Is my cat oversleeping?
Questions About Cats

Why Do Cats Sleep So Much When They Get Old?

It seems that felines can doze off anywhere, at any time, and in any circumstances. Senior cats that sleep all day sometimes leave their owners wondering if something is wrong with their health.

Why do older cats sleep so much? It’s natural for cats to sleep for longer (up to 20 hours a day) once they reach senior status (10 years +). A cat’s life is surprisingly tiring. Any time that your cat is awake, they are burning energy. Just staying alert to their surroundings and keeping warm takes effort. Add creaking and arthritic bones, and it’s an exhausting life.

This guide will look at the sleeping habits of senior felines. As long as your cat is otherwise healthy and acting normally, plenty of sleep is to be expected in elderly cats.

How Many Hours Do Senior Cats Sleep?

The average, healthy adult cat spends more hours asleep than they do awake. This could be as much as 16 hours per day, depending on their lifestyle.

By the time a cat reaches senior status, they may spend as much as 20 hours sleeping. That’s more than any stage of the feline life cycle since kittenhood.

Geriatric cats take their sleep much more seriously. This means that you’ll need to respect your pet’s boundaries while they doze. Setting your cat up their own location to sleep in will suit them best.

This will allow your pet to get quality rest, and seek out social time when it suits them. If your pet is kept awake when they’d rather doze, they’ll likely become grumpy and cantankerous.

How your cat spends their four waking hours is very important. If you’re not careful, your pet will get into an unhelpful routine. It’s quite possible that your cat will start waking at 3 am. If they do so, and they’re hungry, expect to be woken up yourself.

Just because your cat is getting on in years, don’t reduce the amount of interaction. Playtimes will become considerably shorter, as senior cats tire quickly.

Why Do Cats Need So Much Sleep?

You may wonder just how your cat can be so tired. After all, all they do is sleep. Humans tend to wake up from such a doze feeling refreshed, so why do cats not?

You have to remember that cats are born hunters. Every instinct they have is geared toward this activity. As a result, cats spend most of their day conserving energy for when they need it. They want to know that they can run, leap, spring, and hunt at any moment.

Thank about what faculties a cat needs while they’re hunting:

  • They’ll be listening intently for any idea of movement
  • Your cat will constantly sniff the air, for any sign of prey
  • Your cat will be watching intently, using enhanced peripheral vision
  • Your cat’s limbs will be wound tight, enabling them to creep and stalk
  • When appropriate, your cat will leap into action. They will jump, chase and swipe at their prey until they catch it

Hunting saps a cat of energy, both mentally and physically. This is why your pet seems to collapse into a nap after playing. Play stimulates the urge to hunt. As a result, your cat will give it all they have before replenishing their energy. They have undergone a cardio workout.

Also, your cat rarely stops being alert while they nap. Cats do not shut down their senses while they sleep. This means that your cat will likely be listening out for potential hunting targets and danger. As natural predators, felines also think like prey. They want to be able to leap into action if they’re threatened. As a result, however, cats rarely fall into a deep sleep.

This is also why a cat rarely sleeps with their stomach exposed. If they do so, they are leaving the most delicate part of their anatomy unprotected. If your cat chooses to lie on their back around you, feel honored. You have earned their undisputed trust.

Your older cat also spends more time in deep sleep to heal themselves. Kittens sleep so much because their bones and muscles grow while they’re at rest. A senior cat’s body is fully-grown, but it has undergone years of wear and tear.

This means that their joints and muscles must be eased through sleep. Even internal organs get a welcome respite while your cat is dozing. As older cats often struggle with their heart, kidneys, and liver, this is essential.

Is My Cat Sleeping Too Much?

If your cat is spending more than 20 hours each day asleep, there may be a problem. This already doesn’t leave much time for anything else.

Your cat will need to eat, hydrate and exercise during their waking hours. If your cat is sleeping when they should be engaging in other activity, it’s concerning.

Take a look at the circumstances surrounding your cat’s excessive dozing. There are sometimes additional reasons for cats sleeping at length. Rainy days, for example, will inspire your cat to doze.

