3 Ways to Get Your Cat to Stop Scratching Your Furniture

Cat scratching a scratch post

I spent several hours wistfully browsing around the internet for a new couch recently, but given the elaborate landscape of claw marks on the arms of my current couch, I feel hesitant about making a purchase. But as it turns out, there are lots of smart ways to stop cats from scratching your furniture. It may be too late for my couch, but if you prevent your cat from scratching furniture before it becomes a habit, it doesn’t have to be too late for yours.

RELATED STORY: Products That Will Stop the Scratching

1. Provide a Scratch-Friendly Alternative

If you don’t want your cat scratching up your furniture, your best bet is to provide another option. Keep in mind that scratching serves a purpose for cats: As well as being exercise, it’s a way to clean and sharpen claws, and to mark their turf. So while it can feel like a frustrating habit to pet parents, scratching is a biological necessity for cats. Avoid your furniture’s destruction by providing your cat with a scratching post — catnip is a great way to encourage them to scratch the assigned area, rather than your furniture, as is placing the scratching post strategically close to the furniture your cat usually relishes destroying.

RELATED STORY: How to Clean Your Cat’s Scratching Post

2. Clip Your Cat’s Nails

Part of the reason cats scratch is to keep their nails filed down. Help them out by making it a point to trim their nails every few weeks. Some cats are more amenable to this process than others, but with a bit of practice — and maybe a treat at the end of the spa treatment? — most cats will allow owners to trim their nails. Trimming their nails might not stop them from scratching all around your living room, but it could potentially lessen the damage.

RELATED STORY: Shop Cat Trees and Condos

3. Discourage Them From Scratching Furniture

There are all sorts of options available when it comes to discouraging your cat from scratching places you’d rather be kept pristine: One simple hack is to place double-sided tape (the ultimate tool in cat frustration!) on areas you don’t want them to scratch. If you see cats scratching, you can say an angry “no,” make a loud noise, or give them a spritz of water from a spray bottle.

RELATED STORY: 5 Misconceptions About Cats

How do you stop your cat from furniture destruction? Tell us in the comments! And if you’re in need of a scratch post, cat nail clippers, or any scratch-deterrents, consider joining PetPlus, a new benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding and more. 


Should You Bring Your Pet to College?

Woman working with dog

The University of Northern Colorado made news this week, with an announcement that they would be allowing students to bring a pet to college. But this school is far from the only one allowing pets in the dorms; 38 percent of colleges allow pets, although at many of these pet-friendly schools, the policy only extends to reptiles, and not to furry friends like cats and dogs. Pondering bringing your pet to school? Keep these considerations in mind:

Does your school allow pets?

Check the rules. It’s just not worth it to go against your college’s regulations when it comes to pets — it may be that the school is using pesticides that aren’t pet-friendly, or that they’re concerned about other students with allergies. Regardless of their reasons, if you get caught breaking the rules about pets, it could be a real challenge to find your pet a temporary home if the RA demands it. Trust me on this: My suitemate junior year had a cat, and it was a tough scramble to find someone with off-campus housing willing to take care of Parker – and bringing her home wasn’t an option, since our college was hours away from our families’ homes.

How does your roommate feel about an extra furry roommate?

Do you live with other folks, either in your room, your suite, or in close quarters along the hallway? Make sure to be respectful of fellow students who may not feel as loving or invested in your pet’s health and happiness as you do.

RELATED STORY: What Causes Cat Allergies?

Will you be going on lots of trips? How’s your class schedule?

For many students, college can be a time to be spontaneous: You may find yourself spending unexpected late nights with friends, wanting to take weekend trips, and in general, having a less regimented schedule than at home. For pets, who tend to thrive with regular meals and walks, a lack of structure can be jarring. The flip-side, of course, is that a lack of structure may be jarring for you as well, and having the responsibility of caring for a pet might be welcome.

Can you afford the costs and clean-up?

You may need to pet-proof your room or suite. You definitely will need to clean up hair, vomit, accidents, and be diligent about the litter box. You may also want to have a cat-sitter or dog-walker on hand, and should be prepared to visit a vet nearby for yearly check-ups and any unexpected sickness.

