Do cats sleep more in winter because they’re depressed?

When the winter weather hits and the days get shorter, gray, and overcast, it can be all too tempting to climb into your PJs early, curl up on the couch, and call it a night. Chances are that your cat is right beside you when you lie down on the couch or go to bed early. If you think you’re noticing your cat sleeping more frequently and longer during the winter, you might not be imagining things. Cats’ sleeping habits can change for many reasons, but it’s important to keep track of your cat’s sleep because big changes can also indicate health issues. So do cats sleep more in winter? And why do they spend so much time snoozing?

Tiger cat sleeping on a grey bed

Do cats sleep more when it’s cold?

Cats do sleep more in the winter. The ASPCA reports that cats typically sleep between 12 and 20 hours per day. In the winter, they may sleep even more.

That increase in sleep may be because the daylight hours or shorter, or your cat might be picking up on and reflecting your own changes in routine, like if you go to bed earlier.

Why do cats sleep more in winter?

Veterinarian Dr. Justin Shmalberg explained to Yahoo that multiple factors can affect cats’ wintertime sleeping habits. Your cat’s endocrine and nervous systems strongly influence how much he sleeps, as well as his hunting and mating habits. The endocrine and nervous systems are affected by two systems called the circadian and circannual rhythm.

The circadian rhythm refers to the changes that your cat undergoes every 24 hours. It’s strongly influenced by light and dark, which is why the reduced daylight hours may affect your cat’s desire to head to bed.

Your cat’s circannual rhythm includes processes that might fluctuate at certain times per year. These are natural biological and psychological processes, and they can also contribute to your cat’s sleeping habits.

While your cat may take cues from the changing light that comes with winter, cats who live entirely indoors likely don’t notice the changes in light as much as cats who spend time outdoors do. Indoor cats tend to be more sedentary than outdoor cats to begin with, so you might not see a change in your indoor cat’s behavior each winter.

Do cats get depressed in winter?

While many Americans deal with seasonal depression each winter, did you know that your cat could experience the same condition? Approximately one-third of pet owners have reported a change in their pet’s behavior in the winter, according to veterinarian Dr. Albert Ahn in an interview with Chewy.

The precise cause of seasonal depression isn’t fully known, but changes in sunlight and sleep patterns may be to blame. If your cat is suffering from seasonal depression, you might notice symptoms like his having more or less energy and his sleeping much more than normal. You might also notice changes in how your cat eats, and he might start vocalizing more than he does normally.

Cat sleeping on a beige fleece blanket

Keeping your cat healthy in the winter

While some changes in your cat’s sleeping habits are normal in the winter, major changes can also be a sign that your cat is sick and needs veterinary attention. You’ll also want to be on the lookout for unusual behavior changes in your cat, including appetite changes and socialization changes. If you notice any of these issues, then it’s important to get your cat to the vet for a checkup, just in case there’s a physical issue that needs treatment.

You may also need to monitor your cat’s weight to help keep him healthy. If your cat starts sleeping much more and his activity level declines, you might need to adjust how much you’re feeding him to help prevent him from becoming overweight.

Every cat is different, and you may or may not notice that your cat starts sleeping more in the winter. If it turns out that your cat does like to catch some extra Zs when the cooler temperatures hit, you can help him to nap more comfortably by giving him cozy spots. A cat bed or warm blanket is always nice, but your cat will probably also appreciate a heated cat bed to keep him extra warm. Keeping the heat turned up in your home and opening your blinds so the sun makes warm spots on the floor will also help your cat to sleep more comfortably.

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