How does a cat sleep? What is his sleep pattern?


It is well known, the cat is an animal which sleeps a lot. Unfortunately, his rest times are very different from those of humans, which can cause your little companion to wake you up in the middle of the night, when he is in great shape.

But what makes the cat sleep so much? And how does his sleep go? All the answers to these questions can be found in this article.

The cat’s activity periods

The cat is a naturally crepuscular animal, which means that its most important periods of activity are at sunrise and sunset.

If he tends to keep you awake at night because he’s in great shape, make a habit of tiring him out before bed. Running him with a toy, such as a feather hanging from the end of a string, for example, can tire him. This will let you sleep.

If it wakes you up in the morning, it’s a more complicated problem to deal with. Try to punish him by spraying water on him using a spray bottle that you previously placed next to you, so that he associates waking you up with an uncomfortable feeling.

You can also try changing his meal times by giving him lunch and dinner, instead of giving him morning and evening for example.

The number of hours a cat rests: a natural need

Over a 24 hour period, a cat sleeps an average of 15 to 17 hours, which means that our feline friends sleep about two-thirds of their lives.

However, this number of hours of sleep does not mean that cats are animals that have become lazy with domestication. This need, on the contrary, dates from the time when they were wild animals. They then needed to hunt for food, and as food was sometimes scarce, cats slept to save energy, while their prey remained much more awake, on the lookout for a potential predator.

Cat sleep: a brain activity similar to humans

Several scientific studies have been carried out using an electroencephalogram (EEG) to compare the brain activity of cats and humans during sleep. We noticed that when we sleep, our brain activity is not that different from that of the cat. Just like for humans, the cat’s sleep takes place in different successive phases.

The phase of mental rest

This phase of sleep lasts between twenty and thirty minutes. It allows the body to regenerate its cells to stay healthy. The electroencephalogram shows that during this phase, the brain waves are slow and of great amplitude. Physically, this translates into slower breathing, relaxed muscles, and of course, closed eyelids in cats.

Most often during this phase, the cat will be in a ball, or then stretched out at full length. This happens many times in a day, and can represent nine to twelve hours of an adult cat’s total sleep. In a kitten, this phase is almost nonexistent.

The REM phase of sleep

After the mental rest phase is the phase of paradoxical sleep, which is particularly present in kittens. According to the EEG, brain waves are much faster and show low amplitude.

This phase is also called the “dream phase”, since during this period the whiskers, paws, eyes, tail or ears may move, as if the cat were reacting to a dream. However, no study has proven that the cat is actually dreaming. On the other hand, they revealed that the cat was the animal with the most REM sleep phases.

Light sleep: another form of sleep in cats

A cat’s light sleep is one of the reflexes that it has retained from its wild state. During this phase, the cat does not really sleep, it dozes. In the wild, he would be ready to react to the slightest danger or to jump on the slightest prey that would pass within his reach.

This phase is easily recognized in cats. Indeed, his ears are contracted, directed outwards, and they react to the slightest noise.

Sleep problems in cats

There are many factors that can affect a cat’s sleep. Stress, medication, annoyance such as the new presence of one of its congeners, age or even an illness.

If you notice that your cat is sleeping a lot more than usual, take the trouble to consult a veterinarian, it could be from pain or even from an illness.

If the cat, on the other hand, sleeps less than usual, something is certainly disturbing him. Think about what might be bothering him, it could be a move, a new person in the house, or any major change. If nothing occurs to you, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with your vet either.