Do Cats Like Clean Beds?

Cats Are Fastidious Groomers

Cats are well known for being meticulous groomers. They can spend between 30-50% of their waking hours tending to their hygiene and cleaning themselves, which equates to 2-5 hours per day dedicated solely to grooming (1). This extensive grooming serves several purposes – it helps distribute oils across their coat, removes loose hair, and enables cats to inspect for any parasites or skin irritations. But above all, it shows just how dedicated cats are to staying clean.

A cat’s saliva acts as a natural cleaning agent. As they lick their coats, the saliva helps lift dirt and distribute natural oils. Their barbed tongues also help remove dead hair and untangle knots. Cats are so intent on removing anything matted or unkempt from their coat that they will even groom while sleeping! This extensive grooming behavior demonstrates that cleanliness is extremely important to cats (2).

Cats Avoid Dirty Areas

Cats have a much stronger sense of smell than humans, with more than 200 million scent receptors compared to our mere 5 million. This heightened sense of smell allows cats to detect odors unnoticeable to us. As a result, cats are very sensitive to smells and will go out of their way to avoid areas with unpleasant odors.

This is especially true when it comes to litter boxes. Cats want to keep their bathroom areas clean and will avoid using a litter box if it smells dirty or contains waste. According to veterinarians, cats can detect the ammonia odor from cat urine, even at dilutions several times less concentrated than humans can detect [1]. They dislike foul odors and will opt to go elsewhere if their litter box carries even a hint of smell.

Likewise, cats shun any area of the home that acquires an undesirable odor, whether it’s dirty laundry, trash that needs taking out, or even strong-smelling cleaning products. Given their heightened sense of smell, cats notice what we don’t and will avoid spaces that seem unclean or smelly from their perspective.

This avoidance of foul smells demonstrates that cats prefer clean, odorless spaces. Since cats are fastidious groomers and dislike foul smells, it follows that they prefer their resting and sleeping areas to be fresh and clean as well.

Clean Bedding Promotes Good Health

Clean bedding reduces exposure to allergens, bacteria, and parasites that can build up in a cat’s bed over time. Just like humans, cats benefit from sleeping in a clean, hygienic environment. Dirt, dander, and oil accumulate quickly in a cat’s bedding and can cause skin irritation and respiratory issues if not cleaned regularly. Studies have shown lower rates of upper respiratory infections in cats provided with freshly laundered bedding compared to cats with dirtier bedding. The acids in a cat’s urine can also react with bacteria in a soiled bed and create ammonia, which is a strong respiratory irritant. Removing allergens helps reduce asthma attacks, itchy skin, and watery eyes. Parasites like fleas and mites can take up residence in bedding as well if not washed frequently. Clean bedding promotes healthy breathing, skin, and fur for cats.

Cats Show Preferences for Clean Beds

Studies show that when given a choice, cats prefer to sleep in clean beds rather than dirty ones. Cats have a strong sense of smell and can detect even faint odors lingering in used bedding.

Researchers conducted a study where cats were presented with two identical beds – one containing clean, unused litter and the other containing soiled litter. The results showed the cats chose to use the clean litter beds significantly more often (Villeneuve-Beugnet 2018).

Another study tested cats’ preferences by providing two beds side-by-side, one freshly laundered and one unwashed. The cats opted to sleep and rest in the clean, laundered bed the majority of the time (Herron 2010).

These studies demonstrate that cats can distinguish between clean and dirty bedding through scent, and prefer to sleep in fresh, clean beds when given an option.

Signs a Cat’s Bed Needs Cleaning

Cats are very clean animals and prefer their sleeping areas to be fresh and odor-free. There are several signs that indicate it’s time to clean your cat’s bedding:

Bad odors – Cat beds can start to smell over time from bodily oils, fur shedding, and urine or feces accidents. A strong odor is one of the clearest signs it’s time for a cleaning.

Visible dirt or stains – Check the bedding for visible dirt, dust, fur clumps, urine stains, vomit stains, etc. Discolorations, clumps or crusty textures mean it’s dirty.

Matted materials – Some bed materials like faux fur can become matted down over time. Mats indicate a buildup of oils, dirt and dander.

Avoidance – If your cat suddenly stops using its bed, the smell or feel of the bedding may have become unacceptable. Try cleaning it to renew the appeal.

Excess shedding – Lots of loose fur coming off on your hands when you touch the bed is a sign it needs refreshing.

Inspection – Regularly inspect your cat’s beds up close to spot any signs of soiling or dirt buildup. Don’t rely only on smell to indicate when cleaning is needed.

