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Home > Cats > 8 Benefits of Sleeping with Your Cat: Scientific Reasons to Cuddle Up

8 Benefits of Sleeping with Your Cat: Scientific Reasons to Cuddle Up

a young woman with cute cat sleeping in bed

Most animal lovers can’t get over how soothing and special it is when an animal chooses you to cuddle with. If you’re a cat owner, it feels even more special to have your cat cuddling with you while you sleep. There’s just something so calming about waking up with the warm, cozy body of your cat cuddled against you.

Are there any benefits of sleeping with your cat, though? Whether your cat shares your bed at night or likes to join you for a nap on the couch, here’s what you should know.


The 8 Benefits of Sleeping With Your Cat

1. Mental Health Support

Sharing a bed with a pet has been linked to multiple mental health benefits for people. Owning a pet has shown a positive link to a reduction in the symptoms of disorders like anxiety and depression. Having your cat as a bedmate may enhance the positive effects of pet ownership by further improving mental health.

Studies have shown that interacting with a pet can support our hormone levels by increasing oxytocin production and release in adults, which is the hormone often associated with happiness and bonding, and decreasing cortisol levels in children, which is the hormone associated with stress. High cortisol levels can lead to poor sleep, anxiety, fatigue, weight gain, irritability, headaches, and other unpleasant and unhealthy symptoms.

woman hugging a cat in bed
Image Credit: Trusova Evgeniya, Shutterstock

2. Physical Security

There’s just something about the presence of a pet or person in your room at night that can be very calming and provide an enhanced feeling of security and safety. Even for people who aren’t afraid of the dark, the presence of a pet can be relaxing and make the space feel safer and happier.

If your cat sleeps in the bed with you, their presence can help you feel safer, even if you don’t believe that your cat would provide you any protection or assistance in an emergency. All it takes is their presence to help you feel safer and being able to feel them close to you can improve this positive feeling.

This one goes both ways, too. Sharing a bed with a pet can help them to feel safer in their environment, and it may even allow your cat to get better sleep by increasing their feelings of safety and security in their home.

3. Stress Reduction

As previously mentioned, pets have shown an ability to reduce cortisol levels, especially in children. However, this isn’t the only way your cat can reduce your stress levels. Having your cat sleep in bed with you can not only reduce your stress levels in the moment, but also in the long run.

While your cat can reduce your stress levels related to things like anxiety, depression, PTSD, and fear, it can also reduce your overall stress levels related to general life stressors. The presence of pets has been shown to help support calmness and reduce generalized stress and sharing a bed with your cat is likely to enhance these positive effects.

Woman petting her lovely fluffy cute cat
Image Credit: Creative Cat Studio, Shutterstock

4. Support Health

Sleeping with your cat can help support your health in multiple ways. One way is that the presence of pets increases the number of pathogens you come into contact with, which can provide a boost to your immune system if you aren’t immunocompromised.

The purring of cats has also shown a potential link to supporting healing, especially with muscle and bone injuries, so falling asleep to a purring cat on you may provide some physical healing. You may also experience positive physiologic effects, like a reduction in your baseline blood pressure and heart rate when you have a pet, and sharing a bed with your pet may better support these benefits.

5. Improved Sleep Benefits 

Some studies have shown that people who share a bed with a pet are less likely to take sleep aids and may get a more restful and relaxing sleep. This can support your physical and mental health, as well as ensure you receive the full benefits of a good night’s sleep, like mental acuity and improved mood.

This may not be applicable if your pet is noisy, tosses and turns, or is frequently up and down all night. Being awoken multiple times per night can prevent your body from entering all stages of sleep, which can decrease restfulness, increase irritability, and decrease overall health, so you’ll need to take this on a case-by-case basis based on your cat’s sleep habits.

man is sleeping with a cat on a bed
Image Credit: NancyP5, Shutterstock

6. Reduction of Stroke and Heart Attack Risk

Do you know what a reduction in stress, blood pressure, and heart rate can do? These things can reduce your risk of stroke and heart attack, as well as support your general cardiovascular health.

There are multiple factors that go into causing strokes and heart attacks, so sleeping with your cat isn’t a guaranteed way to prevent these things from occurring. Sleeping with a pet has shown the ability to reduce these risks, though. One 10-year study showed a 30% lower risk of death from a heart attack for cat owners versus people who don’t own cats.

7. Decreased Loneliness

Loneliness is a real problem for many people and there are multiple factors that can cause or worsen loneliness, like the loss of a partner, estrangement from family, and even working from home. In a post-COVID world, many people have found themselves feeling lonelier than they did before the pandemic began, and some people turned to adopting a pet to help with these unpleasant feelings.

The presence of a pet reduces overall feelings of loneliness, so it is very likely that sharing a bed with your cat will further decrease any feelings of loneliness by providing you with companionship, even while you sleep. Having a cat that is even willing to sleep in bed with you can have a positive effect on your feelings of loneliness.

Man in white pajamas was awakened by beloved cat, who lay sleeping on chest
Image Credit: Koldunov Alexey, Shutterstock

8. Improved Bonding

Sharing a bed with your cat isn’t just beneficial for you. If your cat is bonded to you, sleeping with you can increase their bonded feelings towards you. Obviously, this will also increase your feelings of bonding and affection toward your cat. Some cats that are slow to warm up to their owners may choose to sleep nearby, or even in the bed, in an attempt to support bonding and feelings of safety.

Ideally, you shouldn’t be forcing your cat to sleep in your bed. If your cat wants to sleep with you, they will. Forcing them to cuddle or sleep in your bed can have the opposite effect, causing your cat to distrust you.


The Risks of Sleeping with Your Cat

There are a handful of risks associated with sleeping with your cat, but the most serious is the risk of pathogen exposure. While exposure to some pathogens can improve your immune system, they can be detrimental to the health of people who are immunocompromised, as well as very young and very old people.

In some cases, pets have introduced serious zoonotic infections, like the plague, Chagas disease, cat-scratch disease, and Pasteurella infections through bed sharing with people.

Sharing a bed with your cat can also pose risks if you have asthma or severe allergies. The constant presence of dander, even while sleeping, can increase the risk of allergic reactions. It can also increase the risk of developing allergies to your cat or things they may bring into the bed, like their litter and grasses.

If you’re trying to share your bed with a cat that is up and down all night, you’re experiencing “micro awakenings” multiple times per night. When these occur, they interrupt your natural sleep cycle, making it more difficult for your body to get proper rest. This can lead to an increase in cortisol levels and the risk of major medical events, like heart attacks and strokes. Also, the higher your cortisol levels are, the harder it will become for you to get restful sleep.



Sharing a bed with your cat has a variety of benefits for you, but there are also some risks that should be weighed before allowing your cat to sleep with you. For many people, the benefits of pet ownership are fully achieved without having to share a bed with their pet. Sleeping with your cat may improve your bonding, though, and can provide a stronger feeling of safety and security for both of you.

Featured Image Credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock

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