Why Won't My Cat Sleep In Bed With Me?

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Letting your pets crawl into your bed might not be everyone's cup of tea. But more than half of U.S. pet parents allow their furry friends to snuggle up in bed, according to the CDC.

And besides the obvious perk of having an adorable, purring fluff-ball to cuddle with and the added sense of security that brings, petting and snuggling with our favorite felines can actually lower blood pressure and heart rate, and the rate at which cats purr  - pretty relaxing, right?

While some cats gladly hop into bed with their owners come bedtime, other cats are too rambunctious during the wee hours (thanks to their crepuscular nature) and may not make the best buddies for getting actual sleep. Then there are the cats that prefer their own beds (or cardboard boxes, for that matter). It can be pretty tough not to take it personally. Why doesn't my cat want to cuddle with me? Especially when you see so many adorable videos on the Internet of cuddly cats tucked under the covers. 

Who is to say what truly goes on in the mind of our cats? They're enigmas. There may be a lot of reasons your cat won't sleep in your bed. One may be that your bed isn't high enough off the ground for their liking. As natural climbers, cats have a natural instinct to seek safety in high places, likely descended from their wild ancestors. For cats that seem to prefer cat trees, your bed might not be high enough for their needs.

Another reason could be your cat's age and agility. If your cat is older, they may be struggling with joint pain or arthritis (in which case, ironically enough, the bed may be too high). Cats are also most active at dusk and dawn, so when you're sleeping they might just be gearing up to go hunt some mice toys. 

There are a variety of reasons your cat may not want to sleep in bed with you. But here are a few ways you can encourage your kitty to catch some Z's with you. 

1. Encourage playtime during the day.

Tire your kitty our during the day to help encourage them to sleep at night. If you're not home during the day, leave your cat toys that will that provide indoor enrichment for your kitty in your absence. Provide your favorite feline with toys that they can bat around and play with at their own leisure. Catnip-filled toys are a great choice as the catnip also stimulates and encourages your cat to play - instead of nap all day. If your cat is not a fan of catnip, try silver vine - a catnip alternative that is proven to attract cats that catnip doesn't.

2. Interact just before bedtime. 

Just before you're ready to turn in, sit down and play or engage with your cat for 10 to 15 minutes. You'll help to tire them out and signal bedtime simultaneously to help establish a bedtime routine. 

3. Set a later dinner time.

Feeding your cat before bed. Digesting food takes a lot of energy, and you may notice that your cat will sleep through the night more happily. If your bedtime is 11:00 pm, give your cat a meal right before bed - with that playtime we talked about at around 9:30, before the meal. So you tire your cat out, give them a small breather, then feed them their final meal before bedtime. This will encourage your kitty to settle down for the night - after eating, they'll start grooming. And then they'll probably cuddle up for a good night's sleep. 

4. Make the bed appealing for cats.

Cats are strange beasts. They like to lie on fresh laundry, or even just a washcloth you accidentally dropped on the floor. You can use this to your advantage, though! Lay out a favorite towel or blanket your cat has on your bed and give them a specific "cat zone". Bonus points if you use a blanket or cloth that has their scent on it!

You could even set out a heating pad on low to entice them to the warmth (be sure to turn it off before bedtime). 

5. Entice them with treats.

When in doubt, bribe your cat with some catnip (or a quick crunchy treat). Sprinkle some catnip on the towel you've laid out, just enough to get them rolling around on it. Catnip gets cats excited, sure, but afterwards they tend to get sleepy - and hey, they're already on a soft, comfy blanket ... might as well nap here, right?

One thing you should not do is force your cat to stay in bed with you - that's a guaranteed way to get your cat to do the exact opposite of what you want to do.

 


4 comments


  • Alex

    My first cat always came to snuggle at bed time and would sleep under the blanket with me for a few hours, then do so again for a bit before I got up. I miss her dearly.
    Got a couple of new cats, one doesn’t mind sleeping at my feet but I think he’s picked my sister as his human. His sister is pretty well behaved when it’s night time and she’s in the room but seems to wait until I’ve fallen asleep to lie on the pillow I’ve set up for her on the bed, and she doesn’t really like close contact.


  • Aura

    My cat pok-e sleeps in the bed every night. He is always as close as he can be to my legs since i scoot him to the end of the bed. He will not sleep anywhere else. On the other hand my cat jazzy, she is a fluffball and has never slept in bed with me. Its so comforting to be falling asleep with her next to me after i per her for a while but after 15 mins of being beside me as like i said im falling asleep she hops up and gets off the bed only to lay on the floor beside the bed against the wall! : ( wish i could persuade her to stay in bed. Its like the more shes uninterested the more im longing for it


  • Alison Sirak

    My Vincent is with me all night every night!


  • Ann

    Some cats just seem to like their own space.

    My longhair, Fritz, sleeps with me every night. He will join me in bed and put his head on my shoulder.

    My black shorthair, Shelby, prefers sleeping in another room. She will occasionally join me in bed in the early morning but not often. I sometimes describe Shelby as a"proximity cat," for she likes to be near me but not on me. If I’m sitting on the sofa watching TV, she will sit next to me. Fritz will usually get in my lap. Given that Shelby weighs 16 pounds it’s probably just well that she’s not a lap cat.


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