Domestic cats prefer to sleep on polyester fleece to cotton-looped towelling according to a study (I don’t have the title). This seems to make sense as fleece probably keeps them warmer. The heat is trapped.
In another study, the welfare of cats in a testing laboratory (horrible places) was improved by providing soft resting surfaces ‘in the form of pillows’ according to Dr Bradshaw in his book Cat Sense. No surprise there, then!
Cats also preferred polyester fleece over woven rush matting and corrugated cardboard. This does not surprise me one bit. It is all about comfort and warmth – a big part of the lives of domestic cats. Although cats can feel too hot. They have their limits of acceptability in terms of the amount of warmth they can tolerate. They will seek out cold floors to rest on in hot weather as is currently the case in the UK and for instance California.
In other study (Roy 1992) they found that cats in rescue centers preferred wood as a substrate (underlying layer or substance) compared to plastic.
Cats like the materials that they rest on to maintain a constant temperature. These materials might be fabric, wood shavings, hay and straw.
This information may assist volunteers making feral cat homes out of unused cooler or storage boxes. There are many excellent people who improve the welfare of feral cats. I’d have thought that straw or wood shavings in one of these feral cat homes would work well provided it didn’t get wet. Mould forms as I understand it. And you might get bacteria and other microorganisms populating wet straw.
An unused item of fleece clothing might be ideal for a cat particularly if it was unwashed to ensure that it smelled of the cat’s human caretaker.
P.S. Fleece garments shed microplastics in large quantities when washed in washing machines. These tiny balls of plastic find their way into the four corners of the planet. There are millions of tons of them in the oceans. They are ingested by marine wildlife and humans end up eating the stuff! What goes around comes around as the saying goes.
In multi-cat homes there should be a sufficient number of resting places as cats normally prefer to rest alone.
Hiding as a coping mechanism
Hiding is a coping mechanism in domestic cats as I am pretty sure you know. They often hide in response to unwanted stimuli or changes in their environment. They hide when they want to avoid interactions with other cats or people or when they are confronted with a potentially stressful situation.
In one study, 60 pairs of neutered, indoor-only cats were found to spend between 48 and 50% of the observed time out of each other’s sight. This indicates the obvious, namely that they did not want to see each other or perhaps it is better described as hiding from each other. That is quite a high percentage which may surprise people.
Because of this study by Barry and Crowell-Davis in 1999, in multi-cat homes, in addition to open resting areas such as a shelf or shelves, there should be resting areas to where cats can retreat and conceal themselves. This might be a high-sided cat bed, an igloo bed or boxes.
There might be divisions in the room using vertical panels, curtains or other room dividers. They all help to get a cat out of the sight of another. Room dividers also make a space more complex which allows cats more choice as to where to spend time.
Also, in multi-cat households it is now very well known that there should be a sufficient number of litter trays. The general guideline is one per cat and Jackson Galaxy says you can add to that formula one extra. My reference book says there should be at least one per two cats which is less than suggested by Jackson Galaxy. They should be sited away from feeding and resting areas.
Cat owners should know that individual cats have their own preferences for litter and tray characteristics. It is up to the cat caretaker to find out what these preferences are and provide them.
SOME MORE ON CATS SLEEPING: