Around a third of all cat owners let their pet sleep on the bed. While some owners appreciate the companionship of a cat on their pillow, others believe it is unhygienic to allow cats in the bedroom.
If your cat is keeping you awake at night by meowing, scratching, or being playful, this will disturb your sleep. However, you should avoid shutting them out of the bedroom because this behavior could indicate an underlying issue. In this guide, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of letting your cat sleep on your bed and show you what to do if your cat is keeping you awake at night.
- 1 Is Sleeping with Cats Bad for Health?
- 1.1 Reasons to Let your Cat Sleep on the Bed
- 1.2 Why Does My Cat Sleep Next to Me in Bed?
- 1.3 Which Diseases Can Spread from Cats to Humans?
- 1.4 Will I Get Sick If My Cat Sleeps with Me?
- 1.5 Is Sleeping with your Cat Good for Your Emotional Health?
- 1.6 My Cat Keeps Waking Me Up at Night
- 1.7 How to Train Your Cat to Sleep in Its Own Bed
- 1.8 How to Remove Cat Hair from Bedding
- 1.9 Where Should Cats Sleep?
- 1.10 Further Information About Cats:
Is Sleeping with Cats Bad for Health?
Unwanted cat hairs can ruin cotton bedsheets, but is your cat going to cause you any serious harm by sleeping on your bed? Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut answer to this question.
Let’s review some of the potential health hazards:
- Disrupt your Sleep Cycles – Some cats tend to wake up in the early hours of the morning – a time when humans enjoy their most restorative phases of sleep. If your cat disturbs your sleep on a regular basis, this could affect your health and wellbeing.
- Bad Sleeping Posture – If your cat wanders underneath the covers to stay warm, you might sleep at a funny angle because you’re worried about squashing them. Also, if your cat likes to sleep on your pillow, you might develop a crick in your neck.
- Arguments – If you share your bed with a partner and they’re not convinced about your new bed guest, this could lead to stress and arguments.
- They Might Not Be Very Clean – Most cats are good at keeping themselves clean, but older cats might struggle in this department. Even if your cat spends all their time indoors, they might bring litter box debris or fur balls into the bed.
- They May Transmit Disease – A small number of diseases can be transmitted between cats and humans through prolonged physical contact. Nevertheless, as we’ll explore, most domestic cats are unlikely to transmit diseases to humans, as long as you take the necessary precautions to ensure they are healthy.
- A Risk to Young Children – Besides the small risk of disease, cats can scratch and bite if they are startled, so it is not safe to allow them to sleep with young children.
If you let your cat sleep on your bed, you risk more than just damaged bedsheets. Most of these health hazards are preventable if you take some precautions. What’s more, allowing your pet to sleep on the bed may actually benefit your health in some cases.
Reasons to Let your Cat Sleep on the Bed
If one-third of cat owners allow their cat to sleep on the bed, we can predict that there are at least some benefits to doing so. Not convinced? Consider the following:
- Your Cat May Become Less Stressed – As we’ll explore, cats often seek out companionship and warmth at night. If their needs are met, they’re less likely to become anxious. Anxiety can lead to excessive scratching, eating problems, and urinary tract infections so you’ll want to reduce your cat’s anxiety levels as much as possible.
- Strengthen your Bond – Allowing your cat to sleep in the bed may help you to feel closer.
- Lift your Mood and Warm your Heart – Spending time with a pet can boost your mental health. Thanks to our busy lives, most of us are unable to spend quality time with our pets during the day. At nighttime, we can emotionally ‘recharge our batteries’ by stroking and cuddling our companion animal.
- Keeps you Warm – If you let your cat in the bed, there’s no need for a hot water bottle or electric blanket.
- Peace of Mind – Cats can get up to mischief in the night, so keeping them on the bed and encouraging them to sleep may actually help you relax.
So, while some cat owners are concerned about hygiene, others wouldn’t dream of locking the cat out of the bedroom at nighttime. Before we explore each perspective, it’s important to understand why a cat would choose to sleep on their owner’s bed rather than their own.
Why Does My Cat Sleep Next to Me in Bed?
A cat might seek out companionship at night if it’s feeling anxious. Cats may become anxious when left alone with another pet or if they can see their reflections in glass windows/TV screens.
But that’s not the only reason your cat is cozying up next to you at night; cats may also sleep with their owners for the following reasons:
- Cold – Does your cat cling to you during the winter months but is less interested in the bed during the summer months? Perhaps your bed becomes a cat magnet as soon as you turn the electric blanket on at night? If so, they probably enjoy sleeping next to you because they’re feeling very cold.
- Bored – If your cat doesn’t get much exercise during the day, they may crave closeness and attention at night. If you have a busy lifestyle, nighttime might be the only time your cat gets your full attention.
