Millions of pet owners let their four-legged friends sleep in bed with them because it makes them feel safer, a study has found.
A study of 2,000 cat and dog owners by pet wellbeing specialists Itchpet.com found two thirds will snuggle up with their pet at night with three in 10 of those liking the feeling of security they get from having them there.
More than a quarter (27%) said lying next to their cat or dog helps them feel less alone, and 37% like the warmth from their pet’s furry bodies.
The research also revealed the 10 most common sleeping positions, which include ‘The Sneak’, where your pet inches further and further up the bed.
‘The Donut Divider’, where your furry friend curls up and settles between your legs, and ‘the Pillow Bandit’, where your beloved four-footed family member takes over the pillow.
Leading animal behaviourist, Professor Peter Neville, said: “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-dependant bond between us and our cats and dogs.
“For us, the main element of that bedroom relationship is based on comfort, enjoyment, touch, shared warmth and increased feelings of security for many dog owners especially.
“And while cats and dogs benefit in similar ways, cats regard us as mother figures throughout their lives when in close contact with us; predators outdoors, but forever ‘kittens’ when they cuddle up.
“Dogs, however, are more like 11-year old humans in their social behaviour, often acting independently as guarders and hunters, but who all still find comfort and security close up with a parent figure or two when it’s time to sleep.
“This ‘regressive’ behaviour to be a youngster every night also means that they are quite tolerant of our nocturnal shiftings. 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 warm benefits they bring to us to train us to meet their individual night-time needs and desired 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 technique, resting in the bed 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. And more than one in 10 refer to their pet’s sleeping position as ‘The Wall’ – getting in between them and their partner.
It also emerged that 41% are happy to admit 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. However, it’s not always easy as one in 10 pet owners have been bitten by a flea in bed.
And 4% admit they only treat their pet for parasites when they have fleas, as opposed to taking preventative measures once a month, which is the veterinary recommendation.
Leading vet, Zoe Costigan, added: “While there are lots of perceived benefits to co-sleeping with our pets, such as feelings of calm, a sense of security and countering anxiety, it’s important to sleep healthily with our pets.
“Unwanted bed-guests are never a pleasure. So, if you suddenly find clusters of itchy red bites – often around your legs or ankles – there’s a chance your bed is also being shared by a flea too. Treating fleas can be a real headache, especially if they’ve made their way into your bed.”