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Why Do Cats Sleep So Much?

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If you’ve ever looked at your happily dozing cat with envy, you’re not alone. Their life is essentially one long nap interrupted by food, grooming, play and mischief. In fact, cats sleep an average of 16-18 hours a day, which leaves little time for much else. But why do these little lazy furballs require so much shut eye?

Though a domestic cat’s lifestyle can hardly be compared to that of their wild family members, they share similar physiological processes and evolutionary instincts. A predatory cat’s survival depends on successfully stalking and killing their prey. And if you’ve ever stumbled across footage of the chase in action, you’d agree that it looks pretty exhausting. To fuel their short bursts of activity, cats use a special form of sugar that replenishes slowly. Conserving energy between bouts of exertion is just one strategy in their bag of tricks that helps them come out on top.

However, even if you’re a lion, the dusty plains aren’t always safe. Much of a cat’s sleep can actually be considered dozing, where they remain alert enough to respond swiftly to disturbances in the environment. Like humans, cats cycle between REM and non-REM sleep; however, deep sleep only lasts 5 minutes while lighter dozing lasts from 15-30 minutes. It’s important to be hyper vigilant when roaming hands might want to pet you when you’re not in the mood.

In addition to your cat’s love of naps, you may have also noticed their uncanny ability to wind up as you’re winding down. You’ve probably also been on the receiving end of a 6am wakeup call, delivered to your face by their paw. The reason for this is that cats are crepuscular, meaning they’re most active in the low light hours of dawn and dusk. As a fierce predator it makes sense - as a domesticated feline not so much. Luckily, cats are adaptable and can adjust their sleeping patterns to fit human schedules. They’re sociable creatures that would prefer to spend most of their waking hours interacting with the ones they love.

So there you go, cats actually have a pretty decent excuse for their sedentary lifestyle. Well, wild cats anyway.

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