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Do kittens sleep a lot? How to get a kitten to sleep at night

Do kittens sleep a lot? How to get a kitten to sleep at night
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Being a cat is a pretty envious existence. Even as adults, they spend a huge amount of their time asleep. When you’re a new kitten owner, you might be concerned at exactly how much time they spend catching forty winks, but you’ll soon find that generally it’s completely normal behavior. 

That said, you might also find that the one time you actively want them to be asleep (i.e. overnight) they’re just not playing ball. In which case, it can be helpful to know if you’re doing the right thing - or when you might expect to get a full night’s sleep!

Read on to find out more about a kitten’s sleep pattern, and what you should expect as they get older. 

How much sleep does a kitten need? 

A newborn kitten spends almost all of their time asleep - in fact some estimates put it around 90%, or at least 20 hours a day. Phew! 

However, from the age of around 8-12 weeks, you should find that that has reduced a little to around 18 hours a day. This is the same kind of pattern you can expect your feline friend to follow right into adulthood too.

Although it’s not a concern if a kitten or cat is asleep pretty much all of the time, if you notice that they are lethargic or low in energy when they are awake, then this can be a sign of concern - keep an eye on them and of course take them to a vet if you are particularly worried.

kitten asleep on chair

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Should I let my kitten sleep all day? 

Kittens really do need their sleep, and just like human babies, they need it even more than adult cats do. 

You should never wake up your sleeping kitten if you can avoid it, especially when the cat is new to your home as disturbing its sleep can cause anxiety and fear when they’re still settling in. 

When you’re still trying to get your kitten used to you and your home, it can be a good idea to stay in the same room as the sleeping kitten, but doing something calm and quiet so as not to disturb them. Something like watching TV at a low volume, or reading, gives them the opportunity to snooze and nap while you’re still there, and a bond to build. 

As they wake up, use it as an opportunity to build up play time and affection. Spending time on the floor with your kitten also gets you down to their level and helps to instantly build up extra trust. 

Should I ignore my kitten crying at night?

There are lots of reasons why your cat is meowing at night, and one of the big questions that new kitten owners have is whether it’s safe to ignore it. 

When you first bring your cat home, one of the top reasons why it will cry at night is due to loneliness and unfamiliarity with their new surroundings. While it’s usually safe to ignore this kind of crying it can be distressing for both you and the cat, especially if they are persistent.

As with lots of pet training, the key to getting your new cat used to being in your home is consistency. If you’re finding crying to be a problem, something you might like to try is putting their bed in or close to your bedroom, then slowly moving it further away every couple of days until they are in the place you actually want them to sleep. 

Kitten meowing

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Where should kittens sleep at night? 

Most cats (and let’s face it humans) just want somewhere warm and cozy to snuggle up in at night. 

Look for a suitable spot in which you can set up their bed before you bring your kitten home for the first time. Somewhere out of the way of draughts, away from doors and corridors, where they can feel safe and secure is generally a good option. 

Again, if you want to place your kitten near to your bed for the first few nights with the ultimate aim of moving to them to a different spot, try and find somewhere close by that isn’t at risk of them being trodden on or otherwise being in the way. 

It’s also perfectly fine to leave your kitten to sleep alone or in a completely different room, even when they are very young.

At what age do kittens sleep through the night? 

When you first bring your kitten home, you should be prepared for a couple of sleepless nights. 

Although cats do indeed love to sleep, when they’re still settling into unfamiliar environments and getting to know their new familiar, it’s pretty common for them to have some disturbed sleep - and to wake you up in the process.

On top of that, they’re also crepuscular, meaning that they are often at their most active at dawn and dusk - in the wild that’s the best time for hunting. As such, you might find that you’ve got an early riser on your hands, which can be an issue too. 

As your cat gets older and more settled in, you should find that they are sleeping through the night pretty easily and most will adopt a similar overnight sleeping pattern to their owner. Many will find that their kitten is sleeping throughout the night within a few weeks of bringing them home - if you find that you’re struggling, make sure to speak to your vet to rule out any underlying problems that could be keeping them awake. 

A brown and white kitten yawning

(Image credit: Getty)

How to get a kitten to sleep at night  

If you’re keen to make sure that both you and your feline friend get a good night’s sleep, there are a few straightforward techniques you can try to make sure they’re fully prepared for bedtime. These include the following: 

1.  Alter their food schedule  

It can be helpful to feed your cat later at night in order to make them sleepy right before bedtime. You might also want to avoid feeding them as soon as you wake up - otherwise they might think all they need to do get food is to wake you up. 

2.  Make sure they’re getting plenty of exercise and play 

Although cats love sleep, dozes and naps, when they are awake, you’ll find that they’re pretty active. Make sure you’re providing them with enough stimulation in the way of toys and exercise to tire them out for night time. 

3. Provide comforting objects 

When your kitten is new to your home, bring something along from the breeder or their previous home - such as a blanket to help provide comfort, stability and reassurance.  

4. Don’t reward nighttime behavior  

Although it’s important to rule out any problems that require attention (such as medical issues), it’s also crucial not to overly reward nighttime crying, too. Don’t immediately rush to your cat should you hear it crying, and be firm and consistent in your approach to responding to cries. 

5. Make sure their basic needs are met 

Ensuring your cat has access to a litter tray and a bowl of water overnight can be all it takes to stop the night time crying. If you find you have a dawn riser, you might also want to leave them a cat puzzle feeder toy to keep them occupied until you want to get up. 

Amy Davies is a freelance writer and photographer with over 15 years experience. She has a degree in journalism from Cardiff University and has written about a huge variety of topics over the years. These days she mostly specialises in technology and pets, writing across a number of different titles including TechRadar, Stuff, Expert Reviews, T3, Digital Camera World, and of course PetsRadar. She lives in Cardiff with her dog, Lola, a rescue miniature dachshund.