Sharing A Bed With Your Cat And Dog

Sleeping Dog

Does someone hog all the blankets at night? Do you hear growls or hisses whenever you make the slightest move in bed? Are you only allotted an inch of space to lie on? Ever feel that there is a presence just staring at you in the middle of the night? Wake up with bite or scratch marks? Is your sleep disturbed because your lungs are crushed by a furry animal and you can’t breathe? Do you feel that your bed is simply not yours anymore? Well, my friend, admit it, your pet is the new king of the bed.

Many of us pet owners sleep with our furry friends. They share our pillow, snuggle under the blankets with us, and snore alongside our heads.

A survey from the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association concluded that about 62 percent of American dog and cat owners keep their animals in the house at night. Of that 62%, half of the cats and one-third of the dogs sleep with their owners on the same bed.

Many would ask why would we let our feline and canine friends share our treasured bed. Everyone has their own reason, but some say they feel more relaxed when their pet sleeps with them. Many pet owners feel such a strong bond with their pets and just as children sleep with their parents, pets sleep with their owners. Also pets are a quick fix to a cold bed. Use their body heat to warm up. (They especially make good feet warmers.)

But many critics say that pets shouldn’t sleep with their owners. One dog trainer says that a dog in bed is “a sign the dog is completely in charge. Get the dog off your bed. It can make a bigger difference than anyone can imagine.” How To Be Your Dog’s Best Friend, the dog obedience manual by the Monks of New Skete, recommends that dogs sleep on the floor in your bedroom instead of in your bed.

A study was done at the Mayo Clinic Sleep Disorders Center with 300 patients. It was observed that many people with sleep problems were sharing their bedrooms with their cats and dogs. The study found the following:

  • 157 of 300 patients (52 percent) had one or more pets, primarily cats and dogs.
  • Nearly 60 percent of the patients with pets slept with their pets in the bedroom. When a dog was permitted to sleep in the bedroom, it had a 57 percent chance of being allowed to sleep on the bed.
  • Of the pet owners, 53 percent considered their sleep to be disrupted to some extent every night, but only one percent felt that their sleep was disrupted for more than 20 minutes per night on average.
  • Snoring was reported in 21 percent of dogs and seven percent of cats.
  • Cats were more likely to be allowed in the bedroom and on the bed.

From Slate:

There is historical evidence that sleeping with pets is not necessarily aberrant behavior. According to The International Encyclopedia of Dogs, the xoloitzquintli, or Mexican hairless, was used in pre-Aztec Mexico as both pet and bed warmer. An account from a 19th-century explorer in Australia, as quoted in The Domestic Dog, describes how Aborigines were so devoted to their dingoes that the dogs were treated as members of the family and allowed to sleep in the hut.

Pets are not going to get any uppity ideas just because you’re all snoring together, they say. Dr. Marsha Reich, who has a private animal-behavior practice in Maryland, says she disagrees with the notion that your dog will try to dominate you if allowed in bed. “It has nothing to do with social status,” she says. The dog, like the owner, just likes being cozy and having a soft place to sleep. “Unless a dog growls when you roll over, I don’t have a problem with a dog in the bed.”

The most common problem with sleeping with cats, says Dr. Lynne Seibert, a behaviorist at the Veterinary Specialty Center in Lynnwood, Wash., is they don’t sleep. “Most of the issues I see are about exuberant play,” she says. “They’ve got a captive audience and end up pouncing and scratching.” The usual cause is that the cats have been home sleeping all day, leaving them ready to party all night. Seibert recommends getting the cats more daytime stimulation and engaging in a play session with them before bed.

Dog trainer Kathy Diamond Davis writes that there’s no reason a well-behaved dog shouldn’t sleep on the bed. However, she recommends having the dog trained to reliably obey a “get off the bed” command, to be used in particular for those moments when “people want to be intimate.”

Sleep tight and don’t let the bed pets bite.

22 Responses to “Sharing A Bed With Your Cat And Dog”

  1. vida says:

    I have to admit I’ve gotten to the point where it’s hard to sleep without the pack on the bed. Last time we went out of town we tossed and turned and finally figured it out, we missed them, it just felt so odd to have the whole bed to ourselves. The comfort of their company keeps my dreams peaceful. I don’t know if it works the other way around though.

  2. NH says:

    My dog hogs the bed and my kitty hogs either the bed or the pillow. I woke up one morning to find I had about 4 inches of the bed. The dog was on the other side and the cat was in the middle. If I had rolled over….bam! I would have fallen on the floor.

