When you first adopted your cat, you bought her the best of everything: A $30 automatic water dispenser, a $75 top-of-the-line cat tower, and a $50 orthopedic kitty bed. But your cat doesn’t seem to care for the comfort, warmth, and price tag of that fancy bed. Night after night, she winds up snuggling at the edge of your bed — so why do cats sleep at the foot of the bed?
Cats sleep at the foot of the bed because it provides them the security and warmth of being near you, without the distractions of sleeping near your head (like heat & movement). This special sleeping spot also gives your kitty a quick escape, a better view of the room, and her own territory.
While cats aren’t always the best critters to co-sleep with, their willingness to curl up at your feet is undoubtedly adorable (and perhaps your favorite part of the night). To learn about all the reasons cats love sleeping at the foot of the bed, read on!
You Can’t Annoy Them As Much Down There
Cats may very well be some of the sleepiest domestic critters around, napping for 15-20 hours a day on average and even longer on gloomy or cold evenings. Yet, only about 25% of a cat’s naps are “deep sleep,” where the only things that’ll awaken her are sudden, loud sounds or constant poking and prodding.
Light sleep will keep your kitty in a subtly alert phase 75% of the time.
Therefore, every time you reposition, rollover, toss, turn, get up to use the restroom, or snore, your cat will experience disrupted sleep. That’s why cats often lay at the foot of the bed rather than on their owners’ chest or head — it allows them to stay near their favorite owners, but without suffering through their annoying sleep habits!
Making Room for a Quick Escape
The fact that cats are nocturnal and crepuscular means your feline is most active when it’s dark outside and while you’re probably fast asleep. As you’re sleeping at 2:30 a.m. recovering from a long day at work, your kitty is as alert as she’ll ever be — using the litter box, pouncing on a mouse toy, and keeping a close eye on her surroundings.
Sleeping at the edge of your bed gives Fluffy the chance to adopt the “protective” role while you’re off the clock. This prime location gives her a 360-degree unencumbered view of the entire bedroom, specifically the doorway and windows. Your cat will see an intruder (or the family dog) roaming the hallways at night and catch a glimpse of the deer darting across the yard.
Your cat can immediately get up and investigate any unusual events without having to climb over you, untangle herself from a blanket, or miss the goings-on entirely.
Staying Cool Yet Warm
A kitten cannot stay warm all by herself until she’s about four weeks old. By that point, a young kitty learns to enjoy the warmth, protection, and comfort she feels when nuzzled up against her mother and alongside her littermates. Your cat’s ever-present desire to replicate this feeling is part of the reason she joins you in bed when it’s time for shut-eye.
Cats are happiest when the thermostat sits at 69-72℉ (20-22℃), but sleeping next to you — a human furnace — can be a bit overwhelming. Your cat may curl up in a ball at the end of the bed to feel the residual heat of sleeping near you without overheating as she’s trying to sleep. The end of the bed is the perfect place to stay warm yet cold while near the favorite human.
The temperature factor may also explain why your kitty chooses the foot of the bed on warm summer nights but wants to nestle up within the crook of your neck when it’s chillier.
Claiming Her Stake on Your Mattress
Cats are territorial by nature, but they don’t always express it in the way that you’re thinking (peeing or pooping on their prized objects). These fluffy critters also have scent glands all over their body — like in their cheeks or paws — that allows them to spread their scent and unofficially “claim” the territory they want to keep safe.
Every time your cat lays at the foot of the bed where she scratches or kneads, this territory is becoming more and more “hers.” Interestingly, your cat’s nightly routine of sleeping at the edge of the mattress may very well be her way of claiming the entire bed as her own. Some cats will curl up on the corner to leave room for you to take a nap on their bed.
It’s also worth noting that your cat probably won’t claim the edge of every bed in your household. The fact that Fluffy chose your bed is a clear-cut sign that you’re her favorite and that she trusts you enough to shut her eyes — a very vulnerable state — in your presence.
Is It OK if My Cat Sleeps at the Foot of My Bed?
Plenty of cat behaviors can be dangerous to either you or your kitty. Fortunately, allowing your cat to sleep at the foot of your bed has the potential to be more annoying than anything. Both you and your feline companion will enjoy sharing body warmth and a secure sensation without getting in the way of one another — assuming everything goes according to plan.
Some possible reasons you might not want Fluffy to join you at the foot of the bed include:
- Fleas, Ticks, or Mites: If you allow your cat to venture outdoors without remaining current on flea/tick treatments, your four-legged friend may be bringing these pests inside with her. Your cat could unwittingly transfer these insects onto your shared bed, which may leave you waking up with flea bites on your ankles or an attached tick!
- Swatting, Hissing, and Biting: If your cat is sleeping soundly, only to be suddenly awoken by an accidental foot to the face, she may unleash her claws and teeth. Though this response is usually out of fear, it could lead to bloody wounds on your feet.
- Annoying Behavior: Since cats are most active when the sun goes down, your cat may see 2 a.m. to be the perfect time to groom, scratch, or play with her toys. Each of these behaviors can be predictably bothersome when you’re trying to catch some Zs.
- Allergic Reactions: Did you know that about 10-20% of the population is allergic to cats or dogs? If you allow your kitty to sleep on your bed, leaving her hair and dandruff behind, don’t be surprised when you wake up with hives or suffer from sneezing fits.
It’s okay to allow your cat to sleep at the foot of your bed, but ensure that you’re a deep sleeper and there’s more than enough space for the two of you to coexist at nighttime.
Does your cat seem to despise the bed you bought for her? The Jackson Galaxy video below will help you understand why (and why your cat sees this as an invention to join you in bed):
Allowing your cat to share the bed with you might be soothing and comforting more often than not. But it can also cause sleep disruptions for the two of you, mostly if your nocturnal kitty schedules an impromptu play session at 3 a.m. or if you toss and turn during the night.
Always give your cat alternative sleeping quarters if she wants a solo snooze. A comfy cat bed in the corner of your bedroom, a laundry basket filled with clean clothes, or even your favorite blanket can serve as Fluffy’s back-up bed.
- Healthline: Cat Sleeping in Your Bed
- Wikipedia: Crepuscular animal
- Wikipedia: Nocturnality
- Cats International: The Cat’s View of Territory
- Excerpta Medica International Congress: Behavioural and Eeg Effects of Paradoxical Sleep Deprivation In the Cat
- Fetch by WebMD: Protect Your Cat and Home From Fleas
- Allergy Asthma Immunol Res: Dog and Cat Allergies: Current State of Diagnostic Approaches and Challenges
Pam is a self-confessed cat lover and has experience of working with cats and owning cats for as long as she can remember. This website is where she gets to share her knowledge and interact with other cat lovers.