How Much Do Cats Sleep?

By Brooke Stevenson Jan 25, 2017
How Much Do Cats Sleep?

Unless you sleep as much as they do, I am sure you’ve noticed cats like their sleep…a lot! Cats also have a number of bizarre sleeping habits that are astounding. However, I continuously wonder why my cat needs so much sleep when all he does is sleep?


      Cats actually sleep for generally between 12 - 16 hours per day, but when they are over 6 years old they can sleep up to 20 hours per day. Which explains why they are constantly relaxed, or why they can easily wake up at 2 am for food. Supposedly it is due to the high intensity nature of their hunting rituals. In the wild the cat would need to do one big hunt, eat, then sleep. I think we can learn a thing or two about how to sleep better from observing our cats.

      They also don’t always get into a deep slumber. Often cats tend to be on “stand-by” like a television. They keep their eyes rested and relaxed but they often tend to still listen to their surroundings (you can tell because their ears twitch and move). So technically this isn’t sleeping, but it might be mistaken for sleeping. This is also a hunting move, it lets them relax their muscles but still be able to instantly hunt for prey or move from a predator.

      They do have a deep sleep too though. They deep sleep more at night and when they do so, they actually dream. Some cats have even been known to sleepwalk and have twitches too. You will often notice your cat twitch when asleep, this means they are having a deep dream. Interestingly, cats have a chemical signal in their brain that stops them from actually getting up and walking around. But just like humans, some can get up and actually walk around. If you notice your cat doing this, make sure you gently bring them back to their bed.

      The sleeping patterns of cats are very different from us humans. Cats are technically crepuscular, which means they are biologically programmed to be most awake at twilight and dawn (which is when most of their prey would be in sight).

      Excessive sleep can also be a sign of a thyroid problem, so if you notice your cat is especially hard to wake or they don’t wake for their food then they need a vet visit to have a health check. 

      The excessive sleeping habits by cats are also the reason why they stretch so much. Because their muscles tend to relax quite a bit, they have to stretch to prevent from lactic acid and carbon dioxide build up. Otherwise because of their sleep habits they would have muscle spasms.

      Bizarrely scientists are trying to study cat sleep habits in more detail, because when cats sleep they tend to have no awareness of temperature. They naturally still gravitate towards heat, regardless of the external temperature in their environment.


      Cute cat sleeping images have to be amongst the most popular on instagram, but I think us humans have a thing or two to learn about sleeping from cats. Cats have an amazing ability to quickly slow their respiratory rate and heart rate very quickly to enable them to snooze so quickly. Personally, I get jealous of the notion they seem to be able to fall asleep on any surface or crevice with minimal to no effort. Now, I am off to look up more kitten snoozing pictures on instagram!


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