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How do cats choose where to take their naps?
January 15, 2013 9:26 AM   Subscribe

My cats both seem to choose different places to sleep on different days. I can't really figure out how/why the choose where they do. One day in the closet with a window, the other on the bed when the blinds are open, sometimes on the couch near the window, sometimes on the couch as far as possible from the windows, sometimes on the living room couch, sometimes on the family room couch, and then somedays in the no-window basement where it is completely dark. Do you know what affects the pattern? Except maybe light/warmth?
posted by warthurton to Pets & Animals (20 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Obligatory "Cats are weird" answer...

Light/warmth may be part of it, but I think, at least some of the time, my cat chooses her napping spots based on how visible/accessible she wants to be to the humans. She's also under the impression that she's a guard dog and will sometimes nap at her "post" by the door.
posted by MuChao at 9:33 AM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


I can't really figure out how/why the choose where they do.

Neither can they.
posted by valkyryn at 9:36 AM on January 15, 2013 [11 favorites]


Second guessing some cats is a fool's errand.

Sometimes cats will be curious and want to keep an eye on things. At other times they want to be left alone. In general, cats do like to do a survey of their home regularly just to see what is what, and that can include sleeping different places.

Things that affect this: who is in the house and what they are doing or how much noise they are making, how well fed they are feeling, whether you are cooking, whether they miss you, how much they miss you, whether they had a big night scrapping with or chasing the local wildlife, where the heat and light sources are, what smells familiar, what needs scenting, how secure they feel, how well they are, whether they feel like it, if a door has just been opened where once it was closed, if things have been moved about or brought in or taken away, whether the day has a 't' in it.
posted by MuffinMan at 9:39 AM on January 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


This is one of our favorite topics of discussion around our house, attempting to figure out the reasons for new favorite places the cats pick out. It can seem random, but often with astute detective work and a surreal inner cat-sense we sometimes think we have it nailed. Usually it relates to warmth, sometimes a comfy blanket, sometimes where a piece of paper has fallen.

Cats are weird.
posted by readery at 9:44 AM on January 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


nthing muffinman.

If you're trying to entice a cat to sleep in a specific spot, you can do a couple of things. Sprinkle the bed with catnap. Throw treats on/in it. If your cat predominantly prefers to nap near you, make sure the bed is in your presence.

We do know that cats like to be warm. Even in the middle of a summer heatwave. So you could also position the bed near a heating vent/radiator or where it gets direct sunlight.

I have a black cat who bakes herself in the sun during the summer and sits right up against the vent in the bathroom during the winter.

The other? Sleeps in the softest spot of the room that I am currently in.
posted by royalsong at 9:46 AM on January 15, 2013


Why don't you just ask them?

I always assumed it was a function of warmth and softness.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:55 AM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Our indoor cats have their territories and they sort of follow the sun around the house. So early in the morning, Malcolm is in the basement window, looking at the rose bushes. A bit later, both cats migrate to the arcadia door in the dining room to bask in the sunbeam there. Late in the day, Malcolm is on the white living room sofa (which is natural because he's a black cat) looking out the front window. Eartha is usually near the front door, on the bed/scratcher/divan.

On weekends, if I'm in bed, they're both there with me. Malcolm within petting range, Eartha at the foot of the bed. If I don't feel so well, then they're both closer.

In the evenings, Malcolm likes to hang out in the basement with Husbunny, especially if he's watching MST3K under the fleecy, argyle blanket.

Some of it is warmth, some is patrolling territory, some is just curiosity.

Cats are weird.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:59 AM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've noticed that mine will always choose something that is of visual and/or textural interest. If there's a pair of pants left on a freshly-made bed, they will always lay down on the pants. Similarly, if the bed is not made, they like the crumply/foldy part of the blankets rather than the flatter part. On the couch, mine will always sleep on a knitting project, even though they risk poking from needles. I think part of it may be wanting to mark as many surfaces with their fur and scent as possible, part of it may be that crumply/foldy fabrics are softer or squishier.
posted by Kurichina at 10:00 AM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Our cats, and the cats I grew up with, and my mother's cat, seem to pick one spot as their favorite and spend a good part of each day napping there for a few days or weeks in a row. And then one day they'll suddenly pick another spot. My mother's hypothesis is that the behavior evolved so that as soon as one spot got overly infested with fleas and whatnot, the cat would abandon it for another.

