A number of our clients have expressed concern that their cat sleeps too much. They worry all that sleep means their pet’s health is off.
Sleeping habits can sometimes provide a heads-up that something is amiss, but before you let your cat’s frequent dozing give you consternation, bear in mind that a healthy adult cat sleeps an average of 16 hours in a 24-hour period — some a little more, some a little less. An active kitten sleeps a good 20 hours a day. So you should expect to frequently see your pet in repose. If you do right by your cat and engage her in a lot of daily play and training, her time spent in slumber will increase. And older cats, just like older people, like to nap more than younger ones.
It’s not a deep sleep during all those hours. Cats are actually aware of their surroundings on some level during their cat naps. As predators, their instinct is to always be ready to capture their next meal. They’re snoozing most of the time rather than deep in Dreamland.
When sleeping habits change
The time to take notice is if your cat starts sleeping more or less than usual but there has been no change in her activity level and the shift can’t be attributed to aging. In such cases, her sleep habits can be a sign of pain, or a medical condition that needs tending. Possible causes of excess sleeping include a viral or bacterial infection, obesity, arthritis, and depression (stemming possibly from the loss of a companion cat). Diabetes can render a cat more lethargic/sleepy, too.
If a cat starts sleeping less than usual, there’s a possibility she has developed hyperthyroidism — secretion of too much thyroid hormone that has to be treated medically. A cat with this disease might literally seem hyperactive.
Bottom line: If your cat seems like a couch potato much of the time, she’s just being a cat. If you distinctly notice that her sleep level has increased or decreased, it’s a good idea to check in with her doctor.