Why Do Old Cats Sleep So Much?

Once a cat reaches senior age, it spends much of its life snoozing. Old cats that are 11 years old or older can sleep up to 20 hours a day. This is a normal way for older cats to rest.

A lifetime of chasing, jumping, and stalking takes a toll on a cat’s body. Sleep allows an older cat to heal its aching bones, joints, and muscles. When old cats suffer from arthritis, adequate sleep is especially important because exercise is more painful.

Cat exercise requires the simultaneous use of countless muscles, and an older cat’s body does not recover as quickly as it used to.

If your cat is healthy and behaving normally, you should focus on making your cat’s bed comfortable and easily accessible.

Why Do Old Cats Sleep All the Time?

Learning that older cats sleep most of the day will hardly surprise you.

Even in the best of health, cats rest most of the day. However, an old cat usually sleeps even more, up to 20 hours a day.

As long as the cat is otherwise happy and healthy, this is nothing to worry about.

However, pay attention to your cat’s general behavior and demeanor. Your cat should be bright-eyed and chipper during the hours it is awake.

Even if you can’t find anything alarming, you should know the various explanations for your senior cat’s sleepiness.

Sleeping a lot may be natural, or your cat may have quality-of-life issues that need to be addressed.

There are several causes for a lot of sleeping in old cats, which we will now discuss in more detail.


Daily life is very exhausting for a cat. Just walking requires the use of all the muscles in a cat’s legs.

Even young and lively cats like to move only when necessary, and they need regular naps.

In addition, a cat is always wary of its surroundings. Thanks to their excellent sense of hearing and smell, cats are constantly aware of external stimuli.

The cat’s whiskers also sense vibrations and changes in air pressure.

This constant bombardment of information can be very taxing on your cat’s body. After all this stimulation, a cat may feel exhausted just walking to the litter box.

Older cats have limited energy reserves and are more easily exhausted. Sleep promotes mental and physical recovery.

Regeneration of Joints

Aside from naps, cats have two main types of sleep. In REM sleep, the cat’s mind filters through the day’s events.

It unconsciously decides which memories are important and which are not. During REM sleep, cats dream.

When not in REM sleep, cats fall into deep sleep. This is a deep and dreamless slumber.

It is very important for older cats because the body repairs itself during this time. While the cat is in deep sleep, aching joints get a welcome rest.

Sleep helps relieve the discomfort of arthritis. If your cat gets enough rest, it will be able to move better when it wakes up.

Older cats spend most of the day in deep sleep, not REM sleep.

Slower Digestion

It is common for cats to take a long nap after eating to aid in the digestive process.

Older cats have difficulty digesting conventional cat food. This can leave your senior cat feeling sluggish and sleepy after eating.

At your local pet store, you can usually find a variety of cat foods for older cats. Most reputable brands offer these meals in flavors that your cats like.

Older cats should be fed in an age-appropriate way, so be sure to check out these options.

Older cats may have difficulty digesting fats and carbohydrates. Food designed for older cats, therefore, focuses on digestible proteins. For this reason, it is not as heavy in the cat’s stomach.

If you change your cat’s food, you may notice that your cat has more energy.

But even if this is not the case, it will be much healthier. The cat’s digestive tract will be able to process this meal more easily.

Hide Illness Or Weakness

Cats don’t like to show pain or illness, so a sick cat prefers to hide and sleep.

Pay attention to your cat’s body language while she sleeps. Does she assume any of the following happy and content postures?

  • All paws outstretched, lying on its side.
  • Lying on its back with its belly exposed and claws retracted.
  • Lying on its front with its paws tucked under its belly.

If so, it is unlikely that your cat is unwell or sick. These are the postures of happy, relaxed cats.

However, if your cat curls up into a ball, into a fetal position, this is a classic warning sign of pain. The cat may be trying to self-soothe.

If you notice this sleeping position, watch for other behavioral changes as well. Does your cat refuse to be touched? Has she lost interest in food or grooming? Is she unusually grumpy?

Loss of Hearing

As mentioned earlier, older cats spend most of the day in deep sleep.

However, if your cat suffers from hearing problems, he may also fall into an unplanned slumber because there is no sound to keep him awake and alert.

Test your cat’s hearing by making sounds that are out of her field of vision.

However, avoid sounds like clapping your hands or stomping your feet. These create vibrations that the cat’s whiskers sense, so you won’t be able to tell if your cat has poor hearing.

The following things you can try:

  • Jingle your car keys.
  • Use a training clicker
  • Hissing These sounds will get the cat interested when he hears them.

However, they are not loud enough to alarm or scare the cat.


There is always the possibility that a cat is sleeping out of boredom. If your cat has nothing better to do, it will sleep until something interesting happens.

Cats slow down as they get older, but they still need some fun and entertainment to make life worthwhile.

Boredom is a dangerous path that cats can take. Bored cats often become stressed and depressed, leading to loss of appetite.

Boredom can also lead to destructive, attention-seeking behavior.

Equip your cat’s territory with appropriate entertainment options such as toys, scratching posts and climbing trees.

It is quite possible that your cat will ignore these items. However, she will appreciate having these items near her and may use them occasionally.

