Everyone knows that cats love to sleep, but just how much sleep are we talking about? And are our feline friends really as lazy as they seem?
A cat's sleep habits have everything to do with the traits they inherited from their wild ancestors. In the wild, cats are predators who rely on sneaking up and pouncing on fleet-footed prey like mice and other rodents. Stalking and hunting take a lot of energy, so cats spend the rest of the time snoozing – anywhere from 12 to 20 hours a day, though 15 hours of sleep is average. House cats have inherited this pattern, even if they are stalking nothing more than toys or the bottom of your pajamas.
However, there's more to your sleeping cat than meets the eye. Cats engage in two different kinds of sleep – REM sleep and non-REM sleep (slow-wave sleep). The former is a deep sleep in which they likely dream, just as humans do. The other kind of sleep, which accounts for three-quarters of their rest – is non-REM sleep, which is more like dozing. The cat's senses of hearing and smell are still "on," so they can react quickly if they detect prey nearby – or if you dare to stroke them during a cat nap.
Stalking and sleeping:
- Cats sleep a lot, but only in relatively short bursts, hence the term "cat nap." Due to their small size, they need to eat frequently to keep their energy levels up for hunting.
- Cats are most active at dawn and dusk – making them crepuscular predators – as this is also the time when rodents and birds are up and about. It also explains why your cat insists on coming into your room at 5 am, ready to start the day.
- Although cats seem to have the laziest reputation, koalas, opossums, and bats sleep even longer hours.
- Young kittens and older cats may sleep up to 20 hours per day. Domestic cats also sleep more when they are understimulated or bored.