Just like every other cat owner, you probably worry about every little change you notice about your feline. Winter is the time when many things change, and routines can be one of them. I’m sure you’ve seen that your kitty turns into a sleepyhead during those cold days. So, do cats sleep more in winter or is it a myth?
What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you say the word “winter”? Let me guess – snow, long cold days, hot cup of cocoa, fireplace, watching Christmas movies. Yeah, you’re not the only one. It’s what most people think about when they imagine that season of the year.
But there’s one more thing people commonly mention. It’s that we usually get tired more easily and that the days seem much longer because it gets dark outside much earlier than during summer. And what’s the best cure? Of course, to snuggle up in your warm cozy bed.
So don’t be surprised if your kitty decides to spend more of her time doing just that. Cats’ sleeping habits can change for various reasons, so let’s see if winter is one of them.
Normal cat sleep schedule
Cats have a few favorite activities – playing, eating, and, of course, sleeping. They are a great example of sleepy heads so they spend a large chunk of their lives napping and relaxing. They enjoy it more than any other activity, even though exploring their surroundings is also a very stimulating pastime.
It’s totally fine and even common to see an adult cat sleeping for around 15 hours a day. And a cute kitten can even spend 20 hours of a day curled up in her favorite snuggly spot.
It’s most likely one more thing that got passed down the generations. As we all know, cats are natural hunters, and they do their job very well. One reason for that is that they sleep most of the day, so when they wake up, they feel energized and ready to hunt their prey.
They like to wake up when other animals are asleep so they can easily stalk, attack, and finally eat their prey. Those activities might seem easy, but they are very demanding and burn so much energy. That’s why cats like to sleep after they’ve successfully done their job. It’s like an additional reward for them.
Not every cat requires the same amount of sleep. And we can even compare them to us. If they’ve had a busy day, they’ll probably need more naptime. However, if their day has been slow and uneventful, they’re likely to stay awake a bit longer than usual.
So… Do cats sleep more in winter and why?
Yes, your kitty can, and usually does, sleep more during winter. There are multiple factors that affect her sleeping habits. Her endocrine and nervous systems have the power to change your feline’s sleeping schedule, mood, and even her wishes.
These systems are ruled by their circadian and circannual rhythms. Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of them. I’m here to unpack it!
When you hear “circadian rhythm,” imagine it as your cat’s boss who has the power to take care of and control her mood during the day. That boss is easily affected by light and darkness. And that’s exactly the reason more hours of darkness usually make your cat go to bed earlier than expected.
Circannual rhythm also influences natural biological and psychological processes. So it’s not surprising to understand that it can also be one of the reasons why cats sleep more during winter.
It’s easier to see the change in sleeping habits if you have an outdoor cat. That’s because they pick up on changes in the times when the sun sets and rises more easily.
Indoor cats live in a place where there’s electricity and they don’t depend only on natural light. So you might not see a huge change in your indoor kitty’s behavior.
Is your kitty dealing with seasonal depression?
Have you ever heard about seasonal depression before? It usually comes during winter when most people spend time with their families. That’s the time of the year when it’s expected of you to be happy and cheerful, but in reality, winter is the most common time when people get anxious or depressed.
Sometimes it’s because they don’t have a family around them. Or they can’t afford to celebrate holidays the way they wanted to. There are many more similar problems that can lead to seasonal depression.
Here’s a little sad fact for you. Your cat can suffer from the same condition. Research has shown that around one-third of pet owners noticed a change in their feline’s behavior not long after winter began.
The cause of their kind of seasonal depression is not really known. But it’s assumed that it has a lot to do with changes in sunlight, sleep pattern, and also the general mood in the household.
Some of the symptoms you’ll notice if your cat is dealing with this kind of depression are changes in eating habits, having much more or much less energy, and vocalizing more than usual.
The best advice I can give you is to spend more time with your kitty and just give her love and attention. That way she’ll feel safer and that should help with her anxiety. However, if you see that she’s not doing any better I suggest you take her to the vet.
How to keep your cat healthy during cold days
Now that you understand why do cats sleep more in winter, you should also try to figure out how to keep your feline healthy during these long, snowy days. There are many other changes in addition to this one and they may act as signs that your feline is having health issues and needs to be checked by a professional.
Changes in appetite and socialization are the ones that you’ll spot quickly, and if you do, then you need to keep an eye on your cat. The best idea is to get her to the vet for a checkup. That way you won’t need to spend any more sleepless nights wondering if your fluffball is doing fine or not.
During winter, when cats usually sleep longer than usual, they are much less active than during other seasons of the year. That’s why it’s best to watch what food and how much of it you’re giving to her.
Without her usual activities, she might gain excess weight if you keep feeding her the same amount of food as you did before.
Just like every person is different, every cat is too. If you notice that your fluffy friend sleeps longer than she did before, you shouldn’t immediately panic. Instead, make her a comfy spot in the warmest place in the house. That’s how you’ll keep her healthy and happy.
Bonus points if you place her new spot somewhere near you, so she can feel safe and sleep peacefully!
How to take care of outdoor cats during winter
If you’re like me, then you get very sad when you see kitties outside during cold winter days. And you can’t help but think about how freezing it is for them and how difficult it is to find some tasty meals to keep them full.
But what if I tell you that you can help them? Here are some ideas of how you can help the next stray cat you see in the park when it’s freezing outside.
Try to provide her shelter. If you have enough place at home to fit one more cat, then you should definitely help the little kitty you see.
That said, I understand that most people can’t do it, so don’t worry! There’s something else you can do. You can ask people whether someone is able to adopt her or not. I’m sure someone will say yes.
Bring her food and water. If you can’t provide shelter, a good idea is to at least bring her food whenever you can. It’s best to bring it in a warm bowl and try not to serve her cold meals. This is one of the best ways to help outdoor kitties survive a cold winter without them stressing so much about hunting for food.
Bring her a box and blanket. To keep her warm, you can place a cardboard box with a soft blanket inside. Then when you see her, show her what you’ve prepared and she’ll definitely love it and use it!
Now you know that cats do indeed sleep more in winter. But that’s not all you’ve learned today. I hope you had fun and that you’re not stressed anymore.
Keep in mind the ideas I shared about keeping outdoor cats safe and warm during the chilly days. Helping them is one of the sweetest Christmas gifts you could give them this winter!