    But that’s okay. :)

  3. Lis says:

    Neither my dog nor my cats hog the bed–they sleep on it, but they don’t hog it. And if they start to, I move them.

    And if they insist on playing when I need to sleep, well, the bedroom has a door for a reason. Sleeping on the bed with me is a privilege; they can lose it temporarily if they don’t behave.

    What gets me is that so many people apparently think it’s cute that their pets have taken control of the bed. It’s not; it’s sad. And banning the pets from the bed completely and forever is not usually necessary in order to solve the problem.

    As for the Monks and their belief that the dog should never sleep on the bed–bear in mind that they raise Germans Shepards, with a lot of imported German blood. Big dogs, strong dogs, with a tendency towards dominant personalities. Way more likely than smaller and/or more companion-oriented breeds to have issues that make the nightly gentle reminder of who’s in charge here a good idea.

    The human has to control the bed. That doesn’t mean that the human can’t choose to share the bed, and unless your dog is bigger than you are, it doesn’t need to be a discipline problem.

  4. Lynne says:

    My late husband would sometimes let our miniature schnauzer sleep with us. He would always wake up with, as he put it, a schnauzer hat.

  5. Bridgett says:

    My dog sleeps in her crate at night. There just isn’t enough room for 3 cats, myself AND the dog. My oldest cat sleeps on one of the pillows. In the winter, she wraps herself around my head. The other two cats, sleep somewhere in the middle. They only sleep next to me when it is cold.

    I don’t know if I would get a better sleep if they didn’t sleep with me. Usually, when one of them is missing from the bed, I end up worrying about them. I will even get up and go look for the missing one and bring her back to bed.

  6. Roberto P. says:

    Lynne,
    What a great memory. My wife and I frequently wake up with “cat hats.”

  7. Andrea D says:

    I finally had to say “no” to the bed. Between serious accidents (barfing, peeing) and some attitude issues that clearly stemmed from believing that they were in charge, my pets’ time on my queen-sized bed was clearly getting to be an issue.

  8. Captn' Carl says:

    We have a Chihiahua that sleeps with us every night (under the covers - they like to be warm), as well as a long haired orange tabby cat. They know their alloted areas and pretty much keep to them. Our older cairn terrier used to sleep with us as well (she would occasionally have issues with my sleeping in the bed) It was like Noah’s Ark. Thank goodness the other 2 cats have found other places to sleep.

    We have a baby cairn terrier who is still in the crate training stage, but when she is trained will also be allowed to fill the void left by the older cairn terrier on the bed. The older cairn was put down about 3 weeks ago (for once-nothing to do with the recalled pet food).

    As far as pets sleeping with humans. Where do you thing the group “Three Dog Night” got their name? It was because back in history three dog night meant that on that particularly cold night it took three dogs to keep you warm. A little trivia here.

    They after all are part of the family. Pleasant Dreammmms!

  9. Trudy Jackson says:

    We have 2 Doxies and one cat who share the bed. they push us over and snore all the time. i don’t know how we get any sleep. The cat usually sleeps on My pillow, on my head, or on My chest.

  10. Trudy Jackson says:

    This is off topic but I wanted to let you all know that the Va. Beach SPCA has a Katrina cat. said it had been there since the storm. i think it was black and white.

  11. Garyn says:

    I have a 100lb dominant male German Shepherd mix that has to be kept in check or he gets full of himself. I allowed him on the bed a few times and he got really cocky. That was the end of that. I believe that certain breeds and personalities look to bed privileges as an increase in hierarchy.

    I also have a five month old kitten that loves to snuggle but she plays with my head all night and I just cannot have my head played with all night. So she is banished for now anyway and she has adjusted well to that.

    My dog has his very own real bed in the guest room (LOL don’t tell the guests). It is the only piece of furniture in the house that he is allowed on and he is very compliant with that.

  12. mittens says:

    i tend to have a snowshoe sleeping bonnet, a torbie chest warmer, a tabby armpit toaster and 2 feral torties who are dying to sleep on the bed but can’t yet bring themselves to so they stare at the heap of us dementedly from their cat tree ,glowering.

    the more cats on the bed the general rule is that the colder it is out. so now that it’s summer i have the bed to myself. my cats are pretty good about finding their space and not bothering me.

    my mother told me that my grandparent’s springer spaniel used to sleep near my crib or play pen and wouldn’t let anyone near me when i was napping except her. so in honor of jeffy’s vigilence, pets get to sleep with me.

