Determining how many hours a cat sleeps per day is not an exact science. However, numerous ethologists have concluded through their research on feline sleep that adult cats sleep an average of 16 hours a day, which is 70-75% of the total daytime hours.
This is not the case at all ages. In fact, puppies sleep up to 20 hours during their first months of life. Likewise, the intensity of their physical activity, the environmental conditions or their state of health condition this total count. Do you dare to learn more about these conditions or about the phases of cat sleep?
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Sleep in cats
As we say, sleep patterns in adult kitties are not the same as those of puppies or older cats. We delve into it below.
In young cats
Newborns sleep for almost the entire day, around 20 hours . The explanation is simple: they need sleep to grow and for their bodies to continue to develop. During REM or deep sleep phase the release of hormones takes place. Among them, that of growth.
The kitten takes advantage of it after 20 minutes of falling asleep, since it constitutes the beginning of the REM phase. In turn, young cats do not yet have established neural connections that allow them to interact with their environment. Therefore, they do not need to stay awake and active other than to satisfy their most basic needs.
Kittens sleep longer than adults and sleep more deeply. However, as these standards grow, they evolve. At 5 months it is enough for them to sleep 18 hours a day and at 6 months we can affirm that their sleep patterns are equal to those of the adult cat, sleeping 16 hours.
In adult cats
In adulthood, scholars of feline behavior point out that within that 75% of the hours of the day they sleep there is a clear division between the light sleep naps that occur throughout the day and the deep sleep that occurs during the evening.
In this sense, those light and brief naps, or cat nap, represent 70% of the total time they spend sleeping . These are successive light sleep naps carried out sitting or partially lying down and in which your muscles are not completely relaxed.
They can easily wake up if, for example, they notice that there is something that demands their attention . Therefore, they tend to sleep more when they are alone. There are no stimuli. During the night, after playing and exploring, they reach deep sleep. About 30 minutes after falling asleep. It represents 30% of the total hours of rest.
In old age
From the age of 8, kittens begin to show less interest in interaction and become lazier. They lose muscle tone and the ability to climb or jump, often due to pathologies that begin to emerge at these ages, such as arthritis, heart disease or diabetes. They usually sleep about 20 hours a day divided into 5 or 6 naps .
However, it is a mistake not to stimulate a senior cat solely because of its age. Not offering them moments of play together in which they have to exercise, at their own pace, and have to overcome small challenges can lead to new conditions or aggravate existing ones.
You will be more likely to develop joint degeneration, depression, or dementia if it is not stimulated. Always respecting its possibilities and providing it with a comfortable resting place away from the crowded areas of the house, you should stimulate it physically and mentally. In this way, you will contribute to a better use of rest.
The REM phase
Like humans, the deep sleep phase is characterized by rapid eye movement that kitties also experience. They move their paws, nails, whiskers and ears, arch their back as if they were hunting, and may even meow.
Harvard Medical School and, in particular, researcher Michel Jouven have studied in depth both the phases of sleep in cats and what, if anything, they dream about. E l feline brain has shown that if they dream , according to their body movements, and that dreams have much to do with their hunting behavior.
Did you know that during this semi-conscious phase of deep sleep your brain activity and your sense of alertness remain active? Not surprisingly, there are known cases of sleepwalking cats that have enjoyed the caresses of their owner or their favorite food while asleep.
Stimulation, decisive in feline sleep
Of all the determining factors for sleep in cats, stimulation, both physical and cognitive, is the most relevant. So much so that stray or wild cats, having to hunt their prey to survive, have fewer hours to sleep. This is not a minor issue, since domestic kitties often sleep out of boredom.
This bad habit favors obesity and reduces the agility and quality of life of the animal. Being hungry, high ambient temperatures or joint pain caused by arthritis at certain ages reduce the quality of rest, as well as the number of hours of sleep per day.
The awakening and its ritual
All of us who live with cats know that waking up from these short daytime naps is accompanied by a whole ritual: they yawn, stretch their front legs, then their hind legs, and arch their back. This protocol allows them to reactivate circulation and loosen the joints and muscles.