Do Cats Sleep More as They Age? Exploring the Sleep Habits of Older Cats

As pet owners, we all know that cats love to sleep. In fact, the average cat sleeps for 12 to 16 hours a day, and some cats can sleep for up to 20 hours. However, as cats age, their sleeping patterns can change. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the sleep habits of older cats and explore whether or not they really do sleep more as they age.

Understanding the Sleep Patterns of Cats

Before we dive into the sleep habits of older cats, let’s first take a look at how cats sleep in general. Cats are known for being crepuscular creatures, which means they are most active during dawn and dusk. During the day, cats will often nap for a few hours at a time, with short bursts of activity in between. Then, at night, cats will typically engage in their most active play and hunting behaviors.

Interestingly, cats are able to fall asleep quickly and easily, often dozing off within minutes of finding a comfortable spot. They are also able to sleep for long periods of time, with some cats sleeping up to 16 hours a day. This is because cats are natural predators and hunters, and their bodies are designed to conserve energy for bursts of intense activity.

The Importance of Sleep for Cats

Just like humans, cats need sleep to stay healthy and happy. During sleep, a cat’s body repairs itself, and their brain processes the day’s events. Sleep is also vital for a cat’s immune system, as it helps to keep their body functioning properly.

Furthermore, sleep is essential for a cat’s mental well-being. Cats that do not get enough sleep can become irritable, anxious, and even depressed. This can lead to behavioral issues, such as aggression and destructive behavior.

Factors Affecting a Cat’s Sleep

There are many factors that can affect a cat’s sleep patterns, including their age, health, lifestyle, and environment. For example, older cats may sleep more than younger cats, as their bodies require more rest to recover from the wear and tear of daily life.

Cats that are sick or in pain may also sleep more than usual, as their bodies are working hard to heal themselves. Conversely, cats that are stressed or anxious may have trouble sleeping, as their minds are racing with worry and fear.

The environment in which a cat lives can also impact their sleep patterns. Cats that live in noisy or chaotic households may have trouble sleeping, while cats that live in quiet and peaceful environments may sleep more soundly.

Finally, a cat’s lifestyle can affect their sleep patterns. Cats that are indoor-only may sleep more than outdoor cats, as they have less stimulation and activity throughout the day. However, indoor cats may also have trouble sleeping if they are not provided with enough mental and physical stimulation.

How Age Affects a Cat’s Sleep Habits

While all cats sleep a lot, the amount they sleep can vary depending on their age. However, it’s not just the amount of sleep that changes with age, but also the quality and pattern of their sleep. Understanding how age affects a cat’s sleep habits can help you provide the best care for your feline friend.

Sleep Changes in Young Cats

Young cats, especially kittens, require a lot of sleep to support their growing bodies and brains. It’s not uncommon for a kitten to sleep for up to 20 hours a day. This is because sleep is essential for their physical and mental development. During sleep, kittens release growth hormones that help them grow and develop properly.

It’s important to note that kittens don’t sleep for long periods at a time. They typically sleep in short bursts throughout the day and night, waking up frequently to play and explore their surroundings. This is why it’s important to provide them with a safe and stimulating environment that encourages play and exploration.

Sleep Changes in Middle-Aged Cats

As cats reach middle age, their sleeping habits may start to become more erratic. They may sleep for shorter periods throughout the day and night, and may have trouble settling down for a nap. This is because cats at this age are more active and may spend more time playing and exploring their environment.

It’s also common for middle-aged cats to experience sleep disruptions due to changes in their environment or routine. For example, if you move to a new house or start a new job that requires you to be away from home more often, your cat may have trouble adjusting to the changes and may experience sleep disturbances as a result.

Sleep Changes in Senior Cats

Senior cats, those over the age of 7, tend to sleep more than their younger counterparts. This is because their bodies require more rest and sleep to maintain their health. Senior cats may also experience changes in their sleeping patterns due to age-related health issues.

For example, older cats may develop arthritis, which can make it difficult for them to get comfortable and settle down for sleep. They may also experience cognitive decline, which can lead to confusion and disorientation, making it harder for them to sleep through the night.

It’s important to provide senior cats with a comfortable and supportive sleeping environment. This may include a soft and supportive bed, as well as easy access to food, water, and litter boxes to minimize the need for them to get up and move around during the night.

In conclusion, understanding how age affects a cat’s sleep habits can help you provide the best care for your feline friend. By providing a safe and stimulating environment, as well as a comfortable and supportive sleeping space, you can help your cat get the restful and restorative sleep they need to stay healthy and happy.

Common Sleep Issues in Older Cats

As cats age, they may experience various sleep issues that can affect their quality of life. In this article, we will explore some of the common sleep issues that older cats face and how to address them.

Sleep Disorders in Aging Cats

Sleep disorders, such as insomnia or sleep apnea, can affect cats of any age, but they are more common in older cats. These sleep disorders can lead to a variety of health problems, including weight gain, decreased immune function, and behavioral issues. Insomnia, for example, can cause a cat to become irritable and lethargic during the day. Sleep apnea, on the other hand, can lead to oxygen deprivation, which can cause serious health problems.

If you suspect that your older cat is suffering from a sleep disorder, it’s important to consult with your veterinarian. They may recommend changes in your cat’s diet, exercise routine, or medications to help improve their sleep habits.

Health Issues Impacting Sleep in Older Cats

Older cats may also experience health issues that can impact their sleep habits. For example, arthritis can make it difficult for a cat to get comfortable enough to fall asleep. Diabetes can also cause changes in a cat’s sleep patterns. Hyperthyroidism, which is common in older cats, can cause excessive sleeping and restlessness.

To help your cat sleep better, consider providing them with a comfortable and supportive bed. There are also various supplements and medications that can help manage arthritis pain and other health issues that may be impacting your cat’s sleep.

Environmental Factors Affecting Sleep in Older Cats

The environment can also play a big role in a cat’s sleep habits. Older cats may struggle to climb stairs or jump up onto their favorite sleeping spots, so it’s important to provide them with easily accessible resting places. Similarly, noise or temperature changes in the environment can affect a cat’s ability to sleep well. Providing a quiet and comfortable sleeping area, away from any distractions or loud noises, can help your older cat get the restful sleep they need.

In conclusion, there are many factors that can impact an older cat’s sleep habits. By identifying and addressing these factors, you can help your cat get the restful sleep they need to stay healthy and happy.

Tips for Improving Sleep Quality in Older Cats

There are many things you can do to help your aging cat get the rest they need.

Creating a Comfortable Sleep Environment

Make sure your cat has a comfortable place to sleep that is easily accessible and located in a quiet, calm area of your home. Consider providing a bed with soft, supportive cushioning and blankets for added comfort.

Encouraging Regular Exercise and Mental Stimulation

Regular exercise and mental stimulation can help keep your cat active and engaged during the day so that they are tired and ready for sleep at night. Try playing with your cat throughout the day, providing puzzle toys, or setting up a play area in your home.

Addressing Underlying Health Issues

If you notice changes in your cat’s sleeping habits or suspect an underlying health issue, it’s important to consult with your veterinarian. They can help diagnose any potential problems and work with you to develop an appropriate treatment plan.


As cats age, their sleep habits can change in a variety of ways. While some cats may sleep more, others may have trouble settling down for a nap. By understanding the factors that can impact a cat’s sleep, you can help ensure your aging feline friend gets the rest they need to stay healthy and happy.