Cats have long been known as notorious nappers, seeming to sleep almost anywhere and at anytime, but they all possess a unique sleep cycle and habits that are quite complex and varied. Cats may seem to be sleeping a lot, but their sleep habits are actually quite different from our own. Understanding these sleep habits can help cat owners ensure that they are providing the best environment for their cats to ensure a happy and healthy nap time.
At times cats may appear to be sleeping deeply, but they are actually in a light sleep mode most of the time. Cats are in a near constant state of alertness, even throughout a nap, allowing them to respond quickly to a potential threat. This alertness means that cats actually don’t ever enter into a deep sleep state; they may doze off, but they will stay aware of their surroundings. This is what gives cats the ability to respond so quickly to sudden noises or movements.
Cat owners all have a different sleep schedule than their feline friends. Cats typically have a period of activity within the early morning and evening hours, and their snoozes happen during the day. Unfortunately, humans and cats have opposite schedules. So, if your cat is meowing first thing in the morning, don’t be annoyed – they are still going to bed late, while you are just getting up! Help your cat find the best place to rest their head by providing a safe and comfortable spot that will promote sound sleep and help support their personal sleep cycle.
Cats have a lot of unique sleeping habits, such as their risky choice of sleeping spots. One of the most popular places for cats to take their midday snoozes is on top of a warm electronic device like a laptop or a phone. This is a behavior that cats have adapted from our own behaviors – they want to take a spot that meets our standards for comfort. So the best way to help your cat sleep on something that is actually safe and comfortable is to offer them a soft, cozy spot like a bed or a blanket.
Another surprising fact about cats is that they actually sleep with their eyes open! While this may be alarming for owners at first, it is actually a normal behavior. Cats can keep up their vigilance while sleeping by opening their eyes and keeping their ears alert for any potential threats. Owners should know that eye discharge may occur if cats sleep for too long with their eyes open, so make sure to keep an eye on them and make sure they are getting sufficient rest.
Cats also tend to sleep in short spurts. Despite their reputation for sleeping all day, cats typically only take short snoozes lasting approximately 15-20 minutes a session. Unlike humans, felines are not able to proceed through the full, restorative sleep cycle. That means cats need multiple short-term naps during the day to achieve a restorative rest. This is why cats will often rouse themselves and move to a different spot to repeat this cycle several times a day. Multi-cat households often develop complicated sleep patterns based on their needs and personalities – the most interesting of which have been known to put even humans to shame.
Health Benefits of Sound Sleep
Cats, like humans, benefit from a good night’s sleep in order to stay healthy and their sleep habits will reflect in their overall wellbeing. A well-rested cat will be more active, resilient, and sociable than an exhausted one. Getting the right amount of sleep will also help cats avoid becoming overweight and may help them live longer, healthier lives.
Moreover, sound sleep also enables cats to stay safe and healthy as cats who are in their sleeping depth may miss out on potential threats or potential prey. Therefore, cats’ sleep behaviors are important and linked to their overall survival.
The clearest sign that your cat is well-rested is that they will be able to be more active; chasing toys, exploring, playing, and more.
Cats can also learn from us to help manage their sleep cycles. Children and most adults generally have a consistent sleep cycle – that is going to bed and waking up around the same time – which has been linked to overall better health measures. If your cat has been sleeping poorly, try to figure out a schedule that works for both you and your cat. Having a consistent sleep pattern that your cat can get used to will help your cat stay on track when it comes to its sleep cycle.
A good night’s sleep can be beneficial for cats in various ways, from reducing anxiety to a regaining of energy. Owners have the added advantage of being able to provide the cats with a comfortable, consistent sleeping spot, ensuring your cat has the best chance of getting a good night’s sleep.
A Guide to the Potential Risks of Cat Sleep
Just like humans, cats can develop a number of sleep-related issues if their habits are not kept in check. The most common of these problems is insomnia, which can be caused by environmental factors such as temperature, noise, or a disruption in their routine. Stressed cats may also be more prone to insomnia, so it’s important to keep an eye on their behavior to identify if this could be an issue. Fortunately, most cats who’ve undergone a change in sleep patterns can bounce back fairly easily.
However, more serious sleep-related issues can arise if cats are under too much stress. Stress can cause cats to have difficulty to achieve deep sleep, leading them to be more restless during their day-time snoozes. This can then lead to them skipping their rest altogether, causing anxiety and poor health. Healthy, content cats will be able to take sounder naps and reap the full health benefits from a good night’s sleep.
Providing your cat with an ideal sleeping environment, with the right bedding and temperature, the use of toys and scent-soothing catnip, can help your cat settle in, switch off and get some much-needed rest. It is important to keep in mind, however, that cats will quickly move onto the next spot if their current place no longer gives them the right level of comfort.
Finally, just be mindful of your cat’s nurturing instincts when it comes to their own sleeping space. While you cannot fully control a cat’s sleep behavior, you can offer them amenities that will help them rest and recalibrate. All cats possess an inner drive for routine and security, and cats will recognize this and take what they need for self-care.
The Impact of Stress on Sleep
One of the biggest determinants of healthy cat sleep is eliminating any sources of stress from their environment. Cats are easily distressed by changes around the home such as moving furniture, rearranging their sleeping area, having a new home member, or dealing with a lot of outside noise. Cats are intuitive and can quickly recognize any underlying fears or emotions in their owners. Because of this, it’s important to ensure that your own stress levels are kept low.
If your cat is exhibiting signs of stress, it can be difficult to stay positive, but try to remember that your cat is only responding to their environment. Common symptoms include excessive meowing, pacing, and restlessness. This can then create a perpetual cycle as the underlying stress can cause their sleeping patterns to be disrupted and lack of sleep will increase anxious behavior too.
It can also be beneficial to offer them plenty of interactive toys or simple scratching posts and beds to give them an outlet for their anxiety and a place to curl up afterward. A calm, tranquil environment will allow cats to relax and de-stress, facilitating deeper sleep. This can easily be achieved with the right décor and a few calming scents – think lavender, bergamot, or a little chamomile tea – which can go a long way in creating a peaceful atmosphere.
What to Do if Your Cat is Not Sleeping Well
If your cat is having difficulty sleeping or you notice any changes in their behavior that could be linked to sleep, there are steps that you can take. Firstly, check their environment to see if there are any triggers that could be causing stress or discomfort, such as harsh lighting, loud noises, or a disruption in their routine.
If possible, try to alter the environment to make it more cat-friendly – offering them a new resting spot, helpful distractions, and, if necessary, a more soundproof environment. Secondly, pay attention to your cat’s diet and activity levels – try to establish a routine and set aside time for them to take part in regular exercise. If you suspect that your cat is experiencing mental health issues, contact a vet or consult a cat behavioral expert as soon as possible.
It is important to remember that cats have their own unique sleep preferences, habits, and rhythms, so as owners we should be mindful of their need to rest and pay attention to any changes. With the right level of understanding and the right environment, cats can take naps to the next level and reap all the health benefits that come along with it.