One of the perks of sharing your home with a kitty is that you get to share your bed with them. They are gloriously warm on a cold night and a contented purr on your chest is a sure way to fall asleep with a smile on your face.
Some cat owner s do not seem to get to partake in this loving nightly ritual because their four-legged friend prefers a different spot to occupy, or person to drift off with.
If that scenario sounds like you, and your pillow is missing your little ball of fur, do not take it personally. You are not unloved and there are reasons your cat chooses certain spots to sleep. There are also things you can do to make your bed a more appealing crash pad.
So, why is it that cats prefer the company of one person over another? To really understand the reasoning behind what your cat does, you have to delve into the behavioral patterns and psyche of the mysterious cat.
Ingrained instincts- Why cats sleep where they do
We have all heard the term “cat nap,” but what does that have to do with anything? PetMD states that of the 24 hours in a day, a cat will spend 15 to 20 of them asleep.
Cats have retained that instinctual internal clock that tells them to hunt during twilight and dusk. A cat nap refers to the fact that most of the time they are engaged in a light sleep so that at any given moment they can pop up to take out a meal time opportunity.
To help keep them protected, a wild cat will sleep higher off the ground or in tight places that offer shelter and makes them feel more secure.
That is why you will often find your kitty sleeping on the highest level of their cat tree or squeezed behind your warm dryer.
These facts bring to light a possibility that they do not prefer your bed because it does not hold that sense of security. How do you fix that?
If not my bed, Why someone else’s?
Why is your bed not the perfect napping spot but your child’s bed in the next room is? Marilyn Krieger, Certified Cat Behavior Consultant says that though cats are independent creatures, they often do pick a favorite human.
The person a cat will choose to sleep with tends to be the person who spends time bonding by playing and feeding them. Other cats choose a person who makes them feel safe. This is particularly true for cats who are more skittish.
Reading your kitty’s cues
To help you begin to form a better bond with your feline, keep an eye out for cues. In this YouTube video, you can see some of the body language cats use to communicate.
Cats show affection by purring, snuggling, and staying near you. They will often use these affectionate cues to try to get something from you like a chin scratch or a kitty treat.
If you are the one recognizing those cues and appropriately appeasing their desires, it would make sense that they would choose you to be their BFF.
Patience is a virtue
That saying is often even more appropriate when you are referring to a cat. Creating a sense of open communication will take time as will the bond that results from it.
Many owners get impatient and frustrated during the process and overstep an important kitty line- permission.
That means that you need to interact with your cat on their terms. They will give you different indications that they want affection from you.
Cornering a cat to pet it can cause them to feel anxious and trapped which is not your intention. Handling them when they do not want to be handled can cause them to avoid you so they can avoid unwanted interaction.
Instead of forcing your cat to interact with you, give them space and try to get them to come to you. Get down to your cat’s level and stretch your hand towards them.
According to Abigail Geer, the co-founder of Mino Valley Farm Sanctuary, a cat feels less threatened when you are at a lower eye-level. When a cat begins to feel secure around you, they will come to sniff your hand and even initiate a cheek rub.
More ways to build trust with your cat
A way to a cat’s heart is through its stomach. Just think about it. Food is a necessity and if you are the one supplying it, you can’t be all that bad, can you?
Samantha Bell DiGenova, Cat Behavior and Enrichment Lead for Best Friends in Los Angeles, explains that cats will often bond to their provider so try to be the one that sets out the meals and make sure they see you doing it.
Add a few treats during your socialization sessions and your bed will be a shoo-in for the favorite place to sleep award in no time.
The diversity of feline personalities
Cat’s personalities are as diverse as human ones. It is your responsibility as a cat owner to pick up on your cat’s individuality.
Maybe you have a snuggler who is easy-going. Or, maybe your cat likes to play hunter and gets a little wild over a game of catch the feather wand.
Once you identify the personality you are living with, the sooner you will realize what boundaries you cat may have. For example, some cats love a good scratch under their chin but try and give them a tummy rub and face the consequences.
Other cats may prefer long strokes down their back while others do not find it so comforting.
Getting used to these preferences so that you can avoid the ones that bother your furry friend will help solidify your bond.
Now they will know that if they find a snuggle spot next to you in bed, they do not have to worry about that annoying thing you did that one time.
Your bed is prime real estate
That is what you have to get your pet to realize. How exactly do you do that? Once you have built up your positive repertoire with your cat, try to offer your bed as a safe and comfortable place that they are allowed to sleep on.
Create a space for them. You can do this by placing a blanket they like to fall asleep on onto their designated area on your bed.
Pick your cat up and gently place them in their area. Offer them a treat or a loving caress to encourage them to take a look around.
If they choose to run off, it is ok because you have opened the door to their curiosity and they will likely check it out later when you are not looking. So, just let them run off for now.
After they check out the spot on their own, they will become more accustomed and it will be a more comfortable and safe option. Do not be surprised if after a few nights there is a much awaited nightly visitor nestled next to you.
That purrfect love at long last
Cats may give off that aloof attitude typical of the creature. They follow the beat of their own drum and come with oodles of personality.
They won’t always do what you want or come when you call. That does not mean they cannot love or do not want to be loved.
When you invest the time in your companion and the day comes that they choose you, it will have been worth the wait and the effort will only have made your bond that much stronger.
You will have a cat who seeks you out for a good head-butt or sideline your important paper by flopping on your keyboard for attention.
Only then will you have a slumber buddy to keep your blankets and your heart full of warmth.