All you cat people out there, raise your hand. Yep, I’m looking at you. I absolutely adore cats, and I know how hard they are to turn down. Just one little meow, one purr, one kitty head bump against your leg, and you’re sold.
This is well and good when we’re talking about threats, or maybe an extra helping of food or some well-deserved playtime. But what about when they want to curl up with you in your bed? Is it ok to sleep with your cat in bed? Let’s examine the pros and cons.
Benefits of Cuddling up with Kitty
The sound of a cat’s purring is known to produce vibrations at frequencies that are very soothing. So if you struggle with depression, anxiety, or loneliness, and these feelings are strongest at night, it may be a good idea to let your cat sleep next to you. Hugging your cat can produce oxytocin, the cuddling hormone, which in turn can reduce stress levels and help you fall asleep more easily.
Risks of Cuddling up with Kitty
I’m sorry to have to say it, but the list of benefits ends there. Let’s discuss the many risks of letting your cat sleep next to you in bed.
One risk is that you won’t actually be getting more sleep, even if you fall asleep faster. Cats have a strange propensity to get up and zip around the house in the wee hours of the morning, creating quite a ruckus. A better idea would be to give the cat their own sleeping area, away from your bedroom, where their nighttime antics won’t disturb your sleep.
Another risk, related to the first, is that your cat might view your hair, wiggling toes, or moving fingers as a toy for playing with. This might lead to biting, scratching, or other painful and unwanted behaviors during the night, if you were to let your cat sleep in your bedroom or bed with you. And as much as I love cats, I would NOT be happy with my feline friend at that point!
If your cat is an outdoor cat, they can track things inside and onto your bed that you wouldn’t want anywhere near your face: things like parasites, ticks, and germs from eating dead rodents or birds. And even if they are strictly kept inside, they will often track litter and debris from their litterbox all over the house. And if you let them in your bed…well, let’s just say you may have to wash your sheets a lot more often.
Something else to consider is that cats can be carriers for a number of diseases and parasites, none of which you want to run the risk of contracting by letting them share your sleeping space.
Cat Scratch Disease, formerly known as Cat Scratch Fever, is contracted when someone is bitten or scratched by a cat. It can also happen if a cat happens to lick a part of a person’s skin where they have an open wound. As the name suggests, one of the symptoms is a fever. Other symptoms include redness, swelling, headaches, and loss of appetite.
Toxoplasmosis is something you may have heard warnings about if you’ve ever been pregnant. But it doesn’t just affect pregnant women and their unborn babies. You can get toxoplasmosis if you come in contact with infected feces from a cat. Sometimes tiny particles of a cat’s feces remain stuck to their fur or paws even after they’ve left the litterbox, so it’s not a good idea to share a bed with a cat, as they may track this onto your bedsheets.
Cats can also be infected with various types of worms. While some of this can be alleviated by having your feline treated with worm medicine, it’s a good idea not to let them into your bed if you suspect they may have a worm infestation ongoing. Tip: Look for signs of a flea infestation, both on your cat and in your home. If you find them, it could mean your cat is susceptible to tapeworms.
How to Tell Kitty No
If you’ve already started a habit of letting your cat sleep in your bed with you, it may be hard to break. Cats can be pretty stubborn creatures (part of what makes them so unique). One way to break the habit is to start a new one—playing with a kitty before turning in for the night. That way, they’ll get their excess energy out, and it will help them fall asleep faster, hopefully in a designated area away from your room.
If you don’t want to play with your cat, you could leave toys out (again, in a spot away from your bedroom so you aren’t disturbed at night). In this case, they’ll have something available to play with so they don’t have to pester you for attention.
If nothing else seems to work, you may think about purchasing a special spray that repels cats. Spray it all around your bed and bedroom. The spray is not harmful—your cat simply won’t enjoy the smell, and so will be less likely to want to accompany you into your bed.
I know you’re probably a bit sad coming to the end of this article. But the risks of sleeping with a cat far outweigh the benefits. It may be a hard transition to build new habits for you and your cat, but it will be healthier for you in the long run. You’ll get more sleep, and be much less likely to contract unpleasant and dangerous diseases and parasites. Sorry, kitty!