Felines of all ages seem to sleep their lives away. As cats get older, the amount of rest that they need each day continues to increase, leaving us wondering if something is wrong with their health.
It’s normal for a cat to sleep for up to 20 hours a day once she reaches senior status (11+ years old). When your cat is awake, she’s burning energy. Staying alert to her surroundings (checking for predators, hunting opportunities, staying warm, etc.) is tiring work. Health issues, such as arthritic bones and joints, which occur as part of the aging process are also exhausting.
Conversely, a senior cat that suddenly has an excess of energy may have hyperthyroidism, according to the Tree House Humane Society. It’s sudden changes in energy level beyond what’s normal for your cat that is concerning. We will look at the sleeping habits of senior cats. As long as your feline is happy and healthy, more sleep is to be expected in elderly cats than adult cats.
How Many Hours Do Senior Cats Sleep?
The average, healthy adult cat spends more hours asleep than she does awake. This could be as much as 16 hours per day, depending on her lifestyle.
By the time a cat reaches senior status, she 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 she dozes. Giving your cat her own location to sleep will suit her well.
This will allow your pet to get quality rest and seek out social time when it suits her. If your pet is kept awake when she’d rather be resting will make her grumpy and irritable.
How your cat spends her 4 waking hours is very important. If you’re not careful, your pet will get into a bad routine. It’s possible that your cat will start waking up at 3 am. If she does so, and she’s hungry, she may wake you up to meet her food/drink/petting needs.
Just because your cat is getting on in years doesn’t mean that you should reduce the amount of interaction. Playtimes will become considerably shorter, though, as senior cats tire out more quickly.
Why Do Cats Need So Much Sleep?
You may wonder just how your cat can be so tired all the time. After all, all she does is sleep. Humans tend to wake up from a doze feeling refreshed, so why is that not the case for cats?
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 the most.
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:
- She’ll be listening intently for any signs of movement.
- Your cat will constantly sniff the air for any signs of prey.
- She’ll be watching intently, using her enhanced peripheral vision.
- Your cat’s limbs will be wound tight, enabling her to creep and stalk.
- When appropriate, your cat will leap into action. She will jump, chase, and swipe at her prey until she catches 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 she has before replenishing her energy. She has undergone a complete cardio workout.
Also, your cat rarely stops being alert while she naps. 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 dangers. As natural predators, felines also think like prey. They want to be able to leap into action if they’re threatened. As a result, cats rarely fall into a deep sleep.
This is also why a cat rarely sleeps with her 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 herself. Kittens sleep so much because their bones and muscles grow while they’re resting. A senior cat’s body is fully-grown, but it has undergone years of wear and tear.
This means that her joints and muscles must be eased through sleep. Even internal organs get welcome respite while your cat is dozing. As older cats typically start to struggle with their heart, kidneys, and liver, this becomes increasingly essential.
Is My Cat Sleeping Too Much?
If your cat is spending more than 20 hours each day asleep, there may be a health problem. This already doesn’t leave much time for anything else.
Your cat will need to eat, hydrate, and exercise during the hours that she’s awake. If your cat is sleeping when she should be engaging in other activities, it’s very concerning.
Take a look at the circumstances surrounding your cat’s excessive dozing. There are sometimes additional reasons why cats sleep for so long. 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 of rest should be 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, then she’s just relaxing.
This is natural. As a rule, older cats are always more sedentary. If she keeps slipping into a deeper sleep, something may be wrong with her.
There is always a chance that your cat is unwell. She may be sleeping because, putting it bluntly, it hurts too much to do anything else. If your cat has feline herpesvirus, for example, sleep is fine.
My Senior Cat is in a Deep Sleep
Just because a cat spends so much time dozing doesn’t mean that she’s fast asleep. Even while sleeping, cats like to remain in a state of constant awareness.
Cats are usually removed from their slumber by the slightest change in circumstances around them. If your older cat is suddenly difficult to rouse, she may be losing her hearing.
Remember, your cat’s senses of hearing and smell usually remain active while they’re dozing. This could be something as subtle as the rustling of nearby leaves.
Your cat will not necessarily wake up and come running just because you called her. If your cat isn’t in the mood to interact, then she won’t. You should receive an acknowledgment. This could be a twitch of her ears or a swish of her tail.
If your cat is showing no signs of heeding you, get her hearing tested. 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 the following:
- Tearing a sheet of paper, or crinkling 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 pet food with a fork
If your cat does not respond to any these stimuli, she’s likely to be losing her hearing. Your cat may also seem startled when you walk behind her.
A deaf cat can still live a full-and-happy life with adjustments. When it comes to sleep, you must never physically wake her. If your pet is snoozing on your favorite armchair, leave her to it.
Comfortable Cat Sleeping Positions
If your senior cat is going to spend more time asleep, she may as well be comfortable. Buzzsharer discusses the sleeping positions of cats. The coziest sleeping positions for a cat are as follows:
- Lying on her side with paws outstretched
- Lying on her back with belly exposed
- Lying on her front paws with tail tucked in her body
One position to look out for is your cat curled into a tight ball. This position often indicates that a feline is in pain. Older cats joints aren’t as flexible, making this a tricky position to assume. If she’s prepared to contort themselves in this way, then other pain supersedes that of her joints.
How to Make a Senior Cat Comfortable While Sleeping
A senior cat needs softness, warmth, and quiet to sleep. This means that you may need to get her a new bed. Ensure that your cat has space to stretch, but still feels secure and contained. Soft blankets are also essential as they will ease any aches and pains in your pet’s joints.
Your cat will need to be warm. Consider positioning her bed close to a radiator, or another heat source. If not possible, put a hot water bottle under a comfortable blanket in her bed.
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. If you have a spare room, this is ideal. Cats that have a quiet place for sleep will be happier and more contented pets.