Is My Cat Happy If He Sleeps A Lot?

Typical Sleep Patterns for Cats

Cats are known to sleep a lot, with the average amount of sleep for an adult cat being 12-16 hours per day 1. They alternate between light sleep and deeper REM (rapid eye movement) sleep throughout the day and night in what are known as polyphasic sleep patterns 2. Kittens need more sleep to aid in their growth and development, and will tend to sleep 18-20 hours per day, while older cats also need more rest and may average 14-20 hours per day. Adults tend to have more consolidated sleep periods during the night, similar to humans, but still exhibit multiple periods of sleep and wakefulness during the day 1.

Why Cats Sleep So Much

Cats spend a large portion of their lives asleep due to some key biological factors:

First, sleep conserves energy and supports bodily functions. When asleep, a cat’s metabolic rate is significantly reduced compared to when awake. Sleep allows the body to devote energy to repairing tissues, building bone and muscle, and strengthening the immune system rather than being active (Purina, 2022).

Second, cats are predatory animals that evolved to expend quick bursts of energy to catch prey, followed by long periods of rest. An outdoor feral cat spends about 50% of the day asleep in order to conserve energy between hunts (PetMD, 2023).

Finally, domestic cats retain these natural sleep behaviors even when food is readily available. Indoor cats sleep over 15 hours a day on average. Their bodies are adapted for frequent napping and sleep cycles rather than extended periods of activity (Cumberland Animal Clinic, 2022).

So in summary, cats sleep so much because their biology drives them to conserve energy, rest between activities, and take frequent short naps just as their wild ancestors did.

Signs Your Cat is Sleeping Normally

Cats follow natural circadian rhythms, alternating between periods of sleep and wakefulness. If your cat is sleeping well, you’ll notice some common signs.

Cats will often sleep peacefully in normal, curled up positions like a loaf or with their paws tucked under their body. Their breathing is steady and their eyes remain closed while sleeping. They may make occasional movements to get comfortable but are relaxed overall.

Healthy, happy cats will follow a normal routine of napping and activity throughout the day and night. An adult cat on a normal schedule will be awake and active for a few hours at a time, then sleep for 1-2 hours before waking again. Kittens and older cats sleep more often. But the cycle of activity and rest continues predictably.

Cats tend to be most active at dawn and dusk, following their natural prey drive instincts. They sleep heavily at night, and nap more frequently during the day. But each cat has their own preferences. As long as your cat is sticking to a normal routine for their age, their sleep patterns are likely healthy.

For more details on typical cat sleeping patterns through the day, check out this resource from Sleep Foundation: https://www.sleepfoundation.org/animals-and-sleep/how-much-do-cats-sleep

When Excessive Sleep May Indicate a Problem

A healthy cat sleeps between 12-16 hours per day on average. However, a cat that begins sleeping much more than usual may have an underlying issue. Here are some signs that excessive sleep could indicate a health or behavioral problem in cats:

Drastic increases in sleep time – Sleeping significantly more hours per day than normal for that particular cat may signal an illness or condition causing fatigue or lethargy. For example, a cat that typically sleeps 14 hours a day but suddenly begins sleeping 20 hours a day may have a health problem (source).

Sleeping at unusual times of day – Healthy cats tend to sleep during the day and are active at dawn and dusk. A change in sleep patterns, like sleeping more during the night and being less active during typical waking hours, can indicate a medical issue (source).

Difficulty waking or lethargy – Excessive sleep paired with lethargy and lack of interest in toys, food, or social interaction can signal an underlying problem. Ill cats may sleep more deeply and be harder to rouse. Lethargy and weakness may accompany health conditions causing fatigue (source).

Paired with other symptoms – An increase in sleep coupled with other symptoms like weight loss, lack of grooming, inappropriate urination, changes in appetite or thirst, vomiting, or diarrhea can indicate an illness requiring veterinary attention (source).

Medical Causes of Excessive Sleep

There are several potential medical causes if your cat is sleeping more than usual. These conditions can impact your cat’s health and wellbeing, so it’s important to have your vet investigate if you notice increased sleeping.

One potential cause is an underlying illness like kidney disease. Kidney disease can make cats feel unwell and weak, leading them to sleep more to conserve energy. According to www.animalhospitalofclemmons.com, illnesses that cause pain or discomfort like kidney disease can lead to excessive sleeping.

Joint pain from conditions like arthritis can also cause your cat to sleep more. The pain and stiffness in their joints may make it difficult for them to move around and play. Sleeping is less painful than moving with sore joints. As noted on www.cumberlandanimalclinic.com, cats experiencing pain are prone to sleeping more than usual.

Certain medications can also cause sleepiness as a side effect. If your cat recently started a new medication prescribed by your vet, increased drowsiness could simply be an adverse effect that may subside over time. Discuss any medication side effects with your vet.

Other issues like anemia, which is low red blood cell count, or thyroid problems like hyperthyroidism, can leave cats feeling fatigued and weak. The tiredness caused by these conditions often leads to more sleeping. Checking for underlying conditions is important if your cat is sleeping excessively.

