Why Does My Cat Sleep Next To Me?

There's nothing a cat likes more than a good old fashion nap (except for maybe catnip). Cats sleep between 12 - 15 hours per day. If any of that sleep is done at night, it most likely takes place cuddled up next to you, right? Cats love to sleep on and with their owners. Cats love the warmth and protection our bodies bring, but are there any other reasons they hunker down with us?

girl sleep with her ginger cat
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Why do cats sleep next to us?

  • Warmth— Cats prefer to sleep in warm places. They gravitate towards external heat sources so their own bodies don't have to work as hard to keep warm. During the day, you may see your cat sprawled out in a beautiful sun beam. At night? There's no warmer place than cuddled up next to his human.
  • Comfort— Everyone, cats included, wants to be comfortable as they sleep. Humans slumber with big, cozy blankets on soft, warm beds and kitties want some of that action!
  • Security— Cats seem to be constantly on edge. Their natural instincts lead them to be consistently alert and ready to run, hide, or pounce potential predators. Bedtime, however, offers them a chance to finally relax their bodies and minds. If a cat has his trusted and loved owner next to him, he knows he's protected from danger and can finally take a load off!
  • Love— Despite the grumpy felines sweeping the internet, cats love their humans and do indeed show affection. Your cat loves you and wants to spend quality time with you. Cats like to sleep next to you and relax to the rhythm of your heartbeat and your breath.
  • Your scent— It's another source of comfort. When they hear you and smell you nearby, they can relax into a safe slumber. They also want to purr and knead their little paws into you. This is their way of showing affection and staking their claim. If your cat is sleeping next to you, you are undoubtedly one of his favorite humans. That's love, people.

The benefits of cats sleeping with you

The Purrington Post took a survey and found that out of 300 cat owners, approximately 88 percent of them shared their bed with their cat. Other studies show that nearly two-thirds of cat owners sleep with their cats. The upside to sleeping with your cat may be obvious. These animals are small, warm, cuddly and come with a built in soundtrack! Just like your heartbeat lulls them to sleep, their purring can lull you to a peaceful night's rest. Cats provide companionship and love that is hard to pass up. Their presence is calming and a great stress reliever.

Dr. Lynn Bahr shared with the Purrington Post that cats sleeping in bed with their owners is beneficial for the human as well as the feline. Cozying up with loved ones is a natural, behavioral instinct for cats. Dr. Bahr explains:

"From a cat's point of view, it's completely natural to sleep with loved ones. During the first few weeks of their lives, kittens stay tightly knitted together for warmth, security and safety. For many, it is a habit they retain into adulthood choosing to curl up next to their owners for the same companionship and comfort they had when they were young. Not only is sleeping with a cat good for humans, it is particularly good for the health and well-being of the cat too."

Closeup image of a beautiful Asian woman sitting on sofa and looking at a little brown cat while its sleeping on a black pillow
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The downsides of cats sleeping with you

There are, however, some downsides to sharing your bed with your cat. Cats can store and track bacteria on their paws from the litter box; bacteria that has no business on your bed! Pets have been known to transmit parasites and diseases like meningitis to the humans they sleep with. Although these occurrences are rare, it's important to make sure your cat is healthy and has clean paws before he nuzzles his way under your covers.

Because cats are crepuscular, meaning active around dawn and twilight, sharing your bed with your cat can lead to many restless nights. If your cat wants to get up at 3 a.m. and walk around the house, you'll have to make sure to leave your bedroom door open or else he'll cry next to the door until he's freed. He may also take this time to walk on your body or constantly adjust himself until he finds that purrfect spot once more. To avoid such restlessness, try playing with and feeding your cat right before bedtime. This should get him good and ready for a full night of sleep.

Certain circumstances call for a full banishment of cats from human beds. For example, cats should never sleep with children under the age of five and especially not with a baby. If you have asthma or allergies, your cat should be kept out of your bedroom altogether, ideally from day one. This way, he will never consider your bedroom as part of his territory and should have no problem staying out.

Baby cat
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If your cat is healthy and a good nighttime sleeper, pull back the covers and let kitty in! Slumber with your cat is sure to bring both of you a little more love, comfort and peace.