What does your cat’s favourite sleeping position reveal about them?


Editor's Picks
26 March 2020
Does your cat like to sleep on your bed? We take a closer look at the 10 most popular pet sleeping positions and what they reveal about our furry friends.

From positions such as ‘The Faithful’ to ‘The Donut Divider’, a lot can be gleaned from how our cats choose to share our sleeping space. The top 10 pet sleeping positions were revealed in a study conducted by leading behaviourist Peter Neville with pet well-being specialists Itchpet.com, which also found two-thirds (65 per cent) of pet owners share their bed with their pets.

Peter says: “What’s clear is that sharing the bed with our pets is a normal part of our lives together, and a testament to the strength of the increasingly co-dependent bond between us and our cats and dogs.

“For us, the main element of that bedroom relationship is based on comfort, enjoyment, touch, shared warmth, and increased feelings of security, for dog owners especially. And while cats and dogs benefit in similar ways, cats regard us as mother figures throughout their lives when in close contact with us; predators outdoors, but forever kittens when they cuddle up.”

He continues: “When choosing their sleeping positions, our pets are broadly seeking to maintain and enhance their close, protecting bond with us, rather than any desire to control us or monopolise territory. But, they do cleverly learn to use their appeal, and the warm benefits they bring us, to train owners to meet their individual night-time needs and desires, and to shift our sleeping habits to accommodate theirs.”

Did you know?
According to the survey, over half of people find it easier to share their bed with their pet, rather than their human partner!

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1. The Faithful

Your cat lies down by your feet.

While this seems like the actions of a dutiful and worshipping pet, you are of course horizontal in bed and so there is no respectful, acknowledging posturing here. It’s more likely that you are a restless sleeper and this is as close as he or she can be to you while keeping an easy escape route.

2. The Knee Nuzzle

Your cat nestles in the bend of your legs as you lie in the foetal position.

Warmth and all-enveloping security are the key attractions here as you curl up in that ‘artificial womb’ together. This pet can be more than happy to hand over all responsibility for their well-being to you, as if they are a kitten again. In this perfectly protected environment, they don’t need to make any more decisions and literally sleep like a baby.

3. The Donut Divider

Curls up in a ball between your legs.

Smaller pets can enjoy the comforting slight compression of your legs on either side, and blankets above and below, provided you stay still of course. Both cats and dogs are able to hear far higher frequencies of sound that are ultrasonic to us, so by getting themselves in a sound-proofed warm ‘bubble’, bordered by our legs, can help protect them from any unwanted noises that might disturb them.

4. The Wall

In between you and your partner.

This position might be an innocent warmth and security choice from your pet, but there may be an element of strategy here, too. A dog, or sometimes a cat, that is especially bonded to one partner might just be keeping the other at distance, and is trying to ensure he or she gets whatever attention might be on offer.

5. The Pillow Bandit

Takes over the entire pillow.

A less likely position if you snore, this position is usually the preserve of smaller dogs and cats who find the extra softness of the pillow. As soon as the pillow bandit wakes, they will usually insist on waking you up too. Your face is immediately accessible to be targeted with a rub or a lick to ensure that breakfast is delivered pronto!

Did you know?
As soon as the pillow bandit wakes, they will usually insist on waking you up too. Snuggling up in the middle. The pillow offers extra comfort.

6. The Under-Cover Lover

Under the duvet.

It’s the ultimate in dark safe dens, to hide away in a reassuring warm heap where body smells and pheromones combine to create a comforting ‘scent fug’. Cats and dogs are notoriously indifferent of their owners breaking wind, and this paradoxically, might add to the security of an enveloping common scent in sleeping under the duvet.

7. The Cuddle Bug

Cuddles you in the crook of your arm.

This gets the pet closer to your face where he or she can probably feel the reassurance of your heartbeat, while yet also affording a quick escape route to other parts of the bed, or to the floor if you turn or alter position in your sleep. The cuddle bug may also aspire to being a fully-fledged pillow bandit, and this position may just be a short reaffirming step in their process of training you to accept and enjoy their advancing expectations.

8. The Sneak

Inches further up the bed to get closer to your head.

Often also with aspirations to become a pillow bandit, the sneak is probably quite a dependent soul who loves nothing more than to rest and snooze ever closer to your face where he can feel your heartbeat, and hear your gentle breathing while you sleep.

9. The Superhero

Sprawls out on their belly next to you.

This may be a bit of a compromise position by dogs — and only very rarely by cats — who want to keep close secure contact with you for a while, and enjoy being petted on the head and massaged down their backs as you relax, but which prevents them from overheating if your bed is very warm. It may also be that the superhero chooses this splayed position rather than curling up or stretching out so they are increasingly ready to look after you if there are disturbances at night. Your welfare is their welfare after all.

10. The Octopus

You aren’t sure how, but in the morning your pet is sprawled out in the middle of the bed and you’re right on the edge.

A very common position for many pet owners to find themselves in in the morning. The pet starts out nicely sharing bed space with their loving owner, but gradually expands occupancy of the bed during the night, perhaps to get more comfortable and dissipate heat if you are too warm. This pet knows how nice you are, taking advantage of your good nature as you move to accommodate them as they steadily stretch out in your half-awake state and shove you, ever so gently, to the side.