Many cat owners allow their feline friends to sleep on the bed with them. While it can certainly be cosy, some people worry if this habit is unhygienic. There are reasonable concerns about germs as well as cleanliness when an animal shares your sleeping space. However, with proper precautions, owning a cat and sharing a bed generally does not pose serious health risks.
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Potential Hygiene Issues
One consideration is that cats walk both indoors and outdoors without wearing shoes, unlike their human owners. Their paws pick up bacteria which may then get transferred to fabric surfaces, like blankets and sheets on a bed. Areas that are warmer and darker can also harbour more germs before they die off.
Cats groom themselves frequently but might still carry fleas or ticks, especially if they go outdoors. These parasites feed on blood, and their bites can transmit other organisms that cause various diseases in humans. Ensuring your cat receives regular parasitic treatments can reduce this risk.
There is also a concern regarding germs transmitted through cat faeces. Cats infected by the parasite Toxoplasma may shed organisms in their stool which can survive for over a year in soil. Good litter box hygiene, washing hands after cleaning litter boxes, and not allowing cats to walk on kitchen counters can address this issue.
Promoting Hygienic Habits
While these risks may seem alarming at first glance, the chance of actually becoming ill from having a cat on the bed is quite low. Practising good hygiene and responsible pet care makes it even less likely.
Cats are naturally fastidious groomers, stimulating blood flow to their skin and coats. Their saliva may contain antimicrobial compounds as well. Keeping your cat healthy with annual vet exams, vaccinations, and monthly anti-parasitic medicines will further reduce infectious disease risks.
Washing your hands after stroking your cat is also sensible, just as you should wash your hands before preparing meals for yourself. Try placing a cosy cat bed nearby for when you don’t want direct contact while sleeping. Wash all bedding regularly in hot water to kill microbes – buy duvet covers that can be washed at 60 degrees.
Additionally, cleaning the litter box daily reduces exposure to waste and tracking litter around the home. Disinfecting the box weekly using diluted bleach can help destroy Toxoplasma or other infectious organisms. Keep cats indoors to prevent them from hunting prey and minimise fleas or ticks hitching a ride into the house.
Benefits Outweigh the Risks
Having a warm, purring companion while you drift off to sleep has mental health perks in lowering anxiety and promoting feelings of security. The close bond humans can develop with their felines similarly has positive emotional effects all around.
While no pet owner can completely eliminate risks, keeping up with vet care, grooming, parasite control, and hygiene habits can go a long way. Thoughtful precautions allow both cats and humans to safely share a bed for years of companionship. The minimal health hazards are far outweighed by the mental, social, and even potential physical benefits of snuggling with your furry friend at night. Sweet dreams!