Cats can spend up to 85% of their lives sleeping, snoozing, napping, relaxing and chilling. Which if you think about it, is a very sensible way to go about your business. If I could get away with it, I’d definitely spend 15 hours a day in bed. Teabag’s record… is 20 hours out of 24, which in napping terms is quite an achievement.
The obvious answer here is: “Because they can!” and it also has some real basis, I’m not just being facetious. Big cats have very little ahead of them on the food chain, and so they don’t really have to be afraid of anything walking up and trying to eat them while they are asleep. This trait has undoubtedly passed itself down to your average domesticated cat.
Cat’s also need to conserve as much energy as possible, as predators they are built to expend huge amounts of energy stalking, chasing and catching their prey and so whether they’re napping to recoup spent energy or just saving up for the next big hunt, what your cat is doing is actually very important.
Broadly speaking, cats have 3 different types of sleep. Naps, REM Sleep and Deep Sleep. They are, pretty much like humans and other mammals in this respect.
Naps usually last around 20-30 minutes and your cat will usually be quite alert and ready to go if needs be, a halfway decent comparison would be when you, yourself are really tired, and you know going to bed will be a mistake because you’ll be up strimming the hedges at 4am if you do, so you just close your eyes. You’re semi-aware of everything going on around you, can still hear voices and are aware if someone has entered the room. After 20-30 minutes you feel better, right? Well that’s the closest thing to a cat nap.
If you have never done this, then it’s great, you should try it. It was the first thing that Teabag taught me, and part of our owner/pet agreement that if I wanted to be his “recognised owner” then I would have to learn how to “shut up and chill out.” I’m going to say it… sometimes he is right!
REM stands for “Rapid Eye Movement” and it is a state of sleep characterized by the same. It has pretty much been proven by our friendly helpful sleep scientists that it is while we are in REM sleep that we dream, it is also widely believed that this is when our brains process all the new information we learned since we last slept. Typically cats and people alternate between REM sleep and Deep sleep, throughout each period of “sleep” with REM sleep being the shallower of the two states and easiest to wake from.
Deep sleep is when your cat, (this goes for humans too) does all its repairing of tissue, growing of muscle and bone and building of its immune system. It is in this type of sleep that your cat will be completely relaxed and often lying on one side. It is after a period of such sleep that a cat will typically make a big deal of yawning, stretching and blinking, as it takes a while to shake off a good deep sleep.
If you keep an eye on how, when and where your cat sleeps you’ll be able to work out what is normal for your cat and be able to see any changes which might indicate sickness or ill health.