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

Is Your Cat Not Sleeping Enough?
expert or vet photo
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.

What happens if a kitten doesn't sleep enough?

One immediate consequence of sleep deprivation in kittens is increased irritability and restlessness. Similar to humans, sleep-deprived kittens can become moody, easily agitated, and exhibit signs of hyperactivity. They may struggle to concentrate or focus on tasks, leading to difficulties in learning and training. Their coordination and motor skills may also be affected, making them more prone to accidents or clumsiness. Furthermore, inadequate sleep can weaken a kitten's immune system, leaving it more susceptible to illnesses and infections. Sleep is essential for the body to produce and release important immune cells and antibodies that help fight off pathogens. Without sufficient rest, a kitten's immune response may be compromised, making it more vulnerable to diseases. Long-term sleep deprivation in kittens can have even more severe consequences. It can hinder their physical growth and development, potentially leading to stunted growth or delays in reaching important milestones. Their cognitive abilities may suffer, affecting their learning capacity and problem-solving skills. Chronic sleep deprivation may also contribute to behavioral issues, including aggression, anxiety, and an inability to cope with stress.

How much sleep is enough for a cat?

The amount of sleep needed by a cat can vary depending on several factors, including age, health, and individual temperament. On average, adult cats sleep for approximately 12 to 16 hours a day, with some cats sleeping up to 20 hours. Kittens and senior cats tend to sleep even more, often exceeding 20 hours per day. Cats are crepuscular animals, meaning they are most active during dawn and dusk, so they may have shorter periods of intense activity interspersed with longer periods of rest. Cats are natural predators, and conserving energy through sleep allows them to be ready for bursts of hunting or play. It's important to note that while cats sleep a lot, the quality of their sleep is also crucial. They cycle through light sleep and deep sleep, entering REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, where they experience dreams. Ensuring a peaceful and comfortable sleep environment for cats, with a cozy bed or hiding spot, can contribute to their overall well-being.

Do indoor cats sleep at night?

Indoor cats typically follow a sleep schedule that is similar to that of their outdoor counterparts. Thus, they are likely to sleep at night. Since cats are crepuscular creatures, they are by nature, more active at dawn and night. Even while they could be more animated and energetic at these times, they still need a lot of relaxation, including time to sleep at night. Cats are flexible animals, so it's vital to keep in mind that their sleeping habits might be influenced by their surroundings and daily activities. Indoor cats may alter their sleeping patterns to fit in with the household routines or activities of their owners. For instance, if the household is quiet and calm during the night, the cat is more likely to sleep during those hours. Some indoor cats may also experience bursts of energy during the night, known as "zoomies," where they engage in playful behavior. In such cases, providing outlets for mental and physical stimulation, such as interactive toys or play sessions before bedtime, can help in promoting a more restful night's sleep. It is essential to create a comfortable sleeping environment for indoor cats, with access to cozy beds or designated resting areas that provide security and warmth.

Do cats sleep more at night or day?

Cats often sleep more during the day and are more active at night. Cats have nocturnal inclinations in addition to being crepuscular, which means they are most active around dawn and twilight. This habit is a product of their evolutionary past as solitary hunters, which frequently required them to remain active at night when their prey was most active. Even when they reside in household settings, cats have maintained this inherent inclination. Cats may exhibit exploratory activity, play, and hunting-like behaviors at night when the environment is quieter, and there are fewer interruptions. They have excellent night vision, heightened senses, and the ability to move stealthily, making the nighttime hours conducive to their hunting instincts. To preserve energy after their nightly activity, cats may go through periods of relaxation and sleep during the day. This is particularly true for indoor cats, whose surroundings are often quieter during the daytime while people are at home or away at work. Cats may choose to find cozy nooks where they feel secure or take naps or relax while enjoying the warmth of the sun.

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.

Was this article helpful?
Heart Disease

You May Also Like