Do you sleep with your feline fur baby in bed with you? Are you wondering if you should continue this practice? Is it healthy? Is it disgusting? What are the risks?
If you sleep with your cats, then you’re in the majority. Nearly two-thirds of feline owners invite their kitties into bed with them. They’re cuddly, cozy, and soft. Plus, their purring could even simulate the effects of a white noise machine.
However, there are some potential risks to falling asleep with your feline(s), including exposure to bacteria and parasites. They could also affect the quality of your bedtime, especially if you’re the proud owner of a playful kitten.
In this article, we’ll discuss the pros, cons, benefits, and risks, so if you’re on the fence, you’ll be able to make an informed decision about whether you should be one of those “pawrents” that gives your pets free reign over the bedroom.
Questions to Ask Before Sleeping with Your Cat
Are you getting any sleep with them on your bed?
Keep in mind that cats are nocturnal creatures. While the average feline sleeps 15 to 16 hours in a 24-hour period, those rest periods don’t happen all at once or even at night. As you’re trying to drift off, your kitty may decide that this is the perfect time to run circles through your bedroom or chase a ball around the house.
You may even have one of those special kittens that love to pounce on your feet every time you shift your body or switch positions. If any of these circumstances describe your pet, then you may want to consider an alternate sleeping arrangement.
Do they interrupt your sleep?
Do they wake you up with incessant meowing or movements? While cats are known for being independent, some are high maintenance and bossy. Again, if you’re able to stay asleep through their nocturnal activities, then your bedtime is likely unaffected. However, if you’re waking up frequently during the night because of your furry friend, you may need to establish some new ground rules.
Are they happy sleeping in your bed?
Some felines don’t care much about where they sleep. They may not even want to spend time in bed with you. On the other hand, you may have a cuddly creature that thrives on close contact with you. If it makes your pet happy and it doesn’t interfere with your bedtime, then we think that having your kitty in bed with you is sweet and comforting.
Does your cat need special attention?
Is your kitty ill? Is he trying to adjust to a major change like a new house or family member? Again, most are independent, but some really need their pet parents to snuggle them or be near them.
Does it turn into concrete bricks on the bed?
Most cats don’t weigh all that much, but when they fall asleep, they turn into dead weight. If you’ve woken up with a fur ball crushing all the air out of your chest or cutting off the circulation in your limbs, it might be time to move him to his own bed.
Does your cat tend to make a fuss?
Is your kitty a talker? Does he meow, scratch or spray if he doesn’t get his way. A lot of times we let our pets dictate our lives, but we need to stand firm and decide what’s best for us, too. You might determine that you need to close your pet off from the bedroom if he’s making too much noise. Or, you might argue that it’s easier to keep him happy and allow full bedroom privileges.
Reasons to Sleep with Your Feline
Pets protect against loneliness, anxiety, and depression. Having your kitty friend nearby while you rest can help tremendously, especially if you tend to have nightmares or wake up feeling depressed. People often say dogs are man’s best friend, but cats deserve a special place in our hearts, too.
Animals help relieve stress. The act of petting and snuggling increases levels of oxytocin (a happy hormone) while simultaneously reducing levels of cortisol (a stress hormone). These benefits also translate to lower blood pressure and better coping abilities.
Promotes Bonding with Your Pet
If you’ve got a busy schedule and you’re not home a lot, you may not get to spend a lot of quality time with your pets. Snuggle sessions in bed could be the longest block of time you have with your feline pal, so you may want to take advantage of this time to bond.
Helps You Fall Asleep
As long as your kitty settles down at a reasonable hour, it can help you fall asleep. Many animals like to nap near your head or at your feet. If they lie on your legs or torso, then you get the added benefit of having them act like a weighted blanket, which is shown to decrease the amount of time it takes to fall asleep and promote healthy sleep cycles.
Reasons to Avoid Sleeping with Your Cat
You’ve probably experienced a night or two (or more) of your furry pal deciding that it’s time for a play session at two in the morning. Or, your kitty might do a lot of kneading on your blanket while you’re trying to doze. Other felines have a purr so loud that it sounds like there’s a semi-truck rumbling through your bedroom.
