Why Your Cat Sleeps Under The Covers (And How To Prevent)

If you find your cat to be constantly sleeping under your blankets, sheets, etc., you are not alone.

A small but not insignificant percentage of cat owners report that their feline friend engages in this peculiar behavior.

Your cat may be sleeping under the covers for several reasons, often related to comfort and security. Owners should also be aware of the safety concerns of cats sleeping under covers.

  • Cats often prefer very dark places to sleep
  • It is very comfortable for them
  • It’s become habit for them

One of our cats loves to come under the covers with us, especially during the colder months.

We don’t let him sleep there with us however, but if it’s during the day when we’re awake then we don’t mind.

You can never be overly cautious when it comes to protecting the safety and livelihood of your cat, so it is imperative that you keep a close eye out for any warning signs in your burrowing pet.  Read on to learn more!

Why Do Cats Sleep Under Blankets?

A cats’ habit of being more active at night, coupled with their need to sleep for longer periods than human beings, means that they will likely be sleeping at least some hours during the day.

Cats Prefer Darkness For Sleep

When it is also factored in that cats possess better night vision than human beings, it’s thus natural that they prefer an area shrouded in darkness for their slumber. 

The lack of light provided by a series of covers provides an ideal place for them.  The same rings true for such confined spaces as in boxes, under beds, or behind hanging clothes in closets.

The Desire For Comfort

A second reason as to why some cats strongly prefer to be under covers is simply that, like many animals, they prefer to be close to something warm and comfortable.

Just as humans enjoy being snug under the protection of sheets, so too do many cats.

The Force Of Habit

Cats are creatures of habit, not unlike so many other species in the animal kingdom.

For many people, their cat sleeping with them is a completely natural behavior that they actively encourage. This may occur when their pet is a newborn kitten, or simply a cat they have adopted. 

Regardless, a cat that has been conditioned to sleep under the covers is very likely to continue to do so.  Owners of cats that were previously in another home should be aware of this as it may be a habit ingrained in them by their previous owners.

What To Know If You Allow Your Cat To Remain Under The Covers

While it may seem completely harmless for a cat to be nestled comfortably under the covers, you should be aware that some veterinarians and other experts have reservations about this behavior.

Possible Risks You May Encounter

For example, prominent veterinarian and animal behavioral psychologist Dr. Michael W. Fox has stated that it is “unhealthy” for both dogs and cats to sleep in areas with limited air supply.  In particular, pets with breathing or heart complications are at a high risk of developing further health problems.

The peer-reviewed website PetMD has an excellent editorial regarding blanket safety for pets.

Some of the tips include:

  • Allowing the pet an easy flow of air into the covers, thereby ensuring that they are able to breathe comfortably and without difficulty.
  • Monitoring the pet’s behavior, especially at first, since animals can and do have different reactions.
  • Keeping them away from electric blankets and heating pads as these could be dangerous.

It should be noted that the question of there being a strong risk of a cat suffocating when sleeping under blankets is disputed, not least of which because a cats’ high intelligence and sense of instinct allows for them to navigate many areas that may or not be safe for them.

Other Potential Risks

In a different editorial, PetMD strongly discourages a family pet (be it a cat or a dog) from sleeping with a child that is generally 6 years of age or younger, due to the likelihood of the child’s immaturity and inability to effectively handle the pet alone.

Additionally, given that cats are alert even when they are asleep, it is important that for one that is sleeping under the covers, they are not alarmed by any abrupt and strong movement of the blankets as this may cause them to react defensively and even scratch the first lifelike thing they see.

As is the case with a baby sleeping in the same as their parents, another possible risk for a cat under the covers next to a human is the possibility of rolling on top of them in the middle of the night. 

Unlike babies, however, almost every healthy cat is capable of reacting quickly to this; thus the possibility of crushing and/or smothering them is only likely to be true for small kittens or cats with coordination issues.    

One additional concern that is unfounded, however, is the notion that a human can contract a disease if a cat (or dog for that matter) is sleeping in the same bed as them.  Research shows that the odds of a human catching a disease from an animal, though not unheard of, is extremely rare.

What If I Don’t Want My Cat Under the Covers?

If you are not keen on the idea of your feline leaving fur on your sheets, there are simple, effective methods you can use to deter them.

Make Sure Their Cat Bed Is Appealing

Given that no animal wants to sleep somewhere that they do not feel comfortable in, it is important that your cat’s bed should be the right fit for them

While different cats–especially those of different breeds– may have their own preferences, most cats are attracted to a place that is both quiet and cozy.  Now, this may seem like a difficult sell given that our feline friends are known to make sleeping use of boxes, buckets and other objects.

There are handy online guides available to help you find the right bed for your pet.

Provide Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement for a pet, as was illustrated famously in the Pavlov Experiment, is a useful tool for helping teach them to exhibit positive behaviors. 

In the case of cats, they can learn to react in a certain way to sounds, smells, etc.  If you are wanting them to acquire the habit of sleeping in a bed, rewarding them every time they do this may be the tactic you are looking for.

The Psychology Of A Cat’s Sleep

Undoubtedly, cats are fascinating animals to observe and can be welcoming companions for people from all walks of life.  But what is it that compels them to do certain things like deciding to burrow into a heap of blankets?

A Brief Overview

In order to understand why your cat is sleeping under the covers, it is helpful to know a bit about their sleep psychology.

On average, an adult cat sleeps approximately 13 hours a day, which would equate to at least several more hours than the typical human does.

Why is it that cats spend so much of their lives in slumber?  As a recent BBC Science article points out in its interview with animal psychologist Dr. David Sands, cats tend to be far more active in their waking hours than the average human.  

While famous overweight cats such as Garfield or maybe even your own pet have popularized the stereotype of the lazy feline, they are by nature active animals that stalk and ambush prey, patrol their territory, and investigate the world around them. 

This constant activity, in turn, naturally makes them exhausted after a long day or night on the prowl.


As we have seen, cats tend to sleep under the covers due to the lack of light and for the comfort it provides, and this should not typically be a cause for concern on the part of the owner.

If, however, the owner does not want them there, discouraging them from doing so is not a difficult task.