why they need to sleep so much more than other animals. Cats must stalk their prey, chase them, and kill them.

Cats love to recover that lost energy by spending more time sleeping. This is something that’s genetically hardwired in domesticated cats from their ancestors. For the same reason, sleep is also induced by the feeling of being full from eating a large meal (something we all can relate to). House cats may be cute and playful, but they still have same biological impulses as their wild ancestors who needed to hunt for their next meal. If you’re reading this article it’s because you want an answer to the question “why do cats sleep so much?” This is the main reason. Cats sleep so much because they need to recover all that lost energy.

Cat sleeping in bed
Cats sleep so much during the day because they need to make up for the energy they expend during the night

What are cat naps?

For humans; catnaps are periods of short sleep that usually last less than thirty minutes. This is exactly how cats sleep most of the time (hence why it’s referred to as a cat nap). This is a means that cats can get all the rest that they need while still being alert enough to wake up instantly. This is why most of the time when you try to sneak up on a sleeping pet, they’ll wake up from their cat nap immediately. They wake from this state so easily that the average cat nap only lasts about five minutes. This is another reason why cats sleep so much: most of the time they are barely even asleep.

It is easy to tell if a cat is sleeping lightly. Their eyes twitch and rotate towards the noises around them. You’ll also notice that their eyes will open slightly. They don’t need to be laying down to take a cat nap, your feline friend can even fall into these sleep patterns while sitting down. You’ll notice that cats tend to sleep in unusual positions; this is because their genes are telling them that they may need to wake up quickly to get their next meal.

Fat cat sleeping
Cats can wake up surprisingly quickly when napping

Bed weather: why your cat sleep so much more when it’s raining

Just like us, your cat’s sleeping habits are also affected by the weather. Cats tend to behave differently depending on their breed, age, overall health, and temperament. However, cats spend even more time asleep when bad weather calls for it. Cats sleep so much more during inclement weather; even indoor cats can yawn or feel sleepy during cold or rainy days. Senior cats are especially prone to spend significantly more time sleeping one these day. I like to refer to day like there as “bed weather” because I just want to curl up on my bed and sleep. Just like humans, cats sleep a lot when the weather demands that their bodies conserve heat. If you’ve ever wondered “why do cats sleep so much during when the weather is bad?”, this is why.

Cat resting on its paw
Bad weather causes your cat to sleep so much more than they do on normal days

Can cats dream?

Just like humans, cats can also go into deep sleep. Kittens, adult cats, and older cats spend up to 40 percent of their sleeping time in deep sleep. It’s easy to tell when cats are in deep sleep part of their sleep cycles. Cats in deep sleep are often in a curled-up position with their eyes tightly closed. Sometimes you’ll notice that your cat likes to cover their face with their tails, which they use as their sleeping mask when they are fast asleep.

Deep sleep is extremely important for cats. This is the stage of sleep when their bodies regenerate and heal themselves, which is important for your cat’s health. Deep sleep is also the time when cats dream. When they dream, you will observe their whiskers or paws twitching. This is their equivalent of Rapid Eye Movement (REM sleep) in humans. Some studies suggest that the sleep patterns of cats are similar to those of humans.

Dreaming cat
Just like humans, cats dream during REM sleep

Do cats snore?

Some cats snore while they are fast asleep. Snoring in cats is caused by obstructed airways from extra skin due to their soft palate. You’ll notice that your cat snores more when he’s feeling relaxed. If you hear your cat snoring every once in a while, this is normal and not something you should be concerned about. Cats snore even when they’re completely healthy. However, if you notice that your cat’s snoring more often than normal, it may be a sign that there are some health concerns that you should address.

Overweight cats are more prone to snoring. Although this is not necessarily a pressing health concern, it can lead to health problems in the future. Like obese humans, obese cats are more prone to developing serious health problems.

Brachycephalic cat breeds are more prone to snoring – due to their short noses and flat faces – than other types. An example of this is the Exotic Shorthair. This breed was developed to be a short-haired version of the Persian (also known as Himalayan cats). Because the are bred to have shorter noses, the tissues located in their upper airways are twisted. When air moves through these twisting tissues, vibration and snoring occur. You might even notice loud breathing noises occur while your cat is awake.    

Most of the time, we just ignore snoring because it makes a cat look cute. However, snoring should be a sign of concern if accompanied by other symptoms. If snoring is accompanied by discharge from the eyes or nose, snoring may be caused by mucus in their nasal passage from a respiratory infection.

You should be concerned by snoring if your cat sits with its neck extended, which can be accompanied by rapid breathing. This is a sign that your cat is having breathing difficulties.

You should bring your pet cat to the vet if you observe it snoring and coughing. It can be a sign of a respiratory problem that may be worsening your cat’s snoring. Panting, or breathing with its mouth open, is also a clear sign of respiratory problems.

Snoring could also be a sign of health issues if you notice that your cat is feeling lonely or has lost its appetite.

Cat snoring
If your cat snores a lot, then it could be a sign of health concerns


Why do cats sleep so much? The answer is that their evolutionary role as natural predators causes them to burn a lot of energy, which causes them to need to sleep longer to recover. Spending long periods of time in light sleep gives them the ability to recover that energy while still having a good chance of waking up to catch small mammals or other types of prey, which was the only way they would eat before humans domesticated them.

Sleeping up to 20 hours a day is common, since they spend very little time in deep sleep and instead make up for it by sleeping for long periods of time to compensate. Cats also tend to be awake between dusk and dawn, since this is when their superior night vision gives them an advantage while hunting. They sleep so much more during the day to make up for all the time they spend sleeping during the night. Early morning is the time of day when cats are most active.

How many hours cats sleep depends on their age. Young kittens and adult cats sleep much more than senior cats. Regardless of your cat’s age, you’ll notice that she will be asleep the majority of the day and that’s completely normal. Make sure you don’t interrupt your cat’s shut eye. Long hours spent sleeping are extremely important for your cat’s health. Cats sleep so much because they need to.

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