It doesn’t matter that you just had a nap, your cat follows you to the sofa, lies on you, and purrs again until he falls asleep. And if you didn’t wake him up in the morning, he would be able to stay asleep until lunchtime. Why does your cat sleep so much? Is he a complete slacker, a lucky guy who spends his life eating, lounging and sleeping? Not quite.
Despite its status as a mammal and the fact that its sleep homeostasis is similar to that of other animals, the truth is that the domestic cat openly manifests its feline heritage. And, like all cats, the cat sleeps a lot, to take care of itself, recover and be a lethal hunter…if I had to hunt again to survive.
The cat’s sleep cycle: how many hours do they sleep?
that adult cats that are between two months old and 11 years old sleep an average of 15 hours a day, while kittens less than eight weeks old can sleep a whole day. For their part, cats older than 11 years also tend to sleep more, about 20 hours a day. Not bad, right?
But cats don’t usually sleep for so many hours in a row since they have a polyphasic sleep pattern, that is, they sleep several times a day, instead of a long period as we humans usually do. In this sense, the periods of time cats sleep tend to go from 50 to 113 minutes.
On the other hand, cats do have a circadian rhythm just like us and that includes the physical, mental and behavioral changes that follow a 24-hour cycle and that respond mainly to the variation of light and darkness.
However, in humans the sleep cycle is diurnal, being more likely to stay awake during the day. For his part, cats are crepuscular experimenting two peaks of activity, one early before sunrise and another at sunset, just before the sun goes down. And why these peaks of activity? To hunt, especially daytime birds and nocturnal rodents.
In any case, not all cats sleep a similar amount of hours, since it depends on other factors, both genetic -their breed- and external. In this sense, stray and/or rural cats sleep less since they must hunt to survive and stay in a higher state of alert to avoid dangers. Likewise, cats from shelters and adoption centers sleep even less presenting high levels of anxiety as a consequence of their excessive level of alertness.
The dream of the cat and its feline heritage
We could say that (domestic) cats sleep so much because they need it… and because they can afford it. But, in any case, it is a fact that cats also show their indisputable feline heritage in their dream patterns: however adorable they are, they are not without an innate lethal hunter character.
A study from the Institute of Pharmacology of the University of Zurich in Switzerland addressed the sleep of domestic cats and the effect of deprivation of the same analyzing the electrical activity of eight adult specimens kept individually in isolation under light conditions of 14 hours and 10 hours of darkness, preventing sleep for 14 hours.
The conclusion of the study was that, despite the small circadian difference in the sleep-wake pattern observed in cats, sleep homeostasis is similar to that observed in other mammalian species.
I mean, the cats they sleep the number of hours their immune system suggests to maintain proper functioning of the body achieving a balance of the internal environment of your body, adapting as much as possible to changes in the environment, always with the same objective: to survive.
The warrior’s rest
Polyphasic sleep, twilight circadian rhythm and many hours of sleep, a unique combination of habits that can also be explained by the predatory nature of a cat. It should not be forgotten that big cats, such as lions also sleep between 15 and 20 hours a day. Surely you have seen them lounging and yawning regularly in those animal documentaries. But when hunger hits, its intensity level skyrockets.
They are the peaks of feline activity that are integrated into their genetic inheritance. Although our domestic cat no longer has to hunt birds or mice to survive, he continues to present that sleep pattern and that need for brief but considerable power naps.
And surely you’ve seen him spend half an hour playing frantic at various times a day, it’s his training time: he needs to put his hunting skills to the test… in case he needs them again. And like the lion that rests for hours after half an hour of intense physical activity after hunting a prey and devouring it, your cat will need his rest after his training.
What if your cat sleeps too much?
Now we know that cats “sleep a lot” because they are felines and their nature dictates it. But what if, all in all, your cat sleeps too much for what he really needs, no matter how feline he is? For a start, it is recommended that you play and help train your cat.
As they get older, they adjust, they lose instinct and stop testing their predatory abilities, reaching sleep out of boredomnot so much for rest, which can lead to physical alterations, such as over weight. So, if you notice that he doesn’t play like before, spend more time with him.
However, other circumstances can change your cat’s natural sleep patterns, such as changes at home: moving to a new house, visits, new animals, noise, temperature changes, etc.
Finally, we must not rule out health problems such as a renal diseasea very dangerous circumstance that affects a good number of cats: kittens with kidney problems drink more, eat less and tend to sleep more. Great care. Therefore, if you notice a significant change in your cat’s sleep pattern, sleeping more than usual, consult your vet to rule out relevant problems.