Is Your Cat Not Sleeping Enough? How to Tell if Cats Are Missing Sleep

Is Your Cat Not Sleeping Enough?
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vet verified PetCareRx Staff Veterinarian DVM

Since cats snooze so much of the day away to begin with, it can be hard to tell if your cat isn't sleeping enough. Here are some of the signs your cat is having trouble sleeping.

It might surprise you to learn that not all cats are getting the rest that they need. A healthy adult generally snoozes away 50-70% of the day, and kittens and senior cats can sleep as much as 80% of the time. So what should you do if you notice that your cat isn’t getting enough shuteye? Here we’ll look at some tips and techniques for dealing with a wakeful cat.

Rule Out Illness

Any unusual behavior or change in the activity level of your pet should signal that something is not quite right. In the case of restlessness, it’s important to rule out illness, especially if your cat’s restlessness is accompanied by meowing or crying. This could be a sign that your cat is in pain, and cats with illnesses such as heart disease often exhibit restlessness as a primary symptom. Visit your veterinarian to be sure that your cat isn’t losing sleep because they’re sick.

Tips and Techniques

If your cat’s restlessness isn’t the result of a medical problem, it’s time to look at some tips and techniques for getting your cat off to dreamland.

  • Incorporate stimulation into your cat’s daily routine. Provide plenty of interesting toys, build a play area for your cat to explore, and set up bird or squirrel feeders in a place outside where your cat can watch from indoors. Cats are also capable of learning to walk on a leash and perform tricks. A cat who is mentally and physically stimulated is more likely to need rest.

  • You can also zap your cat’s energy right before bedtime by taking part in some interactive games. Throw a ball or fuzzy mouse for your cat, and use toys that can be pulled or dangled. Games that tap into your cat’s prey drive will keep them engaged, so you can keep playing until your cat looks tired.

  • Move one of your cat’s main meals to right before bedtime. Cats -- like most animals -- will become tired after eating a large meal.

  • Consider getting a second cat. Two cats who get along can entertain each other for hours, which means lots of activity during the day and hopefully, rest at night. However if they do wake in the middle of the night, two cats will be more likely to play with each other than to try to rouse you. The only drawback to this setup is the inevitable noise that comes with two cats playing and chasing when the rest of the house is asleep.

  • Unless you think that your cat may be sick or hurt, never give in to their requests for attention in the middle of the night. A cat who succeeds in getting you to wake up -- even if it’s for a scolding -- will become convinced that their efforts are working, and will continue trying to wake you every night. The best bet is to ignore a pestering cat. It may take nerves of steel at first, but eventually your cat will learn that you won’t be taking part in their nighttime shenanigans.

Know When to Seek Help

In some cases, a cat’s sleep problems can be too much for an owner to handle. If you’ve tried everything and your cat is still missing out on rest, consider contacting an Applied Animal Behaviorist, Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB), or Associate Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (ACAAB). These professionals will work with you and your cat to modify the problem. Referrals for these types of experts can be sought through your veterinarian, and you can also view a list of CAABs and ACAABs at the Certified Animal Behaviorist website.

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

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