Pets Sleep Together: Are They Pals?

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Jonesy (JRT) tolerates Lucy in his bed

Sophia Yin, DVM, MS December 10, 2009.

1966-2014 R.I.P.

Clients frequently tell me that they think their cat or dogs like each other but they aren’t sure. They sometimes point out that their pets sleep together, but does that mean they’re best friends? It could but it doesn’t necessarily. They could just be sharing beds because it’s comfortable or convenient. True “friends,” actively seek each other and hang out, play together, and perform affiliative gestures such as mutual grooming.

Here’s a photo of Jonesy and his bratty younger, but bigger sister, Lucy. Jonesy pretty much just tolerates her. Sometimes he puts up with her pestering, and other times he exercises his Sailor’s mouth. When she’s in the more comfortable bed he sometimes joins her because that’s the most comfortable spot.

Here’s Jonesy with Homer (tricolor JRT) and a visiting JRT. Homer would actively seek Jonesy out and lie next to him. That would sometimes make Jonesy grumble under his breath. Homer did indeed look up to Jonesy. But, as usual, Jonesy could care less about Homer.

Tell me about your pets who sometimes share a bed. Are they best friends or just convenient buddies?

Jonesy puts up with two others sharing his bed


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15 responses to “Pets Sleep Together: Are They Pals?

  1. I don’t know… my cat seems to get annoyed with the puppy constantly pestering him to play… although he eventually gets coaxed into a playfight… which usually ends up with the cat hissing and clawing the dog’s face and the dog yelping because the dog got too rough and tried to grab the cat’s head / neck or stepped on the cat… but it’s the cat that always seeks out the dog to sleep together. Whenever the dog is curled up he goes and curls up on her, not just next to her. The dog seems to get agitated and a bit annoyed at the cat using her as a pillow…but eventually gives up and lets him sleep there. Maybe the cat does it for revenge for all the pestering?
    The dog always greets the cat with tail wagging and face licking, and the cat often rubs against the dog and cleans her but I do think that although they appear to get on some of the time, they do get on each other’s nerves a lot! I suppose it’s because they “speak” different “languages” and sometimes don’t understand each other.

    1. I took in a stray cat, had her for 1 week and she escaped from house once and was pregnant. She had 6 kittens and if I didn’t hold her front foot while giving birth she would try to come out of her birthing area. When the kittens were 8 weeks old, she escaped a second time outside and I have never seen her again. So I didn’t have her more than a few months. We kept one kitten, the kitten tried to nurse on my female black lab and freaked my dog out. Fast forward 8 years, my cat is in love with my dog. The cat seeks my dog out(dogs 14 1/2 now) cats 8. Cat sleeps right in the face of my dog, rubs his nose in her ear, purrs the whole time. He likes to lay close to us also, but my dog is for sure a different kind of relationship than we have with him. He eats with her in morning after finishing his food and she allows it, but does not allow my other dog. My dogs old now, I think my cat will be really upset when she passes away. My previous cat lived until almost 20 years old, he also loved my dogs, but not like my current cat, but my current cat hates other cats. There is a stray outside we have a area made on our porch so she has a safe place, he tries to attack her, but the stray outside even seems to love my dogs, rubs on them outside, rolls on her back, is very odd. I don’t know if it’s the way I raise my dogs, but is odd how great they get along with cats. Was always told cats and dogs don’t get along, don’t believe it.

  2. my cat and dog they love each other as brother and sister they sleep together and eat together i was a good mother taking care of my pets…..???????

    1. Wow, how incredibly rude! I came here for advice as a totally committed pet owner, my 2 yr old rescue cat and my new puppy love to play/sleep together but recently, I’ve noticed that pup (30lbs at 4 months old and still growing) has been getting a bit more rough than I feel is safe for my cat (7lbs fully grown) ….shame on me, I must be a terrible pet owner for asking for others experience

      1. Tova i went through that situation with my pets. Just intervene with the pup hes young eventually they will figure out boundaries. my dog is 6 months now and my cat is a year and he was 5 weeks when we got the dog (mother rejected the litter with aggression) cat was the bully at first a puppy grew it got equal, then the dog was worse but I’ve always thought him to be gentle with having young kids around aswell. As long as you treat them how youd wanna be treated they’ll learn.

