The Science Behind Cat Naps
by Danielle Cookish
If you've ever had a cat, you've probably noticed that they sleep. A lot. About 16 hours a day on average. Why are cats among the top sleepers of all mammals?
There are several reasons you'll find your kitty napping the day away. Firstly, cats are obligate carnivores, which means their diet must contain protein from meat. While they can eat vegetation, they can’t properly digest it. Dogs, on the other hand, are not obligate carnivores and benefit from the vitamins and minerals found in some plants in conjunction with meat in their diets. The digestive system of a cat is more streamlined, breaking down proteins from meat instead of carbohydrates to balance blood sugar.
This diet gives cats strong bursts of energy in short intervals. The house cat's much larger, wild relatives use these bursts of energy to seek and hunt fast-moving prey. Your housecat uses these bursts to zoom across your house and knock everything off your coffee table.
Another reason for snoozing is energy conservation. Cats have an undeniable instinct to chase. Using their extremely acute senses including vision and hearing to hone in on a target takes considerable energy. While they may not be conserving energy for hunting, the instinct to conserve energy remains strong in domestic cats.
Don't let them fool you, though. While a cat can appear fast asleep on your favorite armchair, their brains are still very much alert and receiving information about their environment. Even the slightest sound can trigger an ear to turn or whiskers to twitch.