When Should I Be Worried My Cat Is Sleeping Too Much?

Normal Cat Sleeping Habits

Cats sleep an average of 12-16 hours per day, with some cats sleeping up to 20 hours in a 24-hour period according to Revealed: How Long Do Cats Sleep? Cats alternate between light and deep sleep throughout the day and night. During light sleep, cats are easily awakened and their bodies remain active. Deep sleep is characterized by faster breathing and twitching as cats dream. Kittens and senior cats need more sleep – up to 20 hours per day or more.

Signs Your Cat is Sleeping Too Much

Some key signs that your cat may be sleeping too much include:

  • Sleeping over 20 hours a day – Healthy adult cats tend to sleep between 12-16 hours a day on average. Consistently sleeping over 20 hours a day could indicate an underlying issue.
  • Difficult to wake up – If your cat is sleeping very deeply and you have trouble waking them, it could mean they are excessively fatigued or possibly experiencing pain that is causing them to sleep more. A healthy cat will wake easily when stimulated.
  • Less interest in playing or other activities – If your once energetic and playful cat is now sleeping through most of the day and has little interest in toys, petting or other normal activities, it may be a sign of a physical or mental health problem.

Significant increases in sleep and lethargy like this are not normal in cats and can indicate an underlying medical issue that requires veterinary attention. Monitor your cat’s sleep patterns and activity levels closely if you notice these changes. If the excessive sleepiness persists beyond a day or two, consult your veterinarian.

Medical Causes

There are several medical conditions that can cause a cat to sleep more than usual:

Underlying illnesses like kidney disease or hyperthyroidism can make cats feel fatigued and sleepy. These chronic conditions impair organ function, disrupt hormone levels, and sap a cat’s energy.

Pain or arthritis can also cause a cat to sleep more. Cats are prey animals by nature and tend to hide signs of pain and illness. Excessive sleeping may signal underlying musculoskeletal pain or arthritis that makes movement uncomfortable.

Obesity is another factor. Carrying excess weight puts strain on a cat’s joints and organs. Obese cats tire more easily and may sleep longer to conserve energy.

Anemia, or low red blood cell count, reduces the delivery of oxygen to tissues and organs. Anemic cats often feel weak and lethargic, prompting them to sleep more to compensate.

When to See the Vet

If your cat is suddenly sleeping a lot more than usual, it’s important to pay attention. An older cat that starts sleeping over 20 hours a day may indicate a health problem. Kittens and younger cats will sleep more, but dramatic increases in sleep can signal issues at any age. According to some sources, sleeping 16-20 hours a day is typical for an adult cat, so over 20 hours is excessive.

Other signs that warrant a vet visit include difficulty waking your cat up and overall lethargy. Cats naturally sleep a lot, but they are usually easy to rouse. If your cat seems disoriented or lethargic when waking up, it could mean an underlying medical condition. Even if your cat is eating and seems fine otherwise, a noticeable spike in sleep warrants a checkup.


Diagnostic Tests

If your vet suspects your cat is sleeping too much due to an underlying medical issue, they will likely recommend some diagnostic tests to try to determine the cause. Common diagnostic tests may include:

Physical exam and medical history – The vet will perform a complete physical exam, checking your cat’s vital signs, listening to their breathing, palpating their abdomen, etc. They will also ask detailed questions about your cat’s health history, onset of symptoms, diet, activity level, and home environment.

Bloodwork – Blood tests allow the vet to check for issues such as infections, kidney disease, liver problems, diabetes and more. A complete blood count (CBC) and chemistry panel are commonly recommended.[1]

Urinalysis – Examining a urine sample can reveal kidney problems, diabetes, infections and other conditions that may be making your cat lethargic. [2]

Thyroid testing – Hyperthyroidism is a common condition in older cats that can cause increased sleeping. Thyroid levels are measured with a blood test.[3]

X-rays or ultrasound – Imaging tests allow the vet to visualize your cat’s internal organs and look for masses, obstructions, organ enlargement and other abnormalities.

The vet will determine which diagnostic tests are appropriate based on your cat’s symptoms, age and initial exam findings. Often a combination of tests is needed to reach a diagnosis.


