BEHAVIOR & TRAINING

What Does It Mean When Your Cat Sleeps on You: Is Your Furry Angel Keeping You Safe at Night?

orange cat sleeping on man
Steve Corelli
Written by Steve Corelli

There is absolutely nothing as rewarding for a cat owner as the snuggle time with the furry sweetling. Coming home to a loving pet is what gets most cat parents through the day, and the same goes for the other party. Our cats crave our company so much that they even demand to share our bed. So what does it mean when your cat sleeps on you?

Most people who live in an urban environment have to leave their home for eight to ten hours a day. Work conditions are very stressful more often than not. Combine all of these, and you will realize how little time there is left to spend with your beloved cat. Naturally, they will try to compensate, even if it means being close to you while you are sleeping.

Domestic cats are social animals but do not have a pack mentality. This means that they can live in a colony and tolerate other individuals (be that humans, dogs, or other cats), but will keep their sovereignty. A cat does not need a human to survive, which makes her need to spend time with you so much more genuine.

This article is all about the cats’ need to share the space with humans—in this case, the bed. We will explain why cats love to sleep with you and how this benefits you. The next section is going to discuss the pros and cons of having a cat sleeping in your bed. And lastly, we will also tell you a couple of folk beliefs about places which cats choose to sleep at. It doesn’t matter if you believe them or not; you will definitely find them amusing.

Why Do Cats Like to Sleep on Their Humans?

cat sleeping on human face

Just for a moment, go back to the time before you lived with your cat. Were you one of those people who drew a hard line at the cat sleeping in the bed? All that hair, dirty paws, and lack of space… And you gave in after just a couple of days.

Cats are great negotiators, and hardly anyone can resist the feline charm. Don’t forget about their secret weapon: the purr. The frequency of purring is appealing and beneficial to humans, especially during the resting period. This is why it is so hard for us to turn them down.

We know why we let them sleep with us, but why do our cats want to sleep in the same bed with us in the first place? What are they after? What does this gesture mean? Is it just because your cat loves you or is there another ulterior motive? Check out the six reasons below:

#1: It’s Warm

Every cat owner knows that sunbeams spontaneously generate cats. Cats are naturally drawn to any source of heat—it makes them feel cozy and secure. Another plus is that their bodies don’t have to work as much to maintain the optimal temperature.

You are obviously a nice, soft, and big heat generator which makes you an ideal place for a nap. This is also why you might wake up with a cat belly on top of your face; the head is the warmest part of the body. In conclusion, you are warm and lovable—what more can a cat want?

See Also: How Cold is Too Cold for Cats

#2: It’s Cozy

Did you know that cats sleep around 15 hours a day? Snoozing in the same place for such a long time gets boring after a while.

Just look at it from the cat’s perspective: her beloved human is all snuggled up under a pile of fluffy blankets, emits warmth, and is all mellow and sleepy. You are obviously the perfect choice, wouldn’t you agree?

#3: Cats Like Feeling Safe

cat lying on human legs

If you have an indoor cat, her scope of experiences is very limited. She probably learns about the outside world by looking through the window and by analyzing the smells you bring home. In other words, you are your cat’s entire world.

Even though there are not many risks in the coziness of an apartment, everyone likes to feel safe and nurtured. This is definitely one of the reasons your cat seeks your company during the sleeping time. You are the source of security and stability to your cat.

#4: Cats Can Be Possessive

If you have more than one pet in the apartment, this might be the reason. Cats like to play favorites, and you might find your oldest cat (or the one that feels most attached to you) insisting on sleeping on top of you.

This is a clear show of possessiveness because this kitty wants everyone else to know that she is your favorite one and that you two have a very special connection.

#5: You Sound and Smell Delightful

Just like purring is soothing to humans, the sounds our body makes are relaxing for cats. Cats can easily hear human heartbeat and circulation. When you are at rest, your breathing and heartbeat have a specific frequency that can help the cat relax as well.

Also, cats are much more focused on the sense of smell than humans, so being near you means smelling your natural body scent better—which he or she surely loves.

#6: Your Cat Loves You

There is really not much else there. Your cat loves snuggling up to you and feeling your closeness.

Sleeping near a beloved family member is a universal instinct. Cats, as well as humans, feel more secure, happy, and cozy when they are near someone they love.

Add to this the busy lifestyle and the long hours when you are absent from home, and you will realize that sleep time is sometimes the most precious time of the day for your cat.

The Pros of Having a Cat Sleep in Your Bed

gray cat sleeping on woman

There are definitely pros to having a cat sleep in the same bed as you, even though some people might insist otherwise.

#1: You Will be More Relaxed

Domestic cats purr at a frequency of about 25 Hz. This frequency has proven to be relaxing and stress relieving for humans and might help you fall asleep more easily.

Recently, it has also been discovered that a cat’s purr can improve bone density and promote the healing of injuries in both cats and humans. Some owners even reported that a cat’s purr helps reduce migraines and anxiousness.

See Also: How Do Cats Purr

#2: Bonding with Your Cat

Family members sleep together, eat together, and try to spend as much time around each other as possible. Sleeping alone in a secluded space is very contrary to human nature.

