Where do cats like to sleep? Anywhere and everywhere. Picking the right bed for your cat can be almost impossible. Will they love it? Or will they look at it with sheer indignation? Anyone who thinks buying relatives’ Christmas presents is difficult has obviously never had the arduous task of buying a cat a new bed.
As a cat owner you’ll know that cats will curl up in the strangest of places, but that shouldn’t put you off offering them something a little more comfortable. Sure, they may opt to sleep in cardboard boxes or on the top of bookshelves (knocking everything down in the process). But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try out a bed that they can claim as their own. By providing them with a bed, you’re not only offering comfort, you’re also offering a sense of security. Plus, study has proven that cats suffer from sleep deprivation in the same way that humans do. Poor sleep patterns or sleeping behaviour has even been linked to feline epilepsy. We owe it to them to find them a cosy, comfy cat bed!
With so many options available on the market and cat owners really just wanting the best for their cats (and a bed they’ll actually sleep in), choosing can be fairly tricky. You wouldn’t buy your own bed without doing your research, so why choose your cats bed on a whim? The trick to choosing the right bed for your cat is understanding their personality. Do they like to interact with their surroundings? Do they like to hide? Alternatively, do they curl up and go to sleep on pretty much anything?
Different products will always be suited to different cats based on their personalities. However, most cat owners have found that they’re much less likely to wake up with their cat smothering them in their sleep whilst their cat insists on sharing a pillow if they opt for a traditional wicker cat bed. You’ll also be able to keep all the fur off your own bed!
So, without any further ado, let’s dive in to our Catmart guide to cat beds. As you’ll see from the sections below, this guide is intended to examine two things. First, the many different kinds of cat beds that there are on the market, from the simple to the incredibly ostentatious. Second, we’ll also explore what you have to think about before you actually pick a cat bed. We’re going to try to define what really makes good cat beds, so let’s take a look. When you’re done here, check out our cat bed reviews for our thoughts on specific brands!
1 Basic Mats
The cat sat on the mat. Everybody knows the cat sat on the mat. It’s one of the first rhymes you learn at the earliest grade of school. Some cats like sitting on mats so much that they go to sleep on them, too. In our eyes, that qualifies the most humble of mats as potential cat beds. So they’re on the list!
1.1 Cat Floor Mats
We all know what floor mats look like. We also know how much cats like using them as cat beds. Whilst their owners may use them for wiping their feet on, cats like nothing better than to curl up and lay down on them. That can sometimes make entering or leaving your home difficult without upsetting your feline housemate. This is definitely a cheaper alternative than almost any cat bed solution. They also take up no room in your home as they’re flat to the floor, and you get some usage out of them yourself!
There are obvious downsides though. First of all, if you’re wiping your own feet on them, they’re going to get dirty. That means you’ll have a dirty cat, and very shortly afterwards, dirty furniture. If your cat has fallen in love with a floor mat, maybe just let them keep that one and get yourself a new one. There’s also the issue of them being on the floor. Anybody who’s owned a cat knows how easily they can camouflage themselves. A sleeping cat on a floor mat could easily be trodden on either by you or a visitor. We definitely don’t suggest leaving them right in front of the door for that reason – get your cat a mat of its very own and leave it flush against a wall somewhere safe.
Cats who like to sleep on cat floor mats tend to be fairly bold cats. They’re not bothered by people walking around or near them, and they might even be so brave that they can stay in the same room as the vacuum cleaner! There’s no reason why a floor mat should cost you any more than $10, although if you want extra design elements – for example a picture on the mat – that will cost you more.
1.2 Windowsill Mats
Your cat loves to sit on the windowsill and gaze out on the world. It’s the next best thing to actually going outside, and we all love that sound they make when they see a bird. You know the one we mean – they never make it any other time! Sometimes they stay up there for so long that they get a little sleepy, and they decide to make the windowsill into a cat window bed. It’s possible that your cat would happily sleep on the windowsill without any kind of bed there for them at all, but as kind owners we should do our best to make them comfortable.
