The City Mattress Blog

sleep tips

Why Does my Cat Sleep on Me?


Grey cat sleeps on woman in grey nightwear in bed with white linens

Your cat probably loves sleeping more than just about anything else. Cats average between 15 and 20 hours of sleep a day, so everything about sleep is incredibly important to them. This includes where they sleep. Some cats enjoy sleeping on your chest, between your legs, or even on or near your head. Have you noticed your cat likes to sleep in your bed? What does it mean when your cat sleeps on you? Let’s answer that question right now!

3 Reasons why a Cat will Sleep on Their Human

It makes them feel secure.

The answer to why cats sleep on you has a lot to do with natural feline behavior. Have you ever seen a litter of kittens? They’re not spaced apart in their own beds; they’re sleeping in a big pile. “They’re warm and secure and the scent is there. It’s natural they’d seek out their family members to sleep with,” says cat behaviorist Dr. Marci Koski, of Feline Behavior Solutions. Now that your cat lives with you, he or she thinks of you as her family! When they’re asleep, they’re vulnerable. They want to sleep in a safe area. So, what could be safer than sleeping between their human’s legs?

It’s warm.

Cats really like heat. They sleep on humans because they want to get warm. A cat’s thermoneutral zone, which is a temperature range where the body doesn’t need to expend energy to heat or cool itself, is much higher than in humans. In humans, the thermoneutral zone ranges between 64 and 72 degrees but for cats it’s from 86 to even 100 degrees.

Your cat loves you!

Many experts look at cats sleeping with you as a bonding signal. Your cat is telling you that you’re part of their colony. Because it’s not uncommon for cats to sleep on one another, they’re simply treating you as one of their own. It’s a rewarding behavior that is saying “I love you!”

Where Else Could My Cat Sleep?

While your cat may love snuggling up in your bed, do you love it? It’s okay to say no! In fact, medical practitioners don't want you to sleep with your pet because they may disturb you. In a survey, 53 percent of pet owners reported that their dogs or cats tend to wake them at least once on any given night. Animal human sleep cycles differ greatly, and this can affect the quality of your sleep. If letting your cat sleep in your bed at night hurts your sleep satisfaction in any way, don’t do it. Maybe their movements wake you up. Perhaps you don’t like the cat hair on your pillow. Maybe it’s a space issue. A new mattress can cost anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, so it’s an investment. If you prefer not to have a cat climb on top of something you want to treat with great care, that’s understandable. If you sleep better solo, stick to it. Your sleep is too important to your health and happiness to compromise.

It is possible to reclaim your bed if you don’t want your cat interrupting your sleep. It just takes some retraining. The question becomes, what is the other option? Actually, cats can sleep in a new dog bed and enjoy it just as much as a dog would. We most often call these products dog beds, but that is not to say only a dog can use one. If you order a small dog bed for a cat, he or she will probably like it very much. In fact, this is a question we get quite often and one we’re happy to answer with a resounding yes! A cat can sleep in a dog bed and will more than likely take to it quite easily!

Experts recommend you set up a nice, warm spot near your own bed and reward your cat for using it. Dr. Marci Koski suggests a heated blanket on a pet bed with a comfy item, like a sock or shirt, that smells like you. Praise and pet your cat when they snuggle down into it. That way, you’re reinforcing the behavior you want to happen more often, them sleeping in their new bed. Just like people, every cat is different, but with the right training techniques you can both get back to a restful night’s sleep in no time.

Whether it is a good idea to let your cat sleep in your bed or not is a personal decision each pet owner needs to make as an individual, and it is dependent on your health, mattress size, sleep needs, and your cat. If you have a mattress protector and don’t mind, there is no reason why he or she should not be allowed to sleep together with you. If you get a better night sleep alone, that’s fine too! Just remember to be consistent. Whatever your sleeping preference is, stick to it so your favorite feline knows what is allowed and what isn’t. You’ll both be happier this way!