Talk to your cat regularly, as he likes communicating with his owners. If your cat is arthritic, he may miss the playtime you used to have together. Talking to the cat is then the next best thing.

How Do Old Cats Sleep Comfortably?

Unless you have reason to believe that the cat is unwell, it is perfectly normal for older cats to sleep longer.

In fact, you should make sure that your cat is comfortable and gets as much rest as it wants. You can support this in several ways.


All cats love routine, but older cats are especially concerned about structure in their daily routine.

Keep in mind that your cat won’t be awake as much of the time. Your cat needs to know when important things are going to happen.

Set a specific time for daily feeding and stick to it. Your cat will quickly begin to align his internal clock with it and wake up in the early evening in anticipation of a meal.

If possible, incorporate some exercise into your cat’s daily routine. This can be a game or just simple physical exercise.

Older cats often need to be forced to move, but it will help your cat sleep better later.

Once your cat has exercised and eaten, you can help him groom his coat. Exercise, eating and grooming are all precursors to a long, restful sleep.

Encourage the routine, and your cat will be relaxed enough to find a good night’s sleep.


An older cat needs a proper territory in which to sleep. The cat must not be disturbed, so this area must remain quiet. Environmental factors such as temperature must also be considered.

A cat often chooses its own territory because it is strong-willed and largely does what it wants.

You can try to direct your cat to certain areas of the home. But older cats naturally prefer quiet places with soft furniture and easily accessible litter boxes.

A guest room is an ideal place for an older cat to sleep away the day.

If this room has a window, do not place your cat’s bed directly under it, as this could cause drafts. Set the thermostat to about 70 °F (21 °C).

Beds and Blankets

A special bed will promote your cat’s sleep. As cats get older and more tired, they have difficulty reaching human furniture, and standard cat beds feel less comfortable.

Therefore, get your cat a soft, padded bed. The bed should be large enough for your cat to stretch out but not so large that it overwhelms him.

All cats like to feel secure and safe. So ideally, choose a bed that is made entirely of soft material.

If this is not possible, make sure the frame has at least one low side. The limited mobility of older cats must be taken into account.

Also, line the bed with familiar scents to motivate your cat to use it. Remember that your cat sleeps most of the day anyway.

If your cat sleeps in a warm, cushioned bed, he’ll be in a much better mood when he wakes up.

Why is My Cat Sleeping All Day and Awake at Night?

Some owners wonder why older cats put their few waking hours after dark.

A reversed sleep-wake cycle can be frustrating. Even if cats seem gentle and quiet, they can make a lot of noise after dark.

Most cats can be trained to sleep through the night. If your senior cat has dropped this routine, there are lifestyle or medical explanations.

Missing Routine

As mentioned earlier, older cats prefer a reliable schedule. You may be unintentionally influencing your cat’s internal clock.

Do not feed your cat her main meal during the day, as she always wants to start her main nap after eating.

Although most naps in older cats end in a deep sleep, there are still different resting periods.

If your cat gets a lot of sleep during the day, she may wake up with a sudden burst of energy. This doesn’t last long in older cats, but it’s enough to disturb your own rest.

You should also consider your cat’s environment during the day. She may find it easier to relax and sleep during the day when no one is home.

This, in turn, causes her to become active at night. Create a quiet territory for your cat and train her to sleep at night.


Hyperthyroidism (thyrotoxicosis) is a common health problem in older cats. The most common causes are age and consumption of canned food.

Hyperthyroidism originates from the thyroid gland in the cat’s neck. A hyperthyroid cat produces an excess of hormones from this gland called T3 (triiodothyronine) and T4 (thyroxine).

The thyroid affects a number of organs, so untreated hyperthyroidism can lead to secondary health problems.

Warning signs of hyperthyroidism include:

  • Unexplained weight loss despite a healthy appetite.
  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Lack of interest in grooming, resulting in greasy and matted fur
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Outbreaks of hyperactivity

This last symptom is most likely to be associated with hyperthyroidism.

A cat may sleep all day but suddenly wake up and have a burst of energy. A hyperthyroid cat may injure itself in a frenzy of activity and excitement.

Cognitive Dysfunction

If your cat has already reached an advanced age, cognitive decline becomes more likely. Your cat will have difficulty thinking clearly, become increasingly confused, and suffer from a steady deterioration of mental abilities.

In a senile cat, the sleep-wake rhythm is often reversed. This means that the few hours the cat stays awake will likely be after dark.

Because cats with feline cognitive dysfunction (FCD) are often disoriented, your cat is likely to whine and verbalize during this time.

Other symptoms of FCD include:

  • Elimination outside the litter box.
  • Failure to recognize owners
  • Behavioral changes
  • Mood swings
  • Lethargy and disinterest in surroundings
  • Staring into space for extended periods of time

Unfortunately, FCD cannot be cured. The focus should be on slowing the deterioration of the brain. Therefore, allow your cat to sleep as much as he needs.

Summary: Why Do Old Cats Sleep So Much?

As cats get older, they lose energy. Therefore, it is not surprising that old cats spend most of the day sleeping.

Make sure your cat is comfortable. Use comfortable bedding, a litter box with a low rim, and a comfortable bed.

Above all, also provide your senior cat with a reliable routine so that he has a structured daily routine.