That’s where windowsill mats; also known as cat window beds; come in. They’re basically a window cat bed. You might be wondering what the point is, so we’ll tell you. With a windowsill mat, your cat is likely to stay in the same space every time it jumps up onto the windowsill. That means you’re not constantly rearranging the flowers, or the photo frames, or whatever else you have up there. It also means the fur collects in one place instead of across the entire window space! It’s more comfortable for your cat, and it’s more convenient for you.
On the other hand, there’s the question of whether you really want to encourage your cat to sleep on the windowsill at all. As graceful as they are when they’re awake, cats can get a little reckless when they’re asleep, or on the verge of sleep. If your cat likes to take a big stretch just as it settles down, it’s probably going to knock anything nearby off the windowsill. If you use your windowsill to display valuable items – or just about anything you care about – this is probably one to avoid! In terms of price, these are another budget cat bedding solution, coming in at less than $10.
2 Pillow Beds
Moving on from cat window beds, let’s look at pillow beds (also known as cat pillows), because we know your cat does. Specifically, your cat looks at yours. Who reading this hasn’t woken up with a back full of fur in their face, or a cold nose in their ear, because their cat felt like sharing the pillow? We all like to have a cat in bed, but on our own terms, not when it disturbs us! So if this sounds like your cat, perhaps what they really want is a cat pillow of their very own?
Pillows are comfortable. That’s why we sleep on them. It should be no surprise a lot of cats like them for the same reasons their owners do. When you think about beds, they’re really just a soft, spongy place for people to lie down comfortably. A pillow does the same job your bed does, but for your head. Cats are about the same size as your head. A pillow is basically a bed for cats!
On the downside, cats moult where they sleep, and cat hairs are harder to get out of a pillow than they are from just about anywhere else. Because they’re not walled in the same way they would be with a cat basket, a nervous cat may not feel as secure, and refuse to use it. They like sleeping on yours with you, because you’re there to protect them! A pillow without you nearby might just not be as appealing.
Cat pillows are another inexpensive option for cat bedding, and a $10 budget will be fine for this. Any old pillow will do, but some retailers do offer specialist options which are designed to better withstand constant claw and bite attacks.
2.1 Cat Donut Beds
Cat donut beds (or cat doughnut beds for you Brits) are a classic cat comfort model. Available in a variety of sizes, they can be a cat bed for 2 cats, a cat bed for 3 cats or even more. If you picture a cat in bed, this is probably what you’re seeing.
A donut bed has everything that most cats are really looking for. They’re round cat beds, and they’re soft and spongy, like a pillow cat bed. They also have soft walls around them which make your cat feel cosy and secure. A donut cat bed is a place where your cat can go and feel completely safe to sleep for a few hours. Cats are at their most relaxed with their back to a wall, and a donut bed gives them that all the way around. A donut bed will often turn into a mini cat bedroom, with all of their favorite toys in there with them. Put one of these next to your fireplace or radiator, and your cat is pretty much in heaven.
Are there any negatives to a donut cat bed? It’s hard to say. Some cats just flat out refuse to sleep in them, and nobody knows why. It’s possible that the soft walls don’t feel secure enough, or they’re just a little too soft. Some humans love memory foam mattresses where you sink into the bed, and others prefer their bed to be quite hard. It’s fair to assume the same differences exist in cats. They’re also difficult to clean. Other than that, we think these are a purrfect solution. And we’re really very sorry about that joke.
Because size and materials used in donut cat beds vary, price can vary with them. Some donut cat beds even come with a cover on top, but we’d argue that covered cat beds are really igloo cat beds in disguise. We think a budget of $20 and up will find you something suitable.
3 Cat Baskets
The relationship between cats and baskets is a little like the old question of the chicken and the egg. What came first? Did someone see a cat in a basket, and decide to start making cat baskets? Or did someone make cat baskets, and cats liked them so much they started sleeping in anything that looked like one? There’s something that feels almost old-world about a cat bed basket – they’ve been around for longer than their donut cousins and they somehow seem more elegant. It’s like the difference between a spring bed and a foam bed. They both do the same job, but one just feels more luxurious than the other. Cat baskets are the elegant end of the cat bed world.
