Do Cats Hibernate? (Winter Sleeping Habits Explained)

Do Cats Hibernate

Do cats hibernate in the winter?

It’s not that crazy of a question, as we all know, cats are pretty lazy and sleep anywhere between 14-16 hours a day.

Cats do not hibernate though, no.

Hibernation is a metabolic depression some animals go through during the winter months to conserve energy – not something cats or even big wild cats do.

Why Do Animals Hibernate?

In the colder climates, animals of all sizes like bears, turtles, and hedgehogs will hibernate to avoid the harsh weather conditions.

By going into a dormant state, their heart rate and breathing slow down, and they live off of their stored energy reserves.

This allows them to conserve fat that they’ve accumulated during the summer months and helps them stay alive when food is scarce.

Do Cats Hibernate?

No – cats do not hibernate. They don’t have to worry about conserving energy in the winter since they are capable of traveling far distances to find and hunt prey.

There is a shorter-term type of hibernation, too, called torpor.

Small animals like various rodents, possums, and some birds go into a state of torpor during winter.

Torpor is a state of decreased physiological activity in an animal, it’s often the term used to describe animals that sleep much more during the winter months.

The difference between torpor and hibernation is that during torpor, animals are active. When hibernating, animals are in a state of dormancy.

Do Cats Go Into Torpor?

Again, no – cats don’t have to go into torpor since they don’t lower their body temperature and metabolism.

While cats may sleep more in the colder months, it’s not because they’re hibernating or in torpor – it’s just because they’re lazy!

Do Indoor Cats Sleep More in the Winter?

Since cats are prey animals, they have a natural instinct to be aware of their surroundings at all times.

Indoor cats typically sleep more than outdoor cats, as they don’t have the opportunity to roam outside and explore.

Cats also seem to be affected by the shorter daylight hours and colder temperatures during winter months and sleep even more.

It’s hard to blame them, too, just think how relaxed you feel curled up in front of a warm fire on an early winter’s night.

How Much Do Cats Really Sleep
Photo by Paul Hanaoka on Unsplash

Do Outdoor or Feral Cats Hibernate?

No, outdoor and feral cats do not hibernate. They are constantly on the hunt for food and can adapt to colder weather conditions better than indoor cats.

This doesn’t mean that feral cats do not need help during the winter months though.

Cats don’t typically like the cold. Although there are some breeds of cats that are much better at dealing with colder climates than others.

Take the Norwegian Forest Cat or Siberian as examples, they originated in cold climates, but it’s very unlikely you’ll see rare breeds like these in the wild here.

RelatedHere are some insights into where feral cats hide in the winter.

How Much Do Cats Really Sleep?

Cats and how lazy they are or how much they sleep has become a bit of a meme – but with good reason.

Exactly how much cats sleep doesn’t have a definitive answer, as cats sleep and rest in different ways throughout the day and night.

On average, cats seem to sleep around 14-16 hours a day, but it really depends on the individual cat.

Some cats may only sleep for 12 hours while others might sleep up to 18 or more hours.

It depends on the age of your cat, the time of the year, how often they’re disturbed (or not disturbed), and honestly, how lazy your cat is.

Reasons Why You Cat Might Be Sleeping Too Much

If you think your cat is sleeping too much, you should consult with your veterinarian to rule out any health problems.

To help give you an idea, some of the most common reasons cats sleep more than usual are:

  • They’re not feeling wellIf your cat is lethargic or doesn’t seem to be their normal self, they might be sick. This is why it’s important to take your cat in for regular checkups.
  • They’re bored – A common reason cats sleep more is because they’re bored. If you think this might be the case with your cat, try to give them more stimulation by playing with them or adding new toys to their environment.
  • They’re oldAs cats get older, they tend to sleep more. This is because their metabolism slows down and they don’t need as much energy (don’t we all?!).
  • It’s winter – As mentioned before, cats often sleep more in the colder months due to the change in season and shorter daylight hours.
  • They’re pregnant or nursing – Cats that are pregnant or nursing often sleep more because they need the energy to care for their kittens.
  • They’re stressed If your cat is stressed, they might sleep more as a way to cope. This could be due to changes in their environment, like a new pet or baby in the home, or a move.
  • They’re lazy – This is probably the most common reason cats sleep more and the easiest one to fix! Try to provide your cat with plenty of toys and playtime to keep them active and entertained.

In Summary

Cats sleep a lot, more so in the winter and more than dogs and most other domestic pets – but they do not hibernate or go into a state of torpor.

If your cat is suddenly sleeping a lot more than they used to and you’re concerned, you should always give your vet a call to rule out any health issues.

The most likely answer, however, is that you just have a lazy cat!


Image credits – Photo by Thomas Ellmenreich on Unsplash

Leave a comment: