Unsplash | Jonathan Fink

Cats love to sleep. Your best feline friend will often take themselves off to their preferred spot for a snooze.

And they will typically emerge from slumber for a few reasons: to eat, play, patrol their territory, and receive much-deserved attention.

Even though your cat’s sleep behaviors might seem unusual compared to yours, they could be completely normal for a cat. Here’s what we know.


How long do cats sleep?

According to Sleep Foundation, more than half of cats sleep between 12 and 18 hours a day1, and nearly 40% of cats sleep more than 18 hours per day. As they grow older, a majority of cats sleep for more hours each day than they did in their younger years.

Cats have a polyphasic sleep pattern2, which means they sleep multiple times each day rather than in one, long period, like humans generally sleep. These cat naps average 78 minutes in length. However, cats commonly sleep for periods of time ranging from 50 to 113 minutes.


Do cats dream?

Like humans, cats also experience REM sleep, which is the type of sleep in which humans dream, too. Cats also experience non-rapid eye movement (NREM).

Research shows that cats often experience a period of alertness and activity8 before becoming drowsy and then falling into NREM sleep. During this NREM stage, your cat may be lightly asleep and ready to awake at a moment’s notice. After NREM sleep, the cat may become alert again and cycle through alertness, drowsiness, and NREM sleep a few times.

Eventually in the cycle, cats transition from NREM to REM sleep. During REM sleep, the eyes move behind closed eyelids. In cats, the eyes can move both horizontally and vertically.  If you spot their eyes or ears twitching, or hear a rogue meow or squeak, it’s probably because they’re in the REM phase.


When too much sleep is a concern

If you observe an unusual change, especially alongside other symptoms, talk to your veterinarian to determine the cause of your cat’s changes and identify if they are normal or require further investigation.

Here are signs of excessive sleep and lethargy in cats:

KIDNEY DISEASE: Cats with kidney disease tend to eat less food, drink more water, sleep more, and be more vocal at night.

DEAFNESS: Deaf cats sleep more, possibly because their sleep is not as easily disturbed by sound. Other symptoms include increased vocalizations during the day and at night, reduced appetite, and weight loss.

HYPOTHYROIDISM: This thyroid hormone deficiency can appear in juvenile and adult cats. Symptoms include lethargy, hair loss, and decreased appetite.




SLEEP FOUNDATION: “How Many Hours Do Cats Sleep?”