Have you recently made a discovery. That when you leave the house, your cat decides to sleep on your bed. Perhaps you return to find them, maybe you have a monitor that has caught them in the act. But why would your cat do this? Is it something you should stop, and if so (if you’re not there) how would you even do so? Let’s find out!
So, why does my cat sleep on my bed when I am away? Cats typically sleep on the beds of their people while they are away to seek warmth. Other times they’re after safety while they sleep. And some cats will do this because they miss their people and derive comfort from their familiar smells.
There’s also another potential reason too, which we will now get into.
Along with exploring these potential reasons referenced above further.
Then we will get onto how you can, and perhaps should, respond.
Reasons Why A Cat May Sleep On Your Bed While You Are Away
By sleeping on your bed while you’re away, your cat may be seeking safety, warmth, or a reminder of you. Sometimes, cats will sleep on their people’s beds to mark their territory.
Your Cat May Want to Feel Safe
Unlike humans, cats sleep more lightly – they have several naps throughout the day, where they remain in light sleep.
As natural hunters, they don’t have long periods of sleep, or even many periods of deeper sleep, as they are built to be always ready to attack their prey or defend themselves against another predator.
Cats are at their most vulnerable while they sleep. When your cat sleeps on your bed, they probably feel safer because you’re usually there – there is safety in numbers.
Cats learn to sleep with their siblings as kittens piled on top of each other near their mother, and this forms habits that carry through into adulthood.
Even when you’re not there, your bed carries your scent, which can reassure your cat.
Wild cats will look for the safest place to sleep between hunts, and in your home, that safe place is usually with you, whether it’s on your bed or the sofa.
Your Cat May Be Seeking Warmth
Cats will often seek a warm spot for their naps, such as under a radiator or in a sunny spot on the floor or windowsill.
Your cat’s normal temperature is around 102 degrees Fahrenheit, so they want to maintain that warmth, especially when inactive.
Your bed can be a source of warmth for your cat, whether you’re there or not.
Your Cat May Miss You
While some people think cats are aloof, we now know that cats bond with us in a similar way to dogs or small children.
Your cat loves you and wants to bond with you, and probably misses you while you’re gone.
Many cats will engage in “pillowing” behavior when it’s time to sleep, especially at night.
In a multi-cat household, you may see one cat using another as a pillow.
If your cat is the only animal in the house, you can find yourself being their pillow – so when you’re gone, they may use your bed as the next best thing that smells like you.
Your Cat May Be Marking Its Territory
Cats are territorial animals that mark their spots with their scent.
By sleeping on your bed whether you’re there or not, your cat is marking its territory – letting other creatures know that you and your bed are theirs.
Should You Stop Your Cat Sleeping On Your Bed While You Are Away?
If your cat is happy sleeping on your bed when you are away, and you are able to allow them to do so, it’s best not to stop them. Your cat may be missing you, and sleeping on your bed can help them feel secure because the bed carries your scent (see above).
Reasons to Let Your Cat Sleep on Your Bed While You Are Away
Here are some reasons why you might want to let your cat sleep on your bed while you are away:
- It can help relieve stress for your cat. Your cat will probably be missing you and letting them sleep on your bed that carries your scent is a highly effective way to lower their cortisol levels and decrease stress. Your cat will probably find your absence easier to deal with if you allow them to sleep on your bed.
- Your cat can feel warmer. Cats need warmth, and your bed is a prime location for snuggling.
- It can help in maintaining your bond with your cat. Cats are highly sensitive to the smells of their home, and if you are away for any length of time, your cat can become distressed if they can’t smell you. Your cat may even behave differently when you return, as it might need time to adjust to how you smell again.
Reasons to Stop Your Cat Sleeping on Your Bed While You Are Away
While it’s best to let your cat sleep in your bed while you are away where possible, here are some reasons you might not be able to do this:
- It can make allergies worse. If you are allergic to your cat, sadly, it’s best they don’t sleep on your bed, whether you are away or not.
- Your bed will get dirtier, which can be problematic for highly sensitive people. Indoor cats seem to track kitty litter wherever they go, and outdoor cats could carry diseases (especially without the right vaccinations). Some people have high sensitivities to dirt and microbes (because of a compromised immune system, for example).
- Your cat will want to always sleep there, which can disturb your sleep when you return. Some cats can make it difficult to sleep for their people if they are highly active in your bed at night. If you let your cat sleep there while you’re away, you can’t expect your cat to suddenly vacate the bed when you return. Cats are creatures of habit, so your active kitty might disturb your sleep upon your return when they settle down to their new bed at night.
How To Stop Your Cat Sleeping On Your Bed
If you don’t want your cat sleeping on your bed (see reasons above), there are several things you can do. You may need to try these before you go away to see what works for your cat, as they have different personalities. What works for one cat may not work for another.
Here are some tricks to try and keep your cat off of your bed.
Test these out well before you leave so that your cat is used to not sleeping on your bed. A combination of a few of these can work wonders:
Get A Cat Bed
If you can find a cozy cat bed that your cat loves, this may help keep them off of your bed.
Your cat needs something that will help them feel warm and secure.
Get A Cat Tree or Cat Sling
Get a cat tree or cat sling for your bedroom.
You may find that by providing a fun alternative, such as a cat sling or cat tree with a perch or box, your cat may naturally choose to sleep there instead.
Tempt your cat to spend time there using treats or catnip.
Close The Bedroom Door
You may find your cat makes lots of noise in protest when you do this, so make sure that your cat’s food, water, and kitty litter are in other parts of your home.
They will need their own bed and places to roam and explore safely while you sleep.
Line Your Comforter With Sticky Tape
By lining your comforter with sticky tape (sticky side up), you can discourage your cat from jumping onto your bed.
Cats don’t like the sticky feel of the tape on their paws (this tape works for furniture and countertops, too).
Use Scent Deterrents
You can always use scents your cat doesn’t like.
Try applying a few drops of essential oil on your bed that has a scent that repels cats, like citrus, pine, or cinnamon.
(Note: This option is one to use as a last resort, as you will typically want to avoid using cat repellents in your home with your pet).
Other Suggestions to Help Your Cat Sleep While You Are Away
If you are concerned about your cat’s ability to sleep peacefully while you are away, there are several things you can do.
Get Organized Before You Go
The more you can plan ahead, the better for your cat. Make arrangements to have someone look after your cat (and sleep over, if need be).
Leave your vet’s contact details with your cat sitter or family members, as well as your itinerary, so that they always know where to contact you.
Stock up on supplies for your cat (favorite treats, toys, food, etc.) so that your cat’s carers have everything they need.
Pick the Right Person to Look After Your Cat
Ideally, you want someone your cat already knows, such as a caring friend, family member, or neighbor: if they love cats, even better!
It can be difficult to find the right person if you don’t have friends or family members that your cat knows and trusts to look after them in your absence.
If you are using someone your cat doesn’t know, have that person come over to meet your cat before you go away so that they can get used to each other.
Watch how they interact with your cat, and watch your cat’s body language to make sure they’re comfortable with this new person.
Some cats are more sociable than others, so your cat might need a bit more time to get used to someone new.
Give your cat the time they need to get to know their carer – and perhaps arm this person with your cat’s favorite treats or toys to help the bonding process.
Tell your cat’s carer about their routine and any idiosyncracies: for instance, if your cat will only eat canned food slightly heated.
Leave any details in writing so that they have something to refer to if needed.
Don’t Make Sudden Changes to Your Cat’s Routine
Make sure your cat’s routine is kept the same while you’re gone.
Cats don’t like change, and a routine will help your cat feel secure, especially while their favorite person is away.
If your cat normally is fed twice a day, stick to that if possible. If playtime is in the morning and then before bedtime, have your cat’s carer follow that schedule.
Keep Comfort Items Handy
What things does your cat love? If your cat has a favorite bed, make sure it’s in the same place.
If your cat is used to the sound of the radio in the background, ask your cat’s carer to have the radio on.
If your have discovered that your cat sleeps on your bed while you are away, usually, they are doing so for relatively nice reasons.
And there may even be benefits of allowing them to do so.
That being said, it may not be something you want.
Thankfully there are things you can do if you find yourself in the latter camp!
Other cat sleeping guides you may want to check out:
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.