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Do you ever feel that pinch of jealousy when your cat chooses to sit on your partner’s lap and not yours?
Or are you the one who basks in all their love and affection while your partner is sulking in a dark corner?
Either way, you’re not alone in this!
Cats are known for picking favorites and they even do it in their sleep.
So why does my cat sleep with me and not my husband? Cats prioritize their safety and comfort, especially when it comes to sleep. They usually favor the partner who provides them with the warmth and comfort they need in order to sleep. This behavior is also known as pet favoritism.
If you’d like to explore more about why your cat sleeps with you and not your husband, or if it’s the other way around, then keep scrolling down for all the answers!
How Do Cats Choose Who To Sleep With?
Before jumping to any conclusions, you should first establish if your kitty is choosing to sleep with you because they like that specific spot. In that case, a simple test of switching bedsides with your partner should make things clear right away. Then again if you find your cat sleeping with you no matter where you sleep, then it might be one of the next reasons or all of them!
Comfort And Safety
It’s common knowledge for most cat parents that their fur-babies need to feel safe in order to sleep. Out in the wilderness, cats are most vulnerable when they’re asleep, that’s why they’ll look for safe and warm places to keep them away from predators. So, their natural instincts play a crucial role in this choice in order to increase their chances of survival.
As their caretakers, our cats rely on us for their food, water, and a clean toilet. In a sense, we could agree that we become something of a parental figure to our kitties. We’re even responsible for the relief of their hunting instincts when we play with them. If you’re not sure then just look at their toys! According to John Bradshaw, author of the Cat Sense, “cats prefer to play with toys that in some way look like prey: They’ve got feathers on them or they’re furry or they’re about the right size for the kind of thing that a cat would safely be able to prey on.”
But it goes further than that. While we take care of their basic needs, we also spend lots of time snuggling with them, petting them. What’s even more extraordinary, according to Suzanne Schötz, a phonetics researcher at the Lund University in Sweden, cat owners even go as far as to create a common language with their cats. So, since good cat parents always try to create a stress-free environment for their kitties it’s only natural that they’ll gravitate to such a person, especially when it comes to sleepy time.
The Warmer The Better
I don’t know if your cats are as crazy about being warm as mine. Both of them love the radiators, during the winter they’re practically glued to them and during summer they’ll sit anywhere where it’s sunny. So, from my personal point of view, most cats love cozy, warm places. They usually love heating pads; wool blankets, sleeping in boxes and they most definitely love your fluffy bed-covers too!
Of course, it’s not only your bed that’s warm, most importantly we humans are a great source of heating for our little rascals. So, don’t be surprised to find your cat snuggling with you for the warmth of your body and they’ll most definitely go for the warmest human, and often times they’ll even sleep on top of them.
While instincts are important there’s also a sentimental reason behind your cat’s favoritism. Contrary to popular belief, cats are perfectly capable of creating bonds. Moreso, this research at Oregon State University showed that cats can form both secure or insecure bonds with their owners, like human babies. They show this attachment by spending a lot of their time and attention on their favorite being and sometimes they might even show signs of being overly attached.
Attachment and fondness play a great role in a cat’s preference. They might prefer one owner to another for the time they spend playing with them on a daily basis. Perhaps one partner is usually away at work, and they don’t have the same opportunity to spend more time with their kitty as their husband or wife. If the kitty was introduced to one partner, later on, they might not have had time to develop a strong bond. All of these play a significant role in who their kitty will become attached to and subsequently with whom they’ll be sleeping.
Why Does My Cat Sleep With Me And Not My Husband?
Since most cats are very picky when it comes to their sleeping spot, this means that they won’t just sleep with anybody. The person a cat chooses to share their most vulnerable moments with must check out many boxes from their requirements list. So, what makes you more special than your partner?
Do You Share A Special Bond?
Most cats tend to bond with their owner and if there are two, there’s a high possibility that one of you will be their favorite human. There are many reasons behind this choice and often times it’s not even a choice but natural gravitation.
If you spend most of your time at home with your kitty while your partner is away, then chances are you’ll be their number one. This usually means that you have more playtime with your cat, you feed them and give them the attention they need. By the time, your partner is back, they might be in less need of attention.
This study by Gourkow et al (2014) has shown that displays of affection keep our cats happy and healthy and sleeping with you might also be the extension of your special bond. Cats that are bonded will oftentimes sleep with each other. Spending the night next to you might also be a way of showing how much they appreciate you caring for them.
