Cats love to sleep. We’ve even coined taking a relaxing “cat nap” after them.

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Cat owners are all too familiar with how often a cat sleeps and how they seem to be awake and active at the most inconvenient times, like the middle of the night.

Some people see cats as lazy due to how much they sleep, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Quick Answer …

It’s a common myth that cats are nocturnal — they’re actually crepuscular. A crepuscular animal is most active at dusk and dawn, which is also the time their prey is out and about. Cats are predators and hunting prey, or even just playing at home, requires a lot of energy. They sleep so much in order to conserve and generate the energy required for survival — or playtime.

Why Do Cats Sleep So Much?

Cats sleep an average of anywhere from 15-20 hours per day, depending on their age. That’s twice as long as humans sleep!

You might think your cat is some kind of lazy, forever-napping freeloader, but there’s a lot more going on with cat naps than you might think. Before diving into the reasons cats sleep, it’s important to know how they sleep.

How Cats Sleep

Cats experience the same sleeping cycles as humans, meaning they go through REM and non-REM sleep.

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Light Sleep (Non-REM)

Your cat spends about 75% of sleep-time napping in a light sleep, only entering a deep sleep for 10-15 minutes periods. In this light sleep, cats are ready to jump into action at any given moment.

A cat in light sleep is marked by occasional ear twitches and eyes that aren’t completely closed. All of a cat’s muscles remain active during this non-REM sleep. You might even notice your cat falling asleep sitting up, or with their head still held high.

Deep Sleep (REM)

The other 25% of a cat’s sleeping time is in a deep sleep, although older cats can spend as much as 40% of nap-time in this stage. During this stage, similar to humans, cats experience rapid eye movements, or REM sleep. Yes, this means cats dream!

REM sleep in cats is marked by relaxed muscles, and potentially twitching whiskers and paws during a dream.

Given the different kinds of sleep cats get, the main reason they sleep is to regenerate energy.

To Regenerate Energy

Cats are natural predators and it takes energy to hunt, even if they’re just going after a cat toy or another pet you might have at home. Cats regenerate this spent energy when they sleep — especially when they’re in a deep sleep.

The intense movements cats do while chasing a toy or prey involves large amounts of energy. Pouncing, running and climbing are all draining for your kitty.

To Stay In-Tune With the Weather

You know how you feel extra sleepy on a rainy day? Cats do, too! If the weather is particularly bad one day, you cat will sleep more than usual.

Regenerating energy and maintaining overall health is the main reason cats sleep so much. For such a highly active animal, it’s amazing what cats can accomplish even though they sleep for such a large portion of the day.

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Is My Cat Sleeping Too Much?

Depending on your cat’s age, he will sleep more or less than the typical average. Mainly, kittens and senior cats will sleep longer than cats at other ages.

It might seem like your cat sleeps a lot, but that’s probably because they sleep at least twice as long as we do so we feel like they’re always asleep.

If your cat isn’t a kitten or a senior and seems to be sleeping a little to much and isn’t interested in normal activity, it’s important to seek a vet’s opinion and make sure there’s nothing wrong.

What Do I Do If My Cat Keeps Me Up At Night?

Since cats are crepuscular animals and are most active at dusk and dawn, their activity might affect your sleep. There have been plenty of my times when my cats are running around in the wee hours of the morning playing, meowing and jumping all over my bed.

It can be hard to shut them out of the room, because then they’ll just cry at your door. So what do you do?

First, try playing with your cat before bedtime. Use toys they can chase, jump for and pounce on. Play with them for at least 10 minutes, or until they get a little tired.

If playing with them doesn’t work, adjust their meal time to right before bed. Cats also get tired after eating a big meal — I’m sure you know the feeling.

The more active your cat is during the day, the more they’ll sleep at night. Since your cat is living inside, they aren’t expending energy to hunt real prey. Make sure you provide plenty of toys, a cat tree and a window for your cat to look out of and obtain stimulation from.

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If your cat really expressed interest in the outside world, let them out in an enclosed area, like a balcony or screened-in porch, or you could even train them to walk on a leash.

Should I Let My Cat Sleep in Bed with Me?

Given all the information above, it’s up to you to decide if you want your cat to sleep in bed with you at night. Personally, I sleep with my two cats in my bed every night. Sometimes they’ll both sleep all the way through the night without bothering me, other times they want to come in and out if my door is shut.

I’ve found it’s best to leave my bedroom door open, so they’re free to leave if they want to. I do get woken up from my cats when they want to be cuddled, but it’s sweet and they usually settle down and go back to sleep quickly.

When a cat settles down to sleep, they look for a place they’ll feel safe. One of the places they likely feel the safest is in bed with their owner.

What’s best for you depends on your needs and how your cat acts. If you don’t want any sleep interruptions, it might be best to have your cat sleep somewhere else.

The reason why cats sleep so much is answered pretty easily — they’re replenishing energy. The way cats sleep is a bit more intricate, and they stay on high alert during 75% of their cat-naps.

In short, cats love to nap, and they do so shamelessly. I bet our cats are all wondering why humans sleep so little.

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Jacquelyn Pica

Jacquelyn Pica is a writer based in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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