I Can’t Sleep With My Cats, But They Can’t Sleep Without Me


I’m sure you have all heard by now that you should not allow your cats to sleep with you at night. Beyond that, you shouldn’t even allow them in your bedroom.

I wonder who these people are who suggest this. Have they ever had cats? It’s doubtful. I would get even less sleep than I do now if I banned my kids — aka my two cats, Benjamin and Maizie Grace — from the bedroom at night. If I dare to shut the bathroom door for two minutes I am forced to listen to Ben’s howling. Maizie acts equally disturbed, sticking her paws under the door in a pathetic attempt to make me feel guilty. They have access to everything they need, yet they still act like their world is crumbling because they’ve been excluded. Cats may not always choose to take part in something, but they must always have the option.

I have closed the bedroom door once. I needed to get into the closet, and because the kids view that as precious unexplored territory, I thought it would be easier not to have them underfoot. When I opened the door several minutes later, they were both standing there, giving me looks that could kill. Before I even realized what I was doing, I apologized.

As all pet parents know, routines are essential. The fur kids love them, need them, want them. We have many routines in our house, but our nightly routine seems to be the favorite. They know it’s getting close when they get their treaties. Four for Ben, and two for May, though she rarely eats them, so it’s really six for Ben. I usually get back on the computer for a bit after that, with the kids on high alert. When I finally close my laptop in the wee hours of the morning, they know it’s time for sleeps. Ben will sit and watch me type away, patiently waiting for his cue.

Once I’m up, they rush to the bedroom and wait for me to settle. While they wait, they eat, they drink, they scratch their post. And then, once they get on the bed, there’s the arranging. Who sleeps on this side, who sleeps on that side, who gets the foot of the bed. And since they would never dream of sleeping with their bodies touching one another, this is a crucial step. Once they find that good spot — the one that leaves me incapable of moving an inch — they must circle several times before plopping down.

Eventually, we sleep. For a few hours. But the same cats that can sleep for eight consecutive hours during the day will only sleep for two or three during the night. Then it’s time for eating, drinking, emptying bladders, and general feline altercations that result in waking mommy. Then we settle again. And arrange again. And sleep. Sometimes someone is in the wrong spot, and there’s some posturing and hissing. And usually someone will decide that 3 a.m. is the perfect time for a bath. If they get a good licking rhythm going, their bodies rock the mattress, which results in, you guessed it, waking mommy.

Around this time, one or both will abandon ship, realizing that the bed is not the most restful environment. I usually hear a small fight or two, or listen to Ben playing with his toys in the darkness. If I have my eyes open, I can see him leap for some flying insect intruder, and I wonder how it is that I can’t even find the doorway in the dark, let alone a tiny bug.

So, we sleep. Or, more accurately, they sleep. On the pillow, on the blanket, in the living room. I have long since abandoned the idea of sleep and turned the TV on. Around 6 or 7, they have usually gotten up for the day, and if I’m truly lucky, I get to enjoy the small miracle of a cat-free bed. I can stretch my arms and legs out, move my feet without someone thinking they are toys, and revel in finally getting some rest.

But wait. I can’t sleep. The TV is off, the sound machine is on, the cats are in the other room being quiet. I open one eye and realize what’s wrong: There are no tiny bodies nestled in the crook of my hip, no paws draped over my leg, no furry head sharing my pillow. So I get up and go look for them.

"Come on. Time for sleeps!"

And the routine begins again.

About the author: Ericka is a devoted cat mom and diehard Cher fan. Her hobbies include board games, adding to her Star Wars collection, and keeping her cats away from said Star Wars collection. She supports her furry children and her geeky habits by working as a personal assistant in Los Angeles.

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