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How Much Do Kittens Sleep? A Guide For New Pet Parents

As a pet parent, it’s your responsibility to take the very best care of your new feline. It’s essential that you’re well-versed in all of the things that your pet needs to keep them happy and healthy. One of these must-haves is the right amount of sleep.

Cats — and kittens specifically — have garnered quite the reputation for themselves in regards to their sleep routine. You’ve probably heard talk about how many hours a day cats clock in sleeping. Maybe you even have questions about how much shut-eye your new pet needs to get per day in order to maintain their wellbeing.

The team at Pawp knows that a lot goes into being the best pet parent you can be. That’s why their vets are always available by phone to get you the answers you need when you need them. It’s at the core of their mission, and it’s something that Pawp is proud of.

Today’s topic of discussion is the ultimate pet parent’s guide to kitten sleep. To start, there will be a review of the basics, namely how much sleep your new kitten needs. From there, read a discussion on why kittens require the amount of sleep that they do. 

Then, discover some tips on how to get your kitten into a sleep schedule and what to do if your kitten isn’t sleeping enough. Finally, find out how to make the perfect place for your kitten to get their sleep in. 

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How much sleep does my new kitten need?

Yes, the rumors are true: kittens really do sleep constantly. It’s important to remember that the younger that your cat is, the more sleep they will require (generally speaking, at least). Therefore, a new kitten’s daily routine is mostly sleeping. For a newborn, that equates to roughly 90% of the day sleeping, which is almost 22 hours of sleep.

This phase of sleeping almost constantly won’t last forever, however. Kittens’ requirements change as they grow and mature. When your new cat starts to grow up, you will find that they sleep a bit less. But don’t expect a drastic reduction in how many hours your cat spends sleeping: you will find that even at six months old, they’ll still clock in about 16 to 20 hours a day sleeping.

This is completely normal and nothing to be concerned about. Of course, if you ever have concerns about your cat’s sleep schedule, the thing to do is to reach out to a trained professional vet about it. The vet will be able to give you greater insight as to why your kitten is behaving the way that they are. 

Why does my kitten need so much sleep?

The natural next question is: why does my new kitten require that much sleep? And once again, there’s a very good answer. Every time that your new kitten is sleeping peacefully, there’s actually a lot going on that isn’t visible to the naked eye. Your new cat’s body develops tremendously when they’re getting their sleep in.

Part of the reason that cats require so much sleep is that their brain and central nervous system develop while they snooze. That’s right: important functions are fine-tuned when your cat is dozing there. In addition, naps are critical because they allow your kitten to tone and strengthen their muscles and bones, too.

However, that’s not all. There are actually more reasons why your cat needs to snooze for that amount of time. Sleep can be attributed to keeping your cat’s immune system in good shape. If your kitten isn’t dozing off an appropriate amount, they can start to become irritable or even be at risk for developing an illness or infection. 

You might be wondering how this behavior came about. There are actually evolutionary reasons why your cat sleeps the amount that they do. Did you know that your domesticated kitten’s ancestors were predators that resided in the African plains?

Cats’ ancestors slept a majority of their day and hunted for brief periods. This was by design; it helped them conserve their energy. Today, your domesticated cat probably doesn’t need to be doing much hunting and preying, but the patterns are still the same. 

How do I get my kitten into a sleep schedule?

If you’re looking for ways to get your new kitty into a sleep schedule, you will be relieved to learn that there are some pretty foolproof methods. If you start to add these into your cat’s daily routine, you could quickly see a difference.

Developing a sleep cycle that works for your cat is a great way to be sure that your new addition is clocking in the right amount of sleep and that they’ll be able to get some quality sleep, too. The best part is that it’s not even difficult and just requires a little bit of planning on your part. 

Our first suggestion is to always stick to your cat’s sleep schedule. Set your cat’s food out at the same time every day, scoop their litter box in a routine manner, and break out the toys at the same time. This will help your cat get into a cadence.

