Have you ever wondered why cats spend so many hours sleeping? It is not uncommon for them to rest up to 17 hours a day. This may cause some jealousy, but the question remains: why do they need so much time to rest?
Cats: lazy animals or just very well adapted?
There's no denying that your cat is an endearing creature. Despite some annoying behaviors such as dropping things, scratching the furniture or yourself, there are probably times when they are so cute that you can't blame them. However, you have to admit that cats are incredibly lazy. Not because they don't participate in household chores, but because they spend most of the day sleeping.
In fact, according to ‘Science Focus', most domestic felines can sleep between 10 and 13 hours a day (50 to 110 minutes at a time), and it's not unusual for a cat to sleep up to 17 hours. Definitely something to be envious of.
The secret of their sleep: cats are crepuscular animals
It's natural to wonder why cats need to sleep so much. To understand this, it is important to recognize the times when most cats are most active: dawn and dusk. This characteristic makes them crepuscular (rather than nocturnal) animals, just like ferrets, hamsters and stray dogs. Indeed, cats have evolved over millions of years to be low-light predators, their eyesight being specifically adapted to twilight activity.
The role of the “tapetum” in cats' vision and energy conservation
All cats have a tapetum, a mirror at the back of each retina. In addition to making their eyes scary in the dark, this adaptation gives cats a second chance to interpret incoming light, allowing them to see better in dark environments. Thus, because cats are crepuscular, they conserve their energy for those twilight hunting periods. Before they were domesticated, cats had to expend large amounts of energy at these times to find, pursue, and kill their prey. Although domestic cats no longer hunt before dinnertime, their natural hunting instincts still encourage them to save energy for dawn and dusk.
Do humans influence their cats' sleep?
Interestingly, some studies suggest that humans can have an impact on their cats' sleep. In particular, a study from the University of Messina in Italy gathered information on this topic by attaching tracers to 10 domestic felines: half of the cats were allowed to move freely in a large house and garden, while the other half were only allowed to move around in a smaller house and were kept indoors at night.
It was found that the cats in the smaller house somewhat mirrored the sleeping patterns of their owners and were more likely to be awake when their humans interacted with them frequently. In other words, if you force them to, your cat might enjoy spending time with you. That's an achievement in itself, of course.
Sleeping is a natural way for cats to conserve energy
Cats are crepuscular animals adapted to hunt at dawn and dusk, and their prolonged sleep allows them to conserve energy for these crucial times. Their visual adaptation, thanks to the tapetum, allows them to see better in the dark and to be excellent predators. Although domestic cats no longer need to hunt, their natural hunting instincts remain and encourage them to conserve energy. Cats' sleep can also be influenced by the interaction of their human owners, showing that our lovable companions are more connected to us than they appear.
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