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Should I Let My Cat Sleep with Me?

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Should I Let My Cat Sleep with Me?

Most cat owners wake up in the morning to a face covered in fur, or if required have your cat wake you up every morning. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that about half of pet owners (mostly dog or cat owners) allow their animals to sleep in their bedrooms.

Ever since humans began domesticating cats, animal lovers have asked whether they should let their pets sleep in beds. As a child, I watched countless cartoons in which dogs slept outside in kennels, or cats slept next to their owners’ closed bedroom doors. However, I let my cat sleep on my bed today.

But whether sleeping with your cat is controversial to you, this age-old debate has raised some important health questions and concerns. So, let’s look at both sides of the argument and settle this issue once and for all.


What are the potential disadvantages of your cat sleeping in your bed?

According to the National Library of Medicine, letting your cat sleep in your bed is safe for most adults! But there are some things you should pay attention to:

Parasites and bacteria from sleeping with cats

If your cat is an outdoor cat, or you let your indoor cat spend a short amount of time outside, they are likely to be infected with a parasite called Toxoplasma gondii. Humans are most susceptible to this parasite when they cuddle up to cats while sleeping.

When infected, this parasite can cause an infection called toxoplasmosis, which can cause headaches, chills, fever, and even neurological problems. People with compromised immune systems are especially at risk.

To avoid catching this infection from your feline friend, it's best to practice healthy cleaning habits after every outdoor activity. Make sure to wipe down your cat's paws, sanitary areas, and any open wounds or skin breaks.


Allergies caused by sleeping with cats

If you are severely allergic to cats and/or cat dander, sleeping next to a cat all night can be very uncomfortable. My sister, gosh, is super allergic to pet dander but still sleeps with our cat, Cosmo, because she loves him. But no matter how much she wished her symptoms would "go away" or "get better over time," she still wheezed and sneezed throughout the night.

Sleeping with cats can lead to poor sleep quality

Finally, letting your cat sleep with you can reduce your overall sleep quality, which can affect your daily functioning. Using data from the Swedish Heart and Lung Bioimaging Study, scientists have found that cats' crepuscular behavior (i.e. they are primarily active at dawn and dusk) may disrupt their owners' sleep.

What are the benefits of sleeping with your cat?

Now that we've discussed some of the health risks of sleeping with cats, let's look at the benefits as well - because in my opinion, they mostly outweigh the cons.

mental health benefits

One of the most common treatments for people with mental health issues is behavior management. For example, assigning a therapy cat or dog to a person suffering from depression can significantly reduce episodes of depression. Individually tailored interventions, such as letting your cat sleep with you when you feel anxious or sad, have been shown to improve overall mood in people with depression.


The structure created by sleeping with your cat

The biggest benefit of letting your cat sleep with you is purely that it creates a consistent schedule. Ever since I let my cat sleep with me, he knows exactly when it's time to go to sleep and when it's time to wake up. This greatly reduces the number of times he wakes up at night - and the number of times I wake up because of it.

So, would you let your cat sleep in your bed?

Before you blindly say yes, be sure to consider your personal health risks (especially if you're immunocompromised or have severe allergies). My personal advice is that if you absolutely cannot kick your cat out of bed at night because they feel too bad, then train them to sleep next to your bed. This way they are off your chest instead of next to your head or resting on your legs. This will prevent you from eating too much pet dander, and you won't be in direct contact with your cat's body.

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