      2. Toveh-
        Actually, your response was the comment that was “incredibly rude.”
        On another note – I do hope your babies are playing well together and the rough play has ceased.

    2. That’s… not how animals work. As long as you aren’t treating them badly, their relationship with each other has nothing to do with how loving and caring you are as a pet “mother”. You cannot talk with and reason with animals. You cannot get them to talk out their differences and teach them conflict resolution. They don’t understand self-development or that there are two sides to every conflict. Yes you provided them with a safe home, but beyond that you really just got lucky that they get along.

  3. My two cats (both female, 16 and 12 years) tolerate each other at best but generally are not interested in interacting with one another. Besides the occasional hiss. But I do find that they like to sleep in close proximity to each other. One will be on the higher backside of the couch while the younger is asleep on the cushion right below. Or, usually one on one side of my bed, the other on the opposite side most of the day while I’m at work — can tell by the color of the fur on the blanket. Can’t stand each other but have to sleep together! Never ceases to amaze me.

  4. My cats, a one-and-a-half year old tomcat and a 10 week old kitten, always sleep in the same chair together and the older one always cleans the little one. The big one, Oz, always follows the kitten around and hits the dogs if they play to rough with him. I’m not sure if Oz took in the kitty as a baby or what, but it sure is cute!

  5. Three cats: A Mama’s boy 8 year old, my JooniPurr (outstanding feature: his big brown “people eyes”, I have been the human to a good handful of cats and have been around many, many others, no others with brown eyes, my Jooni is so extraordinarily specialtacular) a 5 year old big girl, my NutMeg (outstanding feature: her fur matches her nose, her eyes, her whiskers, butterscotch colored, so prettily unique!) and a 9 month old kitten, our Lady Grey Zse Zse (Big name, huh? For a small kitty😺, outstanding feature: her VERY long tail, her long body that she twists in weird ways and best of all, she is the true image of our beloved Angel cat in Heaven, our GreyNess, we didn’t know she’d come to look exactly like him, but in calling her Lady Grey it is in his honor, we love you❤❤❤ GreyNess!) love to recharge right close to each other affording me quite a small patch on my bed, (about half, especially if Nutty is on my blankets, big girl=plus sized, but she’s healthy and has no conditions, Thank You Jehovah ☺) my Jooni who is with me in and out (Or “North” as we call it) all day has a cat bed on my bed, however, whoever gets to it first is usually the one who recharges in it, when Lady came along, she was constantly wanting my Jooni’s attention, he would fight it, lazily I might add, at first, but came to look to it being a daily event, Lady came to us at 10 weeks and my Jooni at 6 weeks, mind you, Jooni is not a lover, he only allows me to pet or love or anything him, Lady didn’t notice or she was too enamored to care, Nutty fits in wherever and whenever she’s of a mind, bottom line, they hang out, eat, play, recharge, run about the roof and balcony together, while they do spend time apart, Jooni has learned Lady wants to pretty much always be with him, so I truly believe they’re friends as well as feline siblings, happy kitty cat and doggying and whatever pet you have everyone!

  6. My cat and dog (3 month old tabby and 3 year old schnauzer) love each other. The sleep together (curled up together), play together and even groom each other’s ears and what not. They follow each other around the house and are pretty insuperable. I think the fact that we took the cat in since birth as a shelter and decided to keep her had an impact since she never really got to bond with other cats.

  7. I have an Australian terrier n two chihuahua nd pomerainians mixes n one of my mixed dogs doesn’t get along with my terrier but they sleep together. Why’s that?

  8. We have two cats. Brother and sister (or so we were told 🤷). They’re about 8 months old and they squabble sometimes, but I know they love each other. My question: whenever they sleep together…. Which is almost all the time….. They ALWAYS mirror each other’s sleeping position. Why is this? Matter of fact, they’re doing it right now. It is so odd. And even the times when they’re not sleeping next to each other, they still always seem to be sleeping in exactly the same position.

  9. Hi. Why would my dog get off my bed when the cat jumps up on it. They get on really well but the dog always gets up and goes downstairs whenever the cat comes to join us

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