Why Do Cats Sleep With You? Dealing With A Cat In Your Bed
Cats can show their affection in some pretty weird ways. Which might also include sneaking into bed with you. But why do they do it in the first place? The reasons are actually pretty endearing.
Cats might be a bit undemonstrative when it comes to affection – and then you find them curled up on your bed or pillow. (Sometimes with their butt on your face.) So if you’ve ever wondered “Why does my cat sleep next to me?”, there are a couple of endearing reasons why your feline friend is so fascinated with your bed.
(Hint: yes, it’s also because they love you.) Let’s dive right in.
Table of contents
- Why does my cat sleep next to me?
- The perks of having a cat in bed with you
- What to consider before letting your cat sleep next to you
- How activity & sleep tracking help you better care for your cat
- Create a safe space for your cat in bed – and ensure their wellbeing for the long term
Why does my cat sleep next to me?
Your cat might show their affection in different (sometimes weird) ways. Which could be a slow blink, purring – or sleeping next to you on your bed. In fact, they may be more likely to do so if you’ve made it a routine or habit. (Like if they’ve been sleeping next to you in bed since they were kittens.) Cats find comfort in familiarity and routine – and your bed is a calm, relaxing environment. So they may continue sleeping next to you simply because it’s what they’ve always done.
But if you’re suddenly finding your cat in bed with you at nighttime, it might come as a surprise. Here are a couple of reasons behind their behavior.
You’re their ‘favorite’
Cats might be a bit more independent and undemonstrative than dogs – but they do bond with us in different ways. So when your cat sleeps next to you, it’s simply because it’s their way of showing affection. (It might also have to do with the fact that you’re their primary caregiver – or the one who’s in charge of regular food deliveries. So it’s how they’re trying to stay on your “good” side.)
So keep an eye out for the next time you see a litter of kittens sleeping together. They’re all bundled up together, all warm and cozy, right? It’s the same for your cat. By sharing your personal space, it’s your cat’s way of showing you that they consider you a part of their social group. (And that, yes, you are their favorite.)
You’re warm & cozy
Cats like their creature comforts. And your bed is an ideal spot to relax, be warm, and cozy up. In fact, one of the primary reasons your cat is sleeping next to you is your body heat. Making you a prime candidate for their slumber party. In fact, your bedroom is a great place for them to catch a quick nap – or just get a bit of time-out from everyone at home.
But body heat alone isn’t reason enough. Your cat also needs to trust and feel safe around you before they join you as your new bedmate.
Your cat feels they can relax around you
In many ways, your cat is still hardwired to be cautious and wary of their surroundings and everyone in it. So if you’re dealing with a cat in bed with you, it’s how they’re signaling to you that you’re someone they trust. And can let their guard down around. (Which means you’re doing a great job as a cat parent.)
So in this way, your bed can be a sanctuary where your cat feels safe and secure. Sleeping next to you helps them relax without worrying about potential dangers. Which can also help them sleep better in the long run – and be less likely to develop any health problems down the line.
You help your cat deal better with a bad day
You might’ve heard of the health benefits of being a cat parent. But did you know that your cat sleeps next to you because it can help reduce their stress as well? Cats are creatures of routine – so changes to their environment can throw them off balance pretty easily. But sleeping next to you might help them feel more relaxed and less stressed instead. (Especially if it’s something they’ve been doing for a while.)
It’s why cuddling your cat or hugging a loved one feels so good. These can help increase oxytocin and endorphins instead, which can help reduce cortisol (the stress hormone.) Combined with a better, more restful night’s sleep, this means a healthier cat in the long run.
Cats might be more likely to hide or get away when overwhelmed. They need the cool-down time away from others to recharge their batteries. It’s why they’re so fond of perching on high spots where they can survey their surroundings. But sometimes, you – their favorite human – can be a “get away” spot too. Which again signals how deeply they trust you and can relax around you.
In a nutshell: when your cat sleeps next to you, it’s because they’ve decided to trust you. They may also be seeking emotional comfort if they’ve had a stressful day. So your presence provides them a sense of security and reassurance – and helps them better cope with any changes in their environment.
