Around here, the question in the title isn’t something that is even under consideration. In fact, my human used to hunt us cats down to make sure we were on the bed before she got in it! Now, it’s mostly just me. Since Boodie is arthritic, she’s allowed to sleep elsewhere… although my human still wants to know where she is at bedtime. And my human isn’t alone. Research indicates that 62% of cats sleep with their humans. An additional 13% sleep with the family kids instead.
There are lots of good reasons to have your cat as a sleeping companion. Purrs are naturally sleep inducing. So are warm, furry bodies. If you are sleeping without another human, it makes things cozier and less lonely. Most cats make wonderful bedtime companions. They may even save you. Gwen Cooper has a story in Homer’s Odyssey where her little blind cat, Homer, fiercely protected her from a home invader. While this is an unlikely scenario, it could happen to you!
Here are some suggestions on how to make sleeping with your cat the best it can be.
- We cats love routine. So make sure everything involving bedtime is part of a routine. It’ll be helpful for your sleep patterns too.
- Offer treats before bedtime. Just for the cats, not for you. Eating before bedtime isn’t good for humans. Treats before bedtime for a cat tell her that it’s time to wind down.
- If you have a younger cat, or a perpetually playful one, make sure you fit in a pre-bed playtime session. That way they can release any pent up energy from the day. Treats afterward will then be like the reward from this session of “prey hunting.”
- Never get up in the middle of the night just because your cat does. If your cat believes that midnight (or later) snacks are a possibility and you give in, you’ve lost that battle.
- Make getting up a routine. Stretch. Hug or pet your cat. That way she knows you’re getting up for real, and not just going to the bathroom. She may choose to get up too, or (like me) stay in bed for a few minutes longer.
- Don’t feed your cat first thing when you get up in the morning. Go through a few other routines that involve only you first. That way, your cat is less likely to ask you to get up earlier on weekends, since mealtime won’t be so closely associated with getting out of bed.
- Shutting the bedroom door is usually not a good idea if you’re one of those people who can’t or (what?!) won’t let your cat sleep with you. Cats loathe closed doors and may make a racket. Instead, figure out how to create a sleeping area for them that is even more awesome than your bed. Think catnip, maybe some treats, a soft surface that may or may not be a cat bed. Adding something that smells like you to a cat bed or sleeping surface in another room — a tee shirt or unwashed PJs — is helpful. Cats like sleeping with their humans because they enjoy feeling close to them, so a personal touch will be appreciated.
If you set up routines and don’t deviate from them, it’s likely that your cat will adopt your sleeping schedule, and will be less likely to start off on nocturnal adventures, or wake you up for food. Most of the cats my human has had have slept with her through the night. The ones who have tested her on this and attempted to get her up in the middle of the night (think Binga), have been soundly ignored. Not even griped at. Since there’s no payoff, the behavior stopped.
Does your cat sleep with you? Do you have any other suggestions I haven’t mentioned?