Why do cats sleep so much and is it healthy?

by David Stone

for Assorted Ideas, Large & Small

kitten lying on surface
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

It puzzles people that cats sleep so much, but not when their owners prefer – like in the early morning when they tend to wake up the house. And although many cats sleep a lot, each has individual preferences. It’s hard making general statements about cats and sleep because they all do their own thing.

It’s like there aren’t any rules.

Why do cats sleep so much in general, though?

The answer is that sleeping is an essential part of being a cat. People, too. Cats are crepuscular, meaning they are most active at dusk and dawn. In addition, cats have a thin coat of fur and need to conserve heat during the day when they’re sleeping.

Mostly, however, cats sleep heavily because their evolved prey does too; mice and birds take long naps in between meals and that’s the best time for catching them. However, their habit of sleeping in between activities actually works against them, making them more vulnerable to predators.

This is one reason why cats spend so much time grooming themselves: it’s a way to stay awake, pass the time and keep their coats shiny and healthy. More commonly, cats hide while sleeping. The practice evolved because it’s safer.


A cat’s sleep cycle is different than that of humans and many other mammals. While other mammals are usually in REM (rapid eye movement) sleep for short periods, cats spend most of their sleep time in slow-wave sleep. Slow-wave sleep is also known as phase three, the deepest state of non-REM sleep. It’s when they’re “catching up” on rest and conserving energy.

It isn’t unusual to see your cat sleeping more than usual—for example, if she’s just had surgery or is recovering from an illness. Like with humans, if your cat doesn’t get the rest she needs, her health suffers.

…try to enjoy her sleeping while you can…

The amount of sleep a cat needs varies somewhat by age and activity level—younger cats need more sleep than older ones because they’re growing, while active kittens often don’t sleep much at all. If your cat seems to sleep more than usual, one of the first things you should do is make sure there are no health problems.

But if your kitty does seem normal, try to enjoy her sleeping while you can—soon enough she’ll be wide awake and ready for playtime!

Additional notes: Cats’ personalities also affect their sleep patterns. For example, if you’ve ever had more than one cat, you may have noticed that even siblings tend to act very differently when they’re not chasing each other around. Some cats are loners who will sleep most of the day and only play at night; others are ready to go all night long.


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