In previous blogs we talked about the typical sleep patterns of cats, some of the things that can influence how much a cat sleeps and one sleep problem that cats sometimes have – hypersomnia or too much sleep. We also talked about some things to do if you suspect that your cat is sleeping too much. Another sleep problem that happens in cats and people, but is more rare in cats, is narcolepsy.
Narcolepsy is characterized by sudden and uncontrollable bouts of sleep that often happen when the cat becomes excited. The cat just collapses and starts to snooze, no matter where she is or what’s going on. The problem is thought to be neurological in origin and can be treated with medications. If you suspect your cat has this problem, consult your veterinarian.
Insomnia or sleeping too little is the leading sleep complaint by people. Cats don’t complain about it in the same way as people but they can suffer from insomnia as well. Sometimes when cats aren’t sleeping and are active late at night or early in the morning, it’s their human companions that end up with insomnia.
As we mentioned last time, insomnia and other sleep disturbances can sometimes be signs of illness. So if you think your cat is sleeping less than normal, check with your veterinarian first.
There is one form of insomnia, seen in some older cats, where the cat wanders around at night meowing or howling and seemingly is distressed, yet nothing seems to help them. They may also have elimination “accidents” (not using the litterbox), and may seem confused and disoriented at other times. This has been given the name Feline Cognitive Disorder and may be a form of senior dementia. Medications may help so consult your veterinarian.
Remember the factors we talked about earlier that can affect sleep? If you’re cat seems to be awake more than usual and it’s not a medical problem, maybe you’re leaving the lights on too much for her – give her a quiet, dark place to sleep. If there are other animals or people around most of the day and/or there’s lots of activity and stimulation, all this may be keeping her up. Be sure she has a quiet place to go to get away from it all. We’ll talk more about cat night time activity later.