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What do cats do all day inside?

Cats are known for being mysterious, independent creatures. Unlike dogs, who eagerly await their human’s return home, cats seem content to lounge around the house all day without supervision. But what exactly do our feline friends get up to while we’re gone? Here’s an in-depth look at how cats spend their days inside the house.


Cats sleep a lot! In fact, the average house cat sleeps between 12-16 hours per day. Cats tend to take short naps throughout the day and night, usually lasting between 30 minutes to 2 hours each. This is because cats are crepuscular, meaning they are most active at dawn and dusk. During the day when humans are gone, cats take the opportunity to catch up on their beauty sleep. They can often be found napping in warm sunny spots like windowsills or on top of furniture.

Some key facts about cats’ sleeping patterns:

  • Kittens need even more sleep than adult cats, sleeping around 18-20 hours per day.
  • Older cats also tend to sleep more than adults, up to 20 hours a day.
  • Cats enter rapid eye movement (REM) sleep just like humans, when they experience their most vivid dreams.
  • A cat’s light dozing is still considered a form of sleep.

So the next time you can’t find your cat, check all their favorite snoozing spots. Chances are they are fast asleep!


Cats spend a significant portion of their days grooming and cleaning themselves. On average, cats spend around 50% of their waking hours self-grooming. Their rough tongue has tiny barbs ideal for combing through their coat and removing dirt, debris, and tangled fur. Cats also lick their paws and rub them over their face and ears as part of their grooming ritual.

In addition to keeping clean, grooming serves other purposes for cats:

  • Spreads natural oils across their coat for waterproofing
  • Cools cats down through evaporative cooling when saliva evaporates off their fur
  • Relieves stress and anxiety through the repetitive motion
  • Aids digestion by removing fur swallowed during grooming

You’ll often see cats meticulously grooming themselves in a quiet spot for long periods of time. This is a totally normal and healthy behavior for our fastidious feline friends.


Even when confined inside, a cat’s prey drive and curiosity never sleep! Feral and outdoor cats spend much of their time hunting small prey like mice, birds, lizards or insects. Indoor cats don’t have access to such stimulation, so they create their own enrichment. You may catch your cat staring intently outside windows, “hunting” birds or small animals in the yard. Or they may explore every nook and cranny of the house out of boredom.

Indoor cats often exhibit hunting behaviors like:

  • Stalking and pouncing on toys
  • Hiding and observing people from behind furniture
  • Pawing at fish tanks or TV wildlife shows
  • Chasing balls, strings or laser pointers
  • Running rapidly up and down stairs
  • Knocking objects off shelves

It’s a good idea to provide appropriate outlets for a cat’s hunting urges by playing interactive games every day. Rotating toys keeps things interesting and prevents boredom. This satisfies their inner hunter and prevents destructive behaviors.

Looking Out Windows

House cats seem endlessly fascinated by what’s happening outside. Looking out windows provides mental stimulation and entertainment when they can’t access the outdoors. It appeals to their curious nature to observe all the birds, animals and people passing by. Some cats will spend hours intently gazing outside with great interest at all the activity.

Important things for cats to watch outside include:

  • Birds, squirrels and other wildlife in the yard
  • Wind blowing through trees and bushes
  • People walking dogs or jogging by
  • Vehicles driving down the street
  • Raindrops sliding down the glass
  • Sunbeams moving across the floor

If you have a window perch, cat tree or cat condo, your cat will be drawn to this spot to indulge their hobby of people watching all day long. It provides mental stimulation and entertainment between naps.


Who says cats want to lay around all day? Kitties love to play, especially younger cats under 5 years old. When left alone, cats often invent their own games and activities. Favorite cat toys like balls, mice, feather wands and laser pointers encourage active play. But they’ll also improvise with household items or even play chase with other pets at home.

Interactive playtime is healthy for cats physically and mentally. Solo play helps them:

  • Burn pent up energy and frustration
  • Keep their reflexes and coordination sharp
  • Prevent obesity and related health issues
  • Relieve stress and boredom when alone
  • Practice hunting skills on toys

So even when you’re not around, rest assured your cats are keeping themselves entertained with spurts of energetic playtime. Just be sure to rotate toys to keep things fresh and intriguing!

Cuddling and Grooming Each Other

For cats sharing a home together, snuggling and communal grooming sessions are common ways to pass the time. As social creatures, most cats enjoy having feline companionship during the day while their humans are occupied. Cats who get along will often sleep near each other, play together, and groom each other as bonding activities.

Mutual grooming provides health benefits such as:

  • Removing loose hair and distributing natural oils
  • Increasing blood circulation
  • Reducing stress levels through touch and massage

And we all know how much cats love to cuddle! Feline companions keep each other warm and provide a sense of comfort and closeness. Watching cats huddle together or curl up into a yin yang position is adorable. So if you have multiple cats at home, chances are they are snuggling together and keeping each other entertained throughout the day.

