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Where Should Your Cat Sleep?

By: Virginia Wells

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Okay, 'fess up. Where does your cat sleep? Nestled in the crook of your knees on your antique quilt? On the larger part of your pillow where your head isn't? On an easy chair close to the bed? Or does she position herself flush against the closed door to your bedroom? Or in her own bed in another part of the house?

A recent online survey revealed the following facts about cats in the household:

  • About 96 percent of cat owners allow their cats to sleep in the bedroom.
  • Almost 50 percent of those cats are allowed to sleep in the bed.
  • And 38 percent of those sleep on the pillow with the owner.

    It should be noted, too, that younger cats prefer the pillow, while older cats prefer to sleep at the foot of the bed.

    Although the amount of time spent sleeping varies from cat to cat, and depends on age and personality, felines spend an average of 13 to 16 hours each day curled up in slumber. And when it comes to sleep, your cat likes warm and cozy. She looks for a place that feels comfortable and safe and has the right temperature. When the weather is warm, she seeks high shaded sleeping nooks, where she can stretch out. During the cool winter months she'll find a place in the warm sunshine or near a heat source, and there she'll curl up with face between paws to reduce body heat loss.

    A Room of One's Own

    Some people may enjoy sleeping with their cat, but it's not for everybody. If you want your bed all to yourself, or if your cat chooses to sleep elsewhere, you can make a comfortable bed for your kitty or choose from the variety of plush feline beds at your pet store.

    Put a sheet of paper in the middle of a football stadium, and eventually a cat will lie on it. Cats like to sleep on something. This can be anything from a folded towel or blanket to one purchased in a pet store. Pads made for your cat are flat pieces of fabric with a bit of stuffing. They are portable and usually washable and can accommodate your cat's wandering ways; some are electro-statically charged to capture dander and hair; and some are made of fake fur or sheepskin to provide extra warmth.

    Cat beds vary in design and price – anything from cup-style beds to hammocks to bunk beds are available, with a variety in between. Cats are attracted to cup-beds because the circular design follows the natural contour of a curled up cat. Some of these are fleece-lined with a detachable, washable lining for added convenience. However, your cat may enjoy climbing into a blanket-lined wicker or laundry basket or cardboard box just as well.

    Bunk beds, chaise lounges and stuffed chairs or sofas are available for your cat, too, although they are a bit bulky and not quite so portable. These are comfortable and attractive, but they may be designed more for human appeal.

    Cat trees provide a natural setting that appeals to your cat's love of heights. Some trees also give your cat a place to scratch – something she likes to do when she wakes up – and if you are a multi-cat family, a tree provides sleep accommodations for more than one.

    Your indoor kitty may enjoy a bit of the outdoors and would love stretching out on a window perch. She would really appreciate your efforts to choose one in a sunny location where she can see some backyard action. However, take care with open windows; make sure screens are sturdy and secure because your cat has little regard for screens and may knock one out to get outside.

    If you opt for providing your pet a bed of her own, be sure to place it in an area that is comfortable, safe and has the right temperature. Don't put it near a high traffic area or in a cool or damp place. Don't put it near the family dog. Don't put it near the front or back door. Place it in a quiet corner where the family gathers like the family room or kitchen, or if you like you can keep it in your bedroom. Some cats have been known to be quite cozy on top of the refrigerator where they can watch the family while enjoying the warmth of the motor.

    Roommates

    There's no need to make excuses if you allow your cat to sleep in his favorite place – your bed. Pets love to cuddle up in a cozy bed with their best friend, and often the feeling is mutual. Advocates of this method say it strengthens the human-feline bond – not to mention the comfort and warmth your warm purring sleepmate can provide for you. It's the adult version of a teddy bear.

    But before you give your blessing to this seemingly innocent habit, consider the following:

  • Cats rarely sleep through the night and they often wake up too, too early for most people, usually 4 or 5 am. At this point they want to be fed and they may also want to play.

  • Cats are fascinated with anything that moves, and if the nearest thing is your hand or foot, you may have a painful awakening.

  • Although cats are known to be fastidious about cleanliness, they still step in and out of the litter box.

  • You might have allergies and may need to have time away from your kitty, especially when sleeping.

    Most behavioral problems can be handled, however, and training is always worth the effort. Your cat can learn to stay quiet when she awakens or she can leave the room by herself. A firm "no" a few times may stop the batting game with your foot – a few hundred times may get her to stop all together. And you can help keep her paws clean if that is an issue or provide a towel or blanket on top of the antique quilt.

    Like Eleanor Farjeon's poem says, "Cats sleep anywhere, any table, any chair..." With any luck, you will be the one to decide.

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