Just What Is It About Cats and Sleep?

Many a cat owner has wondered why their feline companions slumber for 15 to 20 hours a day. Although this amount of sleep may seem unnecessary to humans, it is in fact hardwired into the physiology of cats. They are natural predators, and their predilection for dozing off has less to do with laziness than with tuning themselves into the hunt. Unlike humans who need to sustain their strength throughout the day, predators such as cats rely on short bursts of energy to stalk and catch prey. Napping enables cats to hold their strength in reserve until they are ready to run, climb or pounce.

Most of the time, cats do not sleep deeply. Although they do sometimes go into deep sleep, these periods generally last no more than 5 to 15 minutes. The rest of their nap is spent in a state of light sleep during which they are conscious of the sounds and smells around them and are ready to spring into action.


Cats are crepuscular, which means they sleep during the day and are more active from twilight until dawn. Their internal clocks tell them that these are the prime hours for hunting. They are also weather sensitive and are more apt to sleep during inclement weather. Additionally, kittens and older cats usually sleep more than adult cats in their prime.

Although cats generally follow the schedule of predators, they are adaptable and can adjust their habits to be more attuned to their human companions. Sometimes humans can encourage sleeping schedule changes by providing toys, playing with their cats during daytime hours and apportioning their food supplies to conform to daytime schedules. In general, cats follow a schedule pattern of hunt (or play), eat, groom and sleep, and owners must make accommodations for these activities in one way or another. Check out these cute cat naps that are guaranteed to make you smile.

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