The main treatments for excessive sleeping in cats focus on addressing any underlying illness that may be causing fatigue or lethargy. Common treatments include:

Addressing underlying illness – If a health issue like kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, cancer or an infection is causing the excessive sleeping, the vet will provide appropriate treatment such as medication, surgery, chemotherapy, fluid therapy, etc. Controlling the underlying disease can help resolve the symptoms.

Pain medication – If the vet determines pain or arthritis is causing discomfort and making the cat sleep more, they may prescribe pain relievers or anti-inflammatories to provide relief and improve activity levels.

Weight loss program – For overweight cats, putting them on a calorie-controlled diet along with more playtime and exercise can help them lose excess weight and become more energetic and alert during waking hours.

Anemia treatment – Cats with anemia sleep more due to fatigue. Treatment may include supplements, transfusion or medication to resolve the anemia.

In addition to medical treatments, adjusting the cat’s home environment to encourage more waking activity can also help resolve excessive sleeping behavior.

Lifestyle Changes

One of the best ways to curb excessive sleeping is to make sure your cat is getting adequate physical and mental stimulation. Try increasing interactive playtime and exercise during daylight hours. Rotate toys to keep things interesting and make your cat work for meals by using puzzle feeders or hiding food in different locations. Invest in tall cat trees, scratching posts, and interactive toys to pique your cat’s natural curiosity and prevent boredom. Shelter cats especially need help transitioning to a stimulating home environment after living in a small, unchanging cage.

It’s important to note that playtime is different from letting your cat outside. While you can take your cat outdoors on a leash and harness, unsupervised outdoor access puts cats at risk. Be sure to provide ample playtime throughout the day to tire your cat out. Try scheduling play sessions right before meals so your cat will be more likely to sleep instead of getting the nighttime zoomies. Make it a habit to wear your cat out well before bedtime.

According to
, interactive playtime is important for preventing boredom and destructive behaviors in cats.

When it’s Normal

For some cats, increased sleep is normal and not necessarily a cause for concern. Here are some circumstances when it’s typical for cats to sleep more than usual:

After a big play session: It’s common for cats to sleep longer after an intense period of activity and play. They need time to recharge their energy. Kittens and younger cats in particular may sleep for hours after vigorous play.

Growing kittens: Kittens need a lot of sleep as they grow, often sleeping 18-20 hours per day. Their rapid growth and development requires plenty of rest.

Elderly cats: Senior cats tend to sleep more as they age, averaging 16-20 hours of sleep per day. The increase allows them to conserve energy as their bodies slow down.

During day for nocturnal cats: Cats are naturally most active at dawn and dusk. It’s normal for them to sleep more during daylight hours when humans are active.

Create a Sleep-Friendly Environment

To encourage healthy sleep habits, create a quiet, comfortable area for your cat to sleep undisturbed. This could be a cat bed in a spare room or corner of the house. Keep the area tranquil by closing doors and windows, drawing curtains, and minimizing noises.

Establish a regular daily routine with consistent feeding and playtimes. Feeding your cat at the same times each day and having dedicated play sessions will help satisfy their energy needs so they are more likely to settle down for naps and overnight sleep. Try not to disturb your cat when they are sleeping. Let them wake up naturally and avoid suddenly moving or picking up a sleeping cat.

Make sure your cat has everything they need in their sleep area like food, water, litter box, scratching posts, and toys. This will minimize disruptions and help them feel secure. Place comfortable cat beds in locations your cat already likes to sleep. Observe where they naturally nap during the day and put beds there.

Monitor Sleeping Behavior

It’s important to monitor and be aware of your cat’s normal sleeping patterns so you can note any significant changes. Keep track of about how many hours per day your cat sleeps on average and the times of day they tend to be most active vs. sleepy. Look for any deviations from their normal routine. For example, sleeping more during the day, being awake more at night, sleeping at unusual times, or sleeping longer overall.

Try using a pet sleep tracker like Tractive that can automatically log your cat’s sleeping patterns for you. This will provide helpful data to analyze your cat’s sleep behavior over time.

If you notice your cat sleeping more than usual or any odd sleep behaviors, discuss your concerns with your veterinarian. Excessive sleeping or lethargy can sometimes be a sign of an underlying medical issue. Your vet can help determine if there is a health problem and recommend treatment options.

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