Kittens! They're cute, endearing, full of energy, and . . . always sleeping. When you've just adopted a kitten and you're excited to spend time with your new family member, it may feel like your kitten sleeps constantly. And that begs the question: how much do kittens sleep, anyway?

Your new kitten sleeps a lot, and that's okay.

How often do they sleep?

Babies tend to sleep a lot, whether it's a human baby who sleeps 14 to 18 hours a day,1 a newborn puppy that sleeps 22 hours a day, or a newborn kitten that sleeps almost all the time.2 Growing is serious business and requires a lot of sleep, regardless of what kind of baby you are!

Over the first few weeks and months of life, a kitten's sleeping time gradually decreases and her active time increases. By the time she reaches seven weeks of age, she will be happily playing and exploring and sleeping less often.3 Once she reaches adulthood, she may only sleep 16 hours a day (still twice the amount of sleep the average adult human needs), which leaves many more hours for playtime and interaction.

Active at night

Cats are crepuscular, which means they prefer the twilight hours (dawn and dusk). So it's no secret that cats prefer to be active at night and sleep during the day, and kittens are no exception. Kittens may sleep a lot—it's just not always at night. Cats can see well in the dark,4 so nighttime is just as good as daytime for playtime! And while comfy beds are always inviting, many kittens would rather use those during the day.

So, can you encourage your kitten to sleep at night?

There are a couple of ways to encourage your kitten to use nighttime for sleeping. One way is to arrange for active play when you'd like your kitten to be awake. Also play with your kitten before “lights out" to use up some of her excess energy.

You could also consider feeding her a bit closer to bedtime so she's not hungry during the night. Eating might also help make your kitten sleepy.

You might leave some safe kitten toys available so she has something to occupy her if she is wide awake and bored at 3:00 A.M. It's not like she has to get up in the morning and go to work or anything!

The bottom line

How much do kittens sleep? A lot. Perhaps 90 percent of the time when they're newborns and for the first six weeks of their life. After that, activity increases and sleep decreases until they're spending about 65 percent of their day sleeping. Now if you could just get her to stop sleeping on your computer keyboard . . .

  1. O'Connor, Amy. Newborn and Baby Sleep Basics, What to Expect, 1 May 2020, https://www.whattoexpect.com/first-year/newborn-sleep.aspx
  2. Hackett, Stacey. How Much Should Your Cat Sleep? Catster, 5 September 2015, https://www.catster.com/lifestyle/how-much-do-should-cats-sleep-cat-health
  3. Sullivan, Megan. Kitten Development: Understanding a Kitten's Major Growth Milestones, PetMD, 22 January 2018, https://www.petmd.com/cat/care/kitten-development-understanding-kittens-major-growth-milestones
  4. Bercker, Marty. How Can We Get Our Cat To Sleep at Night?, VetStreet, 28 November 2011, http://www.vetstreet.com/dr-marty-becker/how-can-we-get-our-cat-to-sleep-at-night