The perks of having a cat in bed with you
Having your cat in bed with you comes with a ton of physical and mental health benefits. Which, in the long run, can help deepen your bond with your feline friend – and also help you take an active role in ensuring their health and wellbeing too.
Mental health benefits
Cuddling and spending time with your cat is a win-win. It both helps your cat relax and trust you – and it can reduce your stress as well. The sense of warmth and comfort you feel having your cat nearby can help you with some feel-good hormones. And with the presence of your cat next to you, it might even help you fall asleep more quickly. (Which benefits both your physical and mental health.)
In fact, some studies have found that cat parents may have better psychological health than non-pet parents.1 The presence of your cat can help you feel less lonely – especially if they’re fast asleep next to you. Even their purring can have a relaxing effect,
And once you’re both up and about, simply having a pet can help you feel more connected to your neighborhood (compared to if you’re not a pet parent.)2
Physical health benefits
Stress stays in your body long after you’re done handling the stressful situation. And over time, it can affect your immune system for the worse. (Making you more likely to fall sick.) But some studies have shown that spending time with your cat is linked to a decreased risk of cardiovascular problems. (Including both heart attacks and strokes.)3
This might be because interacting with your feline friends can help you feel less stressed and more relaxed – which benefits your health for the long-term. Even the sound of a cat purring can help reduce blood pressure and help relax your nervous system.
Better health monitoring
With your cat in bed with you, you can keep out an eye for how well they’re sleeping. If you’re noticing your cat tossing and turning or generally restless, it could be a sign that something is wrong. Cats are notorious for hiding signs of sickness and masking their discomfort until it’s too late. But with a little vigilance, you can catch on to a health condition before it gets worse – and get your cat the care they need immediately.
Track your cat’s wellbeing
See how they’re doing at a glance with Wellness Score. Know if they’re getting enough exercise. Spot nap patterns. Detect issues early and keep them healthy.
It can be difficult tracking your cat’s sleep throughout the night. (Especially since you need to sleep yourself.) But with Tractive’s Wellness Monitoring, you can keep track of their sleep patterns – including how many times they were disturbed. Helping you pre-empt a sickness or infection much in advance and ensuring your cat’s health and wellbeing.
“With a Sleep Alert, you can quickly check if there’s been a significant change in your pet’s sleep patterns. If they’re continuously waking up more than usual or just sleeping less well than before, it could be a sign that something’s wrong.”
– Sebastian Raab, Product Manager at Tractive & occasional pet sitter
What to consider before letting your cat sleep next to you
A 2015 study by Mayo Clinic found that around 56% of pet parents allowed their pets to sleep in their bedrooms.4 More of them considered their pets unobtrusive – and unlikely to disturb them while asleep. But is this always the case? Here are a couple of factors to consider before letting your cat in bed with you.
The first thing to consider is whether your cat is likely to bring along other bedmates – including cat dander, fleas, ticks, and other parasites. These can increase the likelihood they’ll infect you as well, which can harm your health in the long run. You might also find yourself having to clean your bed sheets more often than normal due to a cat hair infestation.
If you have an outdoor cat, they’re more exposed to diseases and other infections. These could include pesticides, mosquitoes, other insects – and also injuries from quarrels with other outdoor cats or even feral cats. Which can increase the risk you’ll pick up something from them as well.
But if you’re able to track where your cat wanders, you can pick up more easily where they’ve been – and whether they’re allowed to sleep with you in bed that night.
Tractive’s real-time GPS tracking helps you find your cat with just a glance at your phone. (And intervene if you see them heading somewhere dangerous.) It also comes equipped with a Location History feature which can help you identify your cat’s favorite haunts.
Or you could set up a “safe zone” (say, for example, the nearby garbage dump) and immediately get an alert if your cat tries to sneak past it. Plus, with Tractive’s unlimited range, you can track your cat wherever they wander off to – no matter where you are in the world.
Your cat’s instinctive behaviors
Cats might bite, scratch, claw, or bat at things out of instinct. Which is why vets recommend not allowing them in bed if you have children at home. (And certainly not in your child’s bedroom.) There’s always the likelihood your cat might scratch or claw an infant, child, or even you if you stir or move around while asleep.
