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How Do Cats Sleep And Why That Much?

Updated: August 11, 2022 by Kristen Chapple

If you’ve been around a cat for awhile, you’ve noticed that they seem to be tired most of the times and get their beauty sleep a lot more often than you do. And that after ‘overworking’ themselves during the day with eating, playing, chewing on your iPhone cable, eating again, ruining your furniture and… more sleep.

Yes, cats sleep a lot. More than most mammals actually. They’re the masters when it comes to falling asleep anytime, anywhere, in any position and under any circumstances. But how do cats sleep and why that much?

Written In Their Genes

Cats are hardwired by nature to sleep a lot. Depending on a cat’s age, they can have between 16 and 20 hours a day of rest, with younger cats getting the least sleep. That’s two thirds of their life dozing off. But it’s a very important part of their lives because they’re predators.

Being a predator means that a lot of energy is spent on stalking, hunting, chasing and killing their prey. You might be wondering what about your cat, which is a cute, innocent little ball of fur who never chases anything but your shoes and those – once lovely – curtains on your windows.

Well, being a predator is something written in their genes, and with it come all the habits of a predator, including sleep. A domestic cat still has the same instincts as a feral one, so expect some ‘wild’ behavior now and then.

When Do They Sleep

If you’re wondering how cats sleep, the answer lies in the same predator genes that they have. You may have noticed that your feline friend starts knocking things down around the house and bumping into walls right when you go to sleep or early in the morning. They’re crepuscular animals so daybreak and sundown is when they become active.

You should know that most predators hunt at night and rest during the day and your little furry friend is no exception to that. That’s why in the morning, when you’re getting pumped up for the day, she’s getting ready to… nap.

A Cat’s Sleep Stages

While they do experience both REM and non-REM sleep like we do, cats have different sleep patterns and different sleep stages than us. They sleep in several long and short nap sessions during the day.

Three quarters of their sleep is light sleep, which means dozing or snoozing, often called sleeping with one eye open. During this time, which lasts 15 to 30 minutes, the cat is still alert and ready to wake up to the slightest sound. You can recognize that time by the fact that their eyes are slightly open and their ears reacting to almost any noise.

The rest of their sleep is the deep sleep part, which lasts around 5 minutes, after which the cat goes back to light sleep, continuing this pattern throughout the day.

As you can see, a cat is still alert most of her sleep time, a habit ingrained in her predator instincts.

But don’t worry. Your little friend isn’t likely to transform into a lion one day. Most domestic cats will adapt to their owners habits and patterns, but do expect some late night shoe chasing around the house now and then.

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