How To Tell If Your Kitten’s Sleeping Pattern Is Normal

Photo of Karen Dell

Karen Dell

Senior Editor • Backyard Cat Enclosures

08 August 2019

When kittens are first born, it may seem to you that they do nothing but sleep! This isn’t too far from the truth, actually. Soon, however, kittens find their feet and then sleep a lot less during the day. Here is a handy guide to show how much sleep kittens of different ages need.

Newborn to 2-week-old kitten sleeping patterns

Newborn kittens can sleep about 22 hours a day – around 90% of the time. The kittens’ sleep cycles at this time are light, with small contractions of their faces and ears as they experience this REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. They may make small sounds. Kittens at this young age also can’t yet regulate their own body temperature and will, therefore, snuggle close to their mother along with their litter mates. This amount of sleep is also essential because kittens grow extremely fast during their first weeks. Kittens nearly double in size during their first week!

3-week-old to 2-month-old kitten sleeping patterns

Your kitten will start sleeping less as they grow older, develop all their senses, and become more active. Their sleep cycle is also now divided into deep-phase and REM sleep. During this deep phase your kitten will be totally relaxed and will breathe slowly.
From three weeks of age, you’ll notice that your kitten starts to sleep alone and no longer needs to huddle so close to its mother and siblings. When awake, they will also start to discover their surroundings – usually very energetically! Because of the amount of energy that your kitten uses during these bouts of activity, they need ample sleep to recharge.

2-month-old and older kitten sleeping patterns

After two months, your kitten will sleep an average of 18 hours per day – just like adult cats. The sleep cycle is still split into sound sleep and REM sleep, with the former lasting 20-25 minutes and the latter approximately 5 minutes. During the hours that your kitten is awake, they will be playing and learning most of the time, so be sure to keep lots of age-appropriate toys available for them to play with!

Why do kittens sleep so much?

Kittens are born deaf and blind and need all the rest they can get to develop these senses as well as their brain, central nervous system, and even their bones and muscles. Sleep also plays a part in keeping their immune system strong.

My kitten is suddenly sleeping more than usual. What can be the cause?

Usually, you don’t have to worry when kittens “oversleep”. However, signs to watch out for are constant and sudden oversleeping and being sluggish when they are awake. This can both be signs of anaemia.
Anaemia can be very dangerous to kittens, as it means that their bodies do not have enough red blood cells. Check your kitten’s gums to see if they are pale. If their gums are pale, they may be anaemic. Take them to the vet as soon as possible if you suspect that they have anaemia.

Top tips to help establish healthy kitten sleeping habits

  • Play with your kitten during daylight hours (as long as they are 7-8 weeks old) to expend their energy. They will then be less likely to be awake – and wake you – during the night. Don’t overdo it, though, as your kitten still needs to sleep during the day as well.
  • You can also give your kitten their own bed, box or blanket to sleep in. This will give them the security they need to get some good rest, and will also keep them from choosing the “security” of the litter box as their bed!
  • Make sure that the spot your kitten has to sleep in is in a quiet spot. This will give them time to fully go through their sleep cycles without being woken.
  • Feed your kitten their dinner just before you go to bed and also leave some food out for your kitten to ‘snack’ on if they do get hungry during the night. Your kitten will then not have to wake you up to feed them during the night. However, if you are dealing with newborn kittens or kittens that have not been weaned that you are raising by yourself, you have to feed them about every 2-4 hours. Don’t worry – after a few weeks your kitten will ease into a sleeping pattern more conducive to your nightly rest!
  • Leave some toys out for your kitten to play with. That will also give them something to do (which is not pouncing on your feet at 2 AM…).
  • Don’t tend to them each time they try to wake you, unless it’s because they are injured or ill. Otherwise they will get into the habit of waking you whenever they want to play.
  • Be patient. Because kittens wake more at night than adult cats, it can feel as if you’re never going to have a full night’s sleep ever again. However, they will soon learn to fit in with your sleep schedule and will take to keeping themselves busy during the night when they want to play. 
Photo: Pexels Stockphotos


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