Cats feel more relaxed and comfortable when provided with a fresh, clean place to sleep. Pay attention for any clues that it’s time to clean your cat’s bed to help keep your feline happy and content.

Recommended Cleaning Frequency

How often you should clean your cat’s bed depends on several factors, including the type of bed, your cat’s habits, and the number of cats in your home.

In general, most experts recommend washing cat beds at least every 1-2 weeks. According to Catster, washing your cat’s bed weekly is ideal for maintaining cleanliness and hygiene.

For cats who spend more time outdoors and less time in their bed, every 2-3 weeks may suffice. Per K&H Pet Products, outdoor cats’ beds may only need monthly washing.

Beds that absorb moisture and odors, like those with microfiber or memory foam, may require more frequent washing than basic cushion beds. Removing hair buildup is also key for preventing matted clumps.

Multi-cat households should aim for weekly cleanings to prevent the spread of bacteria between cats sharing a bed. Wash urine-soiled beds immediately.

In summary, weekly cleanings are ideal for most cats’ beds. Adjust frequency based on bed materials, cat habits, and number of cats. Keep an eye out for signs it’s time for a wash.

Proper Cleaning Methods

When it comes to properly cleaning cat beds, there are some key best practices to follow:

Washing Machine vs. Hand Wash – Cat beds that are machine washable can be cleaned in the washing machine, while beds that are not machine washable should be hand washed. Look for the manufacturer’s care instructions to determine if machine washing is recommended. If hand washing, use a tub or sink filled with cool water and cat-safe detergent.

Detergent Type – Use a pet-safe detergent or a fragrance-free, dye-free detergent made for sensitive skin when washing cat beds. Avoid detergents with added chemicals, fragrances or dyes that may irritate a cat’s skin (Source).

Drying – Air dry cat beds completely before allowing your cat access to prevent mildew growth. Place the bed in direct sunlight or use a fan to speed drying. Do not place in the dryer unless the manufacturer guidelines confirm it is safe.

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Check the bed’s care tag and prepare washing method.
  2. If machine washing, use cold water on a gentle cycle.
  3. Use minimal detergent, rinse thoroughly.
  4. Allow bed to fully air dry before use.
  5. Vacuum bed before placing back in cat’s space.

Properly washing cat beds helps remove dirt, odors, germs, and allergens so your cat has a clean place to rest and play (Source). Follow these best practices for keeping your cat’s bed fresh and hygienic.

Preventing Dirt Build-Up

There are several tips to help keep cat beds cleaner for longer between full washings:

  • Choose beds made with washable fabrics like cotton or microfiber. Avoid beds filled with materials like foam or polyfill that can’t be washed.
  • Spot clean beds frequently by wiping with a damp cloth or spot cleaning solution like Nature’s Miracle (Source). This prevents buildup of dirt, hair, and odors.
  • Cover beds with a removable washable cover or old sheet. This protects the bed from dirt and oils and can be easily removed for washing.
  • Restrict access to beds when not in use so cats don’t lay on them with dirty paws.
  • Use litter mats near beds to catch loose litter off paws before lounging.
  • Groom cats regularly to minimize loose hair and dander transfer to bedding.

With diligent spot cleaning between full washes, using covers, and preventing access when dirty, cat beds will stay cleaner longer.

Providing Backup Beds

Having multiple beds allows cats access to a clean sleeping area at all times. Experts recommend having at least one spare bed per cat in the household. This is because cats prefer to have options when it comes to where they sleep (1).

Cats like to move between different beds throughout the day. So having extras on hand means they can easily relocate when they want. It also enables their current bed to be washed without leaving them with nowhere to sleep (2).

Spare beds should be set up in other rooms, not right next to the main bed. This allows cats to choose different sleeping spots based on their mood and environment. For example, they may prefer sleeping in a quiet room during the day and a busier room at night when the family is home. Having beds in multiple locations accounts for these preferences.

The key is ensuring at least one clean, comfortable bed is always available anytime they want to lie down. This will encourage use of the beds over furniture or other less desirable spots.



The Takeaway

Recap that clean bedding is important for cats’ health and happiness. Cats are clean animals by nature and prefer sleeping areas free of dirt, odors, and clutter. By regularly washing and replacing your cat’s beds and blankets, you can help promote good hygiene and prevent illness. Provide ample clean beds around your home so your cat always has a comfortable, sanitary place to sleep and relax. The small effort of maintaining tidy beds will be appreciated by your feline companion.

Scroll to Top