It is a good idea to take your cat’s feeding times into consideration. When you feed your cat later on in the evening, you’ll find that having a fuller belly can lead your cat to be sleepy. By pushing their meal closer to their bedtime, your cat will likely sleep deeper afterward. 

Before long, they will have a basic understanding of when each task will occur — including when it’s time for bed. This could prove more helpful as your cat gets older and sleeps less, but it’s good to keep in mind during their younger kitten days, too. 

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Play and exercise can help

Another suggestion is that you should play with your kitten before you put them to bed. Think about it: you tire them out, and then you show them that it’s time to sleep. This can be useful when it comes to ensuring that your cat will be able to sleep through the night.

You can start out small with just a few moments of play. Then, as your cat gets older, you can increase the amount of time. You’ll find what works for your individual pet with a bit of patience. 

Some pet parents might worry that play time too close to bedtime will leave their kitten all riled up. However, Dr. Laura Robinson, Pawp veterinarian, says this shouldn’t be a concern.

Dr. Robinson explains that “It can take them a little while to calm down after playing, especially if they still have energy they want to expend. After about an hour or so, that energy should calm down and they should sleep okay. In reality, physical exercise and play is important for getting that energy out so they can sleep okay.”

What if I think my kitten isn’t sleeping enough?

While it’s rather uncommon for new cat owners to think that their kitten isn’t getting enough sleep, it can happen. And if this is the case, you should certainly reach out to your vet to get some insight as to why this is happening.

Some of the reasons that cats don’t sleep enough include sleep disorders, rare seizures, and other conditions. Nevertheless, sometimes the cause is much less drastic. The only way you will know for sure is by reaching out to a vet, so don’t hesitate. 

As mentioned earlier, there are plenty of good reasons why a young cat needs to sleep the amount of time that they do, so you should be sure that you are helping them get that. And if you’re ever worried about your pet’s health, even if it is not related to sleep, don’t wait. Reach out to a vet as soon as you can. 

Ultimately, every kitten is their own unique individual. A lot of times, when your cat isn’t sleeping as much as you thought maybe they would, it can simply be attributed to the fact that perhaps your kitten doesn’t require as much sleep as some others would. Just get a vet’s opinion for peace of mind and reassurance. 

How to create the perfect place for your kitten to sleep

You’ll find that your cat will develop sleeping habits that work for them, but there are certain steps that you can take to ensure that your cat has the right place to snooze. You might find that your new kitten loves to spend time snuggling with you. Alternatively, your kitten might prefer to cozy up in their own bed where they can spread out and lounge around.

Think about it: the more comfortable that you make your cat’s home, the more likely they are to enjoy spending time sleeping in it. If you’re looking for a new bed for your cat, you can find a place with high sides. These will make your cat feel that they are in a secure, den-like space. 

Another way that you can make the perfect place for your cat to sleep is to include their favorite things in their space. Did you get a blanket from the shelter or breeder you got them from? If so, you can tuck it into their bed. This carries a scent that your cat is familiar with, so they’ll be more comfortable. 

You can also toss some toys in but be sure that they’re quiet. You don’t want your kitten’s midnight playtime interfering with your sleep schedule or any other member of your home. Putting their litter box nearby is also a smart idea. 

Kittens do not have large bladders, so your new feline friend will likely have to use the bathroom during the night. Lastly, you can even add a scratching post nearby. Your cat will love this because felines enjoy scratching right after they stretch and wake up.

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Pawp's online vets are here for you anytime

Whether you have questions about your new cat’s sleep schedule in the middle of the night or on the weekend, Pawp’s online 24/7 vets will be able to advise on what to do. Pawp’s vets have years of experience and can help you figure out your next steps. 

KITTEN SLEEPING SOURCES: 

How Much Sleep Is Normal For Kittens? | Chewy  

How to Encourage Your Kitten to Sleep Through the Night | Paw Tracks  

The Making of the Cat | PBS

Bonding With Kitten: Playtime, New Home, Socializing, and More | Fetch: Web MD

Feeding Times and Frequency for Your Cat | VCA Animal Hospital

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