Cats certainly love themselves some shuteye. Depending on their age, health, personality, and whether they’re primarily indoor or outdoor, they average around 14 -16 hours of sleep per day which is more than most mammals (with the exception of bats and possums). Even during the majority of their waking hours, cats don’t appear very far from sleep--maintaining a zen-like, meditative state. So why are our feline friends such sleepyheads? Read on to find out.
No predators? No problem!
Since Mother Nature made cats hunters with few natural predators of their own, they can afford to take long naps in relative safety. Our domestic house cats live even cushier lives than their African lion cousins--the reigning kings of the jungle--who spend most of their days safely sleeping in the open savannah when not hunting their next meal. And since we’re on the subject of hunting--cats big and small expend a great deal of energy in a very short amount of time when stalking, running, and pouncing on prey (even if that prey is just a catnip mouse toy!). These concentrated bursts of energy make rest and recuperation a necessity.
Cats are most dynamic at dawn and dusk
You’ve probably already noticed that your usually calm cat really perks up during those mysterious twilight hours when it’s not quite light and not quite dark. Though many people think that cats are nocturnal (most active during the night), they’re actually crepuscular--most active during the twilight hours of dawn and dusk. That’s why our cats always insist on waking us up at the break of day by crying out for attention and/or impatiently treading all over us while we’re sound asleep. Why do they conserve all of their energy for dawn and dusk? That’s the time when most of their natural prey emerges from hiding, and their hunter instincts kick into action.
Kitties keep alert during catnaps
Even dozing, cats have the ability to remain aware of their surroundings (mainly through sound and scent) in the event they have to escape from danger or pounce on prey at a moment’s notice. This is why, even while a cat is asleep, any sudden noises will cause their ears to rotate toward the direction the noise came from. They’re on a constant cycle between deep and light sleep, allowing them to get the required rest they need, as well as stay attuned to their environment.
Even though nature has programmed cats to sleep through most of the day and night, many domestic house cats have learned to adapt to their owners’ work and sleep schedules by conserving some (but most likely not all!) of their energy for when their human companions are at home and awake. This, however, may have a lot to do with their feeding schedule, as they typically want to be wide awake when you’re dishing up their xdinner!
By Maya M.