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Why Does My Cat Sleep With Me?

Owners know cats love to sleep. Some sleep up to 20 hours in 24. During the day, they rotate between various snoozing places but at night many choose one particular spot to lay their sleepy heads – our beds! We’re often left wondering, as we cling to the edge of our beds, “Why does my cat sleep with me?”

A cat instinctively chooses to sleep with its owner so it can let its guard down. Whilst sleeping, a cat feels at its most vulnerable and by choosing to slumber with you it’s conveying a message: it trusts you to keep it safe. But there are reasons other than this that compel your cat to spend the night in your bed.

5 Reasons why your cat sleeps with you

1. For security

Cats are always alert, even when they sleep. On your bed at night, a cat can let down its guard and have a decent night’s sleep, happy in the knowledge that you are its protector.

2. To Bond

Cat owners are often busy during the day but at night, they are in one place for a long time: their bed. Cats choose to join us in our beds for the bonding experience.

For up to 8 hours, they can really snuggle up and feel at one with us. And of course, if they get bored they can wake us up for instant attention.

3. To be sociable

Cats are not the aloof creatures many believe them to be. They are actually social animals and don’t much like being alone.

You might want to sleep, but your cat just wants to be with you for company and reassurance.

4. For warmth

Cats are naturally drawn toward heat. On a winter’s day, you’ll spot yours in front of the fire or sleeping above a hot water pipe that runs beneath the floorboards.

Like a heat-seeking missile, your cat will hunt your warm body down in bed and curl up around your hottest area – often your head!

5. You’re trusted

If your cat sleeps in your bed, you can be sure it is showing how much it trusts you to:

  • Protect it
  • Keep it warm
  • Provide company
  • Make it feel safe

Basically, your cat is demonstrating that you are its beloved family.

Why Does My Maine Coon Sleep With Me?

One of our Maine Coons, Mona, ends up on our bed most of every night. We have four Maine Coons altogether, but she’s in charge.

She’s not interested in the special cat bed her previous owner (she’s an ex-breeding cat) gave her as a parting gift.

But fret not, she has found the ideal 6-foot wide sleeping spot – it also happens to be our bed! Well, it’s hers now but we’re allowed to squeeze on either side as long as we keep still.

This morning, as I attempted to keep my eyes open with a third cup of coffee and a slice of banana bread, Mona and I had a heart-to-heart chat and I managed to bring the conversation round to the BED situation.

“Mona,” I said in a laid back (OK, half asleep) tone, “Why do cats like to sleep with their owners?” Her answer was incredibly informative and I now feel enlightened.

For those of you who have ever wondered, “Why does my cat sleep with me?” here’s the answer straight from a kitty’s mouth.

A tortoiseshell cat sitting in her special bed.
Mona, this is your lovely bed. Don’t look so sad!

Why cats like to sleep with their owners – by Mona the Maine Coon

When cats sleep we are at our most vulnerable. In order to relax, we seek out the safest place possible. The ideal spot is close to someone we implicitly trust. Our owners make us feel secure and so their bed is the place we like to do our sleeping.

I might also add that we cats can be likened to heat-seeking missiles and are drawn toward the warmth of human bodies.

So don’t flatter yourself that it’s an affection thing. As soon as we are hot enough, we’re off to find a cooler spot.

Cats love to adopt the high ground. Your bed is perfectly raised from the ground to give us the advantage should any predator come skulking about in the middle of the night.

And of course, you are close by to offer us protection should this happen.

Pillow talk

Cats love to sleep on your pillow
Move over Mona!

I asked Mona, “Why do you move onto the dad’s pillow and switch on your purr engine at an obscure time?

She explained, “Cats like to sleep on or close to your head because a lot of heat radiates from there, making a really cozy spot to curl around when the other areas on the bed have cooled down.”

(I’ve noted, this generally happens at about 2 am, funnily enough.)

“As soon as I feel that head warmth, I can’t help purring because it makes me feel blissfully happy. My purrs also help me to relax and get back to sleep to continue my happy dreams.

“Sometimes I have to take to the pillow area a little early because as soon as you two fall asleep you are all arms and legs and I feel like I’m in a boxing ring. The pillow is a safe retreat and your heads tend to keep still.”

A white Maine Coon on a pillow.
That’s my pillow Charlie!

Why do cats sleep on our chests?

I then asked Mona, “What is sleeping on my chest all about? I can’t move when I need to roll onto my side to sleep!”

Mona said, “Cats are fascinated by the feel of human heartbeats and the sound of their breathing. We can really feel these when we lie on your chest. You feel very calm and this actually makes us feel really calm.”

Co-sleeping with cats. Is it OK?

I sought Mona’s opinion on whether people and cats should sleep in the same bed and this is what she replied.

“I’ve had cat friends who have said their owners can’t tolerate the idea. I’m lucky that you and dad wouldn’t have it any other way.”

It isn’t bad to let your cat sleep with you, especially if you consider them a member of your family.

I firmly believe it’s a personal thing but that care should be taken to provide all cats with a warm, alternative place to sleep if they are banned from the parental bed.

Why some cats won’t sleep with their owners

I told Mona that I know people who would love their cat to curl up on their bed at night but their cat just point blank refuses to join them. She explained why this is.

“All cats are different. Some don’t feel that insecurity that makes them want to be in their owners’ bed. This is a good sign of a happy, confident cat.”

Owners who are desperate for their cat to sleep with them so they can experience a really bad nights sleep (haha) could try the following:

  • Keep your cat as active as possible throughout the day so that it is more tired at night.
  • Start a routine of 10 minutes play with your cat leading up to bedtime – this will become a signal that it’s nearly time to sleep.
  • Give your cat a meal just before you head upstairs to bed as this will make it sleepy.
  • Put your cat’s favorite cat tree or bed in your room where it can watch or sleep until it feels like joining you.
  • Always allow your cat to explore your bed and come and go as it pleases as this will make it more comfortable about sleeping there.
  • Be patient and your cat will eventually sleep with you if it wants to.
A cat waiting to sleep in her owner's bed.
Rosie is ready for bed!

Pros and cons of sharing a bed with your cat

To round up our conversation, Mona and I discussed the pros and cons for owners who sleep with their cats.

Pros

  • Coziness. Cats and people can benefit from each other’s warmth and cuddles when sharing a bed
  • Bonding. The more time cats and owners spend together, the more they bond. Cats really do love human company as much as humans enjoy theirs.
  • Comforting. Cats and people can feel comfort from each other’s presence at night.

Cons

  • Disturbed sleep. It is quite possible that you will keep each other awake. A cat will sleep exactly where it pleases while you contort to sleep around it or cling to the edge of the bed like its the edge of a deep precipice.
  • Fur everywhere. The bed gets full of cat fur which needs to be vacuumed off regularly.
  • Allergy issues. Being up close at night can exacerbate even the mildest allergy to cat fur.
  • Pawprints. Expect these to appear everywhere. White bed linen may have to become a thing of the past!
A Maine Coon kitten tucked up in his owner's bed ready to sleep.
Are you comfy Oscar?

Why does my cat sleep with me? The verdict

Cats like to share our beds for a variety of reasons but mainly for security and to share our warmth. Of course, they trust that we will protect them all night long too.

Though it may feel like they deliberately pinch all the space at the expense of our comfort, I’m sure this is not intended!

Thank you to our cat Mona for her frank and honest answers during this interview. She hopes you feel enlightened by this article.

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