If your cat’s excessive sleeping corresponds with any major health issues or pain, take them to the vet for an examination. Your vet can run tests to diagnose and treat any condition impacting your cat’s sleep patterns and overall health.

Behavioral Causes of Excessive Sleep

There are a few common behavioral reasons why your cat may start sleeping more than usual:

Boredom or lack of stimulation – If your cat doesn’t have enough mental stimulation or opportunities to play and hunt, he may sleep more out of boredom. Make sure he has plenty of toys to play with and engage him in interactive play daily.

Stress, anxiety or depression – Changes in your cat’s environment, routine, or relationships can cause stress or anxiety leading to excessive sleeping. For example, adding a new pet to the home, moving, or a change in your work schedule. Try to minimize changes and use calming aids like pheromone diffusers if needed.

Changes in home environment or routine – Even small changes like moving furniture, guests visiting, or loud noises can overwhelm some cats. Stick to your cat’s normal routine as much as possible. Provide a quiet safe space he can retreat to if needed.

Ensuring Your Cat’s Sleep is Healthy

One of the best ways to ensure your cat is getting adequate, healthy sleep is to provide engaging toys and activities according to a set routine. Rotate different types of toys daily to keep your cat interested and active when awake. Interactive toys like feather wands and laser pointers allow your cat to express natural hunting behaviors, while puzzle feeders encourage mental stimulation at mealtimes (1). Having designated play sessions followed by feeding times helps regulate your cat’s circadian rhythms.

Additionally, be sure to give your cat affection and quality one-on-one time when they are awake and seeking attention. Petting, brushing, and positive interactions will help satisfy your cat’s social needs so they can settle down to sleep comfortably. Try to minimize disruptions to your cat’s normal schedule, as changes in routine can negatively affect sleep habits. Avoid moving food bowls, litter boxes, scratching posts, and bedding around frequently.

Sticking to a consistent daily schedule with an enriching active period followed by meals and affection will promote healthy sleeping patterns for your feline friend.

When to See the Vet

If your cat’s sleeping habits seem to change suddenly, it’s a good idea to have them checked out by a veterinarian. An abrupt, major increase in sleep could signify an underlying medical issue.

Cats normally sleep between 12-16 hours a day, so sleeping at odd times or throughout the entire day and night is not normal cat behavior. If your once active kitty is now sleeping much more than usual and shows little interest in play or interaction, that’s a red flag.

Excessive sleep paired with other symptoms like weight loss, lack of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, etc. is especially concerning. Your vet will want to run tests to check for conditions like hyperthyroidism, kidney disease, diabetes, anemia, infections, and cancer which can cause fatigue.

It’s better to have your cat examined sooner rather than later. If there is an underlying illness, early treatment can help get your cat back to feeling like their normal, energetic self.

Treatments for Excessive Sleep

If a medical condition is causing your cat to sleep excessively, the underlying issue will need to be addressed. Your veterinarian can diagnose and treat conditions like anemia, kidney disease, diabetes, hypothyroidism, and more (source). Any medications your cat is taking that list sleepiness as a side effect may need to be adjusted or changed.

Increasing your cat’s daily activity can help reduce excessive sleeping. Provide more play time with interactive toys and make sure your cat has adequate vertical space to climb and perches to lounge on. Consider putting food puzzles out so your cat has to work for meals. You can also use pheromone diffusers and supplements like catnip to stimulate your cat.

If anxiety or depression is suspected, your vet may prescribe anti-anxiety or anti-depressant medications. Make sure litter boxes are clean, resources are readily available, and your cat’s routine is consistent. Reducing stressors in their environment can improve mood. You can also try calming supplements like L-theanine (source).

Keeping Your Sleepy Cat Happy

It’s normal for cats to sleep a lot, but you still want to make sure your feline friend is happy even when he’s catching up on his cat naps. Here are some tips for keeping your sleepy cat content:

Let your cat sleep as needed. Cats sleep an average of 15-20 hours per day, so make sure to let your cat get his beauty rest without too many disruptions. Cats tend to be most active at dawn and dusk, so plan playtime and interaction around those periods.

Provide a comfortable, quiet sleeping area. Cats like cozy, enclosed spaces to snooze, like cardboard boxes, cat towers, or covered cat beds. Place the sleeping area in a quiet spot away from bright lights and noisy appliances.

Maintain a consistent daily routine. Cats thrive on regular schedules for feeding, playtime, and sleep. Try to keep your cat’s routine as consistent as possible so he feels relaxed and secure.

Check with your vet if sleep patterns change. If your cat is sleeping significantly more or less than usual, or his sleep schedule shifts dramatically, talk to your vet to rule out any medical issues.

Make sure your sleepy feline has everything he needs – soft beds, regular meals, daily playtime and affection. A cat catching up on cat naps is usually a sign of a content, healthy cat!

Scroll to Top