Our feline friends spend up to twenty hours a day asleep - so it’s unsurprising that the term “cat-nap” is so well-known. While it’s uncertain as to what our kitties might dream of (research suggests it might be real-life occurrences in the recent or distant past -such as being petted or hunting a mouse), one thing is sure: finding good sleeping spots is a favourite activity of most cats (especially if it’s in a sunny place).
However, what looks like a cat bed to your pet might be spots undesirable to yourself - the cosiness of a warm laptop while you’re trying to get work done; or that place at the bottom of the closet where sweaters always emerge covered in cat hair. If you’re longing for a proper night’s kip (and bemoaning the state of your clothes!) - here’s how to train your cat to sleep in it’s own bed.
Don’t let the Bed (or any other!) Bugs Bite
Just as they’ve crept into our hearts, sometimes they also decide to creep into our beds. Cuddling our cats can help reduce stress - but co-sleeping with them can also result in bitten toes, sleepless nights, and can even endanger your cat if you accidentally roll onto them (it’s safer snuggle is on the sofa - while you’re both awake) - not to mention the risk of bugs, germs and diseases tracked in by outdoor cats. In addition to all this, there’s other reasons your cat might be better off sleeping in their own bed...
Go Wild … in the Daytime
If you find your cat is acting wild at night, it may be that they have energy to spare: Jackson Galaxy suggests using a “hunt-catch-kill-eat-groom-sleep” routine. By slotting in regular play times throughout the day (fishing rod toys are great as they simulate prey), followed by a hearty meal and a nap, your cat is in sync with their natural rhythms and less likely to pounce on you during the night. Cats are also crepuscular, which means they like to hunt during twilight and dusk - but if you’re not a fan of waking at 3am to the sound of capering cats you might want to reconsider sleeping arrangements and close the door to your room.
Up High, Down Low
According to cat behaviourist Jackson Galaxy, the preferred altitude of cats depends on whether they are “bush” or “tree” dwellers - but both like to feel safe. For bush dwellers (cats who love to creep and burrow) - this might mean a cosy cave bed. Tree dwellers (felines who love to climb and leap) may prefer sleeping on a cat tree beside a window. Some cats are happiest in a bed bought especially for them - or they may just want to sleep in the cardboard box it arrived in! Work out which surface your cat enjoys sleeping on (apart from your head) in terms of temperature, texture, height and shape: if you present them with a new bed and they instantly jump in to knead and purr - you’ll know you’re onto a winner.
So where should your kitty sleep? Well - anywhere they like (within reason) - but to find out where to place your new cat bed, seek out places your cat likes to sleep the best : if there’s a spot by the radiator your cat chooses to sleep near, consider putting a bed there (be wary of using heat pads as these may scald your cat). Make sure it’s a relatively quiet spot away from potential disruption (cats appreciate a bit of calm as much as we humans) - and consider placing multiple beds in separate (preferably sunny) locations throughout your home to accommodate their territorial nature. Granted - there may be places you don’t want your cat to sleep, but the more enticing you make their bed, the less likely they’ll want to sleep in that fresh pile of laundry (well - in theory).
Cats can also be sensitive to change - so go gently with this process. Even if things get frustrating, avoid raising your voice (cats, like dogs, have very sensitive ears) and never punish your cat for unwanted behaviour - they won’t learn anything and it may scare them away from you. Instead, reward your positive behaviour (such as every time your cat uses their new bed with treats) - but only when they’re awake: cat’s don’t like to be disturbed (much like the average cat owner!).
When introducing your cat to their new bed, make sure it’s clean and use a pet-friendly detergent that won’t irritate or make them unwell to rid the bed of that “factory scent”. If you’re transitioning them away from your bed, consider placing a well-worn (i.e. smelly!) tee-shirt of your own in the bed with them for the first couple of nights to reassure them. Another option is to use catnip - but since this can be stimulating you may wish to use a synthetic cat pherenone to spray the areas where your cat snoozes instead - these mimic a scent gland cats produce to feel calm. Avoid using essential oils as these tend to be poisonous to cats.
Mewsic to your Ears
Believe it or not, cats actually enjoy music: scientist and composer David Teie incorporates “feline-centric” sounds into his music such as suckling for milk and purring - which can help to lower your cat’s stress levels and soothe them to sleep in their new bed (it also sounds quite pleasant to human ears, too).
Hopefully these tips have given you some ideas on how you -and your cat- can get quality sleep and still be the best of friends. With a little gentle “purrsuation”, the right bed, location and some patience, a decent night’s rest will no longer be a distant dream.
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