Doesn't explain why our female cat decided to sleep in the other cat's bed this morning! I think it might have been an expression of dominance, as he was on our bed at the time.
posted by telophase at 10:01 AM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Cats will, without exception, always choose to be exactly where they want to be, doing exactly what they want to do, at any given moment.
posted by mudpuppie at 10:32 AM on January 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think it depends on their mood at the moment. Sometimes it's important to a cat to keep an eye on things, to not miss anything important. Sometimes it's more important to feel safe, warm and undisturbed. Sometimes they want company, sometimes not.

I have had a couple of cats who like to be centered or outlined -- on a rug with a medallion pattern, they would sleep exactly in the center of the pattern. It seems to be an expression of the general attitude "I am the center of the universe and everything here is for me." If I left a shirt or a dustcloth or a paper lying somewhere, the cat would have to sleep on that. "Here's a new thing -- it must be for me to sleep on." Once just for fun I drew a chalk circle on the floor and sure enough, Cat had to lie in the middle of the circle. That must come from an instinct to always be looking for a safe nest with boundaries that can be watched.
posted by Corvid at 11:10 AM on January 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


Comfort is one factor, I'm sure. At least, I'm assuming that that's what lead my cat to nap inside my bathroom sink in the summers.

Then again, there was also that whole stretch of time when he went out of his way to fall asleep with his face buried inside one of my shoes, which I'm sure was uncomfortable on at least two different sensory levels. So the answer may indeed be "comfort or individual fetish."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:19 AM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you want to ponder on the activities of cats, especially multiple cats in the same area, I suggest reading Cat Vs. Cat: Keeping Peace When You Have More Than One Cat (Google books preview). In this case, jump to the chapter on home range and territory. Home range is "the outermost area where a cat roams and patrols for food," and territory is "the area a cat will defend against intruders." There are preferred spaces for various reasons, and it sounds like your cats are just patrolling their range.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:27 AM on January 15, 2013


Cats are weird, but I'm sure they have their reasons. Light, warmth, what's going on outside, what's going inside. I think mine follows the birds, the sun, and the radiator.
posted by OsoMeaty at 12:48 PM on January 15, 2013


haha. who knows. my cat used to switch up his napping places quite a bit too. he did like the light/warmth spots but that was definitely only part of it. i figure he just liked variety. i miss the little guy but he had a good, long life.

now, i have a dog and he does the same thing but doesn't change his napping spots quite as frequently.
posted by wildflower at 6:14 PM on January 15, 2013


Lolol. You will drive yourself crazy trying to figure out what your cats are thinking.
posted by fullerenedream at 9:26 PM on January 15, 2013


Obligatory pictures of cats in cat question?
posted by ibakecake at 9:53 PM on January 15, 2013


How do you choose where to have your naps? If you're anything like anyone I know, it's where you are when you find yourself feeling sleepy. Today on the sofa, next week at your desk, next on the oh-so-enticingly-cool cellar floor when you went down to get rhubarb preserves in mid-August, then the time you sat down on the bed to fold the laundry and woke up 4 hours later with a sock on your ear, etc, etc.

Cats are weird, but I'm not sure How do humans choose where to take their naps? is any more answerable.
posted by segatakai at 3:55 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


segatakai: "How do you choose where to have your naps? If you're anything like anyone I know, it's where you are when you find yourself feeling sleepy. Today on the sofa, next week at your desk, next on the oh-so-enticingly-cool cellar floor when you went down to get rhubarb preserves in mid-August, then the time you sat down on the bed to fold the laundry and woke up 4 hours later with a sock on your ear, etc, etc.

Cats are weird, but I'm not sure How do humans choose where to take their naps? is any more answerable.
"

I have s specific napping couch. My cat uses me as her napping couch when I am using mine. Cat on stomach and bladder makes for a limited nap.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:29 AM on January 16, 2013


When we discovered our cats sleeping in odd places, we found that it correlated to the heat ducting in the basement. They didn't seem to like the hot air blowing on them, so they wouldn't sleep near the registers. But they detected and loved the warm areas of the floor caused by the ducts.

They also seemed to like either: good hiding places, or good perching places. In the wild, they probably love a good tree branch crotch.
posted by gjc at 7:47 PM on January 18, 2013


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