Cats and Kittens Sleeping Under Blankets – Safe?

cat under blankets

What’s better than sleeping together with your cat, sharing the same bed and blankets. Most cats enjoy snuggling up to us at night, and many want to sleep under the blankets with us.

As a cat parent, I’ve been worried about whether it is safe for my cat to sleep under the covers with me. I’ve asked myself if my furball would be able to breathe. Will she not suffocate due to a lack of oxygen?

Is it safe for cats to sleep under the blankets?

So, I did the research and asked my vet about it. She also confirmed that;

It is perfectly safe for adult cats to sleep under blankets. Blankets permeate enough oxygen, so there is no risk of them suffocating. When it becomes uncomfortable or too hot, they will get out by themselves. It is harder for young kittens to find their way from underneath the blanket, so it’s best not to let them sleep under the blankets.

Can (newborn) kittens suffocate under blankets?

Adult cats suffocating under ordinary blankets is impossible because most cover fabrics are breathable and porous. Because of this, there is plenty of oxygen available to breathe. If at any point, your cat becomes uncomfortable or too warm, they will come out from under the covers by themselves.

However, for kittens, it is a different story. Kittens do not yet have the self-preservation and survival instinct of adult cats. Because they cannot move around and get themselves to safety easily, it’s best not to let them sleep under the blankets to avoid the risk of suffocation.

What about adult cats?

Sleeping under blankets is uncomfortable for most of us because it gives us the impression that we’re not getting any fresh air. This is caused by the fact that the air under the blankets is too warm, but not because there is insufficient oxygen for us to breathe.

For adult cats, this is not really an issue because the size of their lungs is much smaller than ours. Because of this, cats breathe in a lot less air with a single breath than humans do. Therefore it is very unlikely they run out of oxygen under the covers.

How do cats breathe under the blankets?

To figure out how cats can breathe comfortably under the blankets, we must first understand why humans find it uncomfortable.

Unless your blanket situation is very unusual and you’re using a very heavy type of blanket or a special type of air-tight blanket, air and oxygen will permeate through, enabling you and your cat to breathe normally.

Can cats overheat under blankets?

It’s well known that cats adore heat and love to curl up and sleep in warm places. However, you might think being wrapped up under a pile of blankets without fresh air may be too much for even a cat.

For who is worrying about a cat overheating under a blanket, I can set your mind at ease;

The risk of cats overheating when sleeping under blankets or covers is minimal. This is because a cat’s body temperature is higher than ours (between 100.5°F and 102.5°F (38.1°C and 39.2°C)), they are less bothered by the fact that the air under our blankets is warmer.

Do cats like being under covers?

Safety, warmth, and comfort are some of the reasons cats like blankets. Especially in the cold winter months when your cat might get cold, you’ll find that your cat enjoys snuggling under the blankets with you. 

Cats are well-known for their love of warm and hidden places. Blankets provide a perfect warm hiding spot that is ideal for cats to take a nap.

The softness of the blankets soothes them, and as a bonus, they get to spend quality time with you.

Especially with their owners or people they trust and are friendly with, cats can be very affectionate. When she wants to sleep together with you and even sleep under the blanket with you, it means she trusts you and wants to cuddle.

Other reasons cats enjoy digging into the blankets and sleeping with you are:

  • Relaxation, feeling safe and hidden.
  • Staying warm by sharing body heat – especially older cats may have trouble keeping themselves warm at night.
  • Stress relief
  • Getting some social time, strengthening the mutual bond between both of you
  • Falling asleep faster

Why do cats hide or “burrow” themselves under blankets or covers?

Other than sleeping under blankets, your bed is an ideal playground for cats as well. They love to play hide-and-seek, even if it’s only by themselves, and chase imaginary prey.

One reason cats enjoy burrowing themselves under blankets is because of cats’ strong denning instincts.

Although domesticated, a cat’s instincts remain strong. In the wilderness, they are both prey and predators.

When playing under our sheets, they can enact those instincts.

If they are the prey, hiding under blankets or covers will give them a safe and secure hiding place. When they are the predator, the sheets will provide an obscured spot. Ideal to wait for the right moment to pounce upon their prey.

What are the drawbacks of your cat sleeping in your bed?

As mentioned, it is perfectly safe to let your cat sleep under the blankets with you. If you’re using standard blankets, there should be no oxygen concern.

Because cats have highly developed self-preservation instincts, them smothering while under the sheets is very unlikely, they will wake up and get out if they’re experiencing any discomfort. Apart from a potential safety concern, there are other things to consider, and it basically comes down to your personal choice The disadvantages include;

  • Disrupted sleep – Most cats will not sleep with you the entire time and move around during your sleep. This might wake you up if you’re a light sleeper.
  • Asthma and allergies – If you’re a person who’s prone to allergies, having a cat sleep in your bed and even under the sheets could exacerbate your allergies.
  • Exposure to infections and parasites – Especially with outdoor cats, you could be bringing unwanted things into your bed. Although the risk is small, it is worth considering.
  • Introduction to litter box debris. – Cats may have remnants of their litter box or other debris in between their paws which they will then leave in your bed.

On the other hand, most of these drawbacks can be avoided or minimized by ensuring your cat is clean and updated on its vaccines. It’s a good practice to clean your cat’s paws before they join you in your bed.

How to avoid your cat sleeping with you?

If, for any reason, you prefer to sleep without your cat, there are some ways to train your cat that your bed is off-limits for them.

How to do this:

  • Keeping your bedroom door closed – Keeping the door closed, both during the day and night, will send a clear signal that this room is off-limits. When starting with this, your cat may scratch the door for a few nights but will learn soon enough that she’s not allowed in.
  • Using a scent that cats dislike – There are several smells that cats hate but are pleasant to us. For example, using eucalyptus on your sheets will give you a fresh sensation while your cat will hate it and stay away.
  • Provide a good alternative sleeping place – If you don’t want your cat to sleep in bed with you, do provide a warm, soft, and cozy alternative for her. When having a nice cat bed, your cat will prefer that over sleeping in your bed.
  • Be consistent – With any pet, the key to teaching them something is to be consistent. If you let your cat sleep with you from time to time but disallow it other times, it will confuse her.

Related questions

Can cats hide under pillows?

Cats often sit, hide and sleep under pillows. They do this because they like the warmth, and it provides a good hiding place for them.

What is the meaning of some cat sleeping positions?

Cats can sometimes sleep in positions that seem strange or uncomfortable to us. Although all cats are different, the way they sleep reveals a lot about their personality or about how they feel. Read more about cat sleeping positions in our post here.

How can I make sure my cat is safe while sleeping with me?

Your cat’s self-preservation instinct is enough to ensure her safety while sleeping with you. If your cat feels threatened by your presence in the bed or when you toss and turn too much, she will leave the bed and head to her own bed or a furniture piece she likes.

At Cat & Friends we are passionate about everything feline. We are a team of cat parents and writers who love to write about everything related to cats. Our goal is to provide the most helpful and accurate information about our little furry friends through extensive research and experience.

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