3.1 Wicker Baskets
Welcome to cat beds done the artisan way. Wicker cat baskets are often hand made, and for that reason they vary dramatically from retailer to retailer. Online, you’ll find many people who do these to order, in any style you like. We’ve seen double decker wicker baskets, making beds for 2 cats. We’ve even seen triple decker wicker baskets. If that weren’t enough, we’ve seen intricately woven wicker cat baskets that have a little door and a window, and an extra layer of cat bedding on top so your pampered pet has two places to sleep.
Wicker cat baskets are durable, so long as they were made by skilled hands. Treat a wicker cat bed right and it will stick around forever. Because the walls are solid, they give your cat a strong feeling of security and safety. If you couple them with some nice pillows, they even make for nice room decorations!
The solid nature of them might be a problem for some cats, though. They don’t necessarily make for comfy cat beds. Because the walls don’t give, if your cat stretches during its sleep, it will bang against the side and wake itself up. They’re also not a good option for kittens; they will grow, but the wicker basket will not. A soft option like a donut cat bed will stretch and give, but a wicker basket won’t move at all. What was comfortable for your kitten when it was young won’t be when it gets a little older.
There’s also the wear and tear issue. A good wicker basket won’t break, as we’ve already said, but it will fray. Cats love to pull and bite at wicker, but when it starts fraying it can leave a lot of uncomfortable edges which might put your cat off using it. Be prepared to spend time with a pair of scissors, keeping it smooth.
Wicker baskets live towards the more expensive side of the market, both because of the material and the design time involved. A basic one may cost around $30, but there really is no upper limit. The more intricate the design, the higher the spend.
3.2 Plastic Baskets
If your cat isn’t fond of a spongy pillow or donut bed, but wicker is a little too expensive, having a plastic cat basket is an option. There are cat beds for all cats out there somewhere, and yours might just be one that likes a nice, solid, dependable plastic sleeping space.
A plastic cat bed is a basic cat bed, but it does come with advantages. It’s lightweight and easy to move around. Durability isn’t an issue, and it won’t even fray like a wicker basket might do. They also wipe or rinse clean very easily. If you have an elderly cat, or a cat with a nervous stomach, a plastic basket might be the ideal solution for both you and your pet.
Even if you don’t choose to take a plastic cat basket as a permanent option, it might be worth having one in reserve. Even the best looked after cats get sick, and a sick cat may be best off in a plastic bed for a while. Firstly it gives you a chance to clean their regular bedding, and get rid of any traces of the illness. Secondly it means that while your cat is sick, it’s sleeping in a place that you can easily wash clean and hand back to it after you’re done.
Unfortunately, for most cats, it just isn’t all that comfortable. The material is basically the same thing their litter tray is made out of, and have you ever known your cat to sleep in its litter tray? You’ll definitely save on your initial spend if you go for a plastic option, but you’ll probably find yourself needing to pay out money again on a pillow or blankets to go inside it if you actually want your cat to sleep in there. A plastic basket might also remind them of their cat carrier, which they might not be too keen on unless they’ve followed our training steps found here. And let’s not forget that the sides are plastic. Sooner or later, your cat is going to start chewing those edges. When it does, they’re going to become sharp and jagged. That’s when you’ll be looking for a new cat bed again!
Plastic cat beds are cheap and cheerful, and you can find one that suits you easily within the $10-20 range.
4 Cat Hammocks
Yes, you read that correctly, hammocks for cats. These really exist, and they come in a couple of varieties, too. If you’ve ever slept in a hammock (and if you haven’t, you should give it a try), you’ll know they’re the ultimate in relaxation. Why deny your cat that same snug tranquillity? We’re not suggesting you string one up across the middle of your front room. The people who design cat sleeping spaces have thought about this, and they’ve come up with some pretty innovative solutions that make for comfy cat beds. Read on to find out how your cat can sleep hanging from your window. Or even dangling peacefully off the edge of your radiator.
4.1 Window Perches
If a windowsill mat is a window cat bed, then we suppose a window hammock is a cat bed window! Usually secured by suckers that attach to the glass, or hooks that hang from the window rail, these hammocks elevate your cat above the windowsill. The advantage here is that the cat isn’t on the windowsill at all. That means no fur, no prowling up and down, and no objects being knocked off and broken by reckless paws. Your cat is hovering in the air, with an improved view of the outside, and emperor of all it sees.