No matter how much you love your pets, if they disrupt your bedtime, they need to spend some time that’s not on your bed.
Exposure to Litter Box Debris
Even the cleanest of cats will get litter box debris on their paws. There’s no way to avoid it. Just remember that they’re tracking that into the bedroom with you, and it could include traces of fecal matter. If your pet spends any time outdoors, they’re also tracking in all the gunk from outside, too.
Allergies and Asthma
Almost one-third of the population is allergic to cats or dogs to some degree. If you are allergic, then you’ve got enough struggle without having them use your face as a pillow. Assuming you’re not going to part with your feline, then you’ll need to take precautions to minimize allergies. A HEPA filter can help, and you should probably keep your door closed while you’re sleeping.
Threat to Young Children
Cats pose a suffocation risk to babies and young kids. If you want your feline friend to be able to sleep in bed with your child, wait until your kids are at least four or five years of age.
Hard to Evict
Cats thrive on habit, and they’re also quite stubborn. There aren’t many felines who are open to being trained to sit, shake, and roll over the way that dogs are. If you’ve already let your pets into your bed, it’ll be a struggle to evict them without taking drastic measures like locking them out.
Therefore, if you’re on the fence about whether your cat should sleep with you, err on the side of no until you’re completely sure.
Parasites and Fungal Infections
Fleas, mites, roundworms, and hookworms are just some of the nasty parasites that you could be exposing yourself to by sleeping with your pet. That being said, we suggest taking diligent care of your cat and taking him in for regular visits to the vet’s office. That way, you won’t have to deal with these parasites.
Contact with particles of fecal matter is inevitable if your cat sleeps in bed with you. Cleaning your bed and your pet’s body and fur regularly can minimize contact with bacteria, but the risk of infection is always there. Also, there’s the possibility of contracting Cat Scratch Fever, which is a lymph node infection caused from being scratched or bitten by a feline. Even if your kitty is as gentle as can be, a scratch or bite can occur during play or kneading sessions.
People with compromised immune systems are particularly at risk for these types of infections. While they’re not often serious, the symptoms of fever, fatigue, stomach pain, and muscle soreness can linger for months.
According to Pet MD, these infections aren’t transmitted from pets to humans. However, they still caution against unnecessary exposure. Our suggestion is to make sure your pet stays healthy and visits the vet at signs of infection, such as diarrhea.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do cats like to sleep with their owners?
Many cats like to sleep with their owners because they’re vulnerable at night. In the wild, they were prey to larger animals and sought coverage and protection. They probably feel safe and secure in your presence, so it’s not surprising that they want to sleep with you!
Is there a way to train your feline to sleep with you?
Because cats tend to sleep in short bursts and remain active at night, they might not want to sleep with you during the night. To help train them to calm down at night and snuggle up, you can try these tips:
- Engage in an intense play session before bed to get them to release pent-up energy and prepare for bed.
- Use an automatic feeder so your cat can get up in the middle of the night for a midnight snack without disturbing you.
- Buy or make a perch for your feline so they can observe their surroundings and the outside from an elevated height.
- Keep toys around the house so if your kitten does get the urge to play in the middle of the night, he can entertain himself without waking you.
- Consider getting a second cat for company. The two of them can wake up to play and then return to bed when it’s time to nap. You get to snuggle with two animals instead of one!
As you can see, there are arguments both for and against having a pet in bed with you. It’s important first to determine if your pet interrupts your sleep. Then check for signs of allergies. If you enjoy having your cat in bed with you, then we recommend doing what makes you happy as long as you take health precautions to protect against disease.
Author: Jill Thompson
I've been self-employed for almost four years and I would not change it for anything! I believe that anyone can achieve their goals with the right attitude and determination.
I'm an avid traveler (25+ countries and counting) that loves to meet new people doing amazing things.
When I'm not researching for the Sleep Advisor, you can find me reading, running, traveling, golfing, or meditating.
I wish you the very best on your journey!