Why Do Cats Sleep so Much?

cat sleeping on bed

Did you know that on average a cat will sleep up to 15 hours per day? And some will even sleep 20 of the 24 hours in a day!

Overall, they spend about 70% of their lives sleeping.


Why is it that your furry, feline friend needs so much sleep every day, and just why do cats sleep so much?

Well, despite your house cat being domesticated, the basis of this runs in their roots.

Cats are the most active at dusk and dawn.

And when you think about this, in the wild a big cat would be hunting down prey at about these times, so that trait rolled over when cats became domesticated.

When cats are snoozing during the daytime, they are building up their energy reserve so that they can spend the night hunting their prey.

Or in the case of your normal house cat, running around the house at 3 a.m. being all kinds of mischievous….

Another reason that they need to much sleep is their diet. Cats typically have a high protein diet and they need a lot of sleep to break down their food.

So, what we get from that is this…

Cats sleep so much because their instinct is to hunt their prey at night and they are saving energy for that task during the day. Their diet also is very rich in protein and they need more sleep to break down their food.

My cat twitches in her sleep, is she dreaming?

Although cats sleep about twice as long as humans do in any given day, they actually have rather similar sleep patterns.

You have probably noticed that right after your cat has been full of energy, it will typically then lay down for his or her post-play nap.

When cats drift off to sleep, they first enter a slow-wave sleep, and then actually go in REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, just like people. (1.)

When her whiskers are twitching and she is moving her paws, she is actually dreaming, just like you or me!

why do cats sleep so much? sleeping cats. orange cat sleeping. beautiful orange cat behind paws. cats nocturnal.
why do cats sleep so much?

Light Sleepers

While it may look like your cat is out cold when sleeping, they are always on high alert.

Their senses, particularly smell and hearing, are razor sharp even when they do look like they could sleep through anything.

These senses are so sensitive so that they could jump right up and go investigate if they were to hear or smell a mouse or some other prey that could become their next meal.

This sensitivity goes back to their roots once again.

When big cats are living in the wild, they have to be on alert at all times so that they do not miss a good meal, and can stay out of harms way.

It is fascinating to think about and keep in mind the next time you see a cat sleeping peacefully, or notice sleeping cats who seem so completely free of worry…

A Bond Between a Human and a Cat

Your bond with your cat may be stronger than your cat’s desire to stay up hunting mice or just wreaking havoc in your home when you are asleep.

This is why when you lay in bed, your furry friend will cuddle up next to you and sleep with you. Cats also tend to sleep more or less depending on the weather.

If it a warm, sunny day, your cat will not likely sleep as much.

But when the skies turn gray and rainy, your cat has a tendency to sleep more on those days.

Many humans work in similar ways…

The Many Sleeping Positions of a Cat

Some cats like to stretch out, some like to curl up, and some even like to sit up when they sleep.

What do all these positions mean?

  • Sitting up: When your cat is sitting up with their eyes closed, they are not likely in a deep REM level sleep. They are likely just snoozing and are ready to take off again at a moments notice. When cats do this, they are tensing their muscles so that they can keep this position, but still get their rest. This little snooze will typically last from 15 to 30 minutes.
  • Curled up: As you likely know, cats love laying in patches of sun because they love being warm. Some cats even like sleeping under blankets! But often, in the wild animals will curl up to keep warm when sleeping. The same is true of your cat. Your cat might be preserving heat by curling up. She might also be insecure, and the close position helps with feelings of security.
  • Half sleeping: Is your cat sometimes sleeping with one or both eyes partially open? This is not actually the cat sleeping. They are just passing time, while still keeping an eye out and watching the world around them. This is a very light sleep position as they are not entirely sleeping, but they can easily do this for hours.
  • The loaf of bread: When a cat is sleeping in a bread loaf- like position, this is their way of saying that they feel relaxed and at ease with the environment around them. It is likely that when they are in this position, with legs tucked in and eyes closed, they are merely snoozing, and not actually sleeping deeply.
  • Sleeping on you: Your cat is sleeping on you because they are choosing to be close to you. This should feel like a huge honor to you because we all know how temperamental they can be. This is the highest form of trust and respect that your cat can show you!
  • Back down, belly up: This is a pretty vulnerable position for cats to sleep in because they are so exposed. If your cat sleeps like this around you, this is another sign of trust for you. They will also show their bellies to other cats, particularly when they are sleeping nearby.
  • Stretched out: When your cat is all stretched out like superman, this is a sign that they are relaxed, at ease, and often in a deep sleep. They feel just as relaxed as they look when they are stretched out.

Sleep is incredibly important to cats for many reasons from their large ancestors, to their food processing in their little bellies.

Cats are incredible little creatures and their sleep is such an important part of their everyday lives.

And the ways that cats choose to sleep can tell you a very significant amount about your pet!

Their sleep can even tell you how much your cat trusts you and how deep your bond runs!

Now that you have read all about the question of “why do cats sleep so much”? and all there is to know about sleeping cats, you may also enjoy reading our article about purring in cats.

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Author: Cathour

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