Why Do Cats Sleep a Lot?

by Susan Paretts, Demand Media Google
    Cats tend to sleep after meals.

    Cats tend to sleep after meals.

    Cats spend most of their time asleep, but why? There are actually a number of reasons your furry feline spends up to 75 percent of the day snoozing, including your kitty's natural predatory instincts. In addition, his age, health and weight all play a role in his napping habits.

    Natural Instincts

    Cats are predators by instinct and need to expend a lot of energy in their pursuit of prey. The process of stalking, chasing and catching prey to eat expends a lot of energy, according to PetMD. Your cat makes up for this energy loss with frequent catnaps throughout the day. While your domestic kitty may not need to hunt for his dinner like his ancestors did, he retains these instincts to sleep for an average of 16 to 18 hours a day to conserve his energy, according to VetInfo. Most of this sleep occurs during the day and only some of the night. This is because cats are most active at dawn or dusk. These are the times a cat in the wild would tend to hunt.

    Age

    Your cat's age greatly affects his activity level. Young kittens, under 1 year old, tend to sleep more than adult cats while they are still growing. Newborn kittens actually sleep most of the day for their first few weeks of life. Senior cats, over 7 years old, slow down and sleep more than their younger counterparts. Conditions like arthritis and other joint issues tend to impair your older cat's mobility, making him more apt to sleep for a longer period of time. Consult your veterinarian to see if there are any medications or supplements you can give your senior kitty to alleviate his discomfort and increase his mobility.

    Boredom

    Your indoor furbaby can easily become bored during the day, especially when he is left by himself. A bored cat will sleep more than one that has plenty of activities to do. Provide your cat with plenty of toys he can bat around the home. Some toys are battery operated and move automatically. These toys imitate the movements of a mouse or other type of prey that your cat can chase. A furry companion in the form of another cat may also alleviate your cat's boredom and keep him more active during the day.

    Illness

    While awake, you should find your kitty attacking and playing with his favorite toys or zipping around your home at top speed before he sets off to take another nap. If he seems to be sleeping more than usual or appears lethargic when he's awake, it's time to bring him to the veterinarian for a checkup. Several illnesses, including anemia and hypothyroidism, can cause your cat to become lethargic and sleep more than usual, according to The Merck Veterinary Manual.

    Obesity

    An overweight feline doesn't have the same amount of energy as one that is at the correct weight level for his size. Those extra pounds slow your kitty down, leading to further weight gain and the possible development of several health issues. To increase your cat's energy level and decrease his weight, speak with your vet about putting him on a diet cat food. These foods contain more fiber and less calories than traditional cat food, so that your cat can safely lose weight over time. Cats that lose weight too quickly can develop hepatic lipidosis, a potentially fatal condition that can result in liver failure, according to PetMD. With a proper diet and regular exercise, your kitty will blossom into an active, svelte cat.

    About the Author

    Based in Las Vegas, Susan Paretts has been writing since 1998. She writes about many subjects including pets, crafts, television, shopping and going green. Her articles, short stories and reviews have appeared in "The Southern California Anthology" and on Epinions. Paretts holds a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.

    Photo Credits

    • cat sleeping covered with blanket image by Nino Pavisic from Fotolia.com