Thursday, March 5, 2015

3 things that define a perfect cat bed

Lucy the cat in her bed

A courageous cat could make almost anything into a bed. Piles of laundry, warm windowsills or even human beds (as Maggie demonstrates here) make great snuggle spots for a cat in need of a nap.

But you know what works better? A bed that's made for a cat.

When cats sleep in their designated cat beds, they leave behind fewer pesky hairs on human furniture. And, cats sleeping safely in their spots have a reduced chance of getting stepped on or otherwise injured by fast-moving humans.

But, unfortunately, most cats won't just plop down in any bed you buy for them. They're picky, and if you don't pay attention to the picky, you get things that the cats won't use.

I've found that there are just three attributes my cats look for in beds. If I can provide those three things, I've got a winner.

Here they are.

1. The whole thing must be washable. 

Cats are tidy creatures, and while they don't like perfumed laundry soap and fabric softener, they also don't like beds that smell like vomit or litter boxes. My cats are much more likely to use beds that I wash frequently than they are willing to use beds that just can't be washed.

That means their beds must be so durable that I can sweep them up and toss them into the wash. No plastic parts, fancy fillings or intricate closings can be allowed. The whole thing should be durable enough to be tossed into the wash on a regular basis.

2. It should have at least two high sides.

My cats will spend a bit of time in a bed that doesn't have sides, as long as it's placed in a primo spot. Lucy is demonstrating that point up top, as she's lounging in a bed close to the window that doesn't have a lip to it. If the spot is good, the cats will accept almost any bedding.

But, all of my cats will flock to beds that have high, sturdy edges. Here's Eamon in the current favorite option.
Eamon the cat in his bed

Notice how he can lean against the edge of this bed. That seems to help him feel safe and secure, as though other cats can't creep up on him, so he can fall asleep without worrying. Sometimes, too, he uses these shelves as an impromptu pillow, resting his chin on the edge while he sleeps. I don't think he needs a pillow, but he likes to have one. And this bed has a built-in pillow for him. That's pretty much perfect.

3. The bed should be big enough to encourage sprawling or cuddling. 

Some companies sell wee little beds for cats, suggesting that these guys like to sleep in really tight spaces. I've tried a few of these beds, and my cats don't seem to enjoy them. They either like to sleep together in a ball, or they like to sprawl out.

Here's the size of the current favorite bed. Notice how much room Eamon has left over.

Eamon in his very big bed

This is the smallest size of bed that he will accept.

When I'm shopping, I try to picture fitting two 10-pound cats into the bed. If one wouldn't fit, the thing is too small.

When I find options with all of these attributes, I buy a ton of them. That's why my cats are often sleeping in different-colored variations of the same bed. Why mess with success? But I am in the market for some new beds, as these are growing just a touch raggedy (hence the blanket liner in the green bed; I'm trying to make it last), and I can't get this particular bed anymore.

Anyone out there know of a terrific bed manufacturer? Leave me a note in the comments if you do. I'd love to find a new source!

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