Think you’re the only who loves cuddling up to their furry friend at night? Think again.
A recent global study of 2 000 cat and dog owners found two-thirds snuggle up with their pet at night, with three in 10 of those liking the feeling of security they get from having the animals there.
More than a quarter (27%) said lying next to their dog or cat helps them feel less alone, and 37% like the warmth from their pets' furry bodies.
However, what’s most interesting is that the position your pet chooses sleep in on your bed can say a lot about their personality.
Leading animal behaviourist Professor Peter Neville has worked with pet well-being specialist Itchpet.com to unveil what your animal’s sleeping position says about them.
"What's clear is that sharing the bed with our pets is a normal part of our lives together and testament to the strength of the increasingly co-dependent bond between us and our cats and dogs,” Neville says.
“When choosing their sleeping positions, our pets are broadly seeking to maintain and enhance their close protecting bond with us, rather than any desire to control us or monopolise territory.”
“But they do cleverly learn to use their appeal and the warm benefits they bring to us to train us to meet their individual night-time needs and desires, and to shift our sleeping habits to accommodate theirs.”
The study found one in five pet owners said their furry friend opts for “The Knee Nuzzle” sleeping pose, resting in the bend of their leg overnight.
But the most common was “The Faithful”, adopted by 32% of pets who sleep at the foot of the bed by their owner's feet.
While some refer to their pet's sleeping position as “The Wall”, getting in between them and their partner, 41% say they get by in harmony, and that their pet is a “considerate bed-sharer”.
More than half even think their pet is easier to share a bed with than their human partner.
Here, a closer look at the 10 most popular pet sleeping positions and what they say about your four-legged-friend:
The Faithful Lies at the foot of your bed by your feet.While this seems like the actions of a dutiful and worshipping dog, more likely, you’re a restless sleeper, and this is as close as he or she can be to you while keeping an easy escape route. This is the most popular sleeping position among pets and owners.
The Knee Nuzzle Lies nestled in the bend of your legs as you lie in the fetal position. Warmth and security are the key attractions here as you both curl up together. This pet is more than happy to hand over all responsibility for their well-being to you like they’re a puppy or kitten again. In this perfectly protected environment, they don't need to make any more decisions and literally sleep like a baby.
The Doughnut Divider Curls up in a ball between your legs.Smaller pets enjoy the comforting slight compression of your legs on either side of their body, provided you stay still of course. Both cats and dogs hear far higher frequencies of sound than humans, so getting themselves in a sound-proofed warm “bubble” protects them from any unwanted noises that might disturb them.
The Wall In between you and your partner.This position might be an innocent warmth and security choice for your pet, but don’t be fooled as there may be an element of strategy here too. A dog, or sometimes a cat, that’s especially close to one partner might just be keeping the other at distance and is trying to ensure he or she gets all their favourite partner’s attention.
The Pillow Bandit Takes over the entire pillow. This position – which is less likely to occur if you snore – is usually the reserve of smaller dogs and cats who love the extra softness. As soon as the Pillow Bandit wakes, they’ll almost always immediately wake you too. Your face is immediately accessible to be targeted with a rub or a lick to ensure you both get an early start and breakfast is served pronto.
The Undercover Lover Under the duvet.This spot is the ultimate dark den in which your pet can hide away in a reassuring warm heap where body smells and pheromones combine to create a comforting “scent fug”. Cats and dogs are notoriously indifferent to their owners breaking wind and this might add to the security of a “common scent”. Just as some people sleep better under weighted blankets, some dogs also relax better if they’re lightly compressed by bedcovers.
The Cuddle Bug Cuddles in the crook of your arm. This gets the pet closer to your face, while also affording a quick escape route to other parts of the bed or to the floor if you turn or alter position in your sleep. The Cuddle Bug may also aspire to be a fully-fledged Pillow Bandit, and this position may just be a short step in their process of training you to accept and enjoy their advancing aspirations.
The Sneak Inches further up the bed to get closer to your head. Often also with aspirations to become a Pillow Bandit, the Sneak is probably quite a dependent soul who loves nothing more than to rest and snooze ever closer to your face where he can hear your gentle breathing while you sleep.
The Superhero Sprawls out on their belly next to you. This may be a bit of a compromise position for dogs – and only very rarely for cats – who want to keep close secure contact with you for a while and enjoy being petted on the head and massaged down their backs as you relax, but which prevents them from overheating if your bed is very warm. It may also be that the Superhero chooses this splayed position rather than curling up or stretching out so they’re ready to protect you if there are disturbances at night.
The Octopus You aren't sure how, but in the morning your pet is sprawled out in the middle of the bed and you're right on the edge. The pet starts out nicely sharing bed space with their loving owner, but gradually expands occupancy of the bed during the night, perhaps to get more comfortable and cool down if you’re too warm. This pet knows how nice you are, taking advantage of your good nature because you move to accommodate them as they steadily stretch out in your half-awake state and shove you ever so gently aside.