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Tip Of The Day: Your Bed Is For Sleeping, Not Playing

June 27, 2013

I think we’ve all been there.

It’s a few minutes before bed, you’re tired, and your cat is wired. All you want to do is to go to sleep, but that is impossible until you wear out your cat. Solution: Grab a cat toy and play in bed, or play a quick game of “mouse” under the covers (you know, when you move your hand under your sheets).

Photo courtesy woowoowoo.

Unfortunately, as convenient as those solutions may be, they also reinforce a bad habit: That it’s OK to play in bed. And according to the experts, your bed is the one place where there shouldn’t be any playtime, period.

The reason is simple: Soon your cat will associate playtime with your bed. And if he wakes up in the middle of the night and wants to play, he may end up attacking a moving foot, mistaking it for another “mouse.”

Similarly, if you encourage pouncing and other types of playing on the bed, you’re sending him the message that all of that is OK – no matter the hour. If that’s the case, you can’t be too mad or upset when your cat goes through his normal playtime routine around 3 a.m.

I’ve experienced this firsthand, and have learned a valuable lesson. While I don’t let the cats play on the bed, I usually do sit on the bed while I fly their dragonfly toy around the bedroom. Sometimes the dragonfly gets caught in the sheets hanging over the sides of the bed, and the cats go ballistic for it.

Photo courtesy *Bárbara* Cannnela.

While I didn’t think anything of it at the time, I’ve now noticed Ellie playing in the sheets and blankets hanging over the sides more and more. This can happen at all hours, which can be frustrating. That said, it’s my own fault for unknowingly encouraging it.

Along those lines, my cats also love helping me when I’m changing our bed sheets. It’s almost as if I’ve sprinkled cat treats all over our bed – the moment I’m ready to put clean sheets on, both race in, jump or climb onto the bed, and start playing with the sheets. While sometimes it’s a bit of a bother, it’s definitely adorable.

That said, I don’t think I’m going to make too many changes. I really don’t mind Ellie playing on the side of the bed, so long as she’s not attacking my feet. However, if you and your cat are in the habit of playing on your bed, and that’s resulting in some undesired behaviors, it may be time to reconsider your game plan. In time, it could mean a better night’s sleep for the both of you.

Do you play with your cat on your bed? Does your cat like to play on your bed in the middle of the night? Do you think you’ll change any of your habits to change your cat’s habits? Please share in the comments!


4 Comments leave one →
  1. Carolyn permalink
    June 27, 2013 9:54 am

    I wake up in the morning with cat toys in my bed! They must be playing while I’m a sleep. I sleep thru it…..

  2. natsera permalink
    June 28, 2013 11:36 am

    I have a non-CH cat who was probably a feral kitten, and he loves to hang out with me, even when I’m getting ready for bed. In my house, bed is a petting, cuddling place, not a playing place, so if I’m petting him (which took months to get him used to!) and he starts to try to play, I immediately hiss at him and ignore him. He’s allowed to sit with me, but no playing. He’s pretty much gotten the message. My CH kitten likes to walk all over me, and again, I ignore her if I’m trying to go to sleep. No petting from a sleeping great ape. She also stops after awhile, and then cuddles up to me. And cuddling is fine. G’night, all!

  3. June 28, 2013 11:56 am

    I have three cats – one has CH, two are “normal.” And they ALL love to play mouse under the covers. It is definitely one of the highlights of the night for them. We feed them their last meal, get in bed, and they are ready to play – it is part of our evening routine. Luckily though, none of them ever want to play in the middle of the night. Once the game is over, my husband and I go to sleep, and the cats recognize that it’s bed time. They then go to their respective sleeping places (usually somewhere on the bed too). One of them is also very fond of sheet changing time. It is definitely a game for him, and I love it too. I won’t be changing any of my bed playtime habits, because I love them just as much as the cats do. If they were trying to wake me up in the middle of the night to play, that would be a different story.

  4. July 28, 2017 11:58 pm

    It’s absolutely forbidden for our 2 kitties to play on the bed, &, if they insist on doing so, they get ushered out of the room & the door closed. They’re welcome to sleep there, but not play.

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