Kittens are like little rockets of energy. They zip and zoom around any space they have access to and never tire of exploring every inch of their homes. That’s probably why having a kitten is one of the most fun experiences in cat ownership. However, with all that play comes a big need for sleep. But, how much sleep do they need? Do you feel like your kitten is sleeping more than you expected? If so, you might be wondering why! Here is what you should know.
So, why is my kitten sleeping so much? The main reason kittens sleep so much is because they are quickly growing and developing. A kitten’s nervous system, as well as skeletal and muscular system, grows best when in a state of rest. Another reason is due to normal feline behavior patterns – all energy expenditure must be matched by rest.
Just as a human baby needs frequent rest, so does a tiny growing kitten.
Besides, it is during sleep that they actually grow.
Then there is a desperate need for recuperation, too.
In the wild, cats would spend large amounts of energy in short periods of time as they hunted prey.
This tendency has stuck around in modern times – and you’ll often see your kitten chasing things, playing, and generally be captivated by moving items.
It takes its toll.
So much so that even full-grown cats require large amounts of daily sleep.
Lots of sleeping is, therefore, something you should expect.
Of course, to a point.
But what is too much? When should you expect them to rest, what are signs that they are getting too many z’s, and what to do about it?
Continue reading, and you’ll soon know.
How Much Should A Kitten Sleep?
The amount of sleep a kitten needs depends on its age. A newborn kitten can easily sleep 20 hours a day. At this stage, the kitten’s only true job is to eat well and sleep deeply. This allows its body to continue with rapid growth and development after being born. Kittens will require less sleep as they age, but even a kitten reaching one year of age may still sleep around 16 hours a day.
A kitten needs to sleep in at least one large chunk for several hours and then off and on throughout the rest of the day.
This sleep pattern can be traced back to a cat’s ancestry as a survival mechanism.
Cats in the wild use large amounts of energy when they hunt for their prey.
They must be able to stalk, chase, and catch prey that is usually small and fast.
In order to have energy for these moments, cats have always spent a lot of time charging their batteries with sleep.
Your pet kitten may not need to hunt mice to survive, but its first year will be full of curiosity and play.
Even if it is only awake for a few hours, your kitten will naturally run, climb, jump, and tumble around its environment.
It will chase imaginary prey, investigate every space it can fit inside of, and be a bundle of energy during its time awake.
This means your kitten will need frequent sleep, just like its wild ancestors.
When Do Kittens Usually Sleep?
Kittens tend to sleep in a mix of short and long naps around the clock, and unlike humans, it can be hard to define a one-set chunk of time where they get the majority of their sleep.
It may seem like your kitten is nocturnal by the way it jumps and bumps around at night exploring, but it likely does some sleeping as well.
Many kittens adapt to the routine of their owners and will start to spend some extra time sleeping at night after a few months of age.
Cats are known for being crepuscular, which means they are most active in the morning and evening hours, with the main daytime and overnight hours being less active.
In the wild, this meant that cats didn’t have to hunt in the heat of the day or try to have perfect night vision.
They could enjoy the cooler morning and evening hours while still taking advantage of daylight for hunting.
Your pet kitten may show these same sleeping tendencies even without the need to hunt any real food.
It makes sense that we would love for our kittens to sleep when we do.
There is nothing quite like resting with a happy kitten curled up on you or next to you.
If you stick to a regular bedtime routine for yourself, your kitten will likely catch on to your behaviors, and even if they are not sleeping the whole night through, they will spend some time resting with you as you drift off.
You may be concerned about what your kitten will get into while you rest.
If you are concerned for your kitten’s overnight safety, consider closing them into a safe room or large cage with a litter box and space to move around safely during the night.
Keeping your kitten shut in your bedroom with you at night is an option for many owners, but light sleepers might not enjoy a playful kitten hopping over them during the night.
If your kitten gets its hours turned around and seemed to be spending all day asleep, and all night on the prowl, you may want to spend a few days engaging your kitten in more active daytime play.
By playing during the daytime and then being in a quiet and calm space in the evening, you encourage your kitten to rest with a more human-friendly schedule.
In general, you should expect your kitten to snooze off and on around the clock.
Over time your kitten may adjust to accommodate your sleeping and awake schedule as a natural result of enjoying your company, knowing when you will feed it, and living with your bedtime cues.
Why Is My Kitten Sleeping More Than Usual?
If your kitten has had a more physically active day than normal, is going through a noticeable growth spurt, or is not feeling well, it may sleep more than usual. Often, sleeping more than usual is not a cause for alarm, but any time a pet changes its normal routine, monitoring the behavior is a good idea.
Let us now explore each one a little further.
Kittens do not grow in a smooth, consistent time frame.
They grow rapidly during their first few weeks of life while sleeping around 20 hours each day.
After this, growth slows slightly and may seem more subtle.
