Do Housecats Sleep a Lot?

Catherine Crépeau – The Rumor Detector

Agence Science-Presse

Your cat spends its day sprawled out on the sofa, while the alley cat outside your door seems to wander around for hours without any need for sleep. Do housecats sleep longer than their outdoor counterparts? That depends, according to the Rumor Detector.

An adult cat in good health sleeps about 15 hours per day. For kittens, sleep helps promote the release of growth hormones, and they can sleep for 20 hours a day. That’s the same as for older, less active cats.   

This sleeping rhythm is a remnant of an era when cats had to hunt to get their food. Sleep allowed it to conserve its energy for when it had to go on a long chase to catch prey. Even though a housecat only has to show up in front of its bowl to eat, it conserves its hunting instincts. Anyone who has had their cat bring them a bird or a mouse can tell you that!

Leaving aside age and genetics, vets agree that a cat’s sleeping periods will depend on how active it is. A cat that is free to leave the house and run around will need more time to recuperate. That’s for deep sleep, like for us. But an apartment-bound cat can also sleep for longer periods than an outdoor cat, says ethologist and “cat behaviorist” Florence d’Ivernois. Except that the housecat’s sleep will be light sleep.

A cat’s sleep is also influenced by light and seasons. A cat will sleep more when skies are gray or it is cold or rainy – even if it’s an indoor cat.  

When a cat closes its eyes for a long while during a day, you shouldn’t confuse that with fatigue. That could just be a sign that it’s bored or is spending too much time alone. Lonely, bored cats get less playful because of a lack of stimulation.


Whether it’s king of the sofa or king of the alley, a cat spends a lot of time asleep. The difference between these cats is the quality of their sleep – deep or light.

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Also available on the Reflet de Société website

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