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.

Hunting not a sport or hobby

Just taking a short break from packing up possessions for shipping to Spain in advance of our move in November.

A few years ago, well in the 1990s to be accurate, I worked full-time as a journalist for a weekly newspaper in North Wales, in the UK. I include the UK qualification so that my American readers don’t think I was in Pennsylvania – yes, there is a North Wales there too.

Anyway, back to my story.

I have taken on many and varied roles during my journalistic career but, at that time, I was Rural Affairs Editor for a regional newspaper group covering a vast area of North West Wales. That area is renowned for its diverse terrain of mountains, including Snowdon, and lowland areas such as the Isle of Anglesey.

Commercially, it includes beef, dairy and cereal agriculture but the main rural activity, by far, is sheep farming. Next to this, the next major industry is tourism.

My rural affairs coverage included news and feature items along with a clearly labelled ‘opinion’ piece in which I was able to express my views on various rural matters.

One of these was the vexed issue of fox hunting that, at that time, had come under the spotlight as there was a plan to ban it. Many in the rural community opposed such a ban, talking about having the freedom to hunt and enjoy country sports. Others, also opposed to a ban, spoke of the need to keep fox numbers down because of the number of lambs that would be killed without hunts to control fox numbers.

In my opinion pieces, I may have surprised many readers by stating my clear and unequivocal opposition to fox hunting and in favour of the proposed ban.

The facts are simple:

  • Being chased by a pack of hounds would be terrifying for any creature.
  • Being torn apart by hounds is cruel. It is not a quick clean kill.
  • As a method of fox control, hunting is inefficient; very often hunts return without even finding a fox.
  • Some hunts even go as far as to encourage fox breeding in man-made ‘earths’ just to provide foxes for the hounds to hunt.

In due course, the ban was implemented. Did we see a huge explosion in the fox population in the UK? No. Did we see a sharp rise in the number of lambs and sheep being killed by foxes? Again, No.

It was with some surprise, therefore, that I heard that the current government was going to give MPs a vote on whether to amend the law, effectively rescinding the ban. Protests followed and the powers that be decided delay the vote until they could be sure of a majority. The battle may have been won but the war still rages on. It is not all over yet.

Talking of hunting as a so-called sport or hobby, I really don’t have time for anyone who hunts any animal just for something to do. And here I do not differentiate between foxes, lions or even giraffes. And to say giraffes are dangerous is ridiculous. They are placid and will run away rather than fight. If you get too close, they can kick if they feel threatened but they are not made to bite.

To me, there is something lacking in the brain of anyone who thinks such ‘sports’ are a ‘freedom of choice’ that must be defended. They are blots on mankind’s copybook and need to be erased permanently.

OK, I got that off my chest, now back to the packing.