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Why Cats Sleep So Much? Do Your Cats Sleep Under the Bed?

by | Jul 2, 2021 | Cat Behavior & Care | 11 comments

Do your cats sleep under the bed? Cats sleep a lot, often in unusual places. In fact, kitties sleep two-thirds-of their life away, up to 16 hours each day. That’s more than any other mammal, except for the opossum and some bats.

We don’t know why cats sleep so much. We theorize that predators with few natural enemies (like cats) sleep for longer periods of time. Some experts believe a cat’s need for sleep increases in direct proportion to the amount of energy kitty requires for hunting. Cat hunting behavior requires a lot of energy.

HidingCat

“You can’t see me!” Image copr. Amy Shojai, CABC

How Cats Sleep

While humans sleep in marathon eight-hour (or longer) sessions, cat sleep combines short and long naps throughout the day. Habits vary between cats but very old and very young kittens sleep more than robust adults. Sleep time increases on cold, rainy or cloudy days.

Two patterns of brain activity characterized the sleep activity of cats, like that of people and many other mammals. Scientists measured this activity with an electroencephalograph (EEG) that records waves or pulses of activity on a graph.

Kitty brains broadcast little bunched-together irregular peaks while awake. But when dozing, the cat’s brain produces long, irregular waves called slow-wave sleep and lasts fifteen to thirty minutes. He lies with his head raised and paws tucked beneath him as he dozes. Sometimes he actually sleeps sitting up, in which case his muscles stiffen to hold him upright. This way he’s ready to spring into action at a moment’s notice.

why cats sleep so much

Karma finds weird positions for his cat sleeping.

Cat Sleep Positions

You’ll know when kitty moves from light into deep sleep: his body relaxes; he stretches out and rolls to one side. His brain patterns change and become smaller and closer together, and are very similar to his waking patterns.

During deep sleep (also called “rapid sleep” because of the quick brain wave movement) cats remain fully relaxed and hard to awaken. This phase only lasts about five minutes, and the cat then returns to slow-wave sleep. Thereafter, rapid- and slow-wave sleep alternates until he finally wakes up.

Interestingly, kittens fall directly into deep rapid sleep without this alternating pattern until they’re about a month old. Cat dreams are born during rapid sleep–twitching whiskers and paws chase dream mice, perhaps.

shelter catI’m Awake! Sorta-Kinda-In-A-Way…

The cat’s senses continue to record sounds and scents during up to 70 percent of sleep. That means cats awaken quickly at the squeak of a mouse or smell of a rat. A predictable pattern of blinking, yawning and stretching characterizes slower awakening. First the forelegs, then back, and finally rear legs flex and stretch in turn. Most cats also groom themselves briefly upon first awakening.

Cats are crepuscular creatures, and most active at daybreak and sundown. But they typically adapt to the humans they love, sleeping on the owner’s schedule. So they sleep when you are gone and spend more awake time when you are home.

Why Cats Sleep On You

…Because they can! For many of us, cats that sleep ON the bed with us…and on the pillow, on your head, on your chest, and pretty much in any position they want. Sleeping with us shows incredible trust and love. But today’s Ask Amy addresses those felines that prefer the company of dust bunnies to humans. What’s up with that?

Do your cats have weird sleeping spots? What’s the oddest place your cat likes to nap? Seren-Kitty used to cuddled up in her blue bed on the table beneath the stained glass lampshade. In her youth Seren hung out on damp towels on the tile tub surround in the bathroom. Karma-Kat stretches out on the carpet in the middle of the room and sleeps on his back. At night, he sleeps in the crook behind my knees. Oh, and do your kitties argue over prime sleep spots? And what about pet insomnia? Oy, it never ends!

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book giveaways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Amy Shojai, CABC is a certified cat & dog behavior consultant, a consultant to the pet industry, and the award-winning author of 35+ pet-centric books and Thrillers with Bite! Oh, and she loves bling!

 

 

11 Comments

  1. Patricia

    Great article Amy. Sometimes Macy sleeps under the bed to get away from Termite when he’s aggravating or picking on her. Save haven there, I suppose. Most of the time her and brother Thomas prefer a lap, chair, bed or pet bed. Termite prefers a window, chair, bed, between my feet or a clothes dryer, especially if it’s got warm towels in it. However, the other day Macy got in one pet bed and Termite got in there with her and Macy said that was not going to work with about 27 lbs. of meow meows.LOL

    Reply
    • Amy Shojai

      Hah! I suppose the beneath-the-bed position also can be defended pretty well from interlopers. 🙂

      Reply
  2. Karyl

    Anubis has taken to sleeping in Simba’s old cat bed. Of course, I also got him a heated cat bed just in time for winter, so he spends several hours a day in that now.

    Reply
    • Amy Shojai

      Awww…that makes me smile. Glad Anubis is warm and cuddly.

      Reply
      • Karyl

        We’ve caught him jumping up on the bathroom sink to look at himself in the mirror now and then too. But he still doesn’t want another cat in the house. He wants HER.

        But he’s still getting lonely. So we’re going to try finding a little mirror to set by the cat bed so maybe he can feel like he’s curling up with another kitty.

        Reply
        • Amy Shojai

          Ooooh, let me know how he reacts to the mirror. Some cats really get upset and others could care less. *s*

          Reply
          • Karyl

            Yeah we’ll see. Command strips are a wonderful invention. Easy enough to take stuff back off the wall.

          • Karyl

            Well, we had trouble finding mirrors that were safely covered on the edges (the one store we knew would have them had a line a mile long x.x eek last-minute Christmas shoppers) so we tried to let him “borrow” my hand mirror for the evening.

            He sniffed it, curled up next to it… then started looking extremely sad. 🙁 Poor guy…

  3. Vandi Clark

    Aggie sleeps in the closet in the day time. (Yes, this lends itself to all the innuendos.) She prefers to sleep on my feet at night. The strangest cat I had not only slept under the covers by my feet but tried to have her kittens there. Gad what a mess! Aggie and Dreamie grudgingly share space on the bed with each other and with me. They fight over the dog’s cage when Maggie is outside. I have yet to figure out that attraction!

    Reply
    • Amy Shojai

      How funny! Must be the “cave” aspect of the dog’s cage that they like. Oh, and it’s a cat “rule” that they have their babies in the most inconvenient spot for humans as possible, LOL!

      Reply
  4. Caren Gittleman

    Cody is one STRANGE CAT…he doesn’t sleep ON the bed (do you believe it!!???) and he doesn’t sleep under the bed, in fact, he rarely sleeps in the bedroom at all! He has free reign every where and for the life of me I can’t figure it out.
    My Angel Bobo used to LIVE in the bed with me and always slept there. I often wonder, because we adopted Cody two weeks after Bobo (who was my 18 yr old soul kitty) passed, if Bobo’s spirit is STILL in that room and that is why Cody stays away from it?

    Reply

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