  13. Nora says:

    My 68 lb Aussie sleeps with us and also our rescue Jack Russell Blue Heeler cross puppy who is about 10 lbs now. If my Aussie is not with me in the bed, I worry about him all night. We all enjoy each others closeness and going to bed is a ritual for our pack. A King size bed helps of course, and when I awake at 4am to be at work at 6am, both dogs get up and follow me out to the kitchen. I to put on the coffee and they to the door to go out and empty their bladders, like clockwork. We are family.

  14. Rebecca says:

    Well like most I share my bed and my living space with 3 lovely 4 legged family members. A 115 lbs Doberman and 2 short hair cats, all which sleep very well throughout the night. One of the times that my doberman woke me up was when someone tried to break into my 2nd floor condo. Within seconds they met a very hands on burglar alarm to remind them what idiots they where for picking the wrong place. And something similar happen when I was out of town on a long driving trip and needed to stop at an off the path motel. Some drunk met him at the window has this man tried to open the window to my motel room at 3:12 am. Before this, I too have gone out of town and had slept very poorly without them, So I will plan on never again leave home without them. They make me feel so very safe so that I can get the sound sleep that I truly need.

  15. Clare says:

    We have two Schnauzers, one sleeps on our bed but the other one prefers his own bed! It’s great on winter nights as she rests her head on my feet and acts as a little hot water bottle. We make sure she is well bathed after a trip to the beach otherwise the bed becomes full of sand - though it’s a cheap body scrub I suppose!

  16. catmom5 says:

    CJ is the only one of the cats who sleeps with me. As an “only” for 4 years and then having to learn to live with numerous fosters and then 4 full time siblings, she alone gets the privilege of sleeping with me. It also has to do with the fact that she doesn’t like sharing the bed (a cat’s gotta have SOME space that’s just hers) and we have hissing and growling matches if an “invader” tries to join us. Her favorite spot is between the quilt and sheets curled up into my back. Not bad in the winter, but a little warm in the summer. When she was in the hospital I had a hard time sleeping without her!

  17. my4meezers says:

    Three of our four cats sleep with us every night. I wouldn’t have it any other way. One sleeps with his head on a pillow next to me (he has his own pillow). The other two sleep up against me. They go with the flow - if I move they just move with me. I joke with my husband and tell him we need two king size beds - one for me and the cats and one for him.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Great thread! Highlights!
    Capt’n Carl: They know their alloted areas and pretty much keep to them.
    Mittens: snowshoe sleeping bonnet, a torbie chest warmer, a tabby armpit toaster and 2 feral torties
    Garyn: My dog has his very own real bed in the guest room (LOL don’t tell the guests).
    my4meezers:we need two king size beds - one for me and the cats and one for him.

    what would we do w/out our furpillows? mine is there as soon as I hit the bed, staking out his spot, under the covers. in the morning he moves into position for his hug as soon as my eyes open. bless them all.

  19. mittens says:

    i should like to point out that i’ve had cats who have acted as night burglar alarms also-just like any good dog.

    one summer night someone was on the fire escape outside my apartment-it was an upper floor and very hot out so a window was open. the cat sprang from the bed , lept up on the window sill and was yowling-i ended up bolting awake running to her and slamming the window in the jerk’s face. practically the same thing happened with her in another apartment.

  20. KAE family says:

    We have a 11lbs 7 year old mutt of Schnauzer, Lhapso and Yorkshire heritage. We never allow him to be on our bed upstairs. And then the sofa becomes off limit as well due to barfing and peeing accidents. He now has his utmost comfy bed in the living room and he loves it. He wouldn’t sleep any other place. And don’t even think to go near his bed!

  21. David says:

    I have recently got engaged to a woman who has two cats. One of them is male and he has taken a position in our bed in her arms, on her chest and in between us and has an attitude about it. I love animals however, my bed is to sleep and be intimate and loving to my wife to be not to an animal. I have a problem being intimate when an animal is watching and waiting for the moment to move and try to take it’s so called place. The proper chain of order here is humans and then pets, pets are are just that pets. If a woman needs to have a cat to cuddle her when going to bed, she is not getting the comfort and effection she needs from her man. The problem is a real problem when the woman won’t change the setting of the cat. It come down to a point of do you want a cat in your bed or a loving warm and cuddly man? My fiance is about to get the altimatum, if the cat is so darn important to her she can make love to him and look to him for her relationship too! When I come to bed I bring me and I give myself to her. I have no need for anything else of anykind but her. When she comes to bed she needs me and I have to share with a cat…

  22. Milly says:

    @ David

    I think she should pick the cat. Get over yourself. You have some issues you need to work out and it’s not about the cat. God forbid she pay attention and love anything but you.. sleeping with enemy much?


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