- Feeling Safe – Being high-up helps your cat to feel safe because they have a birds-eye-view of their surroundings. Most beds are raised significantly off the ground, so it’s no wonder that many cats seek out the security of their owner’s bed.
- Bonding – Some cats become particularly close to one member of the family and stick to them like glue – even at night. If you’ve been asking yourself ‘why does my cat sleep with me and not my partner?’, you could be the cat’s “chosen one.”
- Habit – If you regularly bring your cat to bed with you, they’ll start to learn that the bedroom is part of their territory. Similarly, if you adopt a middle-aged cat, they may have ‘learned’ this behavior from their previous owner. In this scenario, it might be particularly difficult to try and break the habit.
So, there are many reasons why a cat might choose to sleep in their owner’s bed. Once you have a fair understanding of what is causing your cat’s behavior, it will be easier to discourage them from sleeping in the bed (if you want to, that is). Still not sure if this behavior is harmless or harmful?
Which Diseases Can Spread from Cats to Humans?
One of the main reasons cat owners worry about sleeping alongside their pets is the risk of contracting a disease. So, is there any real risk of catching a disease? There are a small number of diseases which can be passed between cats and humans. These include the following:
- Some Bacterial Infections – Bacterial infections such as Bartonella heneselae and Pasturella multiocida could be transferred between cats and humans. According to Science Direct, one of the more worrying transferable infections is MRSA. MRSA is resistant to many forms of antibiotics. Clearly, we should do our best to avoid contracting it. The chances of a cat contracting/carrying MRSA are low, but it is not unheard of.
- Fleas – Flea bites can transfer certain bacterial infections between cats and humans. What’s more, cats with fleas are more likely to develop worms, and worms can spread to humans.
- Parasites –Toxoplasmosis is contracted by eating infected rodents. It can occasionally transfer to humans.
- Fungal Infections – These can be transferred to young children or adults with a weakened immune system.
- Giardiasis – This disease is commonly transferred from animals to humans, but cats are not usually the culprit; farm animals are usually responsible for the spread of this disease.
- Rabies – This can be transferred to humans through a bite. However, most domesticated pets are vaccinated against this.
Although the spread of these diseases is rare, it is easy to see why some people are reluctant to let their cat in the bedroom. It should be said that diseases can be spread through any close and prolonged contact, not just sleeping in the same bed.
So, even if you don’t allow your cat to sleep in your bed, you should still practice good hygiene around your cat and take them to the vet at the first sign of illness.
Will I Get Sick If My Cat Sleeps with Me?
According to the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University, the risk of contracting a disease from your cat is quite small, even if you choose to allow them in your bed.
This is particularly true if your cat lives indoors, visits the vet at the first sign of illness, and you practice good general hygiene around your cat.
However, there are certain times when sleeping with your cat would be advised against. These include the following:
- You have a weakened immune system.
- You or your cat has a wound that is still healing.
- A child under seven years old should not sleep with a cat. A cat may scratch, bite or inadvertently suffocate a small child.
- Your cat has trouble going to the toilet and keeping themselves clean. Many of the above diseases are transferred through feces so you shouldn’t let a cat sleep in your bed if they have toileting issues.
- Your cat shows any of the following symptoms: flea infestation, diarrhea, fever, dry/crusty/scaly skin, weight loss, etc.
It is worth remembering that some contagious diseases do not have any symptoms so there is a small chance that your cat could pass on a disease to you even if they appear very healthy.
Nevertheless, the general risk is considered quite low for a healthy, adult population. What’s more, an article published by Berkeley University suggests that sleeping with your cat can actually improve your health in some cases. This is because spending long periods of time with a cat is associated with having a lower resting heart rate, a healthier body mass index (BMI), and better mental health.
Is Sleeping with your Cat Good for Your Emotional Health?
Countless studies have shown that being a cat owner is associated with lower levels of anxiety and depression and higher levels of compassion for all animals. However, if we spend enough time with our cat during the day, surely we don’t need to spend any additional time with them at night to reap these benefits?
While this might be true, some studies suggest that sleeping with a cat can be especially beneficial for some owners. According to a survey published by NCBI, 41% of respondents said that sleeping with a pet was beneficial for their sleep.
According to Mental Health, people with the early stages of dementia and children with ADHD and autism may benefit from spending long periods of time with a cat thanks to the sensory interaction they provide. Also, sleeping with a cat can provide lonely or depressed people with some much-needed companionship.
No two people experience emotional wellbeing on the same terms. As such, it is down to the owner to decide whether sleeping with their pet is a source of stress or satisfaction.
