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Will Your Cat Protect You When You Sleep? Interesting Facts

cat sleeping on bed
Image Credit: Adam Kuylenstierna, Unsplash
Last Updated on November 16, 2023 by Misty Layne

Dogs are known for protecting their owners from danger, but do cats do the same? Ask cat owners that question, and you’ll find plenty of stories of cats protecting their people and even people who aren’t their owners! Take Masha1, the Russian cat who helped keep an abandoned baby alive during freezing temperatures. Or Pudding2, the cat who saved their brand-new owner when the woman started having a diabetic seizure while asleep.

With stories like these, it stands to reason that our cats will protect us, especially when we sleep. Turns out it’s a little more complicated, though. While cats can protect us while we sleep, you shouldn’t necessarily expect them to, as their ideas of protection are a bit different than ours. Plus, each cat is an individual, and how protective they may be will vary.

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Are Cats Protective?

Cats have a rep for being standoffish and doing their own thing, but one study found that when it comes to cat-human relationships, they’re almost on par with human-human relationships. Plus, cats place value on their social groups, which can include the humans around them. With this combination, you’ll find that cats certainly can be protective.

While cats tend to run if they see a threat (particularly one larger than themselves), it doesn’t mean they won’t instigate a fight if their owner is in trouble. That said, cats are much better suited to warning us about things like bad weather or even diseases we have that we don’t yet know about.

How can they pick up on those things? It’s because cats can sense changes in atmospheric pressure around them and smell chemical changes that occur in the body when others are ill. Familiarizing yourself with your cat’s body language during storms can help you know when to look for danger.

Gray cat licking the face of a woman sleeping
Image Credit: Denis Val, Shutterstock

Why Do Cats Sleep at Your Feet?

Have you ever wondered why your cats like to sleep near your feet at night instead of snuggled up beside you or on your stomach like they would during the day? It turns out they choose that location to protect not only themselves but you as well! Blame those instincts that are still hanging around from the days when cats were wild.

Cats know they’re vulnerable when they sleep, so sleeping with you means they can protect themselves better from danger. Sleeping near the foot of the bed gives your cat a good view of the room so that they will be alerted at the first hint of trouble, and they can alert you or escape in any direction if needed.

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Why You Shouldn’t Expect Your Cat to Protect You

With all this said, it’s important to remember that cats don’t think in the same way as humans do. If your cat is protecting you in some way, it’s more likely a matter of their survival than yours. They’re simply following instincts that remind them that you, as the food-giver, are needed to continue surviving. So, don’t go to sleep, just expecting your cat will provide protection or become a hero if something happens. Always stay prepared and keep your home safe in other ways!

Image Credit: Kuiper, Shutterstock

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Final Thoughts

Cats are perfectly capable of protecting you while you sleep. If you find them sleeping at the foot of your bed, that’s likely what they’re doing, but how protective a cat is depends on the cat’s nature. It’s also vital to remember that, for the most part, cats prefer fleeing or even posturing to fighting, so don’t count on them in a pinch. And keep in mind that the feline’s ways are not ours; any protection your pet offers probably has more to do with their continued survival than anything else.

However, your cat can be very helpful in warning you of inclement weather or even undiagnosed disease. Due to their ability to sense changes in the atmosphere and their sense of smell, cats are good at giving us a heads-up about this type of danger!

See also:

Fetured Image Credit: Adam Kuylenstierna, Unsplash

About the Author

Misty Layne
Misty Layne
Misty Layne lives out in the woods in small-town Alabama with her two Siamese cats—Serafina and Jasper. She also has an array of stray cats, raccoons, and possums who like to call her front porch home. When she’s not writing about animals, you’ll find her writing poetry, stories, and film reviews (cats, by far, her favorite writing topic, though!). In her free time, Misty enjoys chilling with her cats, playing piano, watching indie and foreign films, photographing abandoned places, and catching up on her never-ending TBR list.

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