But just because your cat chooses to sleep with you and not your partner it doesn’t mean they don’t love them, or that they love them any less. Before feeling neglected or sad, perhaps you should look for the unique ways your cat shows affection to both of you. It might simply manifest in a different way because each parent could satisfy a different kind of need. Some cats might prefer to play with one partner and cuddle and sleep with the other.
Are You Their Safety Net?
As mentioned before a cat’s priority in life is to feel safe and as cat parents, we should always strive to fulfill all their needs. Cats in the wild are capable hunters, but because of their size, they also fall prey to bigger predators. This might be one of the main reasons our little lordlings need constant reassurance that their surroundings are secure.
If you find your kitty spending his sleepy hours perched close to you, this probably means that you offer them the calmness they seek. Just like they do when they spend their day perched on elevated areas. Perhaps your cat views you as the authority of the house and subsequently as the person who could protect them. It doesn’t mean they don’t love your husband or wife; it simply means that they trust you first to keep them safe.
There also might be a possibility that your feline companion isn’t as comfortable around your partner, especially if they’re a shy or a reserved person. It’s always important to keep in mind that with most cats you get what you give, so perhaps your partner should pay more attention to your cat.
Are You Hotter Than Your Partner
As mentioned earlier, cats will usually look for the warmest place to sleep, unless of course, it’s summer. If you’ve been a cat parent long enough, you’ve probably noticed this behavior in your kitty, and if you’re wondering why well the answer is pretty simple. You see, a cat’s normal body temperature can range from 100.5 to 102.5 degrees, which is 2-4 degrees higher than human temperature. So, it makes sense that their need to keep warm is greater than ours.
During the nighttime, there’s no sun to rely on and the temperature usually drops, so it’s not uncommon for a cat to sleep on our beds, especially during the winter. Some cats even sleep beneath blankets, they might sleep on their owner, next to their head, or at the foot of the bed. Cats that seek out extra warmth might also choose to sleep between two partners. But if you’re much warmer than your husband or wife then you’ll probably find your shared kitty snuggling next to you.
Again, it might not be you as much as the spot that suits them. For instance, if you keep a window open during the night, they might not like the draft coming in, and so your spot could be less exposed. If you use a heating pad on your side and not your partner, this could also be the reason why they prefer you. I usually have really cold feet, so my cats prefer to take 80% of all the space above my two cold sticks.
It Is More Practical
There might be a few more practical reasons as to why your cat might prefer to sleep with you and not your partner. Is your husband or wife a restless sleeper? Do they get up in the middle of the night for a glass of water? This might be a good enough reason for a cat to avoid the person who isn’t still when they’re asleep. Similarly, you might be smaller in size than your partner, thus leaving more space for the cat to actually stay by your side.
Because safety is important, your side of the bed might be giving your cat the vantage point they need in order to feel calm. If your side is closer to the door that means your kitty has a direct exit point, this is usually why they choose to sleep at the foot of the bed. So instead of choosing you over your partner, your kitty might be simply strategic.
Cats can express their natural territorial behaviors, like spraying when they’re not neutered, scratching surfaces, and exchanging their scent, and sleeping with you might be one of them. Just like a cat will rub their face against you to share their sent with you, sharing the bed with you might be part of their pack language. If you’ve noticed your cat knead and bite your blanket, then you don’t have to worry, it’s most likely marking it with their sent.
Should You Or Your Partner Sleep With Your Cat?
Whether you’re the partner who gets all the snooze-love or not, it’s important to consider the pros and cons of sharing your bed with your furbaby. There are studies that support this habit and then there are some that suggest otherwise. So, here are a few things that might help you see which option is best for all of you.
Sleeping with your feline companion is a sign that your kitty trusts you. This simple everyday act creates a special bond between you, especially when both of you are vulnerable. According to Brown et. al (2018) and Wells (2009) studies, the participants claimed that sleeping with their pets was beneficial to their mental state. It reduced stress and deepened the sense of companionship. So it comes as no surprise that two-thirds of cat owners share their bed with their lovable furballs.
Furthermore, multiple studies have shown that cuddling with your cat has a positive outcome. Specifically cuddling can release oxytocin, the “I feel happy” hormone, while petting your kitty can also release dopamine and other positive hormones, that promote the feeling of love and bonding. With so much love in the air and your cat’s soothing techniques, you are guaranteed a stress-free sleep.
My favorite part of sleeping with my kitty is his healing sound. That’s right! Your purring kitty is not only expressing his happiness, but he’s also keeping you strong and healthy! So, if your partner is not getting a lot of sleep-attention, whether is by choice or not, then they’re also missing out on the good vibrations.
