Do cats sleep more in winter?

My cat sleeping soundly with snow outside

My cat sleeping soundly with snow outside. Photo: MikeB

Indoor/outdoor domestic cats are likely to sleep more in winter. I explain why….

Of course, I am referring to domestic cats. There will be a difference between domestic cats and wild cats because the reason why domestic cats sleep more in winter is because they don’t want to go outside. They are confined to the indoors which is warm. And because they are confined they have less to do and because they have less to do they tend to sleep instead.

I’m referring, of course, to indoor/outdoor cats. These are the kind of cats with which I’m most familiar. I respect others who keep their cats indoors all the time. Under these circumstances I would argue that domestic cats show no change in behaviour in respect of sleeping during winter or summer months. What happens outside in terms of weather conditions should not affect the sleeping patterns of domestic cats who live indoors all the time. This is because of the obvious: inside the home the environment is completely stable including the ambient temperature and lighting.

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I guess some people might argue that a full-time indoor cat might sleep more during winter months because the outside is darker and therefore when they see the darkeness they instinctively sleep more because they recognise the change in seasons. I would seriously doubt this reasoning.

The domestic cat, as we know, is a domesticated North African wild cat. My research indicates that in Africa sunrise and sunset are fairly stable throughout the year. Whereas in the UK, sunset and sunrise very tremendously throughout the year so it’s much darker in the evenings and mornings in the UK in winter compared to summer. But in Africa this variation does not occur.

Therefore, innately and built into the DNA of the North African wildcat is their reaction to a stable climate in terms of daylight hours. This innate reaction to daylight hours is within our domestic cats. It must be. And therefore, I would argue, they do not respond to the exterior being darker or lighter for longer or for shorter periods of time. The only factor that I can see which will dictate how long they sleep during the day or night is whether they need to kill time because of a lack of necessary activity.

Therefore the question as to whether cats sleep more in winter is applicable to indoor/outdoor cats. Indoor/outdoor cats will be inherently more active than full-time indoor cats unless the owner entertains their cats rigorously. And that activity by outdoor cats is dramatically diminished during winter because the domestic cat does not like being out in very cold conditions. This, once again, is because of their wild cat ancestor inheritance. They like the warmth. They are used to the warmth. It is in their DNA because North Africa is a very warm place.

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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