RELATED STORY: What Costs to Expect at an Annual Vet Visit

If this all sounds a bit negative, don’t despair! There are plenty of reasons to bring a pet along with you to campus — for one thing, just like you’d miss your pet, your cat or dog would likely miss you. For another: Pets are a great way to meet people. And, after freshman year, when you have a greater sense of what to expect from your days, and if any friends have allergies, bringing pets to your new location may be a good option for you and your pet.

Tell us: Would you bring your pet to college? Or, would you let your child bring a pet to school? Wherever your pet will live when your kiddo is off to campus, take advantage of PetPlus, a new benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding and more.  


5 Fun Games to Play With Your Dog

Tug of war with dog

Looking for ways to entertain your pup? It’s important — for both physical and mental health — to play with your dog. But let’s be honest: sometimes the endless rounds of fetch can get a bit tedious, for you and your dog alike. Shake things up with one of these five entertaining games.

RELATED STORY: The Benefits of an Active Dog

Hide and Seek

When the weather’s less than ideal, hide and seek is a great indoor activity. As a bonus, hide and seek is a great way to perfect your dog’s patience with the commands to “come” and “stay”; the game can also help anxious dogs get more comfortable with being left alone.

Here’s how to play: Tell dogs to stay. Hide yourself in your home — you might want to start with a fairly easy-to-find spot, so your dog won’t become frustrated. Once you’re hidden away, tell your dog to come. Once the dog has found you, lavish them with praise, toys, or treats.

RELATED STORY: 10 Favorite Dog Toys

Scavenger Hunt

Sick of hiding around the house yourself? Try hiding things that your dog loves around your home — or outside in your yard — and watch your dog hunt them down. When you first start playing, lots of hints may be necessary, like pointing or using encouraging words as your dog closes in on  the objects or treats. Think of it as a canine version of “hot or cold.” Eventually, your dog should improve, and not need as much paw-holding to play.

RELATED STORY: How to Give a Dog a Massage

Obstacle Course

If you’re playing inside, you can use chairs, couch cushions, or tables to set up a small obstacle course for your dog to navigate. Playing outside? You can use anything that you have around, from an old tire to a kiddie pool, to test your pup’s agility. Or you can go the elaborate route with purchases from the toy or hardware store to really beef up your obstacle course game.

Tug of war

A classic! Tug of war can be played with ropes or toys, and is often a dog’s favorite activity. Play tug or war inside or outside — just make sure it’s clear that dogs should never have their teeth on your skin or cause you any harm. And never forget that you are playing this game on your terms. If the play seems to be getting out of hand (i.e., grabbing at the toy before you are ready, refusing to let go, aggressive snarling), calmly take the toy away and try another game. Remember — even though it is a game, your dog might not see it that way. Tug of war (like all games) should be fun!

SHOP: Rope, Tug, and Interactive Toys


Much like fetch, chase is a dog classic. All you need to do is provide your dog with a toy on a pole. You can purchase something, or just rig something up with duct tape and a stick. Like cats, dogs will enjoy plenty of time spent going after the toy, whether you move it quickly or slowly. Just be safe when swinging the stick around.

PetPlus offers a budget-friendly way board your pets while you’re out of town. Find out if PetPlus is right for you, and get more information on the members-only benefits, which include discounts on food and vet visits, as well as boarding discounts.


How to Bring Your Dog to the Beach

Dog at the beach

Here’s the first, most important step to planning a beach day for your dog: find out if the beach is pet-friendly, since many prohibit dogs. If dogs are allowed, review the beach’s guidelines — dogs may be required to stay in restricted areas, or be on a leash for their visit — and follow some simple safety steps to ensure that your dog’s day of sand, waves, and sunshine is safe as well as fun.

Beware of Heatstroke

A long day in the sun poses some risks for your dog, with heatstroke and dehydration as the biggest potential problems. Watch for an inordinate amount of panting, trouble breathing, and disorientation. If the water is particularly chilly, or if your visit occurs during the wintertime, hypothermia can be a concern, particularly with smaller breeds. Keep an eye out for shivering, disorientation, slow breathing, and stiff muscles.

Related Story: How to Identify Signs of Heatstroke in Your Dog

Water Safety: Does Your Dog Need a Life Vest?

Is your dog a swimmer? Many dogs love to swim, taking to the waves confidently. If that’s not the case for your dog, be cautious about allowing your dog in the water. Some breeds are skittish by the ocean; other breeds are simply not capable of swimming. If you’re at all in doubt about how your dog will respond, put a dog life vest on your pet.

Related Story: 4 Safety Tips for Dressing Your Pet

Keep an Eye On Your Dog

While you’re at the beach, make sure you’re always watching your dog. Many beaches require pets to stay on a leash; even if the one you’re visiting does not, make sure to keep dogs on a leash if they don’t respond well to voice commands. Your dog should have a good time, but not impede the fun of other beachgoers — curtail rampages across the beach that might lead to sand being flung on sunbathers.

Shop: Leashes for Your Dog

Bring Dog-Friendly Beach Supplies

Load up your beach bag with supplies for your dog. Some of the most important things to bring to the beach for your dog’s fun and safety are:

  • A water bowl and water: Provide your dog plenty of fresh water to ensure hydration. You’ll also want to avoid having your dog slurp down salt water, which can lead to sickness.
  • An umbrella: Make sure there’s some source of shade for when your dog needs a break from the sunshine.
  • A blanket or towel: The heat of the sand can be painful on your dog’s paws. A blanket or towel will allow a break from the exposure, and a comfy place for a nap.
  • Sunscreen: Only use dog-friendly sunscreen on your pet; sunscreen intended for people may have chemicals, scents, or other problematic ingredients which dogs could easily ingest while licking their fur.
  • Toys!: Don’t forget, you’re here for fun. Safety is important, but also make sure to bring a Frisbee, floating toy, and fun toys for your dog to fetch.

In general, use your common sense; like you, your dog should avoid too much time in the sun, especially during the hottest part of the day, hydrate frequently, reapply sunscreen after being in the water, and take breaks in the shade.

Shop: Balls and Other Fetching Toys

 Be Respectful of the Beach

Don’t leave any of your dog’s waste behind — it could be an unpleasant surprise for other beach-goers. Prevent dogs from entering areas that are marked as off limits, which may often be environmentally protected areas.

When it’s time to take off for the day, use an outdoor shower, or a bucket or bottle of fresh water, to rinse off the sand, sunscreen, and saltwater from your dog. Use a towel (or the sunshine!) to dry off your dog. If you’re traveling by car, put down a blanket in the backseat to keep the car dry and tidy.

What are your tips for a trip to the beach with your dog? Try PetPlus, a new benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding and more, for all your doggy beach supply needs.  


What Pregnant Women Need to Know About Cats

Pregnant Woman With Cat

Pregnant mamas, are you concerned about your cat? The list of things expecting moms need to avoid is long, but rest assured, cuddling with your cat is not verboten. During pregnancy, you should take a few very simple safety precautions when it comes to your cat’s care, but in general, most of your relationship to your cat can remain unchanged.

RELATED STORY: Top 5 Misconceptions About Owning a Cat

What’s the Risk?

Any risk that cats present to pregnant women is as a carrier of the parasite Toxoplasma gondii, which can cause birth defects or miscarriages to pregnant women. Toxoplasma gondii is one of the most common parasites around, and can be contracted through raw or undercooked meat, soil, litter, or vegetables planted in contaminated soil. If your cat eats meat with this parasite, they will become a carrier. If infected, cats will go on to shed Toxoplasma gondii in their droppings.

RELATED STORY: The Truth About Toxoplasmosis in Cats

How to Avoid Contact With Toxoplasma gondii

For indoor cats fed on canned wet food or dry food, the risks of Toxoplasma gondii are extremely low. Outdoor cats are more at risk for contracting the parasite, as are cats that eat raw meat. In general, pregnant women should avoid a cat’s feces and cleaning the litter to remove the risk of exposure to the parasite. If no one else is available to tackle the responsibility, wear plastic gloves while changing the litter, avoid any direct exposure during the task, and wash your hands thoroughly.

While it’s cats that get the bad rap for spreading toxoplasmosis, in reality, the most likely way this disease will be contracted is through eating undercooked meat. Other precautions for pregnant women to follow: wearing gloves while gardening, using a separate cutting board for raw meat and vegetables, and making sure the litter is changed frequently.

RELATED STORY:Litter Box Training for Your Cat

PetPlus is a new benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding and more.


What to Do if Your Friend Is Allergic to Your Pet

woman with cat allergies

woman with cat allergies

Here’s a conundrum: You’ve been planning to have your new friend over