Why Do Cats Sleep So Much?

Cats are in deep sleep when they cover their faces.

How much do cats sleep? Cats sleep between 15 and 20 hours a day! This is twice as much sleep as most other mammals need. Cats get that much sleep by taking naps throughout the day and night, rather than sleeping for 18 hours all at once. Cats are crepuscular. This means that they are the most active during twilight times (dusk and dawn). During most other times of the day, they are either snoozing or in a deep sleep.

Snoozing refers to the type of sleep when cats are usually sitting upright with their eyes partly open, and their ears twitch in response to noises. Cats are in a half-asleep state when they are snoozing, and about 75% of a cat's sleep-time is this type of sleep. During deep sleep, cats are usually curled up, eyes completely closed, and they sometimes have their faces covered by their paws or tail.

The well-known term "catnap" pays homage to these extraordinary feline sleeping abilities and styles.

Why All the Catnapping?

Nature has equipped cats with the resources to be efficient at finding and capturing prey. A typical meal for a cat in the wild is a small rodent, such as a mouse. The cat stealthily stalks the mouse, patiently waiting for the right time to give chase and pounce. Being so efficient at hunting means that cats hunt for short bursts and expend large amounts of energy during that time.

Freshly killed mice are nutritious and satisfying meals for cats (at least cats that have not become accustomed to talking their humans into filling up the food bowl). After devouring their prey, cats methodically wash themselves. This removes all scents of the food from their fur. Then, cleaned up and with full bellies, they're free to do other things—such as sleep. Catnaps allow cats to re-charge, so they'll be in tip-top shape for the next hunt.

Give Your Cat a Chance for Mental and Physical Exercise in between Naps

When housecats are awake between naps, even though they don't have to hunt for their food, they may be restless for a dose of exercise and the mental stimulation that they would get from hunting in the wild. Interactive play accomplishes both of these important requirements. Cats that are alone during the day love to use their inter-nap periods to find toys that have been left in various hiding places for them to discover. Treat balls, puzzle toys, and other such rewarding challenges also help your cat work off energy and stay mentally sharp. Then, they'll be wanting a snack and the next satisfying nap.

Sleep Connoisseurs Deserve Top-Notch Accommodations

Cats need cozy sleeping spots because cats sleep so much.

The cats in our homes might seem to enjoy sleeping just about anywhere. However, because sleep plays such a big role in the feline lifestyle, making sure that your cats have at least one or two sleeping spots (per cat) that are in the quietest parts of the house will go a long way toward keeping them happy. They'll always have a place to escape the hustle and bustle of the household and catch their important beauty rest. Plush cat beds, cat tree penthouses, and right-by-the-window perches usually have abundant appeal to sleepy kitties.

It's All Relative

We humans marvel at the extent to which cats sleep, but from their point of view, cats probably feel that they sleep just the right amount. They must wonder why we humans are always up and unable to settle into peaceful catnaps throughout the day. They may have a point. Many studies show that most Americans aren't getting enough sleep and that can contribute to a range of problems, from auto accidents to heart disease. Perhaps an extra catnap each day isn't such a bad idea. Just another lesson we can learn from our cats.

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