Sleepy cats’ all-night excursions make us worry

lion Prissy 51215 Pooka 51215  They all sleep a lot:a male lion, Prissy and Pooka.

Just the other day, I read that male lions sleep for 20 hours per day – and pet cats have a similar sleep pattern but nap a little less. It seems that cats sleep twice as much as we do, so sleeping for a long time is a normal part of their day.

In fact, adult domestic cats tend to sleep between 14 to 16 hours a day with kittens and elderly ones sleeping as much as 18 or even 20 hours.

Our two, Pooka and Prissy, are proof of that with Prissy interspersing her regular expeditions with long periods of sleep. Meanwhile, Pooka is 17¾ years old and sleeps even longer.

That being the case, Lisa and I were both concerned when, three nights ago, Prissy went out for much longer than usual for her, some 10 hours and at night. We looked around but could find no trace of her. She returned via the cat flap in time for breakfast. After that, she slept virtually all day.

Then, last night, it was Pooka’s turn. She rarely goes out for more than an hour at a time, often only minutes, but this time she was missing for about eight hours, again at night. Like Prissy, Pooka was nowhere in sight and we became worried when she did not appear when we called but that could have been her not hearing us. Like humans, cats’ faculties do deteriorate with age.

Early this morning, though, Pooka arrived home, had breakfast and promptly curled upon the sofa. And, as I type this, that is exactly where she still is – absolutely oblivious to the world but none the worse for her night-time adventure.

Fascinated by their behaviour, I looked into how cats spend their days and found this information on a website called Petful:

Why Are They Always Sleeping?

Your cat’s favorite pastime is not plotting his next attack on the bird. Cats nap constantly and are exceptionally good at it.

In the wild, cats must hunt for their food. Regardless of whether it’s a Bengal tiger or a feral kitty, he must find a way to get food. This takes a lot of time and energy. Often, prey escapes the grasp of their claws and teeth. Sleeping conserves energy so that the cat can chase down their dinner whenever dinner makes itself available.

OK, so a house cat doesn’t hunt for meals — he gets them delivered in a pretty bowl from a can or a bag. However, the natural need to doze off and save energy will always be there.

Despite our two cats both enjoying night-time excursions, the website says that the popular belief that cats are nocturnal is a myth. It says:

Many people believe their kittens are nocturnal and are awake and active all through the night. This is not true. Cats are crepuscular animals. This means they are most active at sunrise and sundown — the easiest times for cats to find and catch their meals. This dominates the sleep patterns of all cats, feral and domesticated alike. Genetic behaviour doesn’t change.

So, now we know.

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