Even so, during the first year of life, a kitten will have several periods of quick growth known as a growth spurt.
When this happens, the body needs even more sleep than normal.
A kitten going through a growth spurt will still be active and playful when it is awake, even as the number of daily naps increases.
It may also be hungrier than normal.
Keep an eye on your sleepy kitten, and as long as they are eating well and back to their regular schedule in a few days, your kitten likely had a growth spurt!
If your kitten has several days of high activity levels or extra playtime with its favorite human, you may notice it sleeps more to make up for the extra energy use.
If you get your kitten a new toy or open it up to explore a new area of the house, expect it to play hard and sleep harder.
Sign of Illness
Sometimes a kitten that suddenly sleeps more than normal could be ill.
If your kitten loses interest in playing with you and toys, eating food, or drinking water, it may be sick.
A sick kitten requires sleep to allow its immune system to work on healing and fighting any sickness the kitten has. If you are worried your kitten is sick, you should call your veterinarian for an appointment.
When Should I Be Worried About My Kitten?
You should worry about your kitten if you notice a drastic change in their sleep routine that is paired with a lack of interest in playing, eating, or drinking. If your kitten is sleepy and has goopy or watery eyes, it may be a sign of illness. A kitten that is sleeping a lot and is vomiting or has not used the restroom for an extended period of time should be treated as an emergency.
It is important to remember that even the healthiest kitten will spend a large amount of time sleeping.
Most of the time, a sleeping kitten is a healthy and relaxed kitten.
Still, there are times where you will want to get your kitten into a veterinarian for a checkup.
Kittens are more prone to illness than adult cats.
Some kittens may be too young to have received a full set of vaccinations, and due to their small size, kittens can become dehydrated more easily than many other animals.
Kittens are also very curious creatures that explore with their mouth.
This means that poisoning is a concern for kittens who are left unattended.
If you see signs of your kitten feeling unwell, which include excessive sleep or sleep that is extremely hard for them to awaken from, you should call your veterinarian.
Your vet may advise you to keep an eye on your kitten for a period of time to track their behavior and health.
They may have you come in right away to make sure your kitten is doing well.
If your kitten has medical procedures performed when ill or goes through other medical procedures such as a spay or neuter procedure, sleeping more is normal.
What To Do When Your Kitten Sleeps For Longer Than Usual
How you respond when your kitten sleeps more than normal depends on the situation around the sleeping. Most of the time, the smart thing to do is let your kitten follow its natural cues and get some extra rest. In a day or two, their normal sleep patterns will return.
If you take your kitten to the vet for sleep-related issues, they will likely want to know a general idea of your kitten’s sleeping patterns.
Precise tracking of a kitten’s sleep is hard to do.
They nap in many brief periods throughout the day and tend to continue cycling through sleeping and awake periods at night.
If you want to get an idea of your cat’s sleep patterns, you can keep note of what times you notice them sleeping and see if the times line up from day to day.
Otherwise, simple observation of your kitten will cue you into their normal sleep routines.
If you notice your kitten is sleeping more during the day and less at night, you can attempt to encourage a switch of this pattern.
Spend time playing with your kitten in the late afternoon and evening hours.
Using toys, string, or a light shone on the floor can encourage your kitten to play and chase.
As night settles in, create a dim and quiet space with toys put away.
Keep your kitten in a familiar place at night, so they become more interested in sleeping and less interested in exploring new surroundings.
Even if your kitten goes to sleep with you, be prepared for the fact it is likely to wake up well before your morning alarm.
If your kitten does begin to show signs of feeling unwell where it sleeps for extended periods of time without waking, loses interest in food and water, or has oozing watery eyes and nose, call your veterinarian for assistance.
Kittens spend many hours asleep, but when they are awake, they move at 100 miles per hour.
While this is a huge contrast, this is just how cats are – it’s entirely normal for them, and it’s entirely normal to be alarmed as an owner when you first begin to recognize this pattern.
While you should certainly allow and even promote restful sleep, make the most of the time that they are awake.
Watch and involve yourself when your kitten climbs, jumps, and runs around your home.
Give them plenty of toys and forms of entertainment – suitable for a young, developing kitten, of course.
Thankfully, young kittens do not need hours of entertaining each day – they need to fit in their sleep after all.
Understand this, monitor your kittens sleeping patterns, and be there should the need arise to call a vet.
Just because they are sleeping, does not mean you necessarily can, or should leave them alone for too long.
Just remember, that often is not needed.
Do you have other questions related to your kitten’s sleep and time alone? My following guides may be of interest:
- Should I Leave A Light On For My Kitten At Night?
- Can You Leave A Kitten Alone Overnight? [& If So, When & Where?]
- Can Kittens Sleep Outside? [The Approach To Take]
- Where Should My Kitten Sleep At Night? [The Right Approach]
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.