It would appear that house cats have a natural predisposition to sleep. If you are worried about your cat sleeping so much, there are some important things you need to know.
It is completely normal for our furry feline friends, Felis Silvestris Catus to sleep for long hours. They are members of a large and diverse family of predatory carnivorous mammals, and sleeping for extended periods of time is genetically ingrained in their DNA to prepare them for hunting.
Sleeping is what we see them do most of the time, but the reality of a house cat’s existence is a complex blend of inherited genetic behaviors coupled with adaptation to a modern domesticated lifestyle.
In connection to their larger cousins, house cats are predatory creatures that come equipped to hunt to survive. Long periods of sleep are part of their genetic programming by conserving energy, they prepare for hunting. While most cats in our home eat “Kibbles” from a dish these days, the genetic disposition for sleep is still present. Whether “cat-napping” or sleeping deeply, your cat’s resting patterns are nothing to fear or no reason for concern.
Should You Be Worried At All About Your Cat’s Sleep?
According to experts, it would be entirely normal for your cat to be sleeping on average as much as fifteen to twenty hours in any given day. Cats are able to sleep at any time, and almost anywhere.
Cats are social creatures doing as much as possible together. Hunting in groups, and sleeping in groups. Given a preference, their favorite place to sleep is on the beside in proximity to people they love.
The noted exception to the cat’s patterns of sleep is if your cat is constantly sleeping, and doing nothing more than taking frequent trips to the food dish, you may very well have a bored cat. Many cat owners believe that their cat is bored from sleeping so much, but the reality is your cat will sleep more if he is bored.
Cats are animals of extremes in their behavior, moving from moments of extreme exertion to long periods of inactivity and sleep. Much to the contrary belief that cats have a docile, gentle existence, they are in fact in their natural realm, a unique balance of being active and aggressive hunters, skilled in the chase to loving devoted, lifetime companions.
What Are “Cat Naps”?
Cats may sleep deeply for hours, entering the full rapid eye movement or dream sleep that humans experience, but they most often pass the day in a light form of sleep we have called, “cat naps.” In a nap state or pre-conscious awareness, cats are aware of what is going on around them, and may at any moment awake to take some form of action.
A good example of cat-napping is the cat’s immediate ability to awake and attend to us when we enter the room. As if by magic the cat opens his eyes to greet us. In their wild past, in order to stay vigilant for self-protection, and the event of prey passing nearby, cats developed this transient sleep state.
In light of this, it is of no concern to wake your cat for play or to disturb it by turning on the vacuum. In the end, once the tranquility of the moment returns, your cat will also return to slumber.
Why Are We Concerned With Our Cats Sleeping Patterns?
As humans, we see life and our companions through our own eyes. That is to say that because we are up and actively filling our days with work, relationships, and play, that all involved in our lives should be doing the same.
If someone in our life is inactive or passes a great deal of time sleeping, it is common for us to label them as lazy, depressed, or unwell. The reality is that all forms of life move through their days in very unique ways. As an example, teenagers will often spend many hours sleeping, much more than the normal eight hours. But the reason is not that they are lazy or unwell, quite the contrary, it is time sleeping needed to allow recuperation time as a result of both their accelerated mental and physical development. We would not be concerned for the teenager knowing that all the extra time spent sleeping was for this reason.
We need to be able to see the life of our cat in the same manner. While dogs learn to adjust their sleep schedule to coincide with ours, to constantly be by our side, cats because of their unique needs based on genetic programming, do not. Cats march to the beat of a different drum, sleep and move in a manner appropriate for them.
If your cat’s need for sleep is different than yours, it is important for us to accept that unique trait, and realize that we have not been given a lazy or sick animal, but one that is expressing its unique and necessary need for long hours of sleep. Try not to impose your needs on your cat, and don’t worry. We should try to think about cats in this light; for them, life really is a dream!
Cats As House Pets
Since the turn of the last century, domesticated cats or “house cats” have gradually emerged as the most popular family pet. Before this time, the domesticated dog had been, “man’s best friend.” With most of their carnivorous past diminished by domestication, dogs became dependent on humankind to maintain themselves.
Adapting to our lifestyle, dogs began to sleep when we sleep and move when we move. Cats on the other hand remain intriguing in their independent nature. Our fondness for cats may be in that they require much less care and attention than other pets. If the cat’s food dish is empty, it is hardly a problem for cats, their instinctual behavior changes them from doting expectancy on your food services to active hunters.
