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Why do cats sleep so much?

Why do cats sleep so much? A ginger cat curled up on top of a tabby cat on a gray wooden bench, both with their eyes closed
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Why do cats sleep so much? It’s a question on the lips of most feline pet parents who are frequently puzzled by their kitty’s desire to spend much of the day behaving like a senior citizen relaxing on a well-deserved tropical island break. 

When you invested in the best cat bed for your furkid, you were probably thinking it’d be a nice place for them to rest their head at the end of the day as opposed to spending hour upon hour in there, but given that most kitty’s average 15 hours of shuteye a day, those long snooze-fests are generally nothing to worry about. 

Cats sleep so much for a variety of reasons and unless your furkid has suddenly started sleeping more than usual, it’s safe to say they’re just doing what they need to do to stay healthy and feel refreshed. Let’s take a closer look at why do cats sleep so much and uncover their unconventional sleeping schedules to see what’s behind those all-day siesta’s. 

It’s in their genes

As a species, cats are classified as crepuscular, which means their bodies are programmed to come alive at dawn and dusk. Other predatory animals tend to hunt during the day or in the deepest hours of the night, so this genetic wiring gave cats an evolutionary advantage.

Although our feline friends have long been domesticated to live alongside us, they still retain this programming in their DNA, causing them to want to hunt when prey opportunities are abundant and their eyesight is at its best. The rest of the time? They’re laying low to avoid other predatory animals, which is where all that sleep comes into play.

While cats may be more independent than their canine counterparts, they’re still highly social and adaptable, and will often break up their daytime sleep schedule to spend time with their humans. 

They need to cool down

Ginger cat stretched out asleep on carpet

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Why do cats sleep so much during hotter weather? If you notice your kitty sleeping more during the summer months, there’s likely a good reason. Unlike us humans who can jump in a cold shower or pool when the weather gets too steamy, water-averse felines have to find other ways to beat the heat, and an extra nap is a perfect way to do just that.

Cats instinctively know that being out in high temperatures will cause them to expend too much extra energy, so they choose to sleep during the hottest part of the day to regulate their body temperature and venture out when the weather is cooler. 

They’re recharging their batteries

Whether they’ve been hurtling through the house in hot pursuit of one of the best cat toys or out hunting prey, being physically active drains a cat’s batteries quicker than a social media scrolling session on your iPhone. 

While you may be wondering why your feline friend even needs to hunt, given you’ve always got quality cat food at the ready, remember that they’re wired to stalk, hunt, and catch prey in the same way that humans are wired for connection. 

Getting plenty of sleep during the day replenishes a cat’s energy levels and ensures they have plenty of fuel in the tank for those dusk hunting expeditions. 

It’s cold and wet

Tabby cat curled up asleep on bed in cream comforter

(Image credit: Getty Images)

If all you want to do on a cold wet day is hunker down at home with a film or a good book, you’re not alone. Most cats aren’t keen to venture out on chilly or rainy days and would rather curl up in a luxury cat bed and chill out. 

But why do cats sleep so much when it's raining? Well, the domestic cat’s wild ancestors knew that wet or cold weather drastically reduced the likelihood of a successful hunting session, so rather than wasting energy attempting to catch prey in less than ideal conditions, they chose to sleep instead.

Our feline friends are also affected by the weather in much the same way that we are, with the cooler months acting as a signal for the body to rest and restore itself and the warmer months encouraging greater levels of activity.

They’re not always in a deep sleep

While it may look like your kitty is getting more solid shut-eye each day than you are, a lot of what you see is cat-napping rather than deep sleep. If you familiarize yourself with the various cat sleep positions and then observe your furkid, you’ll probably find that a lot of what they’re doing is dozing. 

A cat will sleep deeply for part of the day and spend the remainder taking short breathers of 15-30 minutes where the eyes are either partially or completely closed, but the ears or tail may still be moving. During these times a cat is resting, but still paying attention to their environment and staying alert enough to jump into action if the situation calls for it. 

It could be a sign of illness

For most cats, sleeping a lot isn’t a cause for concern, but if you notice a sudden change in your kitty’s sleeping habits, it’s worth speaking with your vet. Cats will often hide or become less active when stressed or unwell, and if the extra sleep is accompanied by a decreased appetite or an increase or decrease in drinking habits, they’ll need a checkup. Read Is my cat sick? 11 signs that it’s time to take your cat to the vet for more info.

If instead of asking 'why do cats sleep so much,' you're asking 'why won't my cat sleep more?' Then check out our piece on Why won't my cat sleep?

Kathryn Rosenberg

Kathryn is a freelance writer with a passion for creating health and wellness, travel and wildlife content. Originally from New Zealand, her nomadic lifestyle has her currently fur baby-less. She scratches her pet parent itch by stealing frequent cuddles with any neighbourhood cat kind enough to indulge her.