In some cases, a cat might even accidentally cause a baby to suffocate by sitting on them by mistake. And if they’re startled and scratch or bite out of instinct, any resulting injury might be likely to get infected – and cause worse health problems down the line.
Cats are also territorial by instinct. So if at some point, you introduce a new bedmate (like a partner or another pet), they might object. Which might look like hissing and scratching a newcomer – and making bedtime that much more chaotic. In fact, if your cat now considers your bed (or bedroom) part of their territory, they might object to anyone who tries to enter. (Including you!)
How well you sleep together
As endearing as it is to fall asleep to the sound of your cat purring, you might also find yourself waking up more than usual. Or your cat might decide to wake up midway and scratch your door to be let out, meowing up a storm – and disrupting your sleep. Which, in the long run, isn’t great for your physical or mental health.
Cats also tend to be nocturnal. They’re naturally more active around twilight and nighttime. So your bedtime schedule might not fit theirs 100%. You might experience them waking up in the middle of the night, off to investigate some sight or sound from your neighborhood. And if you try to intervene, they might hiss and bat at you until you leave them be. (Leaving both cat and cat parent grumpy and sleep-deprived in the end.)
Overall, unless you and your cat can reach a sleeptime compromise, it might be wiser to let them in bed with you only occasionally. (Especially in the long run, as partners or children might get involved.)
How activity & sleep tracking help you better care for your cat
Sleeping with a cat in bed with you comes with its ups and downs. But primarily, it can help you stay on top of your cat’s health and wellbeing. For example, changes in your cat’s sleep cycle is one of the first signs of cognitive dysfunction syndrome.5 Or another chronic health condition that could be keeping your cat awake because of the pain.
Even a cat who seems happy and healthy might be suffering from a sickness or infection. But with regular sleep tracking, you can catch on to dips and spikes in your cat’s naptime – and catch on to a change early on. Here’s the story of a Tractive pet parent who picked up a change in her cat’s regular behaviors from her tracker – and avoided a medical emergency:
“With the Tractive GPS, I found out one night that she’d only made one little trip to the park, slept all night – and didn’t really do much during the day.
So I decided to check her up to see if she was sick – or had something else going on. When I picked her up, the pus oozed over my hand from the abscess bursting!
Without Tractive, I wouldn’t have noticed it at all. I would still see her walk around to drink and feed and think everything is okay. I might only have noticed when I didn’t see her stroll over for a whole day.
At which point, she’d probably have been dangerously sick.
We went to the vet a few hours later – she had a serious fever, a big abscess, and was pretty sick already. So we got it in time.
A whole week of antibiotics – and now she’s herself again.
Tractive is also very handy for when you need to give your pets their medication. All I have to do is check where she is and call her over to give her the antibiotics.“– Cissy V, Netherlands
Besides Wellness Monitoring, Tractive also helps you monitor where your cat is off roaming – so you can better identify if they’re headed off towards somewhere dangerous. (Or potentially infectious.) Its LIVE tracking updates your cat’s position in real-time every 2-3 seconds. So you just need to glance at your phone to know where your cat is – no matter where you are in the world.
Create a safe space for your cat in bed – and ensure their wellbeing for the long term
Still wondering why cats sleep with you? In a nutshell: it’s a sign your cat sees you as someone they can trust, relax, and let down their guard around. But like with every aspect of their behavior, it’s wise to consider whether your sleeping arrangements will work out in the long term. (Especially if you have kids or other pets at home.)
With a dedicated cat tracker, you can both monitor your cat’s quality of sleep – and also ensure they aren’t wandering off too far. (Where they could pick up something dangerous and spread it to you and your household.) Which can make your shared sleeptime that much more secure because of how you’re actively taking a role in your cat’s wellbeing.
So the next time your cat curls up beside you in bed, pat yourself on the back. Their presence on your bed is a heartwarming reminder of the special bond you share. You’re doing a great job as a cat parent – even if your cat would never admit it!
Besides where they sleep, did you know that your cat’s sleeping position says a lot about their personality? Check out the full article where we cover 9 of them – and what they mean.