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Cat tales: Sleep champs

April 05, 2014


IF you are wondering why your cat sleeps 16 hours a day, stop. It is normal. Cats know how to sleep and can sleep anywhere they want to — any table, chair, top of a shelf, window ledge, in the laundry basket, on freshly ironed clothes, the newspaper, on the edge of just about anything. There’s no doubt about it. Did you know that the only animals that can sleep more than us are the opossum and the bat?

As first cousins to the king of the jungle, we follow the pattern of hunters —mostly active during dawn and dusk because that is the time they could catch their prey. Such animals are c-r-e-p-u-s-c-u-l-a-r; a word longer than my tail! So our sleep pattern leaves us with plenty of time to sleep for hours during the rest of the day and night, or to break it into little naps.

Of course, as a modern day indoor cat, one that is very well-fed and spoilt, I also sleep out of boredom, laziness and having nothing majorly exciting to do.

Since cats in the wild must be on the alert in order to survive, we as domestic cats also follow the same pattern. Even when you think that we are deep asleep, our finely tuned senses are still active and ready to spring into action. If you watch your cat while he’s napping, you will see that his ears may rotate from time to time because he is in touch with his environment, and if he hears a noise or senses that someone is approaching, he will open his eyes to check out the situation before falling back to sleep. Try waking me up from my sleep, and I can transform from a deeply sleeping cat to a fully alert one in a matter of seconds. If I realise in the next minute that it was not really worth getting up, I can go back to sleep again.

Where does your cat sleep? Cuddled in the crook of your knees on your bed? On the larger part of your pillow leaving just a little space for your head? Or right against the closed door to your bedroom?

Humans also wonder why we sleep the way we sleep. Sometimes curled up, and at other times on our backs, like humans. What happens is that when the weather is warm, we look for cool places like the floor where we can stretch out. But in cooler weather, we prefer a place bathed in warm sunshine or snuggle up to a heat source like a laptop or our human or another cat; the idea being to reduce heat loss from the body. So when we are holding our face between our paws or curling up to hide our nose and tail underneath us, it is all to do with heat conservation.

Those of us who like to sleep at night with our humans share a cosy bond. Yes, we do get a bit annoying for you when we get up way before you and (demand a very early) breakfast or playtime, but we are a lot better than your teddy bears.