Why Do Cats Sleep So Much?
Dr. Joyce Ashamalla
Dr. Joyce Ashamalla is the managing partner at Hinsdale Animal Hospital with Kremer Veterinary Service, as well as a partner at CARE Animal Emergency Hospital. She received her BS in Animal Sciences from the University of Illinois- Champaign Urbana, where she also completed her Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine in 2007. She is AO certified, USDA-APHIS accredited, and is a member of the CVMA, ISVMA, AVMA.
The life of a housecat – is there anything better? To many of us, it appears cats spend their entire day asleep. Add in some time for eating, sunbathing, grooming, playing with toys, watching birds, and you’ve covered the highlights of a housecat’s day. It’s a pretty good life that many of us envy. If you’ve long to have the time to sleep as much as a cat, read on to find out how many hours a day cats actually sleep and what the normal sleeping pattern of a cat is.
Are Cats Nocturnal?
Cats sleep an average of fifteen to twenty hours a day and common belief is that cats are nocturnal, meaning they are most active at night. Why do we believe this? Because cat owners are frequently jarred awake during the night by a cat who is seemingly full of energy and read your slightest movement (like rolling over in bed) as an invitation to play. From loud meows to walking on the pillow, cats use many tactics to wake us up. And when our cats come looking for attention in the middle of the night, we often give it to them, and inadvertently reinforce their nocturnal behavior. But the truth is, cats are not nocturnal.
Are Cats Crepuscular?
The answer is yes! A crepuscular animal is most active during the twilight hours of dusk and dawn. Just like cats, rabbits, deer, bears, skunks and possums are also crepuscular, as the twilight hours allow them some protection from prey. Crepuscular animals are often confused with nocturnal animals since their activity schedules seem similar, but you will never find a crepuscular animal out after nightfall.
Catching Some Z’s
Back to the topic of sleep. If you are dragging in the morning because your cat is too active at night, here are some tips to get your sleep schedule back on track. Make sure your cat gets enough exercise during the day to lessen the frequency of her nocturnal high jinx and disruptions to your sleep. You can also try feeding her a big meal right before you go to bed to eliminate hunger as a reason for her to wake you up at 4 am. And be careful not to feed her too early in the morning during the week, because she’ll probably wake you up early on Saturday and Sunday since her stomach is growling.
Once you are back on track sleeping eight hours a day while your kitty is still snoozing away, clocking in her fifteen hours a day, take a moment to watch her sleep. You’ll find that nothing is cuter than the positions a sleeping cat curls up in or sprawls out in. Perhaps that’s one of the benefits of a cat’s crepuscular behavior – that us humans have the pleasure of watching them sleep!
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