Web surfers ask the question: “why do cats like sleeping at the end of the bed?” but I am not sure why they ask this question because I don’t believe that all domestic cats do like to sleep in that position. However, perhaps it is fair to say that if a domestic cat is going to share the bed at night then they are more likely to end up near the owner’s feet. I attempt to find a reason in this post. Reference books don’t help on this topic.
If it is true that cats prefer the end of the bed what is going through the cat’s mind when choosing it? I think this is more about practicalities from the cat’s perspective. It depends on circumstances too. Firstly it is worth mentioning that cats like a human bed for sleeping because it is (a) soft (b) smells of the owner and (c) off the ground.
In a single bed it is less practical for a cat to sleep beside the person. The place where there is the most room and where there is both some company and some warmth from the legs is at the end of the bed. Also at the end of the bed the cat keeps a bit of distance while still being in contact without the person. It is a good compromise. Cats generally like to keep a bit of distance which I believe is partly about being able to get away quickly if and when danger arrives.
In a double bed occupied by two people the same practicalities are present. In a double bed occupied by one person there is lots of room to one side and at the end of the bed. Cats often like contact and they can sleep next to the legs for that. And if they want a bit of space too they can find it at the base of the bed. I believe that for cats who are genuinely sleeping they find being in direct contact with a person’s torso a bit oppressive.
Cats do make an omission when they choose the end of the bed. They are not really switched on to the possibility that the person’s legs will move and disturb them during the night. And it seems they don’t really learn the lesson either or they are prepared to accept the disturbance.
I believe that cats don’t rationalise their choice when deciding to sleep at the end of the bed. Their decision is instinctive and based on experience.
My cat sleeps between my legs while I am asleep. This forms a depression where he gets maximum heat. Before I go to sleep he snoozes on my legs while stretched out. He is there right now as I type this. Sometimes he comes under the covers and snoozes next to me but neither of us is sleeping and he does not stay for long.
There is one more variable at least. In summer the ambient temperature is a lot warmer. I believe that most cats do not therefore have the same inclination to sleep on or near us during the warmer seasons. In winter the heat factor is important. The cat needs (a) company (b) warmth and (c) a bit of space when sleeping with us and the end of the bed fits these requirements the best.
These are my instant views. They could be wrong.