No doubt about it, cats love to sleep. Our Mechanicsburg emergency vets are often asked by concerned cat owners if they should be worried that their cat is sleeping so much. When does a cat nap indicate that there may actually be a health emergency?
Why do cats sleep so much?
Cats have developed the ability to sleep for extended periods of time during the day. It is necessary for wild cats to rest in order to preserve their energy so that they can successfully hunt, pursue, and kill their next meal.
Even though house cats don't have to hunt anymore, their natural instinct to sleep and get ready for the hunt hasn't changed at all.
How much do cats sleep?
Wondering how many hours a cat sleeps per day? The number of hours that your cat needs to sleep and the typical sleeping pattern for your cat will change as they get older :
- Kittens will likely sleep most of the day, with a few brief bursts of energy between meals.
- Adolescent cats may have erratic sleep patterns combined with periods of intense playfulness.
- Adult cats tend to have more set sleeping schedules that average out at about 12 - 20 hours of sleep each day.
- Senior cats will tend to have less energy and reduced mobility which means they will sleep more than younger cats.
When your cat reaches adulthood, it will most likely develop a recognizable pattern of sleeping and waking. For example, you may notice that your cat wakes up just before you, spends an hour or two eating and socializing with you, and then goes back to sleep while you go about your business.
Is my cat really asleep?
However, this is not always the case for cats. A lot of the time, cats are just sleeping, just like people. Your cat spends approximately three-quarters of their sleeping time in a light sleep state, while only one-quarter of their sleep time is spent in a deep sleep state.
When cats snooze lightly, they get the rest they need while remaining alert. When your cat is sleeping or snoozing, you may notice that its eyes are slightly open or that its ears twitch and rotate in response to noises.
When should I be concerned?
It is important to understand your cat's normal sleep patterns and recognize when those patterns change significantly. There is no specific amount of sleep that indicates a health problem or emergency; rather, it is important to recognize when those patterns change significantly.
If your cat begins to sleep a lot more or a lot less than is usual for him/her there may be a health issue, it's time to visit your vet.
Cats who begin to sleep more than usual could be ill or experiencing pain. On the other hand, if your cat begins sleeping less than usual it may be suffering from hyperthyroidism or other conditions.