Why do cats sleep so much?

orange kitten asleep inside a man's shoe

Cats tend to be viewed as lazy because of how much they sleep. In fact, there’s a widely accepted myth that cats need to sleep 20 hours per day! But active, healthy cats shouldn’t be sleeping that much.

In a study in Applied Animal Behaviour Science, outdoor cats were fitted with cameras to study their behaviors. Contrary to popular thinking, the researchers discovered that active cats don’t sleep all day. In fact, these cats were almost always on alert—even while resting. The study cats watched each other, scanned their domain, and socialized with other cats. But they didn’t really sleep that much.

The problem is, our indoor cats have everything they need, so there’s less to do. They’re probably bored, and using sleep as a way to cope. And all that extra sleep can lead to physical and mental health problems.

So what can you do to make sure your cat isn’t sleeping too much?

Well, if you’re unable or uncomfortable giving them some supervised outdoor time, you’ll need to provide some indoor enrichment. Here are three easy ways you can start today!

Make play a priority – Setting aside just 10 minutes a day to actively play with your cat can give your cat the stimulation he needs. If you’ve never played with your cat before, try starting out with a wand toy, like our Wiggly Wand. Most cats will go nuts for these kinds of toys because they so easily mimic real prey they might hunt in the wild. Just be sure you’re not simply waving the wand in your cat’s face. Think about how mice, bugs, birds and other critters move and mimic it!

tabby cat ready to pounce crouched next to a Hide and Sneak cat tunnel toy

Create an indoor playground – In the wild, cats love to hide and pounce on their prey. That’s one of the reasons the Hide and Sneak was one of my first products. Cats love tunnels. They also love boxes, bags, and other hiding places where they can watch their surroundings while also feeling safe and secure. In fact, you can make them a full-blown kitty playground with only a few household items. 

Let them forage for food – Cats are hunters who also will forage for food. But in our homes, the food is readily available and plentiful. They don’t have much need to hunt or seek out food sources. However, the drive is still there. One of the easiest ways to enrich a cat’s meal times is to think of ways to make them hunt their food. Hide some treats in their favorite hiding place. Feed them in a new location. You can also make “food puzzles” out of household items. Even something as simple as hiding a few pieces of kibble under a scrap of paper or a toy like our Magic Carpet can make meal times more interesting.

orange tabby cat looking inside a box that has been modified as a food puzzle

So if your feline friend is taking too many cat naps, look for ways to enrich their lives. For more tips, check out our previous blogs on scent enrichment, increasing activity, satisfying your cat’s need to hunt, and tips for meaningful play.

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