Cats can be known for chasing yarn, eating catnip, pawing at mouse toys, and yes, sleeping. We even create elaborate cat trees with shelves and hammocks dedicated to their sleepy past-time. But why do cats sleep so much? Our feline friends may seem like they could have better things to do with all the toys we give them. They make use of their waking hours, but their long sleeping hours are just a part of their nature.
Why Cats Sleep
Our domestic kitties are genetically guided to sleep mid-day and during the darkest night hours. They are what’s called, crepuscular. That means they are most active during dawn and dusk hours.
However, our kitty companions probably aren’t sleeping as much as we think. They may just be getting light sleep, which allows them to rest their eyes while keeping tabs on what’s happening around them. Veterinarians agree light sleep makes up for about 75% of our cat’s sleep.
The best way to recognize whether a cat is sleeping light is to watch for those classic twitching ears that respond to nearby sounds. When sleeping light, they can look like they fell asleep sitting up or propped against something.
What Affects How Cats Sleep
Kittens sleep less than cats, but it’s less light sleep they’re getting. Deep sleep is important for all kittens and senior cats. Senior cats get as much as 40% more deep sleep. We can tell they’re in the midst of deep or REM sleep when they are curled up with their eyes tightly closed.
The need for a snooze can change depending on several factors. Their diet may keep them healthy and active during waking hours or could weigh them down with low calorie fillers that suck their energy. Their environment, such as weather, noise, and comfortably safe sleeping space can also be a big factor.
Our frisky felines should be fairly engaged when they are awake. Making sure they remain mentally healthy means keeping them engaged and interested in activities, not just observing their world between naps. We all know a little catnip can go a long way in getting them moving. And making sure their safe space is sleep inducing will make a difference.
A Few Fast Facts About How Cats Sleep
- Deep sleep is the time when our cuddly cats are dreaming. This is when we often spend adoring hours admiring their twitchy whiskers and active paws.
- For more about how cats and dogs spend their sleepy time, check out this article on How Dogs Dream.
- Cats sometimes snore and it’s adorable. Snoring is more likely among short nosed breed like, Persians and Himalayans.
- When cats sleep more or less than usual, it’s a pretty clear sign something may be wrong. Watch for symptoms like itching, vomiting, diarrhea, or coughing and take them to the vet, if needed.
- A cat’s average temperature is 102 degrees. To maintain their temp and keep their metabolism healthy, they are often heat-seeking.
- Heat-seeking behavior often means cats like to share body heat. It’s thought that cats commonly try to sleep on our faces because they can still absorb our heat, but with less agitation from the rest of our body, like breathing and kicking.
- Cats are the most common pet on Earth. For those of us who are dog people, that may seem impossible, but cats are not only the most popular pet, internationally, they are the most popular pet throughout history. Dogs only became domesticated pets in recent history. Prior to that dogs were commonly kept as working animals, rather than companions.
It’s often said that cats are domesticating humans, rather than the other way around. Is your cat training you?
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