We are conditioned to receive and provide comfort to our “pack members,” especially in situations where vulnerability is heightened. In this day and age, we live very different lives than our ancestors, but sleeping in a group is still coded in our psyche. It is not only natural but also a bonding experience.

#3: It is Just a Cozy Thing to Do

There is no way around it. We can give you as many pros as you need, but the bottom line is: cuddling up with your cat just feels right. Cats are fluffy, gentle, and love to spoon. What more can one want?

The Cons of Having a Cat Sleep in Your Bed

cat lying on its owner

There are many people who will be shocked to find that your cat sleeps in the same bed as you, and their arguments will include:

#1: Dirt and Bacteria

If you have a cat that is allowed to go outside, she might bring numerous nasty bacteria and parasites into the bed. This is a real risk since you can’t really know where she was before jumping on your pillow.

One way to minimize the risk is by making sure that your cat is vaccinated and protected from internal and external parasites.

Even if your cat is living strictly indoors, she can always carry bacteria from the litter box into the bed. There are also numerous nontoxic sanitizers you can use to gently wipe off your cat’s paws before she is allowed on the bed.

It takes a bit of training, but if you are gentle and consistent, she will realize it is a small price to pay for snuggle time.

#2: Cats are Nocturnal; Humans are Not

Cats hunt during any time of the day, really, but being crepuscular, they do naturally prefer the twilight. Some cats get used to the human circadian rhythm very easily, but others keep loyal to their wild side.

You might get woken up by a sudden case of zoomies in the middle of the night. If your cat is an all-night party animal, sleeping together might not be the best idea.

#3: Allergies

Although this is very unlikely, there have been cases where owners develop allergies because of spending too much time very close to the cat. This shouldn’t concern you if your cat sleeps on your feet or your back, but if she insists on sharing your pillow, keep this in mind and if you notice any signs of an allergic reaction, train your cat to sleep somewhere else.

See Also: Hypoallergenic Cat Breeds

Folk Beliefs about Places a Cat Chooses for Sleeping

gray cat lying on woman

Many cultures have elaborate myths and beliefs formed around cats’ behaviors. In this section, we are going to tell you about a couple of interesting ones, related to their sleeping preferences.

#1: Russian Beliefs

In Russia, it is believed that a bed should be at the spot where a cat chooses to sleep. When a family moves into a new home, they will let the cat check it out first and “examine” the space.

The spot which the cat chooses for a nap is an ideal spot for a bed or a common room. This belief has some validity, though. Cats like to be cozy, so they prefer to rest in places that are warm, dry, and clean.

You might choose to follow this advice and leave this part of the interior design planning to your cat.

#2: Far Eastern Beliefs

In the Far East, it is believed that cats can sense a hot spot in your body and sleep on it, purring loudly. Putting a cat on a weak spot was even a sort of therapy.

This myth also makes sense to some extent; an inflammation or illness can raise the local temperature of a body part, which naturally draws the cat. Be it true or not, it certainly feels nice to have a purring cat on an upset stomach or warming a swollen ankle.

#3: Slavic Beliefs

Cats protect humans from night terrors. Slavic folk belief says that cats are our spiritual protectors against evil spirits. This is also why their eyes shine in the dark—that is the light reflected from the realms invisible to humans.

Therefore, a cat sleeping next to a human is protecting him or her from the spirits and creatures that are trying to bring harm. We are sure this was just an ancient excuse for snuggling with the house cat, though.

#4: Soul Stealer

It was believed that a cat could steal a baby’s breath. This one is really scary, but there is a good reason behind it. Allowing a cat to sleep in a baby crib can have not-so-out-of-this-world downsides.

The bacteria and parasites a cat may carry can be harmful to the baby. Cat hair can disrupt the functionality of sensitive baby lungs, too.

But this myth is also about keeping the cat safe. Babies have unrefined motoric skills and can easily hurt the cat, which can lead to scratches and bites. We assure you that there is no such thing as stealing the breath from a baby, but keep your beloved furry friend out of your baby’s crib for practical reasons.

See Also: How to Keep Cat Out of Crib

Wrap Up

orange cat sleeping on woman

We all love snuggling with our pets. Spending time with them is incredibly beneficial to our health, both mental and physical. The urban environment is very far from what both feline and human ancestors were used to, and we have less and less space to call our own. Even though we made many compromises, our instincts haven’t changed.

We love spending time with our family members, and leisure time in the circle of our loved ones is essential for happiness. This extrapolates to our sleeping habits.

Snoozing in a “pack” makes us feel more secure and helps relieve day to day stress. In conclusion, don’t hesitate to allow your cat into the bed, if the circumstances allow it. It will be beneficial to both of you.

Tell us how you feel about your cat sleeping with you! Share your thoughts and opinion in the section below and let’s get the conversation going. Or you can check out our article on how to get your cat to sleep with you if you want to snuggle more often.

About the author
Steve Corelli
Steve Corelli

Steve Corelli is a Pet Nutrition Expert from Allentown, Pennsylvania. He is the author of many nutritional strategies for different breeds and a member of some Pet Food development teams. His Maine Coon Stephan, as you might guess, is always well-fed.

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