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Cat Sleep - Everything You Need To Know

cat sleepingHow many hours do cats sleep a day?

Cats are well known for their love of sleep. They can sleep between 12 - 18 hours a day, which is twice that of adult humans. Kittens and senior cats sleep more than adult cats.

Unlike humans, who sleep in one long spell, cats have several shorter periods of sleep. Sleeping for short and long periods throughout the day, and having light and between light and deep phases. They are crepuscular, meaning they are most active during dawn and dusk when they would be out hunting in the wild. This is often a great source of frustration to cat owners who don't appreciate being awoken at 5.00am. But your cat is just doing what comes naturally. If you do have a cat who is bouncing all over your head, meowing, scratching at the door the best thing you can do is ignore him. Getting up to give him some food, or playing with him will encourage this behaviour all the more.

Changes to the sleep pattern of your cat can be an indicator he is not well. If you notice any changes to your cat's sleep patterns, it is advisable to see your vet as it could be an early symptom of illness or depression.

Why do cats sleep so much?

Most predators have a similar sleep cycle to cats, spending a large amount of their time sleeping. Stalking, hunting, chasing and killing prey takes up a large amount of energy, requiring more sleep between hunts, thus conserving much-needed energy.

It has also been suggested that as the cat's prey are most active during dusk and dawn, there is plenty of time during the day for your cat to indulge in sleeping.

House cats may also sleep a lot out of boredom, especially if they are on their own for long stretches of time. You can help this by providing your cat with plenty of stimulation and or a playmate.

When cats sleep, they are still on alert. We've all seen a cat who can be fast asleep one moment and wide awake the next. This is so the cat ready to spring into action and should a predator approach. You may have noticed that if a cat falls during sleep (we had a cat who would sleep on top of the television and slide off it), he will still land on his feet, which is pretty impressive.

Do cats dream:

Experts believe that cats do dream. What, we will never know. Dreaming occurs during REM sleep (see below).

Cat sleep patterns:

Cats have two sleep cycles, REM (rapid eye movement) sleep and non-REM (deep) sleep.

During REM sleep you may notice the eyeballs moving behind the eyelids, whiskers, ears twitching. The limbs may make small movements as if your cat is hunting in his sleep. It is believed that cats dream during the REM sleep cycle. Despite the twitching, during REM sleep, there is a loss of muscle tone (known as atonia),

NonREM (deep sleep) sleep occurs the remainder of the time.  During sleep, the body repairs and regenerates itself, rebuilding muscles, bones, the immune cells etc.

Where do cats like to sleep:

I have found cats like to sleep almost anywhere, on the floor, back of the sofa, in a cupboard, on or in our bed (if they're allowed)...almost anywhere. They are well known for their love of warm places, including sleeping right in front of the heater or snuggled up with a family member or another pet. Below is a photo of my Singapura cat (Levi), who was snuggling up with our Labrador (Dizzy). The amazing thing about this photo is it was taken on one of the hottest days on record, the current temperature at the time was 45°C (113°F).

cat sleep

They seem to have an ability to sleep in the most awkward of positions, on their back, twisted or curled up, spread out, in a big pile (if you have multiple cats). It doesn't seem to bother them.

Related articles:

Nocturnal Cats - How To Stop The Night Time Crazies

Sleeping cat image courtesy of Flickr