Why Does My Cat Sleep All Day And Up All Night

Cat’s Natural Sleep Cycle

Cats are crepuscular, meaning they are most active at dawn and dusk (https://www.purina.co.uk/articles/cats/behaviour/common-questions/are-cats-nocturnal). Their sleep cycle evolved for hunting small prey like mice, voles and birds that are also active at twilight hours. Since cats are predatory animals, their natural instinct and peak energy levels align with when their prey is readily available.

During the day and night, cats sleep frequently to conserve energy for bursts of activity at dawn and dusk. An outdoor cat that hunts will expend even more energy chasing prey, hence needing to sleep more during downtime (https://www.fetchpet.com/the-dig/are-cats-nocturnal). Their crepuscular sleep cycle enables efficient hunting while preserving calories between meals.

Outdoor vs Indoor Cats

Outdoor cats tend to sync their sleep cycles with their environment, becoming more active at dawn and dusk when prey is abundant. They sleep more during the day when it’s hotter outside and less at night when it’s cooler [1]. Indoor cats are removed from these natural stimuli that drive an outdoor cat’s sleep cycle. Without environmental pressures, indoor cats are more likely to maintain their natural crepuscular rhythm and become most active at dawn and dusk.

However, indoor cats lacking stimulation and activity during the day may start to shift their sleep cycle and become more nocturnal. With fewer daytime activities and stimuli, the cat naps more during the day. At night when things are quieter, the cat seeks stimulation through playing, exploring, and bothering their owners for food and attention [2]. Ensuring your indoor cat has sufficient physical and mental stimulation during the day can help maintain a normal daytime/nighttime sleep cycle.

Light and Darkness

Cats have excellent night vision compared to humans, due to having a high concentration of rod receptors and a reflective layer in their eyes called the tapetum lucidum (Purina, 2022). The tapetum lucidum acts like a mirror to reflect light back through the retina, allowing cats to make the most of low light conditions. This is why cats’ eyes seem to glow at night.

However, cats do not have true night vision. They still need some amount of ambient light to see. In complete darkness, they will be just as blind as humans (USA Today, 2022).

While cats can see much better in low light, their vision is worse than humans in bright daylight due to having fewer cone receptors. The cycle of light and darkness helps regulate a cat’s circadian rhythm and signals when to be awake and asleep. Bright light tells a cat it is daytime, while darkness signals nighttime and time for hunting and activity.

Temperature Regulation

Cats sleep more during the hot daytime hours as a way to conserve energy and regulate their body temperature. Cats have a natural body temperature of 101-102°F and can easily overheat if they exert themselves too much when ambient temperatures are high.

Studies show that cats will lower their body temperature by around 0.5°C when sleeping compared to when awake and active (Source). This drop in body temperature helps them withstand high external temperatures during the day.

Cats tend to become more active during the cooler dawn and dusk periods when temperatures are more favorable. Their active hunting instincts kick in during these cooler parts of the day while they conserve energy by sleeping through the hot daylight hours.

The ideal ambient temperature for a cat is 75-86°F. If it gets much hotter than that during the day, expect your cat to sleep more to regulate their body temperature (Source).

Hunting Instincts

Cats are natural hunters with instincts to stalk and catch prey (source). In the wild, cats are most active at dawn and dusk when prey like birds and rodents are abundant. This predatory behavior is still present in domestic cats.

Indoor cats may become more restless and energetic in the evenings when their natural hunting instincts kick in. Even though they don’t need to hunt to survive, the natural urge is still there.

Providing interactive playtime and toys that mimic hunting can help satisfy your cat’s instincts (source). Laser pointers, treat puzzles, and wand toys allow them to mimic natural stalking and pouncing behaviors indoors. Getting this activity out during active times can lead to calmer behavior at night.

Senior Cat Changes

As cats age, it’s common for their sleep patterns to change. Older cats tend to sleep more during the daytime and become more vocal and restless at night. There are a few reasons senior cats tend to sleep more during daylight hours:

– Lower Energy Levels: Senior cats have less energy as they age, so they conserve it by sleeping more during their inactive periods (daytime). It’s normal for older cats to sleep up to 20 hours a day.

