At the beginning of the pandemic, when I was home 24/7, I noticed my two cats were quickly getting cuddly more than ever. And while they are now getting used to my husband and me more consistently as we sit on the couch and watch TV every night, their nightly sleeping habits have not changed – they take turns sleeping at the end of the bed and just on my feet. I felt greedy to get the extra love during waking hours and was curious why no cat would choose to lie over our legs or lie on our chests in bed as they do now on the couch .
To find out more about my cats’ behavior and preferences, I reached out to Erin Askeland, Animal Health and Behavioral Advisor for Camp Bow Wow, and found that the various reasons are mostly instinctual and all of them are cute (but one) that’s just so typical cat).
Why do cats sleep at the end of the bed?
Erin says that while cuddling with her humans during the day, “a cat can enjoy attention and closeness with less vulnerability,” the night hours in a cat’s mind are very different.
“When a cat goes to sleep, their guard is lowered and they are aware that they are more vulnerable. Therefore, for safety reasons, cats often choose to sleep at the foot of the bed to warn you when they sense a threat and around to protect you, “said Erin to POPSUGAR. “The foot of the bed also provides a faster escape, which is part of a cat’s instinct, while that escape route isn’t as clear at the head of the bed or even within the covers. Often times, the foot of a bed is halfway – centered in a room, like that is there not only a seat for the cat and a view from above, [and a] convenient place to spread out, but also the ability to move quickly in any direction if necessary. “
As I pondered what Erin was telling me, I realized that from the end of the bed on my side my cats are almost perfectly centered in our bedroom and have a clear view of the door (while they would be much closer to on my husband’s side one wall and further from the door). That may explain why one of my cute angels is sleeping at the foot of the edge of my bed while I type this at my kitchen counter right outside my bedroom door, where she can keep an eye on me between slumber times.
Why do cats sleep on their human’s feet?
And while it now makes perfect sense as to why a cat would sleep at the end of the bed, I was still curious about why my cats always need to be on my feet and ankles rather than on the perfectly usable empty mattress space (other than to do it) absolutely impossible for me to move in my sleep, as rule number one in the Cat Owners’ Manual ™ is that you should never move under a sleeping cat.
“While cats may be independent beings, they care about who is caring for them and are still very social. They are aware of who is putting down their food, water and treats, who is playing with them and who is paying attention to them, which is them I will seek that person (or people) to be around and show affection in return, or to appease you so that you can continue to care for them, “she said, which is a sweet – if suitably selfish – idea held.
However, Erin brought me fully back to earth with her last note that said for sure, “Cats can use you just for your heat! This may be why some cats move toward your head or body during the night and then return to the foot of the bed. As the temperature of your own body changes, your cat can move to warmer (or cooler) places depending on its own needs. “
Emphasis on “their own needs” Amirite ?!
Image source: POPSUGAR Photography / Alessia Santoro