While the majority of cat owners share their bedroom with their furry companions, some prefer to keep their beds off-limits. John Shepard, M.D., Medical Director of the Mayo Clinic Sleep Disorders Center, supports this decision by suggesting that sleeping with pets could be the reason we’re not getting enough sleep. Light sleepers and especially people who suffer from insomnia are more likely to be disturbed, by their cat’s presence and night activity. So if your partner is one of them, perhaps not sleeping with your cat is a better choice after all.
When I first brought my cat home, I was scared that I’d roll over him in my sleep. This resulted in some anxiety and reduced my quality of sleep. Of course, cats are great at getting away from danger, but still, accidents happen, and it worried me. As it turns out, this kind of stress is quite common and this Australian study from 2014, showed that it actually took longer for pet owners to fall asleep and that they woke up more tired.
Similarly, this study published in 2009 showed that sleeping with pets might lead to sleep disturbance. What’s impressive about these studies though, is that most participants argued that the social support and interaction they got from their pets was far more important and was mentally beneficial.
Lastly, some cat parents keep their bedrooms off-limits because of possible allergies and germs. Because cats tend to shed quite a lot, cat hair and dandruff could cause allergic symptoms to flare up. In order to be safe as much as possible from parasites and germs, don’t forget to give your kitty antiparasitic drugs, even if your cat isn’t allowed outside.
How Can I Change My Cats Sleeping Behavior
If you came this far then we both know that the real question you’ve been dying to ask is, how can you make your cat sleep next to you. I understand how left out a cat parent might feel if the household kitty is constantly snuggling with their partner. No matter how happy we might be to see our two most loved creatures getting along, it still might hurt.
What To Do
The first step should be for you and your partner to work together. One must encourage their partner to spend more time with the cat in order to create a more equal bond. Positive reinforcement with treats and daily playtime are the right way to conquer a feline heart since it targets two of its more primal instincts, hunger, and hunting. Some studies even suggest that “positive reinforcement training with cats is a useful tool for improving the human-animal bond, treating behavior problems, and teaching novel tasks.”
Likewise, you could try using a catnip spray on your partner’s side of the bed. Ramona Turner, a veterinarian explained how catnip can have a strong effect on some cats. By sprinkling some catnip on your partner’s side of the bed you’ll instantly make your kitty feel relaxed and safe.
Try not to overdo it though, or you’ll get one overexcited kitty, just like in this video!
If it’s your husband who struggles to create a connection with your household kitty, then perhaps you should encourage him to alter his voice when he addresses your cat. According to Dr. Uri Burstyn, a veterinarian from Vancouver, British Columbia using a high-frequency tone to call our cats is more effective.
If you had your kitty before you met your partner it might take longer, but you should try to help your cat associate your partner with positive things. In case you adopted the cat together, and you’ve taken all the right steps, but you’re still not their sleeping buddy then please don’t take it too personally. Cats are mysterious individuals and their choices don’t always make sense.
What Not To Do
If both you and your partner want to change the situation around and create equilibrium among you, you should keep in mind that cats won’t do something they don’t want to. If you pressure your kitty don’t be surprised if it completely stops coming to your shared bed.
When it comes to cuddling and being close to your cat, make sure you don’t overdo it. Be observant of your cat’s body language, ears, and meows, because this is how they show us how they feel. Cats developed their vocal skills to communicate with humans, so you should listen carefully to what they tell you. According to John Bradshaw, the director of the Anthrozoology Institute at the University of Bristol in England, “many cats and their owners gradually develop an individual “language” that they both understand but that is not shared by other cats or owners.” We’ve also written an informative article on feline vocalization to help cat parents realize why their cats are meowing back at them.
In case you find that these efforts are putting pressure on your relationship with your partner and your cat, perhaps it’s best you kept your bedroom off-limits. Make sure to provide a great bed replacement to your kitty so it doesn’t feel neglected. This comfy cat bed on Amazon is one of my favorites!
It’s important to treat your kitty as an individual at all times, even when it comes to their sleeping habits. In case you’re your cat’s favorite, then you and your partner should avoid pressuring your kitty to sleep with one or the other.
If on the other hand, you’d prefer to keep your bedroom to yourselves to establish an equilibrium, then make sure you offer your feline companion a good bed alternative.
Sleeping with a cat must be the most wonderful thing in the world, but it should never create jealousy between two owners or cause stress to your kitty. After all, cats are capable of showing their love in so many ways, so why would you concentrate on this one?
Let us know who is your cat’s number one human when it comes to snoozing.
Did you manage to turn the tables or are you promoting complete equality?