should my cat sleep with me?

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Everyone likes to be cozy

That includes our cats. So should my cat sleep with me?
In 2015,  Houzz, the home design site, surveyed 10,000 pet owners in 11 countries to find out where our pets sleep. The country that reported the most bed sharing with cats, is America,

  • 53% of American pet owners sleep with their cats
  • 30% in France and Germany sleep with their cats
should my cat sleep with me?

should your cat sleep with you?
photo by S.Dunaif © 2016

The American Pet Products Association conducted The National Pet Owners Survey

    • 62% of cats sleep with their adult pet owners.
    • 13% of cats sleep with children.

If you suffer from stress or insomnia, sleeping with your cat may calm you, because cats have a soothing effect on people. According to sleepeducation.org, how common is insomnia among adults?

• 30 to 35% have brief symptoms of insomnia.
• 15 to 20% have a short-term insomnia disorder, which lasts less than three months.
• 10% have a chronic insomnia disorder, which occurs at least three times per week   for at least three months.

Put your ear next to a sleeping cat: their breathing is rhythmic and relaxing. A cat has soft cozy fur and their bodies are warm. In fact, their body temperature is actually higher than humans, they average 101.5° – no wonder we love to snuggle with them.

note: Sleep experts suggest an ideal room temperature of mid sixties, so if your cat sleeps with you, perhaps adjusting a few degrees lower to compensate for the warmth from a cat, may make your sleep environment more comfortable.

Cats average 15 hours of sleep a day, but kittens and older cats usually sleep more, possibly up to 20 hours.

daytime sleeping cat

cat day sleeping
photo by shari smith dunaif 2017

Since cats are crepuscular (active during twilight and dusk) they often go to a spot where they feel safe and won’t be disturbed when they need to nap during the day. Otherwise, cats like hanging out with us, whether it’s watching TV, or having breakfast, they want to be with us. Which is great, because we want to hang out with them too. Bonding is another benefit to have your cat sleep with you. When our rescue cat Marnie slept with us, it was significant: I knew she finally felt secure and loved.

According to a small 2014 study (150 patients) by the Mayo Clinic’s Center for Sleep Medicine

  • 41% said they had no effect or even a positive effect on their sleep
  • 20% did say their pets disturbed their sleep, at least sometimes.

When you first bring your cat home, decide in advance if your cat is going to sleep in your bedroom. This is important because if you change your mind, it’ll be difficult for you and your cat. Cats are, after all, territorial, so it’s confusing for your cat. They may end up scratching and meowing at your door to reclaim their place with you. They may even howl. That’s bad for you. If your cats do sleep with you, but they wake you up in the middle of the night, don’t get in the habit of rewarding them with treats and play. Do that during the day. Cats respond well to routine, so be consistent: nighttime is for sleeping, everything else are daytime activities.

Sleep well, cat lovers!

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why you should adopt two kittens: reason three

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Now that you have decided to adopt two kittens – YAY! Or at least maybe you are REALLY considering adopting two kittens, rather than only a single kitten.
Here’s a final word on
why you should adopt two kittens: reason three

As mentioned in previous “why you should adopt two kittens: reason one, and reason two” posts, kittens in a shelter are often orphaned. For those kittens without a mother, a sibling, or a substitute shelter pal, become very important to the development and growth of kittens. Those relationships between two kittens are a vital source for them to learn and experience life long skills.

  • Two kittens together learn how to communicate with each other
  • Two kittens together learn how to interpret signals from each other
  • Two kittens together learn about affection
  • Two kittens learn about bonding
    These are all behaviors applicable to our relationship with our cats, and are qualities we desire to share and experience with our cats.
why you should adopt two kittens

adopting two kittens, at ARF
photo by shari smith dunaif © 2017

Plus – a pair of kittens are twice the love!

Thank you Rita Del Rey, Operation Cat & Volunteer Coordinator at ARF
for the helpful information about adopting kittens.

why you should adopt two kittens: reason two

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That’s great that you want to adopt a kitten, but have you considered adopting two?

Here’s why you should adopt two kittens: reason two

Since it is not uncommon during kitten rescues for a kitten to have lost their mother, it is the siblings, if there are any, who become very important for how a kitten learns to be a cat. Or, once the kitten is in a shelter and either doesn’t have siblings, or their siblings have been adopted, they hopefully have developed a shelter pal. The significance of a shelter pal is that young kittens can form a relationship with each other that can be a substitute for a sibling.

why you should adopt two kittens: reason two

shelter pal
photo by shari smith dunaif © 2017

Sibling or shelter pal, they learn by playing together.

  • Kittens learn to gauge distance while jumping
  • Kittens learn to judge what spots are safe to land on
  • What spots are not safe
  • Develop balance while walking on anything narrow

They also learn by observing each other

  • Use of the kitty litter box
  • How to share their territory

Observation and play are both necessary ways for kittens to learn and develop skills.
And, a pair of kittens are twice the fun!

