As long as people have had cats, they have debated the sleeping arrangements. Some owners firmly refuse to allow their cat into the bedroom at night. Others draw comfort from keeping a cat nearby at bedtime. There are clear pros and cons to sleeping next to your cat.
Sleeping close to cats reduces stress and anxiety. A cat can provide security, and sleeping in the same bed will help to strengthen your bond. Unfortunately, cats can be active at night and may tread litter and waste into your bed linen. You must also be careful not to crush your cat during your sleep. Sleeping next to your cat also makes your bed its territory, so you’ll never have any privacy again.
Whether to allow a cat onto your bed is a personal choice. Explore the advantages and disadvantages in order to make an informed decision. A cat that sleeps with you will expect to maintain this routine in the future.
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Should Cats Sleep in Bed with You?
If your cat wants to sleep with you, do not dismiss the idea out of hand. There are pros and cons to sleeping with a feline companion.
What Are The Advantages?
Having your cat nearby to keep you company is beneficial to you in several ways. Let’s take a look at the positives:
Aid to Falling Asleep
There is no denying that cats can sometimes prevent you from falling asleep. Mayo Clinic Proceedings found that 41% of people find it easier to fall asleep with animal companionship, though.
A cat will provide warmth which will be comforting. Cats run a higher body temperature than humans, at roughly 100 degrees Fahrenheit. This means that sleeping with a feline is akin to having a living hot water bottle.
The rhythmic breathing and purring of a cat will also provide comfort. Whether you are conscious of this or not, the sound will soothe you into sleep. You will find that your breathing falls in line with that of your cat. You’ll soon drift off together.
Cat ownership has long been linked to reductions to stress and anxiety. This can have a significant beneficial impact on human health. As per The Journal of Vascular and Interventional Neurology, cat owners are less likely to experience cardiovascular disease.
If you sleep with your cat, your blood pressure will be lower. This will help you remain calm. If you spend time in bed outside of sleeping watching television or reading this will be especially beneficial.
This can be important for anybody prone to night terrors. Having a cat nearby will keep the heart rate low and reduce the risk of nightmares. This can be good for those with post-traumatic stress disorder or similar issues.
Spending time with a cat also releases oxytocin, aka, “the love hormone.” Consider oxytocin to be the antithesis of cortisol, the so-called “stress hormone.” This means that your brain will be flooded with positive sensations when you need them most.
Cats have excellent senses and retain a constant state of awareness. Even when sleeping, a cat will quickly leap into action when necessary. This can add an extra layer of security, especially if you live alone.
A cat’s superior sense of hearing will pick up on strange noises. This could become an issue if your cat is nervous. It will react to every noise outside your bedroom window. It can also be a benefit, though. Your cat will hear untoward sounds, such as somebody attempting to gain entry to your home.
Cats can also see better in poor lighting than humans. Cats need some degree of light to see in pitch darkness any better than humans. Crack the blinds to allow limited illumination from streetlamps, though, and your cat will see clearly.
A cat’s sense of smell may also add security overnight. Cats will detect strange aromas, such as gas leaks. In the event of something untoward, the cat will wake you up. The same applies to potential life-endangering hazards such as fire.
It can be annoying when a cat wakes you up to announce something overnight. On the other hand, though, it may make you feel safer. Sleeping with a cat means nothing that happens in your home after dark will go unnoticed.
Sleeping with a cat will improve the bond between you. A cat will not consider sleeping on your bed unless it trusts you completely. Cats are rarely more vulnerable than when dozing. If you prove yourself worthy of this trust, your bond will be enhanced.
Gaining the trust of a cat can take time. The more time you spend together, the faster the bond will occur. This makes sleeping together a fast track to building this relationship. Just let your cat make the running. Don’t force it into sleeping on your bed.
