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Why does cat keep changing her sleeping spots?

Joan Morris, The Mercury News on

Published in Cats & Dogs News

Dear Joan: Agney, my 8-year-old female cat, finds a great place to sleep -- pet bed, closet, blanket -- and sleeps there for two to six months, then finds a new spot and never returns to the old.

The deserted spots aren't soiled. Why, besides because she's a cat, does she do that?

-- Anne

Dear Anne: While some cat behaviors defy explanation, this one has a few.

Changing sleeping locations is a cat's natural instinct, and reminds us that cats might be domesticated, but they are just one catnip-stuffed mouse away from being wild.

Eons ago, cats developed the practice of changing up their sleeping locations for their own protection. Cats' sleeping spots soon acquire their scent, allowing predators to track them to their lairs. So they moved around a lot.


Today's house cat has retained that trait, even though most homes don't have predators stalking our felines. Your cat is just doing what comes naturally.

Cats also will change their preferred sleeping spot depending on the temperature. In the winter, when it's colder, they like a warm, cozy spot. In the heat of the summer, they might pick the bathroom sink as their primary place or favorite napping spot.

This doesn't sound like the case with your cat, but pain can cause more frequent or constant switches in sleeping places. Cats employ vertical thinking. If they sleep in this corner and they have pain, they blame the bed and try another spot. This behavior is more common in older cats that have arthritis.

In multiple cat homes, hierarchy influences where a cat sleeps. The dominant cat will choose its sleeping spot and any other cats have to defer.


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