The Science Behind Cat Naps | Dr. Elsey's
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The Science Behind Cat Naps

The phrase “taking a cat nap” was coined for a good reason — our feline friends seem to be the sleepiest pet you can own. While we might just think they love to lounge around, there’s actually a science behind why cats nap on and off throughout the day.

Feline Instincts
Does your cat keep you up at night with their zoomies or kneading your blankets? Despite what you may think, they’re not trying to keep you from getting your full eight hours of sleep. Felines are “crepuscular,” meaning that they’re the most active during the hours of the night. When they take their cat naps periodically throughout the day, they’re actually gearing up for a night of prowling around.

These nighttime bursts of energy are in their genes, no matter how domesticated your pet might be. It also has to do with cats being “obligate” carnivores, meaning they rely on meat to survive — this type of diet gives your cat short bursts of energy, compared to the more plant-based diets of dogs and other animals. It’s in their nature to save up these short intervals of energy for a nighttime hunt like their larger relatives.

Sleeping With One Eye Open
Is your cat falling into their REM cycle during these cat naps? The short answer is most likely not. Although their eyes are closed, cats are very aware of their surroundings when napping. You may notice your cat’s ears twitching or perking up when they’re snoozing, and that’s because they’re staying aware of the noises in their environment. About three-fourths of your cat’s naps are spent in a semi-aware state, while the other fourth is more of a deep sleep.

How Much Sleep Is Too Much For My Cat?
If your cat sleeps all day, how do you tell if they’re sick or acting abnormally? Their sleep pattern depends a lot on their age — kittens tend to sleep for most of the day with spurts of energy at night, while mature cats have more of a regular pattern for their sleep schedules. If your cat’s sleep pattern starts to include any dramatic or irregular changes, consult your veterinarian for their recommendations.

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