It’s a tale as old as time. You fall in love with a furry face on the shelter website, and a short time later, you and your human family members officially become cat owners. Because you’re a good guardian to your brand new feline friend, you enthusiastically buy all the adorable supplies your newest family member might need, including an unimaginably soft, fuzzy bed you wish you could nap in. And then your new family member decides instead of sleeping in their brand new bed, they would rather sleep in yours. On your face.
You might not mind your purring cat insinuating itself into your nighttime routine, but you might find yourself wondering why on earth it has decided to ignore the cat-sized accessories you purchased just for it.
While the answer to any question relating to cats could be answered by “because cats do what they want,” there’s more than one possible reason your cat has decided to join you in your bed at night. Let’s jump right into some possible reasons for your cat’s behavior.
It’s Warm and Cozy
Listen, we all know that our (human) beds are the best place in the whole house. After all, your bed has the soft blankets and pillows you picked out carefully for maximum comfort, not to mention it’s warm and comfortable. For your cat, your body heat only makes your bed more alluring.
Cats love warm places. Their temperature runs about four degrees higher than humans’, so they search out the warm spots in the house like a heat-seeking missile. Sometimes during the day, your cat might decide that the best place to curl up is a beam of sunshine on the floor, but when you’re all snuggled up in your bed in the middle of the night, guess what? Your bed just became the warmest spot possible, and on your chest, neck, or tucked behind your knees is where your cat wants to be, possibly whether you like it or not.
In colder climates or the winter months, cats’ furry little bodies have to work even harder to stay warm, so it’s increasingly likely you might find your kitty tucked under the blankets in a deep sleep. It’s a good idea to check for any feline family members before you belly flop into bed.
The Big Bed Feels Safe
While all cat owners know their felines are deadly predators of mice, birds, baby bunnies, and sometimes feet if given the opportunity, the fact remains that most house cats are on the smaller end of the spectrum. A cat that feels uncomfortable will often retreat to a small, enclosed space, and your sleeping self under the blankets provides a nice, warm spot where your cat can relax.
Your cat feels the most vulnerable when it is asleep, so you are its security blanket to let its guard down. You might find your cat will even fall into a deeper sleep while snuggled up with you than they would somewhere that feels less secure. To your cat, there’s safety in numbers.
When your cat was just a kitten, it curled up with its littermates near or on top of mom, so the communal sleeping arrangement your kitty is imposing on you goes back to its earliest days.
Your Cat Loves You
By sleeping with you at night, your cat might be saying “I love you” in its own way. Cats are territorial, and they mark their territory with the scent glands in their faces and paw pads. If your cat headbutts you or walks all over you, it is marking you as its property, so other cats need to back off. You’ve been claimed!
If you have more than one cat, they might curl up for a nap together. And while it’s adorable, it also serves to build relationships between the cats. It stands to reason that your cat might be working on your relationship by having a middle of the night snuggle with you, or saying “I love you” by keeping you warm and purring.
You are the being that feeds them, scoops their litter, and keeps them safe. If this is a habit your cat has had for some time, it might be as simple as this: you are warm, you are safe, and you are loved by your feline friend. However, if this is a new habit your cat has just developed, there might be cause for concern.
Your Cat Might Not Feel Well
If your cat just started withdrawing into isolated spaces when it normally spends time on the cat tree or sprawled across your couch, something might be wrong. Cats isolate when they are in pain or not feeling well. If your cat is crawling under the covers during the day, and shows other signs of illness like not eating or drinking, litter box issues, or lethargy, it might be time to give the vet a call.
Pros and Cons of Letting Your Cat into Your Bed
There are some pros and cons to spending your nighttime hours snuggled up with your feline friend. Science shows that petting your companion animal releases happy hormones, making you feel less stressed and more content. There are also indications that purring, which is beneficial for healing in cats, can also be beneficial for you as well. And it can be a comforting white noise for you to fall asleep to.
If you’re a light sleeper, though, letting your cat into your bed could be cause for wake ups throughout the night. Cats are crepuscular, meaning they’re most active at dawn and dusk. While they might curl up with you for a few hours at a time, they are also likely to get up and go about their feline business from time to time, possibly walking all over you and waking you up to get where they’re going. Also, they might bring dirt, loose fur, or cat litter into your bed. If that’s a deal breaker for you, you might want to consider discouraging your cat from hopping into bed with you at night.
What if I Don’t Want My Cat to Sleep in My Bed?
If you don’t want your cat to sleep in your bed for whatever reason, there are multiple ways you can dissuade the behavior without breaking out the spray bottle. First off, make other attractive places for your cat to choose from, with soft, warm places away from the hubbub of your house.
You can purchase heating pads made especially for cats, which keep them safely warm and won’t burn your house down. You could even place an old shirt of yours inside the bed to make it smell like you.
You can always close your door at night to keep your feline friends out of your space. Some cats might yowl and paw at the door, but a towel placed between the door and door frame can keep the door from rattling. If your cat sings the song of their people when they’re locked out of your room, you might have to use some white noise and ear plugs to block out their meowing until they get used to the arrangement.
Since cats are most active at dawn and dusk, they are liable to sleep most of the day if left to their own devices. If you take the time to interact with them, play with them and wear them out during the day, they will be more likely to sleep at night, bringing down the possibility of them waking you up. If you’re not at home during the day, a feeder toy could stimulate your cat and
provide enrichment that goes a long way toward making sure your night’s sleep is without interruption.