You will also need to uphold your end of the bargain. While your cat is asleep, resist the urge to pet it. Let your cat catch up on undisturbed sleep. If you do so, your cat will consider you a source of pleasure and safety. Never cuddle up to a cat in bed. Felines loathe feeling restrained.
You’ll know when you have bonded with your cat. It will leap onto your bed when you retire for night. This means that your cat has grown to consider co-sleeping its arrangement of choice. Take pride in this. Cats will not sleep alongside just anybody.
What Are The Disadvantages?
Sharing your bed with a cat will not work for everybody. Let’s explore the issues before you commit to this arrangement.
Cats are crepuscular, so they are most active during dawn and dusk hours. Many cats prefer to keep nocturnal hours, though. At night, when humans are sound asleep, cats can go about their business undisturbed.
This is not necessarily a problem if you do not sleep with your cat. If you’re a sound sleeper, you’ll sleep through any escapades. A cat in the room is different. The cat will run, jump and verbalize throughout the night. If the cat wants attention, it will not hesitate to demand it.
Get around this by setting a routine that helps your cat sleep through the night. Around an hour before you like to go to bed, play with your cat. Follow this with dinner. With a full stomach and sated play instinct, your cat will be ready to groom itself and sleep.
You still risk sporadically interrupted sleep. Your cat may wake up in the night. If you sleep with the door closed, the cat will scratch and meow. It is announcing desire for food or the litter box. You could keep these items in the bedroom, but that’s a hygiene concern.
As a rule, a routine will help your cat sleep according to your schedule. Be realistic, though. Sleeping with a cat on your bed makes eight hours of sleep every night unlikely.
Sleeping with a cat on your bed comes with certain safety risks that must be managed. These physical hazards apply to both you and your cat.
You are larger and heavier than your cat. If you roll over in your sleep, you risk crushing your cat. Most felines are nimble enough to get out of the way. If the cat is fast asleep, though, it may not notice your movement. Ensure you have enough space to keep the cat safe.
Avoid stationing your cat on a spare pillow. This will protect the cat from your body, but it places you at risk. Trends in Neurosciences confirm that cats display oneiric behaviors during sleep. This means that the cat will flail and gesticulate in its sleep.
You won’t want this happening near your face. At best, the cat will paw at you while you sleep. This will likely wake you up. At worst, your cat may claw at your eyes or cheeks. This will be painful and potentially lead to infection if the claws break the skin.
The safest place for a cat to sleep on your bed is by your feet. Just be aware that the cat will likely move. You’ll need to be vigilant about safety throughout the night.
If your cat sleeps on your bed, it will drag the contents of its paws onto your linens. That doesn’t just mean muddy paw prints. Your cat will also bring traces of used litter onto the bedsheets.
Depending on how clean your cat is, you may also be left with urine or fecal stains. Feline waste can carry a range of zoonotic diseases and infections. Close proximity in an area in which you breathe deeply can be hazardous to your health.
You should also factor shedding into consideration. Your cat will be releasing all kinds of dander overnight and coating your bedsheets with fur. A bedroom is likely to be a comparatively enclosed space. This makes an allergic reaction likelier than in open areas.
Territory is arguably the most important consideration of all. If your cat sleeps on your bed, your bed comes feline territory. This means that you will never sleep alone again.
In some respects, a cat considering your bed its territory is no bad thing. The Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association explains how cats with separation anxiety often soil an owner’s bed. This is less likely if the cat considers the bed to be its own property.
In addition, you may be happy for the cat to consider your bed to be its own. As discussed, there are many benefits to sleeping with a cat. Why would you not want the cat to feel welcome?
A key factor here is any partner that shares your bed. Once your bed is established as feline territory, there is no going back. If you share a bed with somebody that has a cat allergy, there will be a problem. The cat will not accept being banished.
Always take this into consideration when co-sleeping with a cat. You cannot change your mind, or only allow the cat onto the bed on certain nights. Felines do not understand nuance. Your cat will sleep on the bed, or it will not. There is no middle ground.