How to Choose the Best Bed for Your Cat

Want to pick out the best bed for your cat? It's all about figuring out your cat's personal preferences and sleep habits.

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If you have a cat, we don’t need to tell you felines like to sleep. A lot. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the average cat spends 15 hours a day in dreamland, with some snoozing for up to 20 hours. So it makes sense that providing a cozy place for your cat to curl up for a nap would be a priority.

But does your cat need a bed of its own? And if so, which cat bed is best? It all depends on the individual cat.

Should You Get a Bed for Your Cat?

Before running out and buying the latest and greatest cat bed on the market, observe your cat’s habits.

“I think that the best way to decide is to ‘ask’ your cat and see what your cat is doing naturally,” says Amy Shojai, a certified animal behavior consultant and the author of 35 books on cats and dogs.

Some cats, Shojai says, like to sleep on pillows. Others like to snuggle under towels or hide in confined spaces. And some prefer to be up high, or in windows, or near heaters. It all depends on personality and preferences. Realistically, some cats don’t like beds at all.

Be aware, though, the cat is the ultimate decider, says Mikel Delgado, Ph.D., of FelineMinds Cat Behavior Consulting.

“The cat chooses the bed more than the human does,” Delgado says. So pet parents, she says, should be prepared to allow the cat to try out a few beds before settling on “the one.” You can even try making some cat furniture yourself.

Types of Cat Beds

Once you narrow your cat’s sleep-related preferences, you should familiarize yourself with the various types of cat beds out there. Some are basic, providing nothing more than a plush place to crash. Other options include:

  • Window perches. More like a simple sleeping surface, these “beds” allow your cat to gaze out the window in between ZZZs.
  • Orthopedic cat beds. These beds are great for cats in need of a little extra joint support, like seniors or cats with arthritis.
  • Novelty beds. Fun, whimsical beds like banana-shaped or Game of Thrones cat beds can be entertaining for the cat’s human while also providing a cozy place for a nap.
  • Calming beds. Skittish cats may prefer a super-soft bed that they can really sink into, designed with anxiety in mind. A soft bed is ideal for cats who like to knead.
  • Heated beds. Cats, says Delgado, have a higher thermal neutral zone than humans. For this reason, they may feel cold in a house that feels perfect to you. Therefore, a bed that can be plugged in is ideal for many cats. (For safety reasons, it’s important to get a heated bed designed for cats rather than using a standard heating pad, Delgado says.)

Other considerations include fabric (microfiber or velour are popular choices), size and ease of cleaning. And while most cat-specific beds are perfectly safe, Delgado recommends avoiding beds featuring loose, fringed materials or decorative elements that cats could accidentally ingest, due to the risk of strangulation and/or intestinal blockages.

Where Should I Put a Cat Bed?

This part is extremely important, but not necessarily complicated. All you really need to do is put the bed wherever your cat likes to hang out, says Delgado. For some cats, this will be the couch, so they can sit next to you during your weekend Netflix marathon. It could also be near a big window or in your bedroom. Like the bed itself, it really just depends on the cat’s preferences.

How Often Should I Clean or Replace a Cat Bed?

Fortunately, cat beds are fairly low maintenance. While beds should be washed if they become soiled, weekly cleaning is not required or even recommended. Cats like familiar-smelling things and will be more drawn to a bed once their scent is on it, says Dr. Delgado.

Instead, use a lint roller or vacuum to remove excess fur and toss the bed/bedding in the washing machine every month or so. Even better, she says, keep more than one bed in the home so you can alternate when you wash each one. That allows the cat to always have its scent on one bed.

Dawn Weinberger
Dawn Weinberger is a freelance writer in Portland, Oregon who has contributed to numerous publications and websites over the past 20 years, including RD.com, Glamour, Women's Health, Entrepreneur, and many others. Dawn has a BA in journalism from Western Washington University and is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors. She writes about everything from health and medicine to fashion, shopping, and business.