We all have a particular place to sleep in at night. We feel comfortable, secure and sleep better in such a place. Most of the time, it is our bed in our bedroom. What about cats ? Where do they like to sleep ? Most cat owners would say ‘at the foot of my bed!’ So, why do cats sleep at the foot of the bed? Let us find out the reason for this strange but cute (and sometimes annoying!) behavior of cats.
Natural survival instinct
Cats tend to sleep up to about 16 hours a day and so will eventually choose a favorite place where they will feel most secure. This is part of their natural survival instinct, which still applies to domesticated kitties. They have not forgotten their ancestors’ habits! The foot of most beds is close to the door of the bedroom. Being able to see the main entry and exit point of the room makes cats more secure, since this location provides the greatest chance of escape in an emergency. They also know they are most vulnerable while sleeping. So, being close to someone they love helps them feel more safe. They also do not want to be rolled in the middle or be entangled in blankets from which they cannot escape. Not a very pleasant experience!
Protective of you
Cats also feel protective of their owners who provide them food and water, clean their litter box, love them and take care of them in general. They can wake up their owners if they sense any threats or dangers. Sometimes cats sleep right on the feet of their owners. This is their way of sharing their affection and trust to their owners. Although it can feel annoying and restrictive, try to take it positively as a compliment from your feline friend!
If you do not like your cat sleeping on your feet, try moving your feet every time your cat sleeps on them. Since cats do not like being shuffled when they are asleep, they will soon stop sleeping on your feet. You can also try to fool them by placing a pillow or rolled up blanket near your feet. Nevertheless, most cats will cleverly figure this out and come back onto your feet! Cats also tend to choose a person if a couple shares the bed. They sleep near this person. The person who hands out their food and fusses over more will be this person. Do not take it personally though!
Territoriality and possessiveness
Cats can also be territorial and possessive animals. They need to know what is happening at all times. This is why kittens are extra curious and seemingly bump into objects or push their paws against their favorite spots as a way of marking space as safe or secure. They mark their territory by sleeping close to their owners. Their home is their territory and they protect the stuff in it as well as the people. Therefore, they choose to sleep near the owner’s head, by the side, at the feet and by the person, they prefer. It is as if the cat owns you and is actually allowing you to sleep with it! A recognizable smell is another way of marking someone as family or safe. This is also another reason cats sleep close to or on their owners.
No one likes to be disturbed when they are asleep! The same goes with cats. Most cats are generally considered to be lazy and naturally hate being disturbed when they are asleep. Cats being intelligent creatures know that when they sleep at the bottom of the bed they will get less disturbed than at the top. However, some people tend to fidget a lot when asleep or have a disorder known as Restless leg syndrome. In such cases, the cat will prefer to lie on top of the bed. It is also sensible to sleep at the foot of the bed since the torso of a human is heavier and hence avoid crushing! In addition, hands moving about at night will not be good for a good night’s sleep.
The foot of the bed has more space when compared to the top of the bed. Some peoples’ feet do not even touch the bottom of the bed. So, there is a bit of space between the cat and owner. The cat has more space to stretch or curl up as they wish, while still being in contact with their owner. Cats tend to knead the place they sleep. The bed is larger and so has more space for this kneading. The foot of the bed is also tidier and has neat, flat surfaces and spaces of soft bedding to lie on.
Cats can also be using humans as a warm blanket! Human body generates a lot of heat even when sleeping. Soft sheets and blankets on the bed add to this warmth. The center of the human body is warmer than the legs and arms. This is because important body processes like respiration, digestion and circulation of blood through the heart occur in these areas. Although cats love to cuddle up to a warm body, they do not want to overheat.
Sleeping near the feet of their owners help cats to get warmer and closer to the owner without getting too hot, uncomfortable and waking up. Heat escapes from the top of a human head. It is not a surprise to find cats near the owners’ head during the night if they needed a little extra warmth! Hence, it is common to find cats asleep by the owners’ feet at night and their heads in the morning. All this depends on the temperature changes and what temperature a particular cat snoozes best at.
Cats and kitties have a sharp night vision and are very much active at dawn and dusk. Many cats do not sleep right throughout the night, although they might nap a bit when their owner sleeps. Many cats are active during parts of the night, even waking up family members during their night activities. They roam around the house in the middle of the night in complete darkness due to their night vision, keeping a watch over the house. Cats can engage in their night activities without waking or disturbing their owners’ sleep if they sleep at the foot of the bed. They can also guard over their owner in addition to getting a sip of water or using the litter box. Cats also like to maintain a routine. A stronger routine can be built up when the owner and cat sleep alongside each other.
What does a cat’s sleeping position say ?
A cat’s sleeping position can say a lot about the cat. When a cat curls up and tucks the face between its paws and tail, do not disturb! If you do, the cat will poke you with its talons or scratch you if you try to pet it or wake it.
When a cat sleeps on their backs with the belly up it is a sign that the cat fully trusts the owner but feels the need to test it. However much adorable a cat resting on its belly looks, it should not be patted or tickled on the belly, since it may jump up and scratch. A cat stretched out on its side is the most relaxed and feels completely safe in its environment. Cats get a deep sleep in this position. If a cat is twitching, it should not be disturbed, since it is having a catnap, similar to REM sleep in humans.
Training cats to a cat bed
If you are uncomfortable having your cat sleep on your bed, train your cat to sleep in a sleeping basket or a cat bed or even a cat tree. These can be bought at certain pet stores or even online. Be sure to select the one that most suits your cat, also make sure these are comfortable, and warm enough. You can add a blanket if necessary. The cat basket or bed can be placed near the door so that it does not mess with their exit plan in case of danger.
The training should begin from the day the cat is brought home. Do not confuse it by making it sleep on your bed on one day and its basket the next. Stick to a training schedule. The owner should be far more disciplined in this venture than the cat! Some of the cat’s favorite treats can be placed in the basket to attract the cat to sleep in it.
So, now we know why cats sleep at the foot of the bed! To summarize, cats sleep at the foot of the bed for
- More space
- Less disturbance
- Sure security
- Ample warmth
- Easy roaming
- To maintain a routine
- Most importantly , to be close to the person they love and protect him or her in case of danger.
We need to think in the cat’s perspective to understand this sleeping behavior. A cat trusting its owner and wanting to stay close to them is the true meaning of this habit. Next time your cat sleeps on your bed, remember, it loves and cares about you!
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