Why you should adopt two kittens: reason one

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It’s so much fun watching kittens play. And here’s

Why you should adopt two kittens:

They rassle, pounce, do all kinds of entertaining things. They also help each other learn. The mother cat is the primary teacher for the social and survival skills kittens need to learn,  in order to behave as adult cats. But it’s not unusual for kittens in a shelter to have lost their mother. So what happens if young kittens don’t have their mother? For siblings who don’t have a mom, at least they have each other.

reason one

let’s talk about biting
According to Rita Del Rey, Operations Cat and Volunteer Coordinator at ARF, kittens who are deprived of their mother, and siblings, are more likely to bite. That’s because a kitten raised alone has no one to learn from.

why you should adopt two kittens

lone shelter kitten
photo by shari smith dunsif © 2027

 

When kittens play together, they are learning to communicate, including how hard to bite.  If kittens are playing, and one kitten bites the other too hard, that kitten will certainly let the biting kitten know to not bite so hard. For alone kittens, how are they going to learn the difference between play biting from biting when hunting?

Why you should adopt sibling kittens

adopt sibling kittens photo by shari smith dunaif ©2017

so adopt two kittens:

  • Twice the love
  • Twice the cuddles
  • Two kittens can entertain each other while you’re busy or away at work
  • There’s not much added cost to having a second kitten

what to do if your cats fight

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If your cats are not getting along

Then what? Here are some suggestions: what to do if your cats fight.

Toby is over twelve years old. He lost his younger sister (not blood siblings) February 2015. He missed her, so we knew we needed another cat – for him and us. Marnie was three when we brought her home: an adult, but still young enough to be quite playful, and keep Toby active. Which for the most part, works. But not at first.

what to do if your cats fight

Toby & Marnie stare down
photo by shari smith dunaif ©2017

Dr. Jill Sackman, head of behavior medicine service at BluePearl Veterinary Partners suggests understanding cat relationships in the wild. Usually, family groups are close, but once a cat goes on their own, they are likely to be solitary. Solitary cats are also territorial, so if another cat ventures into their turf, chances are, a stand off will occur.
Domestic cats likewise view their home as their territory. So needless to say, if an unknown (or new) cat appears on their turf, they will protect that turf. This also can apply to being possessive of food bowls, toys, or a person.

When we first brought Marnie home, our newly adopted three year old cat, she and Toby had intense staring contests.

cats stare down

Toby & Marnie having intense stare down
photo by shari smith dunaif ©2017

Some hissing, plenty of growling. And this was after nearly a week introducing their scent, seeing each other, and eventually meeting; it was a very gradual process. Even so, Marnie was trying to assert herself and claim some territory while Toby defended his turf.
Signs that your cats aren’t getting along range from the obvious to more subtle

  • hissing, scratching
  • growling
  • stare downs between the cats
  • nudging a more submissive cat away from their food/water bowl
  • the more submissive cat leaves when the dominate cat arrives

We saw all of the above between Toby and Marnie, except not the scratching part. We did notice that if Marnie was sitting with us and Toby appeared, Marnie would leave. We wanted to remedy that, we wanted to have two purring cats, both of them hanging out with us.

what to do?

If your cats really get into an actual fight, of course our reaction is to STOP it! Maybe by yelling, clapping or even using a water gun or all of those.  But according to Dr. Sackman, “This could just make things worse.”

Instead, she suggests the following

  • Take a deep calming breath and insert an object like a large piece of cardboard between the cats. This creates a gentle but impenetrable barrier between the them.
  • If the cats are locked together, pick one up by the scruff, which will force him to release the other cat.
  • Keep the cats separated for a while to let them cool down.

Dr. Sackman explains “Every time your cats fight, the relationship gets worse.” In addition, she says “The longer the fights have been going on, the harder it is to correct the relationship.”

How to help your cats get along

Trying to fix a bad relationship between cats takes time, space, and tons of patience. These suggestions are also great when introducing a new cat in your house.

  • Put the cats in separate areas with their own food and water dishes, litter pan, and climbing spaces.
  • Make sure to spend plenty of quality time with each cat in their particular areas.

First, let the cats share scents. We got two socks, took one and rubbed Toby with it, especially around his head. Then left Toby’s sock scent with Marnie in her area. We did the same with rubbing Marnie with the other sock and left the sock with Toby. Another suggestion is to feed the cats at the same time on the opposite sides of a door, which enables them to associate the other’s scent with something pleasant, like dinner. This is good to do with treats, too.

Continue the scent swap by mixing their used litter together, Dr. Sackman says.

Finally, swap the cats: put each cat into the other cat’s area. That way, each cat has an opportunity to completely adjust to the other cat’s scent.

Now, your cats should be ready for a proper introduction. Start by placing the cats on opposite sides of a screen or baby gate. This way, they now smell and see each other, while maintaining a barrier.

When you can see that they are not freaking out, it’s probably time to remove the barrier.

Now that you and your cats are in the same room, give each cat lots of love and attention, while the other cat watches. This is intended to give another positive association: being with each other, the cats get good stuff, like affection, praise, play, treats.

How to maintain a good relationship between your cats

shelter cats getting along

cats at ARF(animal rescue shelter) hanging out
photo by shari smith dunaif ©2017

Continue to provide each cat with her own food and water dishes, play space, and litter pan. This will most likely be permenant. It is with our cats. Cats need places to climb, but they also need their very own secure den, these are spots where a cat can feel safe and comfortable enough to lounge and sleep.

it’s possible that your cats may never like each other, but at least you can help them tolerate each other. If you’re persistent and lucky, your cats may eventually play. Like Toby and Marnie.

cats getting along

Toby & Marnie playing
photo by shari smith dunaif ©2017