– Health Issues: Medical conditions like kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, and arthritis can cause fatigue and increased sleep. Getting a senior cat checked by a vet can identify any underlying health issues.

– Cognitive Decline: Older cats can develop feline cognitive dysfunction, similar to dementia in humans. This can disrupt their sleep-wake cycles, causing them to be more restless and vocal at night.

If your senior cat is sleeping more during the day but also meowing or keeping you up at night, have your vet examine them for medical issues or age-related cognitive decline. There are some treatments like medication, dietary changes, and increased playtime/exercise that could help improve their nighttime behavior. Be patient – some degree of sleep pattern changes are a normal part of aging.

Kitten Sleep Needs

Kittens sleep extensively to support growth and development. According to Vets4Pets, from birth until about two weeks of age, kittens need to sleep for around 22 hours per day, only really waking to feed. Once their eyes have opened, kittens will begin sleeping less, but still require about 20 hours of sleep per day.

As kittens grow older, their sleep needs decrease. By six weeks old, kittens only need about 18-20 hours of daily sleep. By three months old, kittens will sleep around 16 hours a day. By six months old, most kittens have transitioned to the typical adult cat sleep pattern of 12-16 hours a day (Vets4Pets).

The extensive sleep kittens require is essential for their rapid growth and brain development in the first several months of life. Kittens that fail to get adequate sleep may suffer impaired development and growth.

Tips for Nighttime

Try providing engaging playtime before bed to satisfy your cat’s natural hunting urges and expend excess energy. Pull out interactive toys like wand toys, cat dancers, or catnip mice and actively engage your cat in play right before bedtime. Vigorous playtime will help satisfy their instinct to hunt, chase, and pounce at night, and leave them pleasantly worn out when it’s time to sleep. Along with playtime, avoid letting your cat nap excessively during the day so they are fully ready for sleep at night. Additionally, offer puzzle feeders or treat balls with your cat’s dinner to provide mental stimulation and satisfy curiosity right before bed. This mimics their natural behavior of “hunting” for food. After mentally and physically tiring your cat at night, they will be more inclined to sleep peacefully through the night instead of prowl restlessly.

When to See the Vet

Drastic changes in your cat’s sleep patterns, especially increased waking at night, could indicate an underlying illness. Certain conditions like hyperthyroidism often lead to sleep disturbances in cats. Medications can also alter sleep cycles, so consult your vet if your cat starts new meds and then develops sleep issues.

Some signs that your cat’s nighttime activity warrants a vet visit include:

  • Pacing, restlessness, and vocalizing at night
  • Waking frequently or staying up all night
  • Lethargy and sleeping much more than normal
  • Sudden changes in sleep patterns

Your vet can run tests to check for medical causes like hyperthyroidism, arthritis, cognitive dysfunction, urinary issues, and more. They may adjust medications if those are disrupting sleep. In some cases, your vet may prescribe sleep aids or recommend lifestyle changes to help your cat sleep better at night.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some common questions about cat sleep cycles:

Why does my cat sleep so much during the day?

Cats are crepuscular, which means they are most active at dawn and dusk. During the day, they alternate between periods of sleep and wakefulness, which is their natural sleep pattern. Indoor cats especially tend to sleep more during daylight hours since they don’t need to hunt for food. Source

Why is my cat awake and energetic at night?

Cats are natural hunters and their ancestry as nocturnal hunters means they retain some of those instincts. Being awake at night allows cats to patrol their territory and feel like they are “hunting.” This nighttime energy is especially common in younger cats. Make sure your cat has access to interactive toys to burn off energy. Source

Should I be concerned if my cat sleeps all the time?

Excessive sleep could signal an underlying health issue, especially in older cats. Lethargy, lack of interest in toys/food, and sleeping more than 20 hours a day are signs to get your cat checked by a vet. Source

Why does my cat seem restless or awake at night?

Cats can experience insomnia or disturbances in their sleep cycle just like humans. Stress, change in environment, pain/illness, or anxiety could prevent a cat from sleeping at night. Make sure your cat’s basic needs are met and consult your vet if nighttime wakefulness persists. Source

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