Friday 4 November 2011

Why do cats sleep so much?

Domestic cats sleep a lot. Some wildcats don't sleep a lot. I don't think you can generalize about the length of time that a cat sleeps.

We know that our domestic cats sleep for about 15 hours a day or more. Geriatric cats might sleep or doze all the time except for feeding and eliminating.

However, taking just two examples of the sleeping patterns of wildcats, you will see that not all cats sleep a lot.

Binnie - very old lady sleeping out in the open - Photo: Michael

The sand cat, a pretty and small wildcat species that is the only true desert living cat, starts to hunt before sunset. The cat will hunt all night and sometimes into the early morning. This is a full night's work and more. This cat cannot be said to sleep a lot or at least it sleeps no more than people.

The black-footed cat also hunts all night long and lives in an arid habitat. They are very active and successful as hunters. The black-footed cat will kill prey every 50 minutes. In captivity this cat is less active but will do a lot of walking in the enclosure.

The lower activity levels in captivity seem to give us the clue. Domestic cats are kept in a perpetual state of kittenhood by us, as I have mentioned before. They have it all on a plate. What do you expect? They are bound to sleep a lot. It depends on what the cat has to do to survive. In the wild where prey items are scarce the cat will have to work harder and sleep less.

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