Tag: cats sleeping

Why Does My Cat Sleep On Me?

As readers of this blog know, Bud’s favorite “place” to sleep is on top of his Big Bud.

Why do cats like sleeping on their humans? A new article from Treehugger provides some possible answers to that question. For accuracy purposes, we asked Buddy to weigh in on the reasons mentioned in the article.

1.To Mark Their Territory

Cats have scent glands that release pheromones all over their body. Marking humans with these pheromones means that they are part of the cat’s in-group, a behavior learned in groups of cats in the wild to distinguish members of the pack from non-members.1 When a cat sleeps on you, it marks you with its scent so it can be reassured that you smell familiar and safe. Even cats who enjoy solitude may rub and head-butt their owners as part of the same scent-marking process.

Buddy says: This is true. My scent says “this is my human,” so other cats don’t get any ideas when Big Bud is traveling in The Outside.

2.To Stay Warm

Many cat owners are familiar with the sight of their cat sleeping in a sunny patch on the bed, or even knocking over plants and whatever else is in the way in an attempt to get an ideal window napping position. Warmth induces relaxation and sleep in cats, and few spots in the house are warmer than being directly on top of a person. Warmth may also contribute to the initiation or maintenance of restorative sleep in cats, meaning that seeking out warm spots for sleep can help them stay healthy.2

Also true. Humans are nice and warm, and on really cold winter nights, nothing’s toastier than burrowing under the blanket with your human and sleeping against their body. Just make sure you don’t get squished!

3.To Feel Safe

Animals are more vulnerable to attack while they’re sleeping, and cats are no exception. As a result, cats who see their owners as a sign of safety and security may enjoy sleeping on or near them. This behavior can also be traced back to kittenhood. When young cats are growing, they are typically in large litters with other cats, nursing from their mother, and sleeping together in a group, sometimes stacked on top of one another. Particularly without other cats in the house, humans may have a substitute role in this situation.

Wrong! Erroneous! Absurd! My human sleeps next to me to feel safe, not the other way around. When he’s woken up in the middle of the night by a scary sound and his fur’s on edge, I say “Don’t worry, Big Buddy, I will protect you with my razor claws, my tiger fangs and my really big muscles!” When he got up one night, picked up a baseball bat and went looking for an intruder, I took point by hiding behind his legs. Not because I was scared, but because BAM! The burglar’d never know what hit him if I suddenly sprang out.
 
buddy_jan2021_beefcake

4.To Bond With You

In experiments to stop cats from destructive scratching and urine-marking behaviors, scent-marking was proven to be a powerful way to preserve cat-human bonds. When your cat sleeps on you and marks you with their scent, it’s creating a powerful olfactory reminder that you both belong to the same group. Being close to humans also allows cats to hear and feel familiar and comforting sounds, like a beating heart or rhythmic breaths during sleep, which are reminiscent of safe sleeping spaces with a mother cat and siblings.

See number one! It’s also about comfort. Humans are great mattresses!

5.To Show Affection

As demonstrated by a recent study on cat-human bonding, cats are not the solitary creatures they are often portrayed to be. In the wild, cats comfortably live in matriarchal societies and are known to exhibit a variety of group bonding behaviors including mutual grooming, allorubbing, and sleeping together. Sleeping with their owner is one way cats can show affection and caring.

You can interpret it as affection, yes, but the important thing is that Big Buddy cannot go anywhere without me knowing about it. Say he gets up in the middle of the night to use the human litter box room. By sleeping on top of him, I know the second he starts to shift, and I can not only follow him to the litter box room before he shuts the door, I can also howl at him on the way back so he gives me a snack just to shut me up before going to bed. No snack, no peace!

Do You Let Your Cat Sleep In Your Bed?

Here’s a question for cat servants: Do you “allow” your feline overlord to sleep in your bed?

I was surprised to learn there’s some controversy about this subject, because truthfully I didn’t think we have an option as dedicated cat servants.

The question becomes a little more difficult if your cat wanders outside all day. Outdoor cats can introduce fleas, ticks and dirt to your home and bed. (The Budster is an indoor-only cat, and on PITB we advocate indoor living for the simple reason that domesticated kitties live, on average, a whopping 13 years longer as indoor pets.)

When I adopted Buddy I had a sort of vague plan to restrict him to his own bed and the floor, but I was disabused of that notion in less than an hour after the little dude came striding out of his carrier and began laying claim to everything in his sight like a tiny, furry Genghis Khan.

Buddy didn’t want to use his fluffy new cat bed. He invited himself onto my bed and that was that.

Buddy on a table
“I set the rules here, servant!”

One of the first few nights after I brought him home, I awoke to find him contentedly snoozing with all four paws wrapped around my right arm, holding it tight like a stuffed bear or a security blanket. In the five years since, he’s established a consistent habit: Either he sleeps on top of me or burrowed in next to me.

“Let me in!”

Of course there have been times when I’ve crashed without checking to make sure he’s in the bedroom, or simply didn’t realize he was somewhere else. When that happens, I will be dragged out of bed again by his persistent, insistent, high-decibel meowing and door-scratching. Little dude is not subtle when it comes to letting me know he needs to be let in.

I’ve read about new cat servants who take a new kitten or cat home and lock the little one out of the bedroom at night. That’s not cool, especially with kittens. They’re babies! They need comfort. You’re their replacement for their mom and litter mates. (Just be careful about rolling over.)

If you shoo your kitty off the bed or lock her out of the room at night, you’re not only creating stress for your new family member, you’re missing out on a way to bond.

And if you don’t want your cat directly on your bed, say for allergy reasons, you can find a happy medium: Elevate the cat bed on a table or chair so your cat can snooze next or near to you without sleeping directly on your sheets.

If you’re having a difficult time motivating your feline friend, buy one of those nifty heating pads and watch as your furred one is drawn to it like a heat-seeking missile.

What’s the situation in your house? Do you allow your cats to sleep on your bed?

Buddy Being Handsome
“Being the benevolent overlord that I am, I allow my human to sleep on the bed, and to enjoy the great honor of being my mattress.”