My cat sleeps constantly - how much is too much and when should I worry?

No doubt about it, cats love to sleep. But how much is too much? In this post, our Boulder and Westminster vets explain why your cat might be sleeping so much and when you should be concerned about it.

Why do cats sleep so much?

Cats have developed a natural inclination to sleep for extended periods during the day. This behavior stems from their evolutionary adaptation to conserve energy for hunting, chasing, and capturing their prey in the wild.

Even though our domesticated house cats may not have the same need to hunt for survival, the instinctual pattern of sleeping and preparing for a hypothetical hunt remains ingrained in their behavior.

How much do cats sleep?

Wondering how many hours a cat sleep per day? The number of hours that your cat needs to sleep and the typical sleeping pattern for your cat will change as they get older :

  • Kittens will likely sleep most of the day, with a few brief bursts of energy between meals.
  • Adolescent cats may have erratic sleep patterns combined with periods of intense playfulness.
  • Adult cats tend to have more set sleeping schedules that average out at about 12 - 20 hours of sleep each day.
  • Senior cats will tend to have less energy and reduced mobility which means they will sleep more than younger cats.

When your cat reaches adulthood, it will most likely develop a recognizable pattern of sleeping and waking. For example, you may notice that your cat wakes up just before you, spends an hour or two eating and socializing with you, then goes back to sleep while you go about your business.

Is my cat really asleep?

Cats have various sleep stages, similar to humans. Along with deep sleep, they also have lighter sleep periods. Interestingly, about three-quarters of a cat's sleep time is spent in this light sleep phase, while the remaining one-quarter is dedicated to deep sleep.

During light sleep, cats can relax while still being aware of their environment. You might notice their eyes partially open or their ears moving in response to sounds while they are sleeping or taking a nap. This heightened alertness enables them to promptly react to any potential stimuli.

When should I be concerned?

There is no set amount of sleep that indicates a health problem or emergency; instead, it is important to understand your cat's normal sleep patterns and recognize when those patterns change significantly.

If your cat begins to sleep a lot more or a lot less than is usual for him/her there may be a health issue, it's time to visit your vet.

Cats who begin to sleep more than usual could be ill or experiencing pain. On the other hand, if your cat begins sleeping less than usual it may be suffering from hyperthyroidism or other conditions.

If you have noticed your cat sleeping more than usual lately, contact our Boulder and Westminster veterinarians today!