It’s a lovely thought — that your cat might go to bat for you while you’re asleep if they believe you’re in danger. Is it realistic, though? Dogs have protective streaks, but have you ever wondered if your cat would protect you while you’re asleep?
The likely answer is no — at least, most don’t in the sense you might be thinking where they selflessly aim to protect you from harm. Cats do, however, sleep by us because they think there is mutually assured protection from threats!
Have Cats Ever Protected Humans?
Just because it’s not typical feline behavior to be selfless doesn’t mean it’s never happened, or that sleeping by you for their own reassurance hasn’t resulted in them being a huge help.
There once was a case of a woman having a diabetic seizure in her sleep. Her cat Pudding somehow managed to sense this and nudged her until she woke up. When she didn’t rise, he ran off to get her son and managed to save her life. He’s gone on to become a registered therapy animal since, and his owner claims he meows when her blood sugar is low!
In another case, someone’s cooker caught fire and their cat meowed at them to wake up so they could get out of the house.
There’s no scientific proof to say the cats’ motives either way. Perhaps they were hungry and had good timing, or perhaps they really did sense something was off. Still, whether intentionally or unintentionally, there are certainly cases of cats protecting humans in their sleep.
Is It Natural Behavior?
Are these cats who protected their owners the exception or the rule?
Veterinary studies have been done to show that cats don’t love humans — at least, not in the same way that dogs do. Cats see humans as a source of food and warmth and while they’re certainly capable of warmth, some scientists claim they simply don’t have the same kind of affection. That would suggest that the cats who do protect humans in their sleep are doing it for selfish reasons rather than out of any real love.
However, cats do mark their territory by rubbing up against their owners’ legs and they do sleep with them because they feel safer. This suggests they see humans as property and being responsible for them, which could lend itself to the theory that they do guard their humans in their sleep — even if it’s not out of pure, selfless love like we might hope!
Still, not everyone agrees with the studies that claim cats aren’t affectionate. Some claim that cats do love us, are protective, and just have very subtle nuances that some fail to understand.
Would My Cat Do This For Me?
The reason you’re likely curious about cats protecting their owners in their sleep is that you might be wondering if your cat would do it for you. Ultimately, there are many disagreements about cats and their level of affection and love, and everyone wants to believe that their cat actually appreciates them.
There have been examples of cats protecting their owners in their sleep, so it’s certainly possible — it’s really just the motive that’s up for debate, as well as the situation!
Did they wake you because they were worried you were in trouble, or because they think it’s breakfast time.
It’s safe to say they won’t protect you in the same way a fully-trained guard dog might. They’re not going to jump up and fight an intruder, and are more likely to run and hide!
If you’re thinking about getting an animal to make you safer at night, a cat isn’t the best option — but that doesn’t mean they won’t curl up with you and keep you warm.