Does your cat seem to sleep all the time? Don’t worry. Cats sleep more than almost any other mammal. On average a cat will sleep between 12 and 16 hours per day. This is pretty much the rule among all cats (even big cats like lions and tigers) when it comes to sleep. Cats sleep about twice as much as humans, but not all at once like humans do. They will take several short “cat naps” throughout the day.

Contrary to popular belief, cats are crepuscular not nocturnal. A nocturnal creature is one that is most active throughout the nighttime hours like bats, owls, and raccoons. Cats on the other hand are most active at dusk and dawn (both ends of the night rather than all night long).

Factors Affecting Sleep

  • Amount of energy expended.
    It takes a lot more energy to be a cat than you think it does! Cats get a real workout when they hunt and play; running, jumping, twisting, pouncing, battling with prey, etc. The amount of sleep a cat needs appears to be in proportion to the amount of energy it needs to expend.
  • Cats and Sleep : Manna sleeping on printer

    Manna sleeping on the printer.

    The weather.
    Much like you and me, on days that are colder or rainy your cat will be more apt to take an extra nap or two.

  • Age.
    Young kittens and senior cats need a little more rest than adult cats.
  • Breed.
  • Temperament.
  • Health.
    Being sick can make your kitty want to sleep! If you notice that your cat is sleeping more than usual, it could be time to go see your veterinarian. Certain thyroid problems are  known to cause excess sleeping.
  • Conscious Adjustments.
    A cat’s sleep schedule can be adjusted to fit its needs better. You might find that your cat adjusts to your schedule because it enjoys the time it spends with you. The cat’s feeding schedule might also be a reason for an adjustment.
  • A psychological sense of safety.
    In the wild, cats are pretty high up on the food chain. Without many natural enemies they can afford to get a few extra zzzz’s. This psychological sense of “safety” is something that Sleep and Dream Specialist Rubin Naiman PH.D. believe that humans could use to learn from.

A Cat’s Sleep Cycle

Cats and Sleep : Cinco all curled up

Cinco sound asleep 🙂

For cats, the sleep cycle consists of 2 basic stages: dozing and deep sleep. A sleeping cat will begin with dozing and then fall into deep sleep after which the stages will alternate until the cat wakes up. In very young kittens (less than 1 month of age) the dozing stage doesn’t appear to be present. They fall go straight from wakefulness to deep sleep.

Dozing is the lighter stage of sleep that lasts about 15 minutes to half an hour. Brain waves at this time are slower and longer than wakeful brain waves. During this stage the cat’s senses of hearing and smell can remain active. The cat is still partially alert and able to jump up at a moment’s notice.

Deep sleep in cats is much like R.E.M. sleep in humans. The cat’s brain waves become shorter and quicker – very similar to the wakeful brain waves. You might notice your cat’s legs or nose twitching. It becomes difficult to wake your cat up when they are in this stage of sleep.  It is believed that during this 5 minute stage of sleep is when cats dream.

Dare to Dream

What do cats dream about? Sleep studies were done a few decades ago in which scientists removed the part of the cat’s brain that is responsible for keeping them immobile during their dreams. The scientists found that these sleeping cats would mimic their daily activities like eating and playing while they were in the deep sleep stage. The conclusion is that cats dream about things they are familiar with.

Do you like to watch your pet sleep?

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