We think you’ve already guessed the downside. Stability has to be a worry, no matter how solid it looks. We’d have particular concerns about the types that attach themselves to the window with suckers, because we think a hot day or a determined paw might bring them crashing down. And then you have a cat crashing down on your windowsill and bolting for the door, knocking everything over in its wake.
If you want to make your cat feel important, and you’re confident that there’s nothing too breakable on your windowsill anyway, you can buy your cat a window hammock for somewhere between $10 and $20.
4.2 Radiator Beds
We spoil cats, we really do. Why has nobody ever invented a giant one of these for humans? A cat radiator bed is not, despite what it might sound like, a cat bed that comes with a radiator. These are cat beds that hang from the radiator, so your cat can snuggle up inside its suspended hammock and collect all of that heat being generated just next to it. They create a soft, warm place to sleep that your cat is likely to just love.
As far as we’re aware, these are singular cat sleeping solutions. We’ve done our research, and we haven’t found a cat radiator bed for two cats or more. If you’re a multi cat family, and you don’t want them fighting over the best cat radiator bed in the house, you may need to invest in more than one. Because they hang from the radiator, they’re small, they’re compact, and they don’t take up space anywhere else in the house. There’s also a low chance of your cat deciding not to make use of one, because we all know how cats like to be warm.
On the other hand, the fact that they take up your radiator space is an issue on its own. If you’re someone who likes to use those spaces to warm or dry your towels, those days are now over for you! As with the window cat beds, the size of your cat might be an issue. An averagely sized cat might perch on one happily, but we’re not so sure that a cat radiator bed for a very large cat is such a great idea.
Equally, they might not be a great idea for kittens, who may not understand or realise when they’re getting too hot. They’re also only a half-year solution for most people. Cosying up to a radiator is a real treat for a cat in Winter. Doing the same thing in warmer months when the radiator isn’t switched on and the steel is cold is no fun at all.
From a practical point of view, consider your cat as an individual. To get to a radiator bed, it has to jump. A large cat will struggle with that more than a small one. An old cat will struggle with that more than a young one. If you fix a radiator cat bed to your radiator, and your cat glares up at you accusingly, it’s probably telling you that it can’t get in!
Radiator cat beds are small. They’re basically just a furry little chair with some hooks on the back to attach them with, and because of that they’re low in price. There are models out there in the $10-$20 range.
5 Igloo Cat Beds
No, not cat beds made of ice. Have you ever met a cat that would happily go to sleep somewhere cold? And before you try to answer, snow leopards don’t count. Igloo cat beds get their name from their basic construction. It’s like a little house, all made from the same material, with a hole at the front to enter and exit from. Eskimos live in igloos made of ice. Cats often like to spend their time in igloos made of sponge or something similar. If you have a nervous cat, who needs to feel completely secure and snug before they can properly get some rest, you’ll be wanting an igloo cat bed.
A cat igloo bed is designed for warmth, privacy and security. It’s a perfect hiding hole for a cautious cat, and it provides them with a safe haven if they want some quiet time away from the world. A cat igloo bed in its basic form looks a lot like a tent (hence sometimes being called a cat tent bed), or a wigwam. ‘Cat caves’ is another variation on the same theme. There’s no limit on design styles though, and there are even variants mounted on the top of scratching posts, like a tree house. Choosing the right one for your cat will largely depend on its personality. A less adventurous cat will be fine with one at floor level. A more active, younger cat might fancy the challenge of climbing up to its bed.
There are no real downsides to igloo cat beds from an owners point of view. You can go as large or as small as you like, you can have cat igloo bed for two cats or more if required, and it gives your pet a self contained sleeping space. They’re also low maintenance. Because they come in so many shapes and sizes, you can find one to suit almost any budget. Basic models can go as low as $10, whereas more intricate models with several levels and attachments can approach the three figure range. Some cats just don’t seem to like them, and they can’t tell us why. It’s possible that they like security, but don’t like the idea of being totally walled in.
