Do you often wonder why your feline friend spends most of their day snoozing? Cats are true sleep enthusiasts, clocking in 12 to 18 hours of sleep per day, sometimes up to 20 hours for kittens and senior cats. Cats also have circadian rhythms like humans, which function as an internal biological clock that directs the 24-hour pattern of sleeping and waking. But cats exhibit crepuscular behavior, and their two activity peaks are dawn and dusk.
While this might seem like a lazing-around marathon, there’s more to it than meets the eye. Various factors contribute to how long your feline friend spends snoozing. Although there is nothing wrong with having a cat that loves to sleep most of the time, it can be helpful to understand why they sleep so much to identify any irregularities that may occur. Use the following guide to understand your four-legged companion’s sleeping habits better.
Evolutionary Legacy and Predatory Instincts
Cats’ ancestors were solitary hunters, a trait that has heavily influenced their sleep patterns. In the wild, big cats like lions and tigers hunt primarily during the early morning and late evening. The rest of the day is spent conserving energy and avoiding the scorching midday sun.
Domestic cats have inherited this evolutionary legacy, adapting their sleep schedule to match their hunting instincts. This explains why your house cat might be more active during twilight hours and sleep during the day.
The Nature of Deep Sleep
Cats have two main sleep states: slow-wave sleep (SWS) and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. SWS is the deep sleep stage, where your cat might appear completely knocked out. During this stage, the body repairs tissues, strengthens the immune system, and supports growth. Interestingly, this deep sleep might also aid in maintaining their lean and muscular physique, which is crucial for their hunting prowess. You’ll often find your cat seeking warm, comfortable spots for these rejuvenating naps.
REM Sleep: Dreaming of the Hunt
REM sleep is where the dreaming magic happens. Cats, like humans, experience REM sleep and are likely to dream during this stage. Have you ever noticed your cat’s twitching paws or whiskers twitching while they sleep? This is a clear sign of REM sleep in action. Scientists speculate that during these dream sequences, cats are rehearsing their hunting skills, from stalking to pouncing. It’s a fascinating insight into their primal nature and why their dreams might involve chasing after elusive prey.
Raw Food Connection
Some cat owners complain that their cats wake up in the middle of the night or early morning demanding food. If your cat is on a cat raw food diet, they may be unlikely to wake you up for food and sleep through the night.
Although this is not the case for all cats, a raw diet may help some cats feel full for longer, as a recipe from a reputable brand will likely contain many essential nutrients and lack carbohydrates or sugars that could otherwise result in unnecessary cravings or hunger. Raw food diets typically provide a more biologically appropriate nutrient profile, which can improve sleep quality and overall well-being, explaining why your cat loves to sleep.
Creating a comfortable environment for your cat can influence their sleep habits. Cats are susceptible to changes in their surroundings. Cozy bedding, quiet spaces, and enrichment activities can promote restful sleep. Additionally, consider replicating natural daylight and nighttime conditions in your home. Cats are tuned to the sun’s cycle, and mimicking these lighting patterns can help regulate their internal sleep clock.
Stress and Sleep
Just like humans, cats’ sleep can be affected by stress. Changes in routine, new additions to the household, or other sources of anxiety can disrupt their sleep patterns. Creating a calming environment and ensuring your cat feels secure is essential. Scratching posts, hiding spots, and vertical spaces can give them control and safety. Calming activities and interactive playtime can help alleviate stress and improve sleep quality.
Stress can also cause your cat to sleep more. For example, if the weather conditions or some unusual sounds cause your cat stress, they may resort to sleeping to cope with this feeling. If you find your cat sleeping more than usual, try to figure out what may trigger them to stress out.
Age plays a pivotal role in a cat’s sleep routine. Kittens and senior cats tend to sleep more than their middle-aged counterparts. Kittens are in a rapid growth and development phase, requiring extensive rest for their bodies to recharge. Senior cats, on the other hand, might sleep more due to reduced energy levels and potential age-related health issues. Providing them with comfortable and accessible resting spots is especially important during these life stages.
The art of cat napping is deeply ingrained in your feline friend’s DNA. From their evolutionary heritage to their carnivorous diet and unique sleep states, cats have many reasons for their prolonged slumber. Understanding these factors can help you create an environment that supports their natural sleep patterns and overall well-being.
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