Sleep & Cats

There's something appealing about a sleeping cat - maybe it's jealousy on our part for the ease with which they can drift into slumber. And there’s no doubt about it: cats sure know how to sleep. Although the amount of time spent napping varies from cat to cat, and depends on the cat’s age and personality, felines spend an average of 13 to 16 hours each day curled up in slumber. Only the opossum and the bat snooze more - napping away almost 20 hours a day.

Normal cats cat-nap 2/3's of their life away. They spend about twice as much time dozing as most other mammals. The amount of time a cat spends napping can depend on age, weather, temperature, hunger, sense of security, and sexual influences.

Cats are most active at dawn and dusk, since most of their prey is active at these times. This gives them plenty of time to nap during the middle of the day. A cat’s diet probably plays an important role in its sleep patterns. Large grazing herbivores must graze for hours to supply their bodies with enough food. But the protein-rich diet of the cat does not require such an investment of time, and allows plenty of time for napping.

Of course, today’s modern domestic cat sometimes snoozes out of boredom. You can help by providing plenty of stimulation during the day - this can be in the form of toys, a companion (when they don't hate each other), or by spending quality playtime with you. If your cat has plenty to do during the day, he may prefer to stay awake and sleep more during the night when you do.

Catnapping

Newborn kittens sleep most of the time, but this keeps them safe in the nest and also keeps them quiet so that they don’t attract predators. As they mature, young cats sleep patterns begin to conform to those of adults, with them tending to sleep in naps rather than having one long rest. Again this has to do with their predatory nature.

Cats in the wild must be on the alert in order to survive. When your domestic cat sleeps, his finely tuned senses are still active and ready to spring into action. Watch your cat while he’s napping. His ears rotate as he stays in touch with his environment, and if he hears a noise or senses that someone is approaching, he will open his eyes to assess the situation before falling back to sleep. If you try to wake a sleeping cat, he can transform from deeply sleeping cat to one that’s fully alert in a matter of seconds - and then back again.

Where Your Cat Chooses to Sleep

Your cat looks for a place that feels comfortable and safe and has the right temperature. When the weather is warm, he will seek high shaded sleeping nooks, where he can stretch out. During the cool winter months he’ll find a place bathed in the warm sunshine or sidle up to heat source and there he’ll curl up with face between paws to reduce body heat loss.

You can make a comfortable bed for your cat or choose from the variety of plush cat beds at your pet store. However, if you are so inclined, you can let your cat sleep in his favorite place - your bed. In a recent poll, 60 percent of cat owners admitted that they share their beds with a cat. Advocates of this method say it strengthens the human-feline bond - not to mention the warmth and comfort your cat provides you.

A Minor Health Warning

However, if you have allergies to cats (even mild ones), doctors advise that your bedroom be kept cat-free. The allergens that cause asthma or breathing difficulties are in the cat's saliva (which he liberally spreads all over himself during grooming). When we sleep, we breath deeply and these allergens get sucked deeply into our lungs. To compound matters, the bedclothes pick up these allergens over time so you don't just have to deal with your cat on any one night, but all the other nights he's slept on your bed.

Overly Sleepy Cats

If your cat seems to be sleeping more than usual, acts depressed when awake, has had weight changes or other signs of illness, contact your veterinarian. You should also contact your veterinarian if your older cat is sleeping less. It could be due to a condition called hyperthyroidism. This disease occurs when your cat is producing too much thyroid hormone and its metabolism shoots into high gear.

Studies have shown that a sleeping cat can enter into a deep sleep like us, and have similar brain wave patterns as we do when we dream. So if you see your cat asleep, whiskers twitching, and the eyes under the closed lids rapidly moving to and fro, your cat is probably out on the hunt in its dreams.

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