Training Your Cat to Sleep in its Own Bed

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Is your cat used to sleeping on your bed or in other places, but you’d prefer them to sleep in their own designated cat bed?

There are several ways to teach your cat to sleep at a specific place. Contrary to what you might hear, cats can be trained quite well, although patience and repetition are key.

Why change your cat’s sleeping place?

You might want to re-train your cat to sleep in another place than on your bed.

Maybe your cat wakes you up at night, maybe you want to get rid of stray hairs on your bed…

For what ever the reason is, changing the place your cat sleeps, might be a difficult task. First of all, cats are very particular about where they choose to sleep. 

Even if you buy them an excellent cat bed, they might not want to sleep in it for reasons that are not obvious to us.

Teaching your cat to stop sleeping on your bed and in their own bed instead can be a lengthy process, but the pointers below might help you achieve this.

1. Carefully select the location of the cat bed

Cats are very picky in where they want to sleep, and that’s why getting this right is essential when trying to convince your cat to sleep in its own bed. 

In general, cats prefer a spot that they perceive as being safe. Safe to a cat might include the following things:

  • It’s in a corner, so they are covered from most sides.
  • It’s narrow, so it’s not easy to reach for potential predators.
  • It’s preferably in a place where they are hard to spot, but they have a good view of the room.

Cat beds that are under a table or other furniture or which are elevated work very well usually. 

Try different spots in your home if the first choice doesn’t carry your cat’s approval.

2. A cat bed should have no strange smell

Cats are susceptible to smells, and they can smell about 14 times better than the average human. 

Scents that are almost imperceivable or even pleasurable to us will be very noticeable for your cat. The bed also might have a ‘factory smell’. Either will deter your cat from sleeping in a new cat bed. 

You can try to wash the bed without a deterrent to getting rid of strange scents. Another tip is to put a blanket with your smell inside of it. 

If your cat is used to sleeping with you in your bed, it might very well be because they like the way you smell. 

Try sleeping a couple of nights with a small blanket and then putting that blanket in their bed. Or, you could use an old worn t-shirt. Chances are that you just made sleeping there a whole lot more attractive to your cat.

3. Make sleeping in its own bed fun for your cat

One of the best ways to teach a cat something is to make it fun and engaging. 

What better way to do this than to make sleeping (or even sitting) in their own cat bed rewarding and fun.

Whenever your cat snuggles into their new bed, praise them and pet them. You might even reward them with a snack or treat.

Patience is required, and repetition is vital. For more great tips on how to teach your cat to do something, have a look at this page.

4. Make sure your cat has a warm and cozy place to sleep

As we know, cats love warm places, especially when it comes to sleeping. 

If you leave the heating on at night, locating their bed next to the heater is a huge pro for a cat to choose that as their designated sleeping spot.

If you have a dryer, try heating it in there for a while. Your cat will love it.

Also, make sure there is no draft or wind. Your cat will not want to sit in a drafty place.

5. Pursuading your cat with catnip might do the trick

Sprinkling some catnip on your cat’s bed will work wonders! You could even hide some in the lining of the fabric.

The scent of catnip is very hard, not to say impossible for cats to resist, and this might convince her to sleep in their own bed.

6. Get a good bed – from your cat’s perspective

Above all else, the bed itself can make a huge difference! 

Even if you ticked all other boxes, when your cat just doesn’t like the bed itself, all your efforts to get her to sleep in it are futile.

There is no one-size-fits-all, so many different cats and so many different opinions. Something this is great for one cat is not necessarily something that another cat desires as well.

Some cats like a covered bed, others like it open. Some cats like a messy bed with loose blankets, others like it neat. Some cats like it tight; others want to stretch out.

If, after all your efforts, your cat just doesn’t want to use its bed, you might have to try another one. We had personally gone through three different beds before our cat was comfortable. The last choice was one that we didn’t like ourselves, but our cat loved it!

7. Make other sleeping spots undesirable

We’ve discussed the process of rewarding your cat for choosing its own bed. Instead of using the carrot, you can also use the stick (or both).

We don’t mean using the stick to hit them and scare them out of their current sleeping spot but instead making those spots less desirable.

You can do this by removing what they like about it—for example, the sheets, blankets, or other soft material. You could spray something that cats don’t like the smell of, like citrus oil, perfume, or cinnamon.

We feel it’s important to mention to never scold or punish your cat for trying to sleep somewhere where you don’t want him to.

Cats are very sensitive to scolding, and they might not understand why you don’t want them to sleep. This might even scare them and stress them out. So, avoid getting angry at any cost!

Had success?

Were you successful in training your cat to sleep in their own bed? Let us know in the comments below, we’d love to hear from you, and you might just help out our other readers.

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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