Ah, the life of a cat… Do you ever wish you could have as many cat naps as the four-legged feline in your family? It’s no joke that birman cats for sale take sleeping seriously all year-round, but you may have noticed changes in your cat’s sleep patterns with seasons and even with age. Here’s the scoop on what’s normal and not normal when it comes to snoozing cats and wintertime blues.
Normal Cat Sleep
Cats have sleep patterns similar to many mammals, in that it is polyphasic. They have distinct periods of REM sleep, non-REM sleep, drowsiness, and wakefulness. The average cat sleeps over 50% of a 24-hour day, in one-and-a-half-hour sleep periods4.
Their REM sleep is like humans, with relative immobility of the body, but commonly with bursts of movement in the legs, ears, tails and whiskers3. It’s normal to see what looks like kitty dreams playing out in real time with REM sleep!
Why Do Cats Sleep More in the Winter?
Sleep is regulated by a complicated combination of environmental and hormonal signals. The amount of light and even the ambient temperature can alter sleep habits. Extra time for snoozing in the wintertime may be, in part, driven by the ancestral tendency to conserve energy during times of decreased food. Technically, cats do not hibernate like some mammals do, despite how often you see them curled up on the sofa.
If you feel like your cat is sleeping more this winter, it may also be related to decreased quality of sleep. Studies suggest as temperatures drop, periods of arousal are increased during REM cycles, thus decreasing the overall restorative property of feline sleep1. To make up for these disruptions, cats may respond by sleeping more. This seems to be intensified by age; older cats especially will sleep more to make up for the decreased quality of the sleep they are getting during colder temperatures.
Do Cats Get Seasonal Depression?
Those extra hours sleeping can make it seem like your cat is feeling down. Seasonal depression is a common cause for human mood changes and has been well researched and documented in people. Alternately, very little research has been done on seasonal behavior or mood changes in cats.
We might infer that since cats and humans do share similar brain chemistry, we may also have similar seasonal production of mood regulating hormones, like serotonin and melatonin. Currently researchers don’t believe cats suffer from SAD (seasonal affective disorder) like people do. It is possible that as the temperatures drop and there is less light, we project our own gloomier moods onto our pets though.
How to Help Your Cat Cope in the Winter
Here are tips for keeping your cat happy and healthy as the temperatures drop! Be sure to allow your cat access to a warm place to sleep. This study published by the American Association of Laboratory Animals looked at laboratory cats’ preference for sleeping. No surprise, cats greatly preferred soft surfaces for snoozing! The article suggests that providing a proper place for resting is imperative for feline wellbeing2. Here are more tips for helping your cat cope: