Sleeping with a Predator


Once you invite a feline into your life, the topic of nocturnal sleeping arrangements is going to come up. On the surface, the idea of having your pal share your bed seems uncomplicated. Even the biggest cat isn’t much larger than a terrier, so it’s not like having a Great Dane in bed with you. There will be room.

Cats enjoy the warmth and company and on a cold night provide a lot of warmth themselves. All cat lovers know that one of the features of feline company is the rich but safe experience of living with a tiger – so why not go for total immersion and let him sleep next to you?

in practice it’s not that simple. Every cat is different in their approach to night time snuggling so maybe it’ll work out. Or maybe not. Let’s review our three guys.

Brio – No Chance, No Way

Brio was by far the most aggressively friendly lapcat we have ever owned. He was also surprisingly unassertive in some ways, given that he was a Siamese. He had his cozy cat bed on the sofa in our basement rec room and in cold weather we provided a heating pad under it – which he loved. He would quite happily stay there. That said, he would have absolutely loved to come and sleep with us. However, we were in our tough cat love phase back in the 1980s and didn’t permit it.

Brio was his own worst enemy though. His idea of an ideal setup was to head under the covers with you, turn around and stretch out luxuriously with his upper torso in your face. Nobody could deal with a night of such Siamese closeness. I used to get into bed, wait for Brio to arrive and then grab him and take him down to his cat bed. He was totally predictable. I suppose I did this 3000 times in Brio’s life and he never learned the trick of keep away at bedtime.

Sammy – Not My Bag

For all his kindness and friendliness, Sammy was never a real bed guy. He was totally unwilling to be locked up at night in the rec room though. We would get nothing but wailing and scratching if we tried it. What he always wanted to do was snuggle next to us and purr briefly, then hang out on a rug nearby. If he was lonely he might hop up for a brief cuddle part way through the night but then he was back to the rug. In the early morning he’d be up there again to remind you it was breakfast time. His purr was legendary. One time I drifted in and out of sleep, wondering why someone was idling a dump truck outside the house.

The only time Sammy really spent quality time on our bed was if we went away for a few days and he was alone most of the time. We always put out our PJs for him to sniff and lie on. They would be gray when we came home, so we knew he loved them.

Mr. Oates – Work in Progress

Oatsy hasn’t got his bedtime routine completely worked out yet. He was desperately lonely at the shelter and despite the unfamiliarity of his new home and owners, he spent the first few nights on the foot of our bed. I suppose he was afraid we’d abandon him if he didn’t stay close.

As he got his cat mojo working he left the bed and spent his nights in the ensuite sink. He’s grown a fair bit now so that isn’t as comfortable as it once was.

So he’s returned to the foot of the bed, and right now when I wake up in the night I’ll feel a cozy warm lump right behind my knees. Oates absolutely adores Maria so occasionally he’ll come up, knead and lick her hand (or face.) Such ministrations are not always welcome at 3 AM. Nor are his crepuscular activities at 5:30 AM such as grabbing your toes through the sheets. Oates is definitely feeling his way.

I suppose the way we handled the cats sleeping with us is the way a lot of people handle kids behavior. Be strict with the firstborn, ease off a bit with the second, and the third … well you don’t have the energy any more to deal with it!


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