Why Does My Cat Sleep Next To Me?

cat on a bed feet of a person
Many cats like sleeping next to you.
credit: Linda Raymond/E+/GettyImages

Many people expect that their dog will want to sleep in bed with them, but fewer expect the same behavior from their cat. It's common to view cats as more independent than dogs, and they can sometimes act downright aloof toward their owners. In truth, however, your cat probably does love you and may enjoy curling up in bed with you at night for many different reasons.

Your bed is comfortable

Cats sleep up to 15 hours a day, so yours has likely taken a nap in every corner of your home. All that sleep practice has taught her which parts of your home are the most comfortable, and your bed is bound to appear at the top of the list. All the soft sheets and extra blankets you put on your bed to make it cozy for you make it just as cozy for your pets. Who wouldn't want to sleep there?

You emit heat

You've probably noticed that your cat loves to curl up in warm places, like on top of fresh-out-of-the-dryer laundry or in stray sunbeams when the windows are open. He does this for good reason. A cat's average body temperature is around 102 degrees Fahrenheit. When the ambient temperature is warm, it's easy to maintain this temperature level.

When the air temperature drops, however, your cat's body must work harder and burn more calories to maintain the proper body temperature. Sleeping with you is an excellent way for your cat to rest his body. By absorbing your body heat, he can stay warm and toasty with a minimal amount of effort. Even a cat who misses bedtime in the summer may follow you everywhere and sleep with you when the weather turns colder.

Showing some cat love

While they show it differently, cats love their people as much as dogs do. Sleeping with you may simply be one of the ways your cat shows you affection. If your cat sleeps on you all the time, she is showing you that she likes being with you and enjoys cuddles. She may also be trying to help keep you warm and safe, as sleeping in the wild is potentially dangerous.

This is particularly true if you met your cat during the first two to seven weeks of her life. This is the time when cat imprinting tends to occur. If you were a stable presence in your cat's life at that time, you likely imprinted on her and gained her complete devotion.

Whose bed is it?

While you're learning why your cat wants to sleep in your bed with you, your cat may be trying to figure out why his human wants to sleep in his bed with him. Cats are territorial beasts and aren't bashful about rubbing their scent onto the things they own. This may include both you and your bed. It's possible that in your cat's mind, you're sleeping in his bed.

Safety in numbers

Your cat may sleep next to you simply because she feels safe there. Animals are most vulnerable when they sleep. Although your cat may live the good life indoors, she hasn't forgotten her wild instincts. Those instincts tell her that lowering her guard when sleeping could get her killed.

As a safety measure, she may opt to sleep with you. The two of you together can fight off more foes than either of you can alone. Plus, the odds are good that one of you will awaken at signs of danger that the other may sleep through.

Should you sleep together?

In general, the decision about whether or not to share your bed with your cat is a personal one. Some people sleep more soundly with their cat curled up beside them. Others find sleeping with an animal disruptive and annoying, especially with cats, who are likely to get up during the night and go roaming.

There are some instances, however, when it's best to keep your cat out of your bed. Do so if you have allergies or if your cat spends time outdoors where he could pick up parasites or bacteria.