The domesticated cat comes from a long lineage of grand predators that include; lynxes, tigers, lions, leopards, and cougars to name a few. All of these remarkable relatives, existing in the same manner, hunting and resting. It is this same instinctual nature found in cats that allows them to sleep all hours of the day. Historically, cats would spend their lives in a cycle of being very physically active hunting, to hours of rest and recuperation time. All this sleeping in preparing for the next hunting expedition. Sleeping in cats can be readily summarized as a method of energy conservation for when it counts; hunting!
So, Is It Normal For My Cat To Sleep This Much?
Research has shown that it is normal for a cat to spend more than one-half of a twenty-four-hour period sleeping. But what if your cat is consistently sleeping more than this? Researchers indicate that if your cat is only sleeping and eating, that it is likely expressing a high level of boredom.
Hypersomnia or excessive sleeping in cats can be concerning and indicative of either physical or mental stress. Cats who have limited access to activities or adequate space for exercise will develop poor moods and low motivation. Yet another consideration is lack of contact with you and your family. If your cat feels lonely and disconnected, this will manifest in boredom.
If the play and time spent with your cat doesn’t work to re-establish a normal sleep pattern, there are other considerations to rectify the situation. Some cats benefit from watching television or listening to music. Petting your cat while they sleep effectively lowers blood pressure and helps cats move to a deeper level of sleep. Our furry friends like to play “cat and mouse.” Any small object can become an instant fascination for them. Like catching a mouse, they can play for extended periods of time with something as simple as a ball of yarn.
Still, other cats benefit from a chair placed in front of the window to watch the world go by. A little sensitivity and creativity on the pet owners’ part can adjust sleep patterns to near normal. After everything has been tried, and your cat continues to oversleep, a visit to the veterinary clinic is indicated.
Cats Normal Sleeping Preferences
Our cats can and do sleep everywhere. Normally, cats look for a place of warmth to catch a nap. They will often look to sleep in lofty places where hot air has risen and become trapped against the ceiling. They also look for a cozy situation. In this case, a place to snooze where they feel protected on both sides. The innate need they have to escape if necessary also plays a role in their sleep.
Cats will always look for a situation for sleeping where they have multiple escape routes should an attack occur on them while napping. It would not be surprising to see your pet sleeping precariously on the leading edge of an open door, or on the top shelf in the library. When the temperature is cool, a shoebox or boot will serve your cat well as a snug hideaway for a nap. All these considered, cats are social creatures that enjoy the opportunity to be with us.
In their ancestral habitat, cats are pack creatures, living and moving in groups together. They work and sleep together. When hunting, cats work as a unit to bring down their prey. When sleeping, they group together for warmth, protection, and contentment. For this reason, cats will often seek out those they love to curl up with and sleep. On your lap or in your bed, even on your clothes scented with your odor, cats sleep near or on us as a way of showing their love. Most cat owners report that this type of sleeping behavior is one of the most enjoyable parts of having a cat, helping to create long-lasting bonds of friendship over many years.
Cats do have favorite places and people to sleep long hours with. It is common in a large family for your cat to spend much more time with one person than another. This decision of comradery is based on several factors. Cats gravitate towards the person in control of primary care. If you are responsible for putting out the food, grooming, and time spent, the cat will seek you out for sleeping. It can be even more subtle, where some cats like the smell of you, or that you like to rest in warm spots. An armchair in front of a sunlit window is nice for you but is also exactly what a family cat is looking for as well.
Cats have highly advanced hearing, sensitive to a broader range of frequencies than our own. Their hearing is so sensitive that the smallest sound can lift them from sleep in an instant. With such sensitivity to sound, cats have preferences to sound, and particularly to the sounds we make.
Our cat will be able to identify us from a distance just from the sounds we make. They will often sleep long hours near us just for the comforting sound of the rhythmic beating of our hearts.
So why do cats sleep so much? What we know is that a cat’s genetic inheritability resulting from untold years of evolutionary development as carnivorous predators, has taken them to a place of behavioral extremes; from bringing down their prey for food with power and agility, to sleeping long hours in recuperation and energy retention. With this biologically programmed need for sleep, one need not worry. Rather, cats give us an opportunity to own a pet that spends the majority of its life naturally sleeping peacefully. It is this peaceful state of cats, coupled with their independence in caring for themselves that has successfully brought them into our homes and into our hearts.
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Shawn Manaher is a serial entrepreneur but when he isn’t working, he loves dogs. He’s owned different pets over the years, and always gives a part of his heart to each pet.