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Sleeping with your cat: Is it healthy to let your cat stay in your bed with you?

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Should you let your cat sleep in your bed with you? It's a question that's so important, people make it part of the criteria they use when looking for a partner. Some people can't imagine sleeping with animals in their beds, while others can't imagine not sleeping with their pets.

Vetstreet recently polled its readers, along with veterinary professionals (including vets, techs, and veterinary office managers), and found that both groups love their pets sleeping in their beds with them. What was surprising was that veterinary professionals were more likely to let their cats sleep with them than readers were, while readers were more likely to let their dogs sleep with them. Veterinary professionals were also more likely to allow their whole zoo up on the bed at night.

But is it healthy? If you have pet allergies, that answer is obvious. Pet dander in your bed will trigger your allergies as sure as directly inhaling pollen will trigger symptoms for seasonal allergy sufferers. If you're allergic to your pets in any way, even mildly, it's probably not healthy to let your pets sleep on your bed, whether you're there or not.

What about for people who don't have allergies? According to an article in The New York Times, the CDC says that sleeping with your pets can increase your risk of catching zoonotic diseases. Zoonotic diseases are diseases that can pass between animals and humans. If your cat has fleas, mites, or worms, for instance, they can shed eggs and even larvae in your bed (not to mention the bugs themselves), and sleeping with them opens you up to parasitic infections. You also run a greater risk of catching diseases transmitted through insect bites. Dr. Bruno B. Chomel, a professor at the University of California at Davis and author of the CDC study, says that the risks are real, but nobody's telling people they must stop sleeping with their pets.

As far as whether you'll sleep well or not, some people sleep better with their pets, while others sleep better without them. That's something personal, and is more of a what-works-best-for-you question than anything. If you can't sleep without your cat on the bed, then don't try. Not to mention, if he's used to sleeping there and you try to kick him out, he'll make sure you don't sleep for the next several nights with howls, cries, and door-knocks all night long.