My Cat Keeps Waking Me Up at Night
Although they make wonderful companion animals and can enhance our emotional wellbeing, cats can sometimes disturb our sleep. Some cats become very active during the early hours of the morning – particularly if they are bored, lonely, hungry, or unwell.
Shutting your cat out of the bedroom can shield you from this disruption. However, it’s hardly a long-term solution because your cat might start ripping up the carpet outside your bedroom door to try and get your attention.
Instead, try to ensure your cat is not bored, lonely, hungry or unwell. What’s more, if you can encourage your cat to stick to a sleep/wake routine that’s close to yours, you’ll get a much calmer night’s sleep.
So, if your cat keeps waking you up at night, try the following:
- Rule-out Illness – If you’ve noticed any changes in your cats’ fur, weight, feeding or toileting behaviors, take them to the vet to rule out any illnesses.
- Food – Feed your cat a small meal just before you go to bed and leave a very small amount of dry biscuits and fresh water out overnight. This will stop your cat from becoming hungry and waking you up in the night.
- Don’t Feed Too Soon After Waking – If you feed your cat as soon as you wake up in the morning, they might come to learn that waking you will earn them a meal. Instead, wait at least 30 minutes before feeding them in the morning.
- Play Regularly – If your cat is left for long periods alone, they may feel bored and frustrated – causing them to become overactive during the night. Play with your cat regularly throughout the day, and for 10 minutes directly before you go to bed.
Whether you choose to let your cat in the bedroom or not, following these steps will reduce the chances of them waking you in the night!
How to Train Your Cat to Sleep in Its Own Bed
If you do decide to shut your kitty out of the bedroom, you might find they still try to sleep on your bed. Cats will often try their luck from time-to-time, even if they have a perfectly adequate bed of their own. If your cat is being stubborn, try the following:
- Availability – If your cat is reluctant to sleep in their own bed, try to offer them a few different cat beds to choose from.
- Warmth – Is your cat’s bed located in a warm part of the house? Cats often sleep with their owners when they feel cold so try moving their bed to the warmest part of the house.
- Safety – Most cats prefer to sleep on a raised surface. If it is safe, try placing the cat’s bed on a table so it can feel more secure. Also, make sure the bed is not close to any doors or cat flaps.
- Catnip – Some beds are infused with catnip to encourage the cat to use them.
- Treats – Try placing a small number of treats in your cat’s bed to encourage them to use it. Similarly, if you see your cat using their own bed of their own accord, reward them with a treat.
- Blanket – Some cats feel too enclosed in a purpose-built cat bed; they prefer a simple microfiber blanket instead. Try folding a blanket in half and placing it on the sofa or table.
- Cleanliness – If your cat is refusing to use their bed, perhaps it is not very clean. Be sure to clean your cat’s bed on a regular basis.
- Stay Calm – If your cat tries to enter the bed, pick them up and place them in their own bed. If you have the patience to continue doing this, your cat should eventually learn to use their own bed.
- Protect the Carpet – Your cat may scratch the carpet just outside your bedroom so be sure to protect this area with a plastic mat.
How to Remove Cat Hair from Bedding
Pet hair sticks to bedding and can be very difficult to remove, even after washing. Indeed, many pet owners keep their pets out of the bedroom> it’s not because of health concerns, but because they don’t want pet hair ruining the bedding.
Cat hair is a nuisance, but it can be effectively removed if you follow these tips:
- Choose Synthetic Fabrics – Cat hair is much easier to remove from synthetic fabrics or polycotton. Cotton sheets are nice, but they’re not very practical if you’re going to let your cat sleep on the bed.
- Use the Drier – Putting your sheets in the tumble drier will help to remove pet hair.
- Lint Roller – These are inexpensive and can remove hair between washes.
- Rubber Gloves – If you wear a pair of rubber gloves and rub the sheets this will help remove the unwanted cat hair.
- Throws/Blankets – Some cats prefer to sleep at the foot of the bed. If you have a cat like this, place a blanket at the foot of the bed to help protect your sheets.
Where Should Cats Sleep?
As with many aspects of pet care, the answer to this question depends on the cat and the owner. Cats who are very old or unable to keep themselves clean should not usually be allowed to sleep in the bed. Similarly, young children and people with a weakened immune system should not allow cats to sleep in their bed.
But what about healthy adults and healthy cats? Can they safely sleep in the same bed? The clear pros of letting your cat sleep in the bed include companionship, security, and emotional wellbeing. However, the cons include getting cat hair on your sheets, waking up throughout the night, and potentially contracting a disease.
Nevertheless, if your cat is healthy, well-behaved, and shares a similar routine to you, you’re unlikely to encounter the cons mentioned in this article. Whichever option you choose, you can ensure your cat sleeps soundly through the night by eradicating boredom, loneliness, hunger, and illness.