How Do Cats Choose Who To Sleep With

comments-icon 2 Comments on How Do Cats Choose Who To Sleep With
comments-icon Fact checked by  Ma'ayan Gutbezahl
Share Email Pinterest Linkedin Twitter Facebook

Kitten sleeping in man hands

Sleep is fundamental to cats since it replenishes energy and necessitates the next short burst of high energy-consuming pursuit. As a result, domestic cats sleep between 12 to 18 hours per day and even longer as they mature.

Cats need to nap in quiet, secluded places within the home. For most cats, warmth, elevation, seclusion, and safety are essential features of sleeping cat behavior.

A cat’s sleeping position, location, and whom they sleep with can tell us how they feel and reveal information about their health and overall welfare.

Let’s explore how cats bond with their owners and what makes them choose their favorite co-sleeping partner.

Quick Overview

01

Cats will sleep next to their favorite people who make them feel safe and secure.

02

Cats form bonds with their carers and the people who make then feel the most secure and protected.

03

Co-sleeping with your cat can deepen the bond that you share, as long as the interaction is positive for both the cat and the chosen person.

Cat Bonding

Cats usually bond with one person within the household rather than multiple individuals.

Positive experiences during early socialization through daily interactions in kittenhood will pave the way to forming a close bond with a particular person. Equally, an unwell kitten who requires special treatment will develop a long-life attachment to their caregiver when provided with ongoing care.

According to research published in the Current Biology Journal, some cats form strong emotional attachments with their caregivers, like those that dogs and children develop. Most cats depend on their owner for security when stressed or in a novel environment.

Your cat’s temperament, health status, and home environment, along with your personality, all play a fundamental role in forming deep bonds with your cat. Given time, choice, predictability, familiarity, routine, and a sense of control over interactions plus environment, a cat will become attached to their owner quicker than an impatient caregiver or one that forces interactions.

When a cat is attached to their human, they tend to follow their companion from room to room. They are inclined to seek the owner’s attention by approaching them and meowing or pawing at them. Leg rubbing, head butting, purring, and napping on you are all signs that you are their favorite person.

To develop a close bond, call your cat when it’s feeding time instead of leaving food out all day. Play with your cat regularly and invest time in a daily grooming schedule as long as they enjoy brushing. Clicker training is another excellent way to stimulate your cat’s mind and enhance your strong bond.

What Does Social Sleeping Indicate in Cats?

Social sleeping in pet cats isn’t remarkable, as kittens snuggle up to their mother and littermates early on in life. Cats that have lived together since kittenhood or developed social affiliation at a young age will also display social sleeping behavior.

Resting and sleeping close together, usually touching, occasionally wrapped around each other, indicate social bonding and a close relationship between felines. In a domestic setting, cats from different social groups or those who don’t get along will often sleep in the same areas but maintain a distance, revealing that they only tolerate one another.

Ultimately, a cat that chooses to sleep with another pet or its owner socially indicates that they feel content, safe, and happy. So let’s explore how cats choose their favorite sleeping companion.

How Do Cats Choose Their Favorite Person To Sleep With?

There are several motivators for how cats choose specific people to nap with; let’s examine them in detail.

The Primary Carer

Many cats gravitate towards snoozing with their primary carer, who understands species-appropriate behavior, regularly feeds their meals, provides their daily needs, and takes them out for harness and leash walks. They also like to slumber with a companion that spends time engaging in predatory behavior through play and gives them undivided attention.

The Person That Offers Protection

Sleeping young man with fluffy red cat

When a cat feels safe and secure, they are able to relax.

Safety and security are paramount to felines since, in the wild, they are both predators and prey. A cat will choose to nap up high on the bed with the person they feel most protected with. The risk of attack while they are asleep represents a severe survival threat.

The Individual They Are Bonded With or Attached To

Naturally, cats develop strong attachments to people like children, though cats get attached to one individual for their entire life. A bonded cat will follow their favored human, solicit attention or sleep on them any chance they get as a security blanket.

The Human That Provides Them With Warmth

Cats crave warmth since they descended from the desert and need heat for survival.

Warmth is also vital as newborn kittens lose heat very rapidly. The queen uses her body heat to keep her offspring warm, while kittens regularly huddle together to regulate their body temperature until they are a few months older.

Similarly, your adult cat will seek out the person they can lay or snuggle with that will produce the most body heat and security. Sleeping beside you, next to you, or on top of your head is a sure way to generate direct heat.

The Companion That Smells Familiar

Felines are explorative animals that use their sense of smell to decipher whether they are pleasant or aversive, of relevance or not. Since cats can recognize people by their scent, they may want to facial rub and doze off next to a familiar person to maintain social cohesion and mark their territory.

The Caregiver That Provides Reassurance During Bouts of Anxiety

A highly distressed or confused cat may choose to rest or sleep next to a caregiver that comforts them during bouts of anxiety through gentle stroking and touch.

Likewise, a cat with moderate or severe separation anxiety will curl up on the couch or bed next to the person they are firmly attached to during catnapping sessions.

Why Does My Cat Like To Sleep With Me and Not My Husband?

Domestic striped cat sleeping in embrace with owner

A snorer or someone who tends to toss and turn is no fun for a cat to sleep next to! They will choose a sound sleeper instead.

