Understanding Cat Sleeping Patterns

Cat sleeping patterns are among the most unique aspects of feline behavior. Cats are renowned for their ability to sleep almost anywhere for hours on end. Adults are estimated to spend an average of 13 to 18 hours a day sleeping. Kittens, particularly newborns, require even greater amounts of rest per day. Prolonged periods of sleep are an important part of your pet's general health and wellness. They are also related to your domestic house cat's wild ancestry. Learning about your cat's sleeping patterns can help you understand other important parts of your pet's behavior.

Why Cats Sleep So Much

Genetics are believed to influence your pet's cat nap tendencies. In the wild, felines are predators that exert a great amount of energy catching their prey. Since hunting generally occurs during dusk, dawn and night, cats spend much of the day sleeping and conserving valuable energy. Extended periods of rest help the feline body perform important functions like hormone regulation and cell repair. Genetics also plays a role in kitten sleeping patterns.

Newborn cats spend the majority of their time asleep. In nature, this behavior keeps them close to the nest and away from predators and other dangers. Kittens also undergo vital growth and development during long periods of sleep. Other factors may contribute to your domestic cat's excessive napping. Boredom caused by a lack of stimulus like toys and companions can cause cats to sleep more during the day. Protein, an important part of the carnivore diet, is also thought to promote sleepiness in felines and other animals.

Characteristics of Cat Sleep

Watching a cat rest can be an interesting and entertaining experience. During certain periods of sleep you may notice your pet's paws or whiskers twitching or trembling. Her eyelids may move or suddenly spring open as if ready for action. These are all characteristics of normal feline sleeping behavior.

Like humans and other animals cats undergo different stages of sleep. While in the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) stage your pet's face or body may move unexpectedly. This is caused by the increase in brain activity during REM sleep. When your cat is experiencing Non-REM sleep she is in a state of deep restfulness. During this stage she may remain still or relaxed for extended periods.

Although they can nap for hours, cats are considered light sleepers. Their tendency to wake at the slightest sound or touch is an important survival mechanism inherited from their wild ancestors. In nature, sleeping during the day makes cats more vulnerable to attack. The ability to wake and become alert quickly helps them escape daytime predators.

From kitten to adulthood cats require more sleep than most other pets. However, an excess of sleep may indicate such problems as depression, boredom, or illness. Familiarizing yourself with your cat's sleeping patterns may help you appreciate her needs and address important changes in her behavior.