Cats often sleep through wet weather, waiting for it to pass. Winter will also see more dozing, too, due to the dark skies. All the same, 20 hours should be more than long enough.

You should also ensure that you know the difference between sleeping and napping. If your cat appears to have one eye or ear open, they’re just relaxing.

This is natural. Older cats are always more sedentary, as a rule. If they keep slipping into a deeper sleep, however, something may be up.

There is always a chance that your cat is unwell. They may be sleeping because, bluntly, it hurts too much to do anything else. If your cat has feline herpesvirus, for example, sleep is fine.

That’s the only way that your pet will get any better. If you’re not aware of sickness, however, speak to a vet. Even a contented senior cat cannot sleep all day and stay healthy.

My Senior Cat is in a Really Deep Sleep

Just because a cat spends so much time dozing, it doesn’t mean that they’re fast asleep. Even while sleeping, cats like to retain an air of constant awareness.

They’re usually snatched from their slumber by the slightest change in circumstances around them. If your older cat is suddenly very difficult to rouse, they may be losing their hearing.

Remember, your cat’s senses of hearing and smell usually remain active while they’re dozing. It’s unlikely that you’ll impact upon the latter, but your cat’s ears pick up all activity.

This could be something as subtle as the skittering of a mouse nearby. This certainly means that your cat should react if you call their name.

We should probably specify what me mean by react here. Your cat will not necessarily wake up and come running just because you called them. In fact, that’s unlikely.

If your cat isn’t in the mood to interact, they won’t. You should, however, notice some kind of acknowledgement. This could be a twitch of their ears, or a swish of their tail.

If your cat is showing no signs of heeding you, test their hearing. A vet, who will have access to professional apparatus, can do this for you. However, there are also some experiments that you can do at home. Pet Health Network recommends:

  • Tearing a sheet of paper behind your cat’s back
  • Crinkling a sheet of tin foil behind your cat’s back
  • Jangling a set of keys over your cat’s head
  • Make a hissing sound
  • Rustling a bag of kibble or treats, or tapping a tin of food with a fork

If your cat does not respond to any these stimuli, they’re likely going deaf. Your cat may also seem startled when you walk behind them, too.

A deaf cat can still live a full and happy life, with adjustments. When it comes to sleep, however, you must never physically wake them. If your pet is snoozing on your favorite armchair, leave them to it.

You’ll have to let your cat wake up naturally, no matter how long that takes. Shaking a sleeping cat is bad for both of you. You will earn scratches and bites, and your pet even go into shock.

Is my cat sleeping more because it's sick?

Comfortable Cat Sleeping Positions

If your senior cat is going to spend more of their day asleep, they may as well be comfortable. Buzzsharer discuss the many and varied sleeping positions of cats. The coziest sleeping positions for a cat are as follows:

  • Lying on their side, paws outstretched
  • Lying on their back, belly exposed
  • Lying on their front, paws and tail tucked in their body

One position to look out for is your cat curled into a tight ball. This position often indicates a feline in pain. This is especially likely in a senior cat.

Older cats joints aren’t as flexible as they once were, making this a tricky position to assume. If they’re prepared to contort themselves in such a fashion, other pain clearly supersedes their joints.

How to Make a Senior Cat Comfortable While Sleeping

A senior cat needs softness, warmth, and peace and quiet to sleep.

A quality, cozy place to sleep is vital to senior cats. This means that you may need to invest in a new bed. Ensure that your cat has space to stretch, but still feels secure and contained. Plenty of soft blankets are also essential. These will ease any aches and pains in your pet’s joints.

Your cat will need to be warm. Consider positioning their bed close to a radiator, or another heat source. If this is not possible, apply a hot water bottle to their bed. You’ll have to ensure this doesn’t burn their skin, however. Tucking the hot water bottle under a blanket is a happy medium.

Ensure that your cat’s bed is housed in a quiet part of the house. This means somewhere away from footfall, and not too close to a television or stereo. If you have a spare room, this is ideal. Cats that have a quiet place to call their own for sleep are generally much happier.