Cats and their homes.

Much like your domestic cat at home sleep takes up a major part of a small wild cats life.

geoffroys-cat (1)
Sleeping Geoffroy’s Cat – Photo Credit: Felidae Conservation Fund

For your average domestic cat this would normally average about 16-20 hours a day. As you would expect for a small wild cat this is much less. The reasons for this are rather obvious in that unlike your domestic cat they will have to catch their own food and they also have predators to worry about.

Today we will be looking at some small wild cats and their sleeping habits.

Sleeping lions in Zimbabwe – Photo credit: Fotofeeling

Unlike Lions, as far as we know, all small wild cats are solitary animals so strength in numbers and the ability to laze around like lions in the open isn’t an option. For this reason small cats have to be more cunning when it comes to finding a place to sleep. Luckily this is when cats excel.

The major impact as to a cats sleeping arrangements would be its habitat.

Take for example the desert, soaring temperatures during the day and cold at night with not an awful lot of vegetation to make a home.   Two cats that have to deal with this situation are the Sand cat, found in the deserts of North Africa as well as the Middle East and Central Asia and the Black Footed Cat endemic to an arid south-westerly zone of South Africa.

A young Sand cat emerges from its burrow. Photo Credit: Unknown

These cats are opportunists as they will can often be found in burrows excavated by other animals. Neither cat has the ability to dig so look for (or create) abandoned burrows of Spring hares or even termites mounds. Sleeping during the day to avoid the heat and hunting at night. This has earned The Black footed cat the nickname Ant Hill Tiger.

Two Ant Hill Tigers guarding their home – PC: Frans Lanting

A cat with a much more varied landscape for creating a home is the Bobcat of Northern America. It may be because of this that the bobcat can get a little greedy. It’s understood that bobcats typically don’t have just one den but sometimes three or even four.

Bobcat kitten emerges from its Tree stump. Photo Credit: Debbie Steinhausser

The main den will often be a cave whilst a smaller den might be an old hollowed out tree stump. This will often allow then to have a much wider territory range with a male bobcat believed to have a territory of up to 60 square miles. Lynx, like Iberian Lynx below, show similar traits when finding a den.

Iberian Lynx and cubs – Photo Credit: Credit: Centre for Genomic Regulation

Another factor that may impact where a cat sleeps and makes its home would be the cold. For cats such as the Pallas’s cat or Manul found in the Zoolon Mountains of Mongolia or the Andean mountain cat the cold will certainly play a part with temperatures dropping to below zero once the sun goes down. Unsurprisingly both cats have the morphology to deal with low temperatures both having thick fur and big bushy tails that they use like a scarf keeping their face and feet warm. Both these animals typically find shelter in cave found amid the mountain range.

Photo Credit: Instagram: @pallascats

Interestingly the Andean Mountain cat, much likes its prey Vicunas, are also known to use their dens as a latrine. Caves found known to harbour Andean Mountain cats are often found covered in cat feaces. Could it be that the cats, like the vicunas, sleep on the mounds of feaces taking advantage of the warmth produced by the decaying mess. Whilst it sounds a little dirty keeping warm at these altitudes can be the difference between life and death.

Andean Mountain Cat outside its cave – Photo Credit Jim Sanderson

Some cats however seem to have it lucky, take this lynx cub, relaxed enough to fall asleep seemingly whilst climbing a tree….

Sleepy Lynx cub – Photo Credit: Cecilie Sonsteby,

…or this African Wild cat another totally at home in the branches of a tree..

African wild cat sleeping in camelthorn tree
African Wild Cat: Photo Credit: James Warwick

..or this little Ocelot who has just awoken from its comfy tree stump.

Ocelot Kitten – Photo Credit: Unknown

Some cats we still no almost nothing about their sleeping habits, the Bay Cat of Borneo for example or the beautiful Marbled cat. Until more research is carried out we’ll just have to keep guessing…

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