Your cat seems to be rarely out and about. You’d sit on the couch, and find it curled up and snoring. You’d walk around the room, and it would be sleeping on the carpet. And as you go to bed at night, there it would be, in deep slumber under the quilt.
So is your cat hibernating? Or is it something else?
Do Cats Sleep More in Winter and Cold Weather? As a matter of fact, they often do. The seasonal changes, in addition to the feline instinct, makes cats more willing to extend their sleeping hours in winter.
Read on to find out why they sleep more in winter, and whether there are other health issues causing that. Also, what you can do to take care of your cat during the rough weather.
Is Your Cat Hibernating
Hibernation is a passive state that an animal ‘chooses’ to enter at will. In the wild, the cold season could be unbearably harsh. The food is scarce and the temperature could drop below the limits of tolerance.
Any sane animal having the option, would certainly sleep it off. In preparation for hibernation, an animal would normally eat excessively and hoard some food in its den. Then, it would close its eyes and slip into a deep sleep.
A hibernating animal would have a much lower heart rate, respiratory rate, and metabolic rate. It’s a clever way to conserve energy and survive the wrath of nature. Hibernation isn’t a spell. An animal could come out of it at any time.
Cats are known to go through a lighter form of hibernation, commonly known as ‘torpor’. The main difference is that it’s not entirely at will. Sensing the shorter days and dropping temperatures, cats could involuntarily slip into torpor.
Here’s an interesting fact: while bears are famous for their hibernation skills, they’re actually more into torpor. While deer, bees, snakes, and ground squirrels are master hybernators.
How Much Do Cats Sleep Anyway
Cats are big sleepers all year around. They seem to cherish it more than any other biological activity in their curious lives, and that’s for a good reason. It’s quite normal for an adult cat to sleep for 15 hours. As for kittens, they could easily curl up for 20 hours a day!
To see the cat’s perspective, and why they value sleep as much, we should look deeper into their evolutionary and biological contexts.
Felines are natural hunters. In the wild, they’d sleep all day and wake up fully energized at dusk and dawn. At these times, most creatures are busy scurrying about. That’s clearly the best time for cats to stalk, pounce, and eat.
These activities burn so much energy. This includes digesting the prey and building more muscle. That’s why they have to nap, sleep, and if necessary, go into torpor. It’s the only way to stay ahead of the game and on top of the food chain.
Do pet cats have the same requirements? Of course not. But they have the instinct and genes. And these things affect animals, despite their new lifestyle changes.
[Related Article: How To Keep Cats Warm In Garage – 9 Useful Tips You Can Use]
Do Cats Sleep More In Winter
Most cats extend their sleeping hours in winter, and there’s a variety of reasons for that. Some are natural, and quite close to hibernation, while others aren’t. Health issues and mood instability can be among the causes of a cat’s lethargy in cold weather.
When the cats sense the shorter days and colder nights, they might automatically switch into toropr mode.
Some cats might shake off the slumber for a bit to eat, hydrate, and even mate. But other cats could lose themselves to that muted down state of being. It’s important to keep an eye on your cat at these times, and make sure that it’s well fed.
In some cases, you might need to tone down the cat’s tendency to torpor. Just by keeping the lights on and warming up the house, you could get your cat to stay energetic and upbeat.
About 25% of adults experience some form of seasonal affective disorder, or as we commonly know it, winter blues. Around the end of summer, people could suddenly get symptoms quite similar to depression.
Many animal behavior scientists believe that cats could feel the same way in winter.
The colder surfaces everywhere, instead of the warmth of spring and summer. The decreasing daylight and diminishing patches of sun where lounging was delicious. Finally, the changes that happen inevitably around the house with the coming of winter. From the heaters to the buzz of the Christmas holidays.
Cats would respond to that seasonal depression the same way they do when they’re faced by any inconvenience. They sleep it off.
The rapid loss of heat from a cat’s body is alarming and distressing. When the surroundings get too cold, the cat would become weak, lethargic, and resort to sleep.
This is not a natural beauty sleep to energize, hypothermia is a serious condition. A cat that’s shivering, and feels cold as you hold it, should be wrapped in a blanket and taken to the vet right away.
Other Health Issues
Cats could catch a cold in winter, and they would also sleep it off. Other health issues might as well get them to curl up and try to heal.
The cat guardian should intervene, and provide them with the proper medical care. The most important thing is to discern between natural sleep, and being sick. This might be a bit hard to do, especially if the cat isn’t exhibiting clear signs of illness. And that’s why routine visits to the vet are essential.
How To Reverse The Effects Of The Cold Season On Your Cat
To make sure that your cat stays in good health and a cheery mood, there are some simple things you could do.
- Take your cat to the vet for a routine visit to the vet.
- Keep your cat well fed and hydrated.
- You could offer the cat warmed up food as a treat.
- Call the vet if your cat shows any unusual signs of sickness.
- Provide warm places around the house for your cat to burrow in.
- Leave some lights on to compensate for the decreased daylight.
- Open the curtains to let in a bit more sun.
- Play with your cat and cuddle it as often as possible.
- Provide your cat with some interactive toys for extra stimulation.
- Leave the heater on, at a low setting, even when you’re out of the house.
[Related Article: Do Cats Go Into Heat In The Winter]
Taking Care Of Kittens And Older Cats In Cold Weather
Kittens and ageing cats are more prone to the sharp drop in temperature than adult cats. The more vulnerable, very young or very old cats, could barely stand a temperature of 45 degrees. A strapping youthful cat can weather a temperature as low as 32 degrees, without much trouble.
Kittens should be well fed and well warmed-up. They might also need more frequent visits to the vet.
Ageing cats often suffer from arthritis as the winter approaches. They should be placed in a warm place at all times to alleviate that pain. Also, a proper diet and medication could go a long way in keeping them well.
Taking Care Of Outdoor Cats In Winter
Outdoor cats could sleep more in winter, but that’s not a guarantee that they’ll survive it in good shape. It would be wonderful if you could provide them with food and shelter during the cold season.
You can set up a cat shelter in your garage, backyard, or in a nearby garden. Make sure that it wards off the wind the rain. Also, keep the entrance to the shelter large enough to let in the cats, but too small for stray dogs or other prowling animals.
Giving them good food and keeping them hydrated would be a huge help to get them through the winter.
Cats do sleep more in winter and cold weather. Sometimes, that’s a lighter form of natural hibernation. At other times, it’s a sign that they might need a bit of help.
Just provide them with light, warmth, food, and love. This could be the best antidote to the harsh winter.