How Many Hours a Day Do Cats Sleep?
Have you ever seen photos or videos of a pride of lions napping in the African sunshine? For a group of fierce hunters, they certainly look relaxed and lazy. In fact, they look kind of familiar . . . like your own cat when he's sprawled out napping on his Deluxe Kitty Sill with Bolster in the middle of the day. There's a connection between those sleeping lions and your sleeping kitty and why they seem to sleep so much of the time. Let's see why and try to answer the question, "how many hours a day do cats sleep?"
It's not your imagination—cats really do sleep for large portions of the day. Incredibly, your growing kitten sleeps for nearly 22 hours every day. Growing requires a lot of sleep, but once the kitten reaches adult size (at about one year old), they don't need quite as much sleep. An adult cat sleeps for about 16 hours a day, give or take (senior cats, for example, tend to sleep more). That's still two-thirds of the day!
Not Actually Sleeping
Despite all that lengthy snoozing, your cat isn't in a deep sleep for the entire 16 hours. He's only in a deep sleep for about one-quarter of that time.1 The rest of his sleep time is spent in a very light dozing state. It's easy to spot; your cat will still take notice of noises while dozing, and his eyes might be partly open. He'll be able to quickly leap back into action at the drop of a hat.2 There's no question he's at ease and resting, but it's more of a "standby" sleep.
Still Wild InsideBut why do they doze like this? It goes back to those napping lions. Deep down, your litter-box using, computer-keyboard-sitting house kitty has the heart of a hunter. In the wild, felines spend a great deal of their time resting, punctuated by short bursts of high-energy hunting. The protein from their carnivorous diet provides plenty of good energy, so wild cats can afford to spend more time sleeping than other types of mammals, plus it helps them to be ready for the intensity of the hunt.3 The need to hunt also helps explain why cats spend so much time in a light doze; they never know when something might come up. Now your cat—the one curled up in his Thermo Snuggle Cup—may not have any need for his hunting instincts. But, as they say, you can take the cat out of the wild, but you can't take the wild out of the cat. And of course, some domesticated cats still regularly employ their hunting skills as rodent controllers, while feral cats certainly depend heavily on these instincts.So the next time you see your cat snoozing in his bed, check to see if his eyes are partially open or if he twitches when he hears a sound. If so, odds are he's not in a deep sleep—his inner feline is just waiting for the next thing to pounce on. Though in this case, it might be an interactive toy.
1. Paul, Mike. Pet Health Network. “Why Does My Cat Sleep so Much?" 20 June 2020, http://www.pethealthnetwork.com/cat-health/cat-behavior/why-does-my-cat-sleep-so-much
2. Greenwald, Morgan. MSN. “This Is Why Cats Sleep So Much," 5 November 2018, https://www.msn.com/en-us/lifestyle/lifestyle-buzz/this-is-why-cats-sleep-so-much/ar-BBPmMXM
3. Kelley, Jane A. Catster. “Why Do Cats Sleep So Much? 5 Facts About Sleeping Cats," 2 December 2019, https://www.catster.com/cat-behavior/why-do-cats-sleep-so-much-sleeping-cats-facts