Why Do Cats Sleep at the Foot of the Bed?

Why Do Cats Sleep at the Foot of the Bed

You remember sleeping with the cat beside you. But now that you have woken in the middle of the night to get a drink, your pet is nowhere to be found. After a quick check of the room, you find him curled up at the foot of the bed. This is not the first time he did that.

Why your cat sleeps at the foot of the bed?

Cats sleep at the foot of the bed for various reasons, ranging from instinct to comfort and temperature control.

You have given your cat practically free rein of the whole house. And he knows he can sleep on your bed. In fact, you encourage him to sleep beside you.

But no matter what you do, he moves down to the bed’s lower area. And when you wake up, he has transferred himself near the headboard.

Here are a few reasons why your feline keeps on moving to the bed’s foot no matter where you put him on the bed.

Survival instincts

While your pet will develop close bonds with all members of your household, he forms a strong affinity toward the person who usually cares for him in the form of providing him food and water.

And even though felines show it differently, they are affectionate and protective creatures, especially to the people who care for them.

One way cats manifest their affection to their humans is to sleep near them. This gives a cat a sense of security and safety, knowing that he is near the person he cares for the most.

But despite all of these, your cat will not sleep beside you for a variety of reasons. One of these reasons is his survival instincts.

Simply put, your cat stays at the foot of the bed because it is the area that can provide him with the highest chance of escape if the need arises.

If he sleeps beside you, there is the possibility that his movement will be restricted by blankets or human limbs.

Territorial instincts

Cats are territorial by nature. And one of the ways these instincts manifest themselves is by sleeping close to their humans.

These instincts kick at the moment you bring your pet home, whether you bought him as a kitten from a breeder or if you took him from a shelter as an adult.

The moment he enters your home, he begins to take note of every nook and cranny of his tiny kingdom. He will investigate each corner, including all the contents of your home, humans included.

When your cat sleeps on your bed, he is making sure that he is protecting his territory, including its inhabitants – you.

But again, your cat will not sleep beside you. Rather, he picks a spot beneath your feet because it is the most sensible to him, from a security perspective.

Protecting his humans

Your cat may not show it often or show it in ways that are easy for people to understand, but your cat cares for you.

One of the ways that felines show their love for their humans is by sleeping close by. Innately, cats understand that creatures are at their most vulnerable when they are vulnerable. And at your most vulnerable moments, your cat wants to be there to watch over you.

And it goes both ways too. Your cat feels safer and more secure knowing that you are beside him when he is getting some shut-eye. 

More real estate

No matter where you place your cat on your bed, it is inevitable that he will move down to the foot of the bed.

One reason behind that is because that area has the least amount of disturbance.

If you observe a person take just a few minutes’ worth of nap, you will instantly notice that person moving around several times, making adjustments on the pillows or blanket. Nobody lies still while sleeping.

And your cat knows that. The moment you fidget in bed, your cat awakens. He understands that if he wants to get continuous sleep, he will have to move to an area where he can lie with the least amount of disturbance.

Apart from that, the foot of the bed is the space where there is a minimal amount of clutter. Most likely, its surface will also be the flattest because the pillows and blankets are mostly located on the bed’s upper half.

Most cats prefer sleeping on flat surfaces. And when these are not available, they can make do by adjusting these surfaces by kneading these into their liking.

Door visibility

Although cats are classified as predators, their small size also makes them prey for larger creatures. This is one reason why domestic cats are such sticklers for security.

Another way cats ensure their safety is being aware of all possible exit points in a room. And more often than not, the only exit point in a bedroom is the door.

Most bedrooms are arranged in such a way that the bed’s foot is nearest to the door. And for your cat, this is the perfect area to sleep. On one hand, they can sleep close to you. And on the other hand, the exit point is within their range of sight at all times during the night.

Night vision

Many people believe that cats can see in the dark. The reality is that felines cannot see in complete darkness. However, due to evolution, cats can see in low light conditions, much better than humans can.

Another misconception held by some cat owners is the idea that cats are nocturnal creatures. The truth is, cats are most active during dawn and dusk. 

Rarely do felines sleep throughout the night. Instead, they pattern their sleep after their humans. However, many cats wake up in the middle of the night, to play, use the litter box, or drink some water.

And because of these, your cat wants to move freely without making as much fuss. For that, the foot of the bed is the most strategic location to sleep.

Why your cat moves from the foot of the bed to your head

Initially, your cat may sleep beneath your foot. But it is not uncommon for humans to wake up with their kitties positioned over their heads.

Cats like to sleep next to their owners because they want to feel warm and comfy. However, they do not want to sleep beside you because they do not like to be restricted by blankets, pillows, and human limbs. That is why they prefer sleeping at the foot of the bed.

But as the night progresses, the temperature can get colder. As such, your pet may move closer to you, especially near your head.

While it may seem sensible to sleep next to your body’s trunk where the warmest parts of your body are located, the area near your head is the best place to sleep because your cat gets the best of both worlds: little disturbance and warmth.

How to make sleep time better for you and your cat

Cats are crepuscular. That means that they are most active during dusk and dawn. 

Furthermore, felines can sleep as much as 16 hours a day, although not continuously. Instead, cats cycle through waking and sleeping during those hours, pretty much like how an infant sleeps. Humans, on the other hand, sleep straight at an average of eight hours per day.

Additionally, your cat may be awake while you are sleeping or he may take over a sizable portion of your bed.

While all of these may seem to create a problem between you and your pet, you can train your pet to sync his sleep pattern close to yours and prevent potential problems that can cause sleep disruption. 

Minimizing your cat’s bedtime disruptions

Some cats lie quietly throughout the night while others go on night-time adventures while you lie in bed.

Here are a few tips to help your cat minimize his mischief while you are getting a good night’s rest1

1. Tire him out.

A couple of hours before going to bed, you should play vigorously with your pet. This will tire him out and release his pent up energies. 

Over time, as you ingrain this habit in him, he will be able to sleep longer and minimize the chances of him distracting you while you are sleeping.

Make sure that you give him a snack before you go to your bedroom.

2. Invest in an automatic cat feeder.

Some cats wake up in the middle of the night because they are hungry. Often, this leads to felines disturbing their masters just to sate their hunger.

You can overcome this issue by investing in an automatic cat feeder. When your cat wakes up hungry, he can just go to the feeder, leaving you blissfully asleep.

3. Install a cat perch

Your cat may wake up in the middle of the night to survey his territory. To prevent him from disturbing you while you are asleep, you can install a cat perch, preferably near your bed or a window.

This will allow him to have a great view of your bedroom while you go on sleeping. If he gets sleepy again, he can hop on back to your bed or stay on the perch.

4. Bring a few cat toys inside the room.

If your cat wakes up in the middle of the night and cannot go back to sleep, it is likely he will get bored and wake you up for a few minutes of playtime.

You can prevent that from happening by bringing a few toys inside your bedroom. Make sure that the toys you choose are not noisy. You also have to embrace the idea that your cat will create a bit of a mess. That is a great tradeoff to consider if you want to get long hours of continuous sleep.

5. Adopt another cat

If you have the resources and you are ready for the added responsibility, you might want to consider getting another cat to keep your feline company, even during bedtime.

Another cat can deflect some of your cat’s need for attention or even boredom.

However, you need to be aware that some breeds are solitary and prefer living in a one cat household. Ignore this and you might deal with issues related to protecting territory.

Finding a spot for your cat inside your bedroom

One of the first things that you need to decide on even before you bring a cat home is picking a spot where he will sleep. Some cat owners love sleeping beside or near their felines while others maintain their bedrooms as a cat-free zone.

If you do decide to allow your cat to sleep inside your bedroom, there are a few sleeping options that you can consider for your furry little pal.

1. Cat bed

Cat beds come in an assortment of sizes, shapes, and materials. But no matter what configuration you choose for your pet, you need to keep his bed clean. 

Cats are fastidious creatures and they will not sleep on a dirty bed. Instead, they will sleep elsewhere, usually their human’s bed.

You may even want to invest in more than one cat bed. Cats like to sleep in different places, even during one night. This will give him added options, especially during times when the temperature is too cold or too hot.

2. Uncommon sleeping areas

You can spend an inordinate amount of money toward the best cat bed available in the market and your pet can still ignore it and sleep elsewhere. That is one of your pet’s quirks.

Cats have been known to fall asleep in unconventional sleeping spots like on top of a coat, a pile of fresh laundry, or even a big pack of tissues. 

Whatever may be the reason behind this behavior, your only recourse is to give him that object as his new bed.

3. Your bed

A lot of cat owners prefer sleeping with their pets beside them. That is not much of an issue if it is only you and your cat are sleeping on the bed.

Trouble arises when another person shares the bed with you and your cat. Your sleeping partner may find it difficult to get a good night’s rest because you or your cat have taken most of the space.

The simplest way to overcome this is to apportion a space on the bed, usually the foot of the bed, where your cat can sleep on.

Cat-free zone

Other cat owners prefer keeping their pets away from the bedroom while they sleep. Some people do so because of allergies while others cannot cope with a raucous feline playing in the middle of the night.

Whatever your reason may be, you cannot just shut the bedroom door. Your cat will make himself noticed and heard until you open the door.

Instead of closing the bedroom door, the better option would be to install two baby gates which allows your cat to see while deterring him from entering the room.

You can place a few toys, some food, and water near the bedroom door to keep him occupied while you rest for the night.

Let your cat sleep at the foot of the bed

Whatever your cat’s reason may be for sleeping at the foot of your bed, just let him be. It is just his way of showing his affection for you. If you follow the tips listed above, you and your cat will get a good night’s rest without disturbing one another too much.

Image: istockphoto.com / Kate Klim