Layne has worked in shelter medicine for over six years and likes to share her advice with fellow animal guardians.
Why Do Cats Sleep so Much?
We love our feline companions. Their independence and majestic nature is a pleasure to be around . . . but sometimes, we simply have questions about their peculiar behaviors. Around the age of 2, cats start to change their behavior. They go from attacking everything in the house, running up and down the furniture, and harassing other family members (including pets), to slowing down, grooming more, and acting more adult-like and mature. With this comes a tendency to nap more.
Sometimes, it can be alarming when an owner notices that their cat is sleeping a lot. We may wonder if they are sick, depressed, or if they are injured or hurt. It's not abnormal to be alarmed by your cat's day-long cat naps . . . but it's important to understand more about the feline species to identify what is normal and what is not normal.
Is It Normal for a Cat to Sleep All Day?
First and foremost, you need to rule-out any medical issues. Generally, if your cat is younger and you do regular vet visits, your vet is likely to catch any abnormalities. But as an owner, it's important to note any immediate changes (acute conditions) as well as chronic issues (long-term) that might spring up. This way, you can report these details to your vet and make sure that your cat is simply enjoying the luxuries of life and nothing else more serious is going on. (Medical conditions are addressed further down.)
How Many Hours a Day Does a Cat Sleep?
Cats are said to sleep between 12–16 hours a day with an average of 15 hours, according to WebMD.com. Some cats sleep even more and may even sleep closer to 20 hours in a day. But why is this?
Cats Are Crepuscular
Cats tend to be active between dawn and dusk, in other words, they are crepuscular by nature. Their hour of activity is twilight, and you can see this behavior in wild felines out in nature based on their stalking and hunting behavior. It's important to note that cats' circadian rhythms are naturally synced to solar light.
As with all species, our sleep cycle depends on UV exposure. Unfortunately, when cats become indoor companions, their sleep cycles may get interrupted based on our poor habits—leaving lights on past sundown, turning lights on before sunrise, and leaving blue-light-emitting devises on like computers and TVs well after the sun has set.
Cats, too, are affected by weather. Like humans, cats tend to be more drowsy during wet or overcast weather. Cold weather and stormy days tend to slow them down, too, just like us. Keep an eye out next time the weather is wintery and you might notice that your cat is more subdued.
Indoor cats tend to adapt their sleep schedule to spend time with their human companions as they are social creatures. As much as they would naturally rather be active at dawn and dusk, they will tend to sync their behavior to yours.
Cats Hunt at Night
Don't forget that your feline friend is a predator. They instively, stalk, chase, hunt, and kill. Yes—you live with a miniature predator! You can observe this hunting activity in large felines like lions—they hunt primarily at night. Hunting requires a huge amount of energy, both physically and mentally. So it is no surprise that after your kitty expends energy throughout the day that they will want to take a big cat nap.
What Is a Cat Nap?
Cats like to snooze. They may sit there with their eyes barely shut, rolled back into the head, or they may sit and stare in a daze. This type of light napping allows them to spring up at any moment. It is thought that cats experience deep sleep only for short busts, and through the rest of the day, they tend to doze. Their depth of sleep is quite similar to that of humans—they waiver between light and deep sleep.
Why Does My Cat Just Sit and Stare at Me?
Cats are funny creatures. If you're a feline lover and have a cat companion of your own, you may notice that they sit and stare at you. It's likely that your cat is staring at you simply because they love you. We also wonder what is it they are thinking. Do they see me as prey? Do they recognize me as their owner? Why do they follow me? Are they sad when I leave?
Yes, cats are quite smart. Sometimes they are staring at us to see if we are packing up our belongs to go somewhere in which case they will be left alone. Sometimes they are curious to see if we are preparing their food. Sometimes they are staring because they want to play with whatever it is we are handling. Cats are very observant. Most of the time, however, if they are staring at you, they are probably either hunting, scared, or simply giving out kitty kisses (if they look relaxed). If this is true, this means they adore you.
What Is a Kitty Kiss?
If a cat blinks at you slowly while holding eye contact, they are sending you love! Kitty kisses show vulnerability. For cats, eye contact is something that predators hold between on another, but when they lower their eyes in a kitty kiss, they are telling you that they feel safe and content in your presence. Congratulations, your companion loves you!
How to Give Your Cat a Kitty Kiss
Is My Cat Sick?
Here are some health issues you should look out for that may be linked to over-sleeping:
- Loss of appetite: Is your cat disinterested in food? Are they rejecting their favorite treat? Anorexia in cats can be a sign of a major underlying health problem.
- Weight loss: Weight loss can be a sign of depression (yes, animals get depressed too), cancer, hyperthyroidism, kidney disease, dental issues (pain when eating), FELV, FIV, and other major underlying disease.
- Cancer: Cats of all ages and breeds and breed mixes are prone to cancer. This is a sad truth that an owner has no control over. Your veterinarian will be able to run diagnostic tests to check for indications of cancer.
- Depression/lethargy: Depression is real in companion animals. They can be sad from the absence of an owner, a change in environment, environmental stressors, or the loss of a companion. It's important to check on your companion's mental health as well. Behaviorists are good for assessing these types of situations.
- Respiratory infections: URIs (upper respiratory infections) are not uncommon and they are especially common in immune-compromised individuals and those that have come from shelters or crowded living conditions in which URIs would spread rampantly. Often, owners will notice nasal discharge and fever. Cats with URIs tend to lose their ability to smell and will also eat less.
The good news is that if you've ruled out these conditions with the help of your veterinarian, your cat is likely just being cat!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2019 Layne Holmes
How much does your cat sleep each day?
Layne Holmes (author) from Bend, Oregon on December 18, 2019:
Hi Dora, thanks for reading. I'm glad you found this interesting. I've always wondered about daytime cat naps . . .
Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on December 18, 2019:
I like cats. Thanks for explaining their behaviors so well. Very helpful to the owner who wants to understand and enjoy her pet.
Layne Holmes (author) from Bend, Oregon on December 17, 2019:
Hi Liz—it's funny because I would never think to write this except that my cat we found as a kitten is finally calming down and catnapping more!
Liz Westwood from UK on December 16, 2019:
A lot of what you say matches the experience I remember when we had cats at home.