Perching in High Spots

Cats love to observe their surroundings from on high when possible. Elevated perches allow cats to satisfy their natural instinct to survey their territory like predators. High spots also make cats feel more secure since they can see any potential threats approaching. Some favorite high-up spots include:

  • Cat trees/condos
  • Bookcases or shelves
  • Window perches
  • Tops of furniture
  • Refrigerators or cabinets

Trying to locate a cat in a multi-level home? Look up! There’s a good chance they are perched somewhere upstairs keeping vigil over the home. Providing stable elevated surfaces saves your cat from climbing where they shouldn’t.

Using the Litter Box

While not the most exciting cat activity, regular bathroom visits are a fact of life. Whether it’s number one or number two, cats use the litter box several times throughout the day. The average cat urinates 3-10 times per day and defecates 1-5 times. More food and water intake means more frequent toilet trips.

Some litter box usage factors:

  • Kittens under 6 months need very frequent access
  • Senior cats may need to go more urgently
  • High-moisture diets produce more urine
  • Illnesses like UTIs increase urgency
  • Dirty boxes deter use and cause accidents

To support good litter box habits, provide at least one box per cat plus one extra. Scoop waste at least once daily. Replace the litter every 2-4 weeks or when visibly soiled. This helps minimize odors and keep cats on a consistent toilet schedule.

Eating and Drinking

Hunting prey would involve periods of fasting for wild cats. But house cats can access food around the clock. Most maintain a fairly steady routine of eating multiple small meals throughout the day. The average cat eats 4-6 times per day. Cats also drink water frequently throughout the day when fed dry food.

Factors influencing eating and drinking frequency:

  • Routine – cats prefer set mealtimes
  • Portion size – small meals eaten more frequently
  • Food type – wet food eaten in fewer sittings
  • Water content – dry food causes more drinking
  • Temperature – hot weather increases water intake

It’s important not to free-feed dry food. Measured meal portions help prevent overeating and obesity. Canned food provides hydration for fewer but larger meals. Ensure multiple fresh water sources are always available as well. This supports digestion and healthy kidney function.

Scratching and Nail Care

Cats spend time every day scratching objects around the house to care for their claws. Scratching serves several purposes:

  • Removes worn outer nail sheaths
  • Conditions claws and stimulates growth
  • Stretches muscles in paws, legs and back
  • Marks territory with scent glands in paws

It’s normal for cats to scratch after naps or periods of inactivity. Providing appropriate scratching posts discourages damage to furniture. Vertical and horizontal scratchers allow cats to fully stretch. Offer different materials too like sisal rope, corrugated cardboard or wood.

Trimming nails weekly also keeps them blunt and reduces scratching damage. Take care not to trim too short where blood vessels are housed inside claws. Doing a few nails per day helps cats get accustomed to handling.

Birdwatching from Inside

Does your cat chirp, chitter or make odd trilling noises while looking out the window? They may be visually tracking birds and trying to mimic their calls. Cat TV can occupy cats for hours as they observe and listen to wild birds flocking around outdoor feeders.

Some reasons cats are transfixed by backyard birds:

  • Instinct to hunt smaller prey animals
  • Chirping and activity grabs their attention
  • Can’t physically catch birds so they watch intently
  • Exciting outlet compared to indoor inertia

Placing bird feeders where cats can view them from the house provides free enrichment. Watching birds stimulates their minds and gives them an acceptable outlet to channel hunting impulses safely. Just make sure feeders are not too close to windows to prevent collisions. Enjoy the soothing sounds of chirping birds along with your kitty!

Chewing on Houseplants

Cats attracted to nibbling on houseplants? This common cat behavior can be dangerous depending on toxicity. Cats are naturally drawn to chewing on greens as they would grass or leaves in nature. But many houseplants can cause gastrointestinal, heart or neurological issues if ingested.

Some reasons cats chew houseplants:

  • Prey stimulation from movement
  • Aid digestion like grass
  • Alleviate nausea from hairballs
  • Curiosity and boredom
  • Attracted to smell or texture

To keep your cats safe, identify and remove any toxic plants in or around the home. Place houseplants out of reach or train cats to avoid chewing. Offer greenery designed just for cats to satisfy the urge in a healthy way. With supervision and training, cats can enjoy non-toxic houseplants without wreaking havoc.

Hanging Out Near People

While cats are independent, they are also highly social and form close bonds with their people. When families are home together, cats often hang out in the same room just to feel included. Even if they aren’t snuggling up demanding attention, your company provides security and comfort. Their trust in you also satisfies their social requirements.

Some ways cats may hang out with their humans:

  • Relaxing in the same room during activities
  • Napping nearby or in the same furniture
  • Casually wandering over for quick pets
  • Watching attentively or chirping at you
  • Joining in playtime or exercise

Quality time together doesn’t have to require direct interaction. Just being present helps relieve feline separation anxiety when left alone during the day. Cats don’t really spend all day sleeping – they simply enjoy being close to their cherished humans!


Now you know some of the most common ways cats spend their time while families are out at work or school. From lounging and birdwatching to playing and snacking, the days certainly don’t drag on. Next time you get home, observe your cat’s activities and enrichment areas. Make sure your cat has plenty of toys, climbing structures and cozy spots to stay engaged. With proper outlets, cats can avoid boredom and troublesome behaviors. Don’t believe the myth that cats sleep all the time – they lead active, intriguing lives even when alone!