Why Do Cats Sleep So Much? (And What’s a Normal Amount of Cat Naps?)

Raise your hand if you have a cat. OK, now raise your other hand if your cat is napping right this second. Yep, we thought so. But how do you know if your kitty is sleeping a normal amount, or if Mittens’s snoozing habits are excessive? And what’s the deal with cats wanting to nap all day anyway? Good news: Your cat is not lazy and doesn’t actually hate you. Here’s why cats sleep so much.

1. It’s How They’re Wired

While it’s often said that cats are nocturnal, this isn’t exactly true. Brace yourself: We’re about to teach you a new word. Cats are crepuscular (pronounced creh-PES-cu-lar), which means they are the most active at dusk, right before the sun goes down, and at dawn, right after the sun comes up. “On average, cats can spend 16 to 18 hours daily sleeping,” says the Tree House Humane Society in Chicago. So, if you do the math, some of that sleep has to occur at night. This also explains why your kitty will snuggle up next to you while you’re falling asleep, only to spring out from under the covers at 4 a.m.

2. The Weather Is Crappy

You know how you feel much sleepier when it’s raining than you do when it’s sunny? Your cat is the exact same way, the National Sleep Foundation tells us. During the winter, or on a drizzly day, it’s totally normal for your pets (and you) to sleep longer than usual. That’s because a dark, cloudy day signals the body to produce extra melatonin, making you (and Mr. Whiskers) feel like you could nod off at any second. Use it as an excuse to hang out with your cat and binge-watch You on Netflix during the next thunderstorm.

3. They’re Saving Their Energy

Lions and tigers are never sure when they’re going to have to suddenly bolt after their prey. Similarly, your cat is a predator and wants to stay on high alert for any mice (or mouse-shaped toys) that might be in the vicinity. So while she’s napping, she’s also conserving her energy and keeping one eye open just in case she has to pounce.

4. Dinner Isn’t Ready Yet

While your cat’s sleep schedule might seem random, there is some evolutionary reasoning behind each snooze sesh. In the wild, your cat would have to capture his prey before eating it, so he’d nap as much as possible beforehand to get ready to hunt—and for the post-dinner cleanse. That’s why, when it’s time to eat, he’ll suddenly wake up, bursting with energy. “After the meal, the cat grooms himself to remove traces of the prey,” says cat behavior expert Pam Johnson-Bennett. “This is part of how a cat is hardwired for protection. Removing traces of his freshly killed prey helps prevent other prey in the area from detecting the presence of a predator. Cats are also prey animals, so the grooming helps avoid alerting other predators in the area. Once all the grooming is done, the cat is ready for sleep.”

5. They’re Getting Older

As Smokey becomes a senior citizen, it’s not uncommon for her to want to sleep more than she did as a kitten. That’s because her senses might not be as sharp as they used to be, which explains why she might not be startling awake and racing into the kitchen at the sound of the can opener anymore. It’s completely normal and just a part of becoming a member of the AARC (American Association of Retired Cats, duh).

6. They’re Feeling Sick

If your cat has been sleeping more than usual, it could be a sign of an underlying medical issue. Count the hours your cat is catching zzz’s, note if she seems to have trouble lying down and getting up, and report your findings to the vet. But, for most cats, everything is A-OK if she’s sleeping 16-plus hours a day (and probably would love a cuddle buddy).

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