Cats sleep…a lot. The average domestic cat sleeps anywhere from 12 to 16 hours a day and may show signs of sleep deprivation after just 14 hours of awake time. So, despite what Garfield made us believe, sleep is not a sign of laziness, it’s a sign of a healthy, happy kitty.
As a cat owner, there are a variety of things you can do at home to create a sleep-friendly environment for your pet.
Keep Your Home Predictable: Cats do best in environments that are consistent and have a degree of certainty, because it allows them to feel a sense of control and establish routines. This feeling of security will limit distress (which is good for owners, since cats aren’t shy about finding ways to demonstrate distress). Just like humans, cats can experience sleep disruption or loss during times of stress, so the less change the better.
Provide A Resting Space Away From Perceived Danger: As an owner, it’s probably funny to think that your cat feels threatened by animals outside the house or by a tiny toddler who is eager to pet it. Your cat, however, does not see the humor. Indoor cats are not exposed to the real dangers of nature, so a two-foot tall human chasing after its tail is definitely something to be afraid of. Keep these (silly) dangers in mind when setting up your cat’s bed because he/she won’t be able to truly rest and get quality sleep if he/she feels the need to be on guard.
Create A Cozy Bed: Domestic cats like things plush and comfortable (can you blame them?). So, when you’re creating a designated sleeping space, be sure to use a soft pillow, fleece blanket, and/or other soft textures. For extra cat-appeal, create the sleep space somewhere elevated so your cat can “perch” to keep a watchful eye out for prey and predators.
Turn Up The Heat: Have you ever noticed that your cat loves to snuggle up on you when you’re working on a laptop or that as soon as you light up your fireplace your cat will lay so close to it you worry he/she will roll right in? This is because cats are descended from desert animals, making them hardwired to enjoy and even thrive in warmer temperatures. Consider investing in a space heater to help your cat feel cozy enough to sleep – this will allow you to control the temperature for yourself and ensure your kitty doesn’t get burned.
Establish A ‘Safe Haven’: If possible, designate one room (or just a small area) to be your cat’s own personal space. Make sure there is fresh food and water available and a clean litter box in the vicinity. While this microenvironment may not be the primary space your cat cuddles up to sleep, it will serve as a refuge from household stressors (such as unknown visitors) and provide enough security for your cat to sleep despite the circumstances.
Being a cat owner means understanding your pet’s need for (a lot) of sleep. Part of providing a good, loving home for your furry companion is ensuring that the environment meets its primal needs. If your cat isn’t sleeping well (or you just want the very best for him), take a look at your cat’s current sleep space and use this list to help you make any necessary adjustments.
Guest post by Alicia Sanchez
Alicia Sanchez is a researcher for the sleep science hub Tuck.com with a specialty in health and wellness. A Nashville native, Alicia finds the sound of summer storms so soothing that she still sleeps with recorded rain on her white noise machine.