While humans generally sleep 8 hours a night, cats sleep almost 16 hours a day. They go through different sleep phases, ranging from drowsiness to napping to deep sleep. Each of these phases is punctuated by a moment of activity.
The cat's sleep cycles
Your cat alternates between several sleep phases throughout the day. Like humans, they go through deep (or REM) sleep and light sleep. Let's take a look at these different stages in a cat's life.
During this phase, your cat is completely relaxed and without muscle tension. This can be a concern for novice owners. This phase usually lasts about 10 minutes maximum. The cat sleeps deeply, although its eyes, tail or paws may move. This is the time when your cat is dreaming, just like humans. Kittens go through this phase more than adult cats, who mainly rest through mental sleep.
This phase does not allow your cat to rest completely. His muscles remain tense and he is ready to react, jump or move. He is between wakefulness and deep sleep, neither totally relaxed nor totally on guard. The slightest noise can make him move.
This is also known as mental decompression. This is the major part of the adult cat's sleep, whereas the kitten spends most of its time in deep sleep. Mental rest lasts up to a maximum of 30 minutes during each rest period. Brain waves are slow and the cat spends about ten hours a day in this phase, allowing for rapid regeneration and recovery.
Sleep varies with age
Your kitten's sleep is different from that of your adult or older cat. The phases of sleep vary according to your cat's age.
Kittens sleep most of the day, with more deep sleep than mental rest. The adult cat rests mainly through mental rest during the day and is more active in the evening. At night, it is not uncommon to see them moving around. This activity is linked to its origins, as its ancestors hunted in the dark.
Older cats tend to sleep even more, up to 20 hours a day. This is normal. However, they may also wake up at night or meow. In this case, consult a veterinarian, as this may indicate an illness.
The reasons for such a need for sleep
Your cat spends two thirds of its life sleeping. Although this may seem like a lot, it is due to its nature as a stray cat or its origins as a feral cat. Outdoors, a cat spends a lot of energy hunting and searching for food. In particular, it has to eat quickly to avoid someone stealing its prey. Therefore, it spends less time feeding than a herbivore and therefore has more time to rest and save energy.
This cat is not usually a prey animal in the wild. It may therefore be less alert to danger and more focused on survival.
Although your cat is domesticated and has access to a food bowl at set times, it retains this natural instinct. His internal clock has not changed.
Your cat suffers from sleep disorders
If your cat is unable to get enough rest at night and spends all his time meowing or being active, thus disturbing your sleep, this may be due to :
- An underlying disease. Consult your vet to be sure. In the case of hyperthyroidism or high blood pressure, your cat may seem more agitated and nervous. Conversely, a fever may make your cat lethargic all day, with no phase of wakefulness or activity.
- A lack of activity during the day or evening. Your cat is bored and spends most of its time lying down. As a result, she has energy to burn after dark. If this is the case, try changing the pace, interacting more with your cat or playing with her more often.