No doubt about it, cats love to sleep. Our Stroudsburg 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 evolved to sleep for long periods throughout the day. Wild cats need to sleep in order to conserve their energy to hunt, chase and kill their next meal.
Although our house cats may not need to hunt, the instinct to sleep and prepare for the hunt carries on.
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.
Upon reaching adulthood, your cat will likely develop a distinct sleeping and waking schedule. 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 returns to sleep while you go about your day.
Is my cat really asleep?
Cats do sleep deeply but not always. Much like people, cats are often just snoozing. Light sleeping makes up about 3/4 of your cat's sleep time, with just 1/4 of their sleep time being devoted to deep sleep.
When cats snooze lightly, they receive the rest they require while right on alert. When your cat is sleeping or dozing, you may observe that its eyes are slightly open or that its ears twitch and rotate in response to sounds.
When should I be concerned?
There is no specific amount of sleep that indicates a health issue or emergency; rather, it is essential to understand your cat's normal sleep patterns and recognize when they 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.