Is it cruel to shut my kitten out of my bedroom at night?

It is not cruel per se because your kitten will be well looked after, I hope. However, it is a strong curtailment of a kitten's desire to be in that room and they really want to be in that room because your bedclothes smell very strongly of you. Cats are attracted to the smell of their owner. They want to be in it, so to speak. They want to be surrounded by that smell. They want to lie on your bed clothes and take up some of that scent onto themselves. This is scent exchange, which is a merging, in their minds, of themselves and their human companion. It is highly reassuring to them. You should let your kitten do this as it pleases him or her. And it makes them feel happier.

Ideally you should let your cat be in your bedroom at night
Ideally you should let your cat be in your bedroom at night. Pic in public domain.

It is obviously beholden upon all cat owners to make their cat as happy as possible. So, if you want to keep your kitten out of your bedroom at night you are doing it for yourself primarily. There may be a safety issue for a small kitten who's jumped up onto the bed at night because you might roll over onto the kitten and harm them but I think this is highly unlikely.

The primary reason why people discuss on the Internet how to keep their cat or kitten out of the bedroom at night is because they don't want to be disturbed. This is completely understandable. I don't know the percentage of cat owners who do ban their cat from their bedroom but I suspect it is quite high. In each case the cat is missing out on something that they love. And therefore, it is a small dent in the human-cat relationship.

The problem, as mentioned, is that the bedroom is a special place for a cat because of the smells. The bed is soaked in the scent of the person who sleeps in it. More so than for clothes. I know for a fact that my cat adores it. He wants to come under the bedclothes every day and lie under the duvet for about 15 minutes to soak up the smell of me! As I know it makes him very happy, I allow it. I'm used to it. And it helps to create this wonderful bond between person and cat. You want that. That is the objective because the closer the bond, the more enjoyment the relationship brings you.

As the old adage goes: the more you put in, the more you get out. The more you put into the relationship in this case and the more you allow your cat to expresses natural desires, the more you get from the relationship because your cat loves you more. There is a compromise as suggested by Jackson Galaxy which is to put your cat's bed within your bedroom. On that bed you might place some of your personal items which smell of you. This will allow your cat to be in your bedroom at night but not on your bed. That should satisfy people who don't want to be disturbed.

I'm a believer in this sort of compromise although I don't compromise when it comes to making my cat as happy as possible within the limitations of safety and practicability. Jackson Galaxy calls a human bed a "scent soaker". He means, as I am sure you can guess, that it is soaked in the scent of the human who sleeps in it.

When you observe your cat, you see how they check out everything with their nose when they approach new things. Domestic cats recognise objects through their sense of smell. The notice things visually and then they confirm what they're seeing through the odour that it gives off. The point being that the smell of things is highly important to domestic cats. It is of equal importance to their sight.

When my cat approaches me, for example in the kitchen, after I have got up, he might sniff my leg. He knows me obviously incredibly well but he still likes to have a little sniff just to reassure himself. Cat owners need to focus on how to satisfy that olfactory element in the lives of domestic cats. It is a big part of their lives and so is getting into the bedroom at night.

How many cats scratch at the bedroom door trying to get in at night? I wonder if cat owners are as disturbed by that is they might be by their cat being on their bed?

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