Why Does My Cat Sleep With Me?

My cat loves to sleep with me. Whether I’m napping on the couch or settling down for the night in my bedroom. I love sharing cat-naps with them, but it’s become so regular that I started wondering if there was a reason behind it. So I started looking into the matter to find out if there was a scientific theory behind it, or if we just happen to have lovey-dovey felines in our lives.

Have you wondered, why does my cat sleep with me? There are both physiological and psychological reasons why cats sleep in close proximity with their owners. Physiological benefits include keeping warm and maintaining safety during sleep. Psychological benefits include emotional comfort and bonding.

cat sleeping on my knees

It turns out that some cat sleeping tendencies are quite similar to our own reasons for sleeping with a companion!

It’s a thing.

But there’s a lot more to the story, including safety and health issues related to sleeping with your cat and what to look out for when it seems your cat has unhealthy sleep habits.

If you are a cat owner, you’ll definitely want to read this.

Why Does My Cat Like to Sleep with Me?

You may like to think that your cat just simply loves you and wants to spend all her time with you, even while asleep.

While that’s a lovely thought, there are, in fact, a few noteworthy motivators, too, including physiological and psychological perks.

First off, it’s important to remember that cats were not always domesticated creatures.

In the wild, cats had to fend for themselves, fighting off predators and protecting their own well-being.

While domestic cats have it a lot easier, a lot of those evolutionary instincts still remain.

One reason your cat may sleep with you stems from the need to compensate for the inevitable vulnerability of being asleep in the wilderness.

In the wild, a cat may sleep under a bush or low-hanging branch as a form of protection from predators above.

However, domesticated cats may express this instinct by sleeping next to their owners.

 

Believe it or not, your cat probably trusts you as a true source of protection and safety, making you a smart choice of partner while asleep.

Another physiological reason cats like to sleep with their owners is that of the opportunity for shared heat. Your cat knows that cozying up with you is a great way to maintain warmth throughout the night.

This is why many cat owners have noticed that their feline friends like to cozy up near their head, chest or lap.

These are areas that tend to have the most heat, as opposed to the extremities, where less heat escapes.

Finally, the psychological benefit that your cat gets from sleeping next to you is important, too.

Unlike the popular belief that cats are not very sentimental and don’t need affection, most domestic cats are quite fond of their human companions.

Cats may consider sleeping near their owners as a critical source of bonding, an exercise that can strengthen the emotional connection.

It may also be a way that your feline expresses their appreciation and affection.

As you can see, there are many straightforward reasons why your cat likes to cozy up with you for a nap.

Whether she is seeking warmth, protection, or good old-fashioned affection, these are all motivators that most of us humans can empathize with.

Is It Okay to Let My Cat Sleep With Me?

Some pet owners get nervous at the thought of sharing a bed with their pet. You may have found yourself wondering if it’s okay to let your cat sleep with you.

The answer truly depends on a variety of factors, including your own health and sleep habits.

In general, there is no significant health risk to letting your cat share your bed – so long as you’re both healthy.

If your cat is recovering from illness, it may be smart to ban her from the bed for a while.

While most feline illnesses cannot be passed to people, it’s better to let your cat have some peace and quiet in her own private area while recuperating.

Another case in which sleeping with your cat may not be the best idea is if you are immunosuppressed.

Some individuals living with a compromised immune system due to chronic illness or aggressive treatment plans may want to sleep without their feline companion.

Even the cleanest of cats can carry loads of bacteria on their fur and nails, and being in close contact may increase the risk for infection if you are immunosuppressed.

Also, if you are an active sleeper, consider keeping your kitty out of harm’s way by banning her from your bed.

Individuals who kick, flail or roll over frequently during their sleep may unintentionally cause harm to their cat if she’s sleeping close by.

Cats aren’t keeping a close lookout when sleeping, so they may not have the ability to react as quickly as needed to dodge a darting limb.

Another consideration to make is your own needs for getting a full night’s rest.

If you are an extremely light sleeper, you may not want to let your cat sleep with you, as even the slightest movement or meow may disturb your own beauty rest.

In fact, lots of pet owners faultily assume that cats are nocturnal since they sleep so much during the day.

However, they are actually crepuscular, meaning that their activity levels peak at dusk and dawn.

 

This can explain why felines are fit to play much earlier in the morning than their human companions are.

In a nutshell, it is usually perfectly okay to let your cat sleep with you, unless you are immunosuppressed or a light sleeper.

In addition, if you toss and turn a lot in your sleep, play it on the safe side and keep your kitty at bay, since unexpected movements could cause unintentional injury for your feline.

Can It Be Beneficial for My Cat to Sleep With Me?

So you have a feline who loves to cuddle up with you while you’re hitting the hay.

Lucky you!

It turns out that there can be some great benefits reaped from sharing a bed with your cat.

While your cat has her own reasons for cozying up with you, you may also be the benefactor of shared sleeping time!

Remember how we mentioned before that sleeping next to you could be your cat’s way of communicating her affection?

Well, it’s a two-way street. Sharing a nap with your cat can actually enhance your emotional bond. This is a great way to strengthen the connection you have with your cat.

In addition, this can increase the overall comfort you experience while in bed. Relaxing with your feline companion may make your night’s rest feel just a bit more comfortable.

This, in turn, can enhance your sleep, which has excellent health benefits.

Cat sleeping on woman's knees

Finally, letting your cat sleep with you actually has the power to reduce stress!

Perhaps the most striking health benefit on the list, lowering your stress levels can foster excellent improvements in overall health.

As it turns out, letting your cat sleep with you is not only okay – it can actually be beneficial to your emotional and physical health. Talk about a win-win situation!

Are My Cat’s Sleeping Habits Healthy?

As you can see, a cat’s preference to sleep with its owner is normal and healthy.

But how do you know when your cat’s sleeping habits are abnormal?

Well, here are few details concerning healthy sleeping habits for cats.

Most people believe that their cats are sleeping most of the daytime.

And they’re right!

As mentioned before, cats are crepuscular creatures, meaning they peak at dusk and dawn.

This leaves the daytime and nighttime to lounge about and catch up on sleep.

Unlike humans, cats spend over half of a 24-hour cycle sleeping.

The average adult cat needs 16 to 18 hours of sleep per day.

This comes in addition to resting time.

So if your cat seems to be spending considerably less time sleeping (or more), then there may be a problem, such as a thyroid imbalance or other underlying issue.

Kittens need even more time to sleep than adult cats. Kittens actually need up to 20 hours of sleep per day, as they are still developing important physical functions.

One sign that a cat is sleeping too much is if she starts neglecting other important behavioral routines.

This could include changes in eating, drinking and cleaning herself.

Sleep is great for cats, but it can become an issue if other important areas are neglected.

Another observation that may tip you off to a problem is if your cat struggles to stand up or move after sleeping.

This may be a sign of oversleeping, which could cause declining mobility.

Finally, if your cat doesn’t respond immediately to noises or touch while sleeping, there may be a problem that needs to be addressed by a veterinarian.

Over the centuries, cats developed to be light sleepers, which would have helped them remain alert in the wild if a predator surprised them during a nap.

A domestic cat with healthy sleep habits should respond quickly to noises.

If your cat seems groggy, slow-moving, or cognitively fuzzy after waking up, consult a veterinarian to determine if there may be an underlying issue.

Related Questions

Are cats nocturnal? Contrary to popular belief, cats are not nocturnal animals.

Those whose activity level peaks during the nighttime hours. In fact, cats are crepuscular animals, meaning their activity levels actually peak during the hours of dusk and dawn.

How much do cats sleep? A healthy adult cat typically sleeps 16 to 18 hours a day, within a 24 hour period.

While some variation from this scale can be normal, any cat that consistently sleeps a significantly longer or shorter period of time should be assessed by a veterinarian for possible underlying illness.

Why does my cat like to sleep on my head? Some cats show a preference for sleeping on their owner’s head because it is a great source of warmth. Heat escapes quicker from the head than from other areas of the body, such as the hands, arms, or legs.

Cats that regularly sleep on top of their owner’s head are most likely seeking that area as an additional source of heat.

Why do cats sleep with their faces down? It is very common for cats to sleep with their faces turned down or pressed up against something, such as a pillow or blanket.

This position is prime for keeping the nose warm, as inhalation and exhalation can generate additional heat when the nose is lightly pressed against another surface.

Sources:
https://www.hospital4cats.com/subtle-signs-of-sickness.pml
https://petsittersireland.com/cats-like-sleep-owners/
https://www.mayoclinicproceedings.org/article/S0025-6196(17)30486-X/fulltext
https://www.petmd.com/dog/care/is-it-safe-to-sleep-with-pets
https://www.petmd.com/blogs/fullyvetted/2013/jan/cats-can-learn-to-sleep-at-night-29777
https://vetpracticemag.com.au/new-survey-discovers-whether-cat-owners-like-cats/

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