6 Heated Cat Beds
Do you remember that feeling you got the first time you ever tried an electronically heated mattress? Bliss, wasn’t it? What sort of owner would deny that feeling to their cat? Heated cat beds are out there on the market, waiting to be found.
There’s no design difference here to the other types of cat bed we’ve talked about. Usually, a heated cat bed is just a mat with a cable attached to it. They heat electronically. More advanced models will give you control over the maximum and minimum temperature they can reach. You may see heated cat beds advertised which look more like cat igloos or donut cat beds. Don’t be fooled by these! They’re just the same as a regular cat igloo or donut cat bed, with a heated mat inside them. You can convert your existing cat bed into a heated one just by purchasing a suitable mat and putting it in there.
It’s important to be careful about how and when you use heated cat beds if you go for this option. Cats aren’t fantastic at regulating their own temperature – we’re sure you’ve seen yours spread out and panting during hot weather – and if their cat bed is in the shade they’ll often go there to cool off. Having the bed permanently heated denies them this option.
There’s also the risk of the cables. All of the heated cat beds we’ve seen come with the same warning message attached. Although they do their best to coat the cables and keep them secure, there’s always the risk your curious cat will chew through the wire and get a nasty shock. If your cat is the type that gnaws on anyone and anything, it might be best to stay away from a heated cat bed. Otherwise, you can find them somewhere in the $25 and upwards bracket.
7 Nesting Beds
Welcome to the specialist end of the market. Pregnant cats can be very difficult – and if you’ve had one, you already know that! They can be aggressive, moody, unfriendly, destructive and anti-social. In short, they’re a lot like pregnant people. They can also choose to give birth in the most inconvenient place imaginable, and they’ll refuse to move afterwards. That’s why a nesting bed might be a good idea if you have an expectant mother in the house.
In real terms, they’re not all that different to donut beds. They can also have a little in common with igloo cat beds, although they’re rarely fully covered. A nesting cat bed is typically larger than a donut version with higher sides. This is to give the mother the room to stay in there with her kittens, protected on all sides. The softer the better is the best advice here – mum and her kittens are going to be in there a while. As a good owner you should make them as comfortable as possible – the new mother has enough on her hands without worrying about that!
In terms of cost, they’re around the same mark as donut cat beds. This isn’t an option you really have to worry about unless you’re planning on breeding cats – or end up doing so by accident! They do make sense for those who are expecting kittens in the house though. You’ll find that if you don’t give the mother somewhere convenient to settle with hew new brood, she’ll choose somewhere you don’t like. That can be behind the television. It can be under the bed. We’ve even seen it happen inside people’s wardrobes!
8 Outdoor Beds
Can cats sleep outside? Yes, and this is where you can really start to go wild with cat friendly features. To your cat, the whole world is its bed. If it likes the look of something it will go to sleep on it. That includes your windowsill, your pillow, your lap, your car roof and the cupboard under your sink. Cats are as happy to sleep outdoors as they are inside if they find something suitable to sleep on. They’d prefer to be indoors with you at night usually, but why not make them comfortable when they’re in the garden?
Outdoor cat beds and houses come in just about every shape you can imagine. You could get your cat a kennel so it knows how it feels to be a dog. There are wooden hutches out there that look a little like rabbit houses for cats. Plastic outdoor cat beds like children’s playhouses are available for retail. There’s even such a thing as cat tent beds! Just about every material you can think about has been used. You can have a wooden cat cupboard, a wicker cat penthouse and a canvas cat tent. There’s nothing more cats love than to explore the outdoors, and these options give them a base of operations to work from.
It would be a waste of our time and yours to talk about price here. There are so many options running from $20 to several hundred dollars. Do you absolutely have to have one? No, of course not. Your cat will be just fine with a bed inside and a garden to roam in. But if you have the budget, and you feel like spoiling your cat or cats, then why not go wild?
Things to consider
So, that’s our list. That’s every type of cat bed we believe to be wildly available. There are some variants, like cat caves, but really they’re just another kind of cat igloo. Now you’ve got the information, how do you decide which is the right one? You might not have the answers, but don’t worry. Your cat does. And how your cat behaves will go a long way to telling you which of the cat beds it really wants.
