Sleeping With Cats: Yay or Nay?

An orange tabby cat sleeping on a bed.
An orange tabby cat sleeping on a bed. Photography ©Aksenovko | Thinkstock.

Is your cat sleeping in your bed with you? I’ve experienced all sides of sleeping with cats. When I was single, I had cats. They got to share the bed and it was no big deal. They loved it, and it made me happy to see them happy.

But things changed a little when two humans started sleeping in the bed. We let the cats join us at first, but with a full-size bed — and cats who either didn’t move at all or moved in ways to wake us up — we discovered that the quality of our sleep had gone down the drain. I love my sleep, and I was forced to reconsider the issues of cats sleeping in the bed.

Recently, I met a nice woman who does a lot of work in foster and cat rescue, and she seemed surprised that I shut the cats out of the bedroom. But I’ve learned that I really don’t function that well without good sleep. And how can I take care of my cats if I’m not functioning at my best? See — it always comes back to the cats.

Here are five things to consider if you’re thinking about sleeping with cats in your bed:

1. Are you getting any sleep with cats on your bed?

A gray kitten asleep in a bed.
A gray kitten asleep in a bed. Photography by hamacle/Thinkstock.

Is having the cat or cats on the bed worth sacrificing a full night of sleep? Only you can answer that! Some fortunate people need little or no sleep. I envy these people. Oh, the stuff I could get done if I didn’t need eight hours of sleep time.

2. Does sleeping with cats interrupt your sleep?

Is your lovely, deep, REM sleep interrupted suddenly when your sleeping cat decides to jump on your face? Does the tender pat pat or scratch scratch of a gentle paw wake you up earlier than usual? But more important, does this bother you? If not, great! If I could go without sleep, I would surely and generously share the bed with my cats.

3. Are the cats happy sleeping in your bed?

If sleep doesn’t matter, or if you sleep so deeply that no cat could wake you up, consider whether bedtime privileges make your cat deliriously happy and add to his quality of life. Maybe that sounds over the top, but honestly, I’ve had cats that light up for hours after getting coveted time on the bed with us. Note that in our household, bedtime with people in the bed seems to be much more special than time napping on a bed devoid of humans.

4. Does one cat need special attention?

I have used the bed, on occasion, to give a cat needed attention in certain situations. For example, if one cat is really tired out with the arrival of a new kitten, I might give that adult cat a break from the kitten by allowing the adult some night time bed time, even if I know that adult (a certain black cat comes to mind) is going to get very lovey at about four in the morning with the intention to wake me up. When my buff cat Chester was grieving the loss of his buddy, I gave Chester lots of bed time. He needed the extra attention. I’m not completely rigid about keeping cats out of the bed when we are sleeping!

5. Do your cats turn into concrete bricks on the bed?

How does one small cat turn into a concrete brick? It’s one of the magic tricks that cats pull. If you cannot sleep because you run into a feline brick every time you toss and turn, well, the cat might have to get off the bed. Some cats have also perfected the art of being fluid concrete bricks, as they drape themselves over your sleeping body and refuse to move.

6. Do the cats make a fuss at the closed bedroom door, making more noise than they would on the bed?

If you have clever cats who have figured out how to make noise on the other side of the bedroom door, letting the cats on the bed might be the lesser of two evils. You decide!

Tell us: What do you think about sleeping with cats? Do you sleep with your cats? Does it make the quality of your sleep better or worse, or does it matter? Does your cat love bedtime privileges? Share your stories in comments!

Thumbnail: Photography ©Aksenovko | Thinkstock.

About Catherine Holm: Told that she is funny but doesn’t know it, accused of being an unintentional con artist by her husband, quiet, with frequent unannounced bursts into dancing liveliness, Cat Holm loves writing about, working for, and living with cats. She is the author of the cat-themed memoir Driving with Cats: Ours for a Short Time, the creator of Ann Catanzaro cat fantasy story gift books, and the author of two short story collections. She loves to dance, be outside whenever possible, read, play with cats, make music, do and teach yoga, and write. Cat lives in the woods, which she loves as much as really dark chocolate, and gets regular inspiration shots along with her double espresso shots from the city.

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133 thoughts on “Sleeping With Cats: Yay or Nay?”

  1. I live by myself along with my 4 cats. My youngest who I named Cuddles really lives up to his name. Especially in bed. He curls himself around my head and purrs us both to sleep. I love it. If I have someone sleep over and they leave their bedroom door open, he will give them the privilege of his company. The other 3 come & go throughout the night usually at my side or the foot of the bed.

