Why do cats sleep so much?

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If you already own a cat then you’re probably all too familiar with their sleeping patterns. Cats love to sleep and it’s actually the main activity on their agenda besides hunting, chasing and eating. It may seem that at times all your cat does is sleep. If you have just adopted a cat or are planning to do so, here are some facts about cats’ sleep behaviour that you should know ahead of time.

Why do cats sleep so much?

An average house cat needs approximately sixteen hours of sleep, while outdoor cats may sleep a little less than that. Kittens will sleep a lot also as they are still in the growing phase of their life.

But why do they sleep so much? You might be surprised to know that their unusual sleeping habits are actually genetic. With so many different breeds of cats however, there are other reasons besides generics why cats sleep so much. These include:

Genetics

If we’re talking about wild cats, it probably doesn’t surprise you that because they hunt so much and expend so much energy, they sleep to help conserve energy between hunts. Of course your house cat has no need to hunt, but they still have the same genes as their wild ancestors.

Types of food

Believe it or not, the type of food that you feed your cat can also play a significant role in how much they sleep. They are not so different from humans in that when they don’t get the right nutrients, vitamin and other important fuels, they get tired. Because cats are carnivores and eat large amounts of meat they will also get tired as meat can make you sleepy.

Boredom

Everyone knows what when you get bored, you’re more likely to fall asleep on the sofa or go and take a nap. Cats are much the same int hat when they are bored they will sleep. You play a vital role in how much they get out and how much they can exercise. You can help your cat sleep less and be healthier by a stimulating environment (such as large activity centres) and toys for them.

Nature

By nature, cats are generally very light sleepers and will spend almost three quarters of their lives in a light sleep. Although they may look like they’re out for the count, they’re not actually fully asleep and if you look closely you will see that their eyelids are slightly open. This is also part of their genetic makeup as wild cats have to be quick to get up and flee from predators.

There are also many people who have trouble with their cats sleeping in their litter boxes. While this is not a normal sleeping behaviour, it can be quite common and requires attention. So the question you’re probably asking yourself is why and how do you stop it?

Often a litter box is a place of safety for a cat and gives them security. Some cats that feel threatened or stressed by another animal or child will begin sleeping in their litter boxes because it is the one place that they feel safest. If you are unaware of any type of threat, watch closely at what is going on around the house and you might be surprised to find that something is scaring them. In order to get them out of the litter box and back into their normal sleeping environment, you’ll need to eliminate the source of stress.

Cat sleeping patterns

Nowadays, most cats live indoors. Their sleeping patterns are often influenced by their owners. If their humans are away most of the day, cats may take this time to sleep and replenish. However, in some cases they sleep out of boredom because they don’t have anyone (or other animals) to interactive with.

If your cat tends to stay up at night, the best way to deal with this situation is to keep your cat up more during the day. You can do this by spending time playing with them or providing interactive toys that will get them to move around.

Every cat has a sleep schedule that they’d like to stick with. If you notice a change in your cat’s sleeping habit (if they’re sleeping notably more or less than usual), it may indicate a problem that needs to be checked out by your local vet.

If your cat is display signs such as lethargy or loss of appetite, the cat may be ill. In cases where your cat is getting far less sleep than usual, it can be a hyperthyroid problem. Cats with hyperthyroidism experience excessive thyroid hormones which increases the cat’s metabolism and causes them to lose sleep.

The reason cats tend to wake up their owners at around 5am has to do with their reaction to the sun. Cats are crepuscular animals that perceive time through sunlight. If you want them to sleep more in the morning, one strategy is to cover your windows with blinds. Another tip is that if you’ve been woken by your cat’s meows, don’t feed them right away. Otherwise, you’ll only reinforce their negative behaviour and that can be difficult to change at a later date. After all, you’d meow in the morning if it meant someone brought you breakfast, wouldn’t you?

Cats really just like to nap

Cats don’t sleep 16 hours consecutively – they’ll take small intervals to nap here and there. The reason for this is down to their predator instinct. They’re very alert about their envirnonment and will wake up to check their surroundings to make sure they’re still safe.

Kittens require more sleep than older cats. This is partly due to the fact that kittens are still developing and by staying near their safe space more of the time, they are less exposed to potential predators.When a kitten grows into a young cat, they start to adopt adult cat sleeping patterns (and other instincts).

Do cats dream?

Cats can often be seen twitching their paws or whiskers, moving their eyes and acting like they are running or pouncing on their prey when they are dreaming. Cats also go through Rapid Eye Movement (REM) and non-REM sleep where they repair themselves and allow their body to grow.

Cats will sleep anywhere

Cats sleep in pretty much any place they see fit. The criteria thy are looking for is usually soft, warm, comfortable and safe (which is why they love boxes). If the weather is cold, they will tend to curl up to keep warm, covering their face with their paws or sleep near a heat source (which explains why they love curling up next to PCs or on laptops!).

Hope you’ve found this article useful and it gives you a bit of insight into why cats sleep so much. Drop by the comments and let us know the weird and wonderful places your cat likes to sleep!

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