The key question is where your cat sleeps at the moment, disregarding any cat beds or cat baskets you already have. Do they sleep out in the open, or do they press themselves against the wall? Are you always finding them in the cupboard, or are you tripping over them in the hall? If your cat likes privacy, chances are they’d prefer to have a cat igloo where they can shut everything out for a while and be alone. If they’re sleeping in the middle of the floor then a mat would probably be fine, but they’ll likely have no problem with a basket or donut bed either.
When you’re facing a straight choice between a donut cat bed and a basket cat bed, here’s what to keep in mind. If you have a large cat who’s bigger than the size of the bed when they stretch, they’ll be better off in a donut bed, which can stretch with them. A smaller cat might prefer the wicker bed because the walls are harder and more secure.
By all means get a radiator hammock, or a heated cat bed, but bear in mind you’re probably only going to use them for half the year, so these are more of a treat for your cat than a permanent sleeping place. Windowsill mats and window hammock cat beds are fun for your cat and entertaining for you, so long as they don’t fall off and land on anything you don’t want them to. And as for outdoor cat beds – you really can’t go wrong. Maybe keep one in mind for your cat’s next birthday.
- We’ve talked about size a lot, but as a general rule, the best cat beds are a snug cat beds. Big enough for them to stand up and turn around whilst they get comfy, but small enough to feel secure. That’s why round cat beds are more or less the default model.
- Warmth is important – and by that we mean not too hot or not too cold. If your cat’s bed is in the shade, it might benefit from a heated mat during Winter months to keep it comfortable. The sides on a donut or wicker cat bed should be high enough to keep heat in. Your cat won’t sleep if the temperature isn’t right.
- Comfort is king; cats live to be comfortable! If your cat isn’t using the bed you’ve bought, it might not think it looks appealing. This is especially a problem for plastic cat beds, but can be an issue with wicker ones too. Put a blanket or a pillow down in the bed and you may find your cat is suddenly fine with it.
- Whichever model you choose, it will eventually need some cleaning. It’s good advice to make sure a fabric cat bed (a donut one, for example) is machine washable. It’ll save you a lot of effort!
- Clean your cat beds often even if they don’t look like they need cleaning. A cat won’t sleep in a dirty bed. A build up of dirt and fur will occur over time, and diseases can come with it. This is doubly important if your cat is ill. If you have a sick cat, thoroughly wash everything it sleeps in. Sometimes a cat bed will turn into a hospital bed!
- Cat beds for two cats and cat beds for three cats exist, and are advertised online. We don’t think they’re a great idea. Cats usually want their own space, and even if they have a best friend in the house, it doesn’t mean they want to sleep next to them. It’s best to have one cat bed in the house per cat, and if they want to bunk up together occasionally, they will do. But it will be their choice to do so!
- Your cat likes to be able to see you. You’re part of what makes it feel secure! So a cat bed should never be completely out of the way. Put one in the corner by all means, but not out of sight.
- If your cat still seems suspicious about its new bed, encourage it to get in. Bribery works as well as anything for this. Throw some treats in there and shower your cat with love and attention if it jumps in afterwards. Moving their favorite toys or items in there won’t hurt either. Cats are creatures of habit, and if they already have a favorite sleeping spot, they may not want to find another one. Positioning the cat bed on or near their favorite spot, if that’s an option, usually does the job.
- Cats operate based on smell as much as they do on sight. They like to sleep in places that smell familiar. This usually means something that smells of themselves, or at least smells of home. A new cat bed doesn’t smell of either of those things! Fortunately, your cat loves your smell. Throw a used shirt or sweater in there, and they’ll accept the bed more quickly than they would without it.
As you can see, there are a lot of things to consider. Fortunately, there are also a lot of great options to suit any cat and owner. Ultimately, your cat is your guide on this matter. Pay attention to how they prefer to sleep right now, and choose the closest match. The best cat beds are the ones your cat loves to sleep in. All of the various types we’ve referenced here are good cat beds in principle, but your cat will ultimately make its own decisions. If you’re still looking for pointers, check out our cat bed reviews. Thanks for reading, and happy shopping!