A cat instinctively wants to sleep with the person they have a strong connection to. Cats get attached to one person and usually gravitate towards a primary carer who feeds them, plays with them, and provides them with much attention.

Another reason your kitty prefers to sleep next to you is because you provide warmth and security. Equally, your side of the bed is a great vantage point and leaves plenty of space compared to your husband.

Lastly, if your husband, snores, tosses and turns, or wakes up several times at night, causing your cat discomfort, your cat will be inclined to sleep next to you since you’re a sound sleeper.

Should You Let Your Cat Sleep With You?

Allowing your cat to sleep with you is a personal choice.

There are several health benefits to a lovable cat purring with contentment while you’re falling asleep, from stress reduction and lower blood pressure to strengthening your existing bond. Then again, there will be times when you may prohibit or reduce snooze time with your cat due to allergies, breathing issues, exposure to parasites, or night shenanigans affecting your sleep quality.

To minimize bedtime deprivation and get a good night’s sleep read 11 tips to train your cat to sleep all night

Final Thoughts

Sleep is an essential behavior for felines and humans. Like people, cats prefer to snooze with the person that makes them feel loved, warm, and secure. A sudden change in your cat’s sleep pattern, location, or with whom they sleep can indicate distress or ailment. Consult your veterinarian to ensure early detection with appropriate treatment.

Also Read: 9 Cat Behavior Changes To Worry About

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do cats choose to sleep on certain people?

Safety and security are the main reasons cats choose to sleep on certain people, which stems from their susceptibility as a prey species, while scent rubbing allows them to mark you as theirs.

Moreover, catnapping on top of our bodies produces natural heat and comfort. At the same time, our heartbeat gives cats the feeling of trust and intimacy, parallel to the queen’s heart rate.

Do all cats like to sleep with their owners?

Some cats like to nap with their owners, while others prefer to sleep alone in a quiet, secluded or high-up spot on the cat tree.

Don’t be offended if your cat wants to slumber in a cardboard box that offers warmth and uninterrupted sleep if you toss or regularly turn in bed.

Senior cats or cats with mobility issues may like to sleep with you in bed; however, they may find it challenging, so offer your cat different bedtime alternatives like comfy beds and pet stairs.

Do cats trust you if they sleep next to you?

Yes, a cat trusts you if they sleep next to you since cats are vulnerable when they are asleep. Your presence makes them feel protected and they may also defend their favorite person in case of territorial invaders.

Why does my cat choose to sleep next to me?

Cats crave warmth, solitude, and safety, which they feel confident obtaining from a person they either have a secure attachment to or their primary carer.

Slumbering next to their favorite person helps your cat lower stress, facilitates scent intermingling, provides reassurance and increases the human-animal bond.

View Sources
Cats.com uses high-quality, credible sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the claims in our articles. This content is regularly reviewed and updated for accuracy. Visit our About Us page to learn about our standards and meet our veterinary review board.
  1. Atkinson, T. (2018). Practical Feline Behaviour. Wallingford, Oxfordshire, UK: CABI. Retrieved January 25, 2023

     

  2. Care, I. C. (2020, September 01). Module 5 Creating a cat friendly home. International Cat Care Advanced Feline Behaviour for Vet Professionals. UK. Retrieved January 19, 2023

     

  3. Kristyn R. Vitale, A. C. (2019, September 23). Attachment bonds between domestic cats and humans. Current Biology, 29(18), PR864-R865. doi:https://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(19)31086-3

     

  4. Smith BP, H. P. (2017, September 28). A Multispecies Approach to Co-Sleeping : Integrating Human-Animal Co-Sleeping Practices into Our Understanding of Human Sleep. PubMed, 255-273. Retrieved January 26, 2023, from https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12110-017-9290-2

Help us do better! Was this article helpful and relevant?
Yes
No
What can you say about this article?
I am completely satisfied, I found useful information and tips in this article
Article was somewhat helpful, but could be improved
Want to share more?
Thank You for the feedback! We work to make the world a better place for cats, and we're getting better for you.
Avatar photo

About Melina Grin

Melina’s love of animals began in childhood when she cared for sick or stray dogs and cats while dreaming of becoming a Vet. While working in the Veterinary field as a Vet Nurse, she found a distinct interest and passion in Cat Behaviour and Small Animal Rehabilitation. Melina recently obtained her Feline Behaviour and Training certification and is the proud director of Pet Nurture in Sydney (Australia). Melina contributes to various animal publications in the United States, Australia & NZ and is also the founder and admin of the Facebook group: Feline Courses, Seminars, Webinars & Events.

Want to give your cat better care every day? Get our free day to day care guide.

Based on advice from cat behaviorists, we’ve developed a step-by-step guide to a healthy routine that brings out your cat’s best. From daily habits to yearly must-do’s, we’ve laid out everything you need to set the foundation for a stress-free, happy life.

Inside the day to day guide, you’ll find:
  • Easy to understand infographics
  • Checklists for simple management
  • Must-do’s for a healthy cat

Get your free guide! Get your free guide!

2 thoughts on “How Do Cats Choose Who To Sleep With”

+ Add Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Kawthar

    Hi my cat raven eats holes in my clothes but no one elses. Any idea why this is. Yes I keep my clothes away from her. Now and then I drop something to find it full of holes and it comes out in the litterbox.

    Reply