Cat laying in bed

Why Do Cats Sleep So Much?

4 min read

It’s no secret that cats love to sleep, but owners are often puzzled by this behaviour. How long do cats sleep, and how do you know if your cat is sleeping too much? This article will explain how and why cats love to sleep so much.


How long do cats sleep for?

On average, cats sleep between 13 and 16 hours in a 24-hour day; that’s roughly twice the amount that their human owners require. Although this does vary depending on age and personality, your cat will certainly spend far more time napping than you.


Why do cats sleep so much?

Fundamentally, cats are predators, and sleeping is vital to conserve their energy after hunts. Cats are anatomically and physiologically designed to hunt for their food, even if now you provide it for them in a bowl. Wild cats are commonly observed hunting their prey and then sleeping for extended periods of time; this is because hunting demands a huge amount of energy. Domestic cats are no different, and even if they are only hunting their favourite toy or chasing after a mouse, the effect is the same: they employ energy intensive techniques, such as stalking, pouncing, chasing and climbing.

Your cat is on alert throughout their ‘hunt’, using high levels of adrenaline and energy to keep their body fuelled. All this means that despite the relatively short period when your cat is active, they use up disproportionately large energy reserves, resulting in the need for a well-deserved cat nap!


Why do cats have a cat-nap?

Cat sleeping habits aren’t quite like our own. Contrary to popular belief, cats aren’t nocturnal; they are crepuscular, meaning they’re most active around dawn and dusk. This sleeping pattern is due to their hunting instinct, which evolved so that they would be awake when their prey is at its most active.

Cat’s eyes are also more adapted to night vision, allowing them to observe movement more clearly in low light. If your cat has been at all active during the night, their depleted energy reserves will mean that they will probably start the day with a nap.

Although many cats continue to stay active during the night, many cats sleeping habits have adapted to sleeping during the night, as their owners do. More universal, though, is their choice to wake up at dawn to demand their breakfast!

Grey British Shorthair cat sleeping.

How does cat sleep work?

When your cat is sleeping, their rest varies between a light doze and a deeper sleep.

Light sleep usually lasts anywhere between fifteen minutes and half an hour, whereas deeper sleep will only last for about five minutes at a time. When cats are experiencing light sleep, they are able to wake into action at an instant: their ears will remain erect, responding to sounds in their environment; they may have some tail movement, and perhaps even one eye half open.

During deep sleep, your cat’s posture – including their ears – will be far more relaxed. You may observe them twitching or paddling the air with their paws.


How long do kittens sleep?

Kittens tend to sleep more than the average cat and approximately 90% of kittenhood is spent snoozing! This is because they need to constantly recharge their batteries as their brain and central nervous system is still developing. What’s more, this time kittens spend sleeping strengthens their muscles and bones and keeps their immune system functioning.


How long do senior cats sleep?

It’s not just kittens that spend a lot of time sleeping, but senior cats snooze a lot too – usually up to 20 hours a day. This increased amount of sleep is because just like with humans, when cats get older, they tire more quickly. However, if this change has come on suddenly, it’s best to seek advice from your vet.

Want to find out more about your cat’s behaviour? Read our guide on why cats hiss, next.