  2. My hubby was a snorer, therefore i slept on the bottom floor on my couch. I had 5 adult cats that slept with me… 2 on the back of the couch 1 at my head and 2 at my side. My adult 1s have died since, my newest are 4 yrs old, i would be lost without my cats . i wake up feel ing for her tail… Lol its silly…

  3. Well, at this time, I have four cats, 16, 11, 4, and 1-1/2, plus a big dog and a little dog, and a big husband. Since I work nights, most often it’s just me and the furries together.
    It usually starts out with two of the cats, my Sphinx, who sleeps on my neck, and her arms about me, and my ‘old man’ cat, near my head, and little dog curled up against my legs.
    I sleep short and light. 5 or six hours is enough. When I wake up, there are ALL four scattered around me, plus the little dog. Big dog has her own bed on the floor.
    Other than sometimes waking up with Bella’s feet up my nose or in my mouth, lol, it is a very comforting feeling to become conscious into…better than hubbie’s snoring, oh my gosh!
    So, yeah, they can all stay! Might have 2 more next spring…

  4. My cat thinks she’s my girlfriend.
    She waits till I lie down and then jumps up and lies beside me with her head on my arm.
    I let her get away with if for a little while but then make her sleep down at the foot of the bed or in her bed on the floor next to my bed.
    Actually she seems to like that, other people may want to try it, get a nice cat bed that they can curl up in and put it on the floor next to the head of your bed. Good solution to keep the cat happy and let you get some sleep.

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  6. We have two Russian Blue sibling cats. The female sleeps with my female partner and watches tv when her momma falls asleep. The male sleeps glued against me until my partner and I make love. I tell him to go away but… We have a king bed and the two clowns and the two of us have almost enough room except my lover rests her head on my shoulder so the space between us gets a little crowded. Oh well! ????

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  9. My 15 year old girl has slept with me for the 5 years I’ve had her. I made a little bed area by folding a towel and putting it where I want her to sleep. It only took a few nights of putting her back on the towel, talking sweetly and telling her she is a good kitty. Every time I found her off the towel I’d put her back. Now she knows where she sleeps and is happy to be on the bed. And I’m happy to have her there.
    Btw the towel needs to be a contrasting color from the bedspread, so they can see the difference.
    Good luck!

    1. Judy Rutherford

      My cat and my golden retriever sleeps with me and my cat cuddles with my dog lol so my cat doesn’t bother me at all. Ps my dog also potty trained my cat to go outside so no liter box in this house. ???? ????????

  10. I only have a single bed and two cats. The larger, fluffier one likes being in bed with me for a while, but he gets too hot and he doesn’t leave me much room. He makes me too hot as well! My smaller cat is fine in the bed once she settles down. I don’t notice she’s there, except for when she reaches out a paw to touch me, which I rather like. At first, she would stick her face as close to mine as she possibly could, so her whiskers tickled me, then to get closer still she’d stick as many paws as possible underneath me. That was when she’d first arrived and was feeling insecure.

  11. Laurie Zavalcofsky

    My cat sleeps on the bed every night. She has no problem stretching out and purring. If I take her off she will use the box spring as a scratching post until I let her back up.

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  15. My cat Baby waits every night for me to go to sleep,then she hops up on the edge of the bed,then my other cat couger looks and gently pokes baby to make sure she’s sleeping and lays down next to her.sometimes Baby likes her sleeping next to her and other times baby jumps up and sleeps on the chair next to the bed.Baby gets jealous.they definitely have their bedtime ritual.

  16. I had a cat that I raised from kittenhood on, and I let her sleep with me. When she was about 3 years old, she decided that simply sleeping in the same bed with me wasn’t good enough. She slept ON me. Not only that, when I turned over, she walked over with me and then settled back in. On my back, stomach, side, you name it. There she was!

    1. Kitty Fate does the same thing! She tries to get me to play when she sees me go to bed then promptly gives up, jumps up onto my bed, then snuggles onto me. Back, bottom side, between my legs. She even adjusts me to suit her by sometimes placing her forehead against mind and wrapping her whole body around my arm so my hand is resting on her belly

  17. Madelaine M Vella

    It seems my cat Meow and I have a ritual although people tell me I’m deluded! When bedtime nears (or the time Meow is accustomed to me going to bed) and I’m still on my laptop in the office, Meow will appear and start yawning as if she’s signaling “it’s bedtime”! Of course, I obey and promptly close the laptop and go hunker down with her. Although she does hog the bedspace at times, I can’t imagine not sleeping with Meow. She is a source of comfort to me!

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