Kitten in bed under blankets

We have a new kitten, and I love the thought of having him sleep next to me at night. But is that a good idea? My spouse says maybe he’s too young to be up on the bed yet.

Snuggling with a kitten is one of the most wonderful feelings in the world. Kittens are sweet and cuddly and soft. I’m pretty sure that simply holding a kitten can help lower your blood pressure and reduce your stress level.

But kittens are also wild and crazy — and they are frequently likely to be both in the middle of the night or very early in the morning. They like to pounce on anything that moves, including whatever is under the sheets, and their little claws are sharp! And because kittens are basically babies, they might not have their house manners down pat just yet.

In general I suggest that new kitten owners hold off for a while on sharing the bed with their furry friend. Waiting until your kitten is more mature to snuggle him in your sleep has a number of benefits, for you and for him. Here are four good reasons to keep your kitten off the big bed — for now, at least.

Why Your Kitten Shouldn’t Sleep On the Bed

Sleeping alone is good for your kitten. Having his own sleep space helps your kitten to develop independence. It also enables him to adapt to your sleep schedule. A cat carrier is an ideal spot for him to snooze; if you make it extra cozy, he may learn to see it as a special retreat — and that, in turn, makes it easier when you need to take him for a car ride, whether it’s a visit to the veterinarian or a cross-country trip. It’s also important for him to be willing to stay off the bed or out of the room when you don’t want him there. The earlier you teach this lesson, the more likely it is to stick.

Your kitten is still young. Is your kitten able to make it through the night without a trip to the litterbox? After all, you don’t want him to have an accident on the bed. That’s no fun to clean up in the middle of the night. But if he’s waking at night and is up on your bed, you may need to get up and take him to the box — and that interrupts your sleep, too. Wait until you’re sure he’s fully litterbox trained before you offer him a spot in your bed.

Your kitten is still small. Your kitten’s size is a factor, too. A small kitten could injure himself if he jumps or falls off the bed. Or he could be hurt if you or your spouse roll over on him accidentally. Wait until he’s of a size to make that an unlikely risk. My main rule of thumb is to wait until the kitten is old enough to get up on the bed on his own — typically around his 6-month birthday.

Cats like to sleep up high. When they’re on the bed, that might mean on top of your head. It’s not all that comfortable, and it could be an issue if you or your spouse is prone to allergies. (And keep in mind that if one member of the family has allergies or asthma, it’s best to make that person’s bedroom completely off limits to the cat.) Once your kitten is allowed on the bed, decide where you want your kitten to sleep and make it attractive to him by folding a soft blanket and placing it there.

If you want to share sleep time with your cat while still maintaining separate spaces, consider placing a tall cat tree with some nice nooks and ledges where he can hole up at night. Just beware of a feline dive bomber at breakfast time.

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