Why Do Cats Sleep So Much: The Science Behind Cat Naps
As any cat owner knows, our furry feline friends spend an extraordinary amount of time catching Z’s. The average house cat snoozes over 16 hours a day! Why do cats sleep so much compared to humans and even other pet species? The reasons are rooted in cat evolutionary biology.
Cats are crepuscular, meaning they are most active around dawn and dusk. In the wild, ancestral cats hunted small prey animals like rodents and birds that were also most active at sunrise and sunset. Cats evolved to sync their waking hours with peak hunting times.
In between busy mornings and nights, wild cats conserve energy by sleeping heavily. Because prey is scarce in nature, long naps prevent unnecessary calorie expenditure when hunting is unfavorable. This adaptation stuck even as cats became domesticated indoor pets.
On the flip side, cats are able to achieve remarkably deep, restorative sleep. In a 24-hour cycle, they experience several long Rapid Eye Movement (REM) cycles where dreams occur. Compared to humans, cats spend nearly double the amount of total sleep time in the REM stage. This allows their bodies to recuperate faster.
A major reason why cats are champion sleepers is because they have innate ability to nap. Light napping gives their minds and bodies frequent mini breaks unlike our all-or-nothing nocturnal sleep patterns. Nap ability explains why cats seem to randomly conk out throughout the day.
Frequent cat naps make sense according to their biological sleep architecture. Cats alternate between short periods of non-REM sleep and longer spans of deep REM. Their light sleeping state allows them to instantly awaken from danger while continuing to recharge. Random quickie cat naps add up to a lot of overall rack time.
Additionally, because cats are so sensitive to stimuli from their surroundings, their brains zonk out to give sudden overload a break. The innate nap reflex explains why cats may abruptly fall asleep when petted, played with, or overstimulated. A cat nap reset gets them back on track.
Understanding the evolutionary science behind why domestic cats spend so much time sawing logs can help us better care for their needs. Make sure kitty has access to plenty of warm, safe, cat-approved sleeping spots. They will thank you by trusting you enough to completely conk out for hours!
Sweet sleeping cats may seem lazy, but they are just following instinct. So the next time your cat greets you with a big yawn or passes out on your laptop keyboard, remember they are simply recharging their batteries – cat-style. Let those whiskers keep twitching and paws keep kneading in sleepy bliss!