The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that half of US pet owners allow pets to sleep in their bed with them. As for the owners of cats, then most likely this figure reaches almost 100%. A rare owner will be able to convince a furry creature to leave his bed and be content with a rug at the doorstep. MedAboutMe found out if it is worth letting a cat sleep with a person and when it should definitely not be?
When should a cat sleep alone?
Hygiene issues (dirty paws or wool, etc.) in relation to cats usually do not arise. These are clean animals, and if filler components are found in your bed, then you should choose another one, and not scold the cat. But the issues of allergies and sleep quality associated with a cat in bed should be analyzed in more detail.
A cat should not be on a person’s bed if he is allergic to cat hair, or rather, to cat dander proteins that remain on the hair. Cat allergens are quite sticky and can remain on sofas and beds for months, even after the animal has left the house. Therefore, if there is an allergic person in the house, it is generally better not to allow a cat into his bedroom.
There is a popular myth that hairless cats — sphinxes — are hypoallergenic. But it’s not. As mentioned above, the cause of allergies is not the wool itself, but the proteins that are produced by skin cells. So hypoallergenic cats are a fairy tale.
- Sleep disorders
Cats are nocturnal animals. The peak of activity of many of them falls on the sleep time of their owners. And not all cats know how not to disturb the last one to sleep — in a fit of playful mood, a cat can start biting, scratching “his” person, and “hide and seek” under the covers. Constant trampling, changing positions, walking on the bed and on the body of a sleeping person — all this can ruin a dream in order. Many cats like to wake up their owners at 4 am. And if the animal has the opportunity to sleep off during the day, then its owners may not succeed. Therefore, if a person already suffers from problems with falling asleep, if he has frequent insomnia and poor sleep, it is better not to let the cat on the bed.
In 2015, doctors at the Mayo Clinic’s Center for Sleep Medicine published a study showing that one in five pet owners complained that their pet was disturbing their sleep. True, 41% of survey participants claimed the opposite, saying that they sleep best with their pet at their side.
Cats that have access to the outdoors are very often a source of fleas. Recall that fleas do not live on people — we are too cold for them and we do not have thick hair. But cat fleas can bite people. Flea saliva can also be an allergen — in this case, itching can be felt at the bite site for quite a long time, and with numerous bites, allergic flea dermatitis can even develop.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, it should be recalled that cats can carry the SARS-CoV‑2 coronavirus on their fur, as well as become infected with this very human coronavirus and spread it — both among cats and, it seems, also among people. Thus, Chinese scientists reported that 15% of hundreds of accidentally caught cats had antibodies to SARS-CoV‑2, and the highest antibody titers were found just in domestic cats whose owners were infected with the coronavirus.
Cat in a crib
Cats can be wonderful guardians of small children, but in no case should they be allowed to sleep together. Cases when a baby dies, suffocating under a cat sleeping on it, alas, are not uncommon — you can verify this by opening the Internet. Cats can also be attracted to the stroller-cradle in which the child sleeps — they also need to be expelled from there.
In addition, a restless sleeping child can frighten a dozing cat — and there is no guarantee that the animal will not scratch him awake, which can lead to the development of cat scratch disease — bartonellosis. This infectious disease is caused by intracellular bacteria Bartonella (Bartonella) and manifests itself in the form of damage to the lymph nodes with subsequent complications.
Finally, cats walking on their own on the street pose a danger to a newborn child, as a source of helminths. Therefore, a cat in a baby’s crib can cause a parasitic infection. The same goes for ringworm. Babies, with their nascent immune systems, are too vulnerable to a variety of feline infections, so there should be no animals in the crib.
An important point: a sick cat does not belong in a bed, even if before that she always slept with her owners. Skin rashes, sneezing, coughing, vomiting, diarrhea — all these symptoms are a reason to go to the vet and temporarily evict the cat from the bed. Hands after contact with the pet must be washed. Some feline diseases can also spread to humans.
Why is a cat in bed good for health?
But if the owners do not have allergies, and the cat does not particularly like night walks and does not “squeeze out” a sleeping place, then co-sleeping can bring a lot of benefits.
The rhythmic breathing of a cat, the warmth of her body and, of course, the purr soothe, relieve stress and set you up for sleep. It is not uncommon for people to report that a cat on a pillow protects them from nightmares and reduces anxiety.
By the way, according to Australian scientists, cat owners have a stronger mentality and are generally more psychologically healthy, happy and calm than those who do not have cats. Cat owners are even less likely to die from heart attacks, even after controlling for other factors such as blood pressure, cholesterol, smoking, and body mass index.
Felinologists (cat experts) give some tips on how to train an animal to sleep in a different place:
- Use catnip or other treats to attract your cat to a cozy bed, hutch, or chair.
- Wait until the cat enters a new place and sits there, then give a treat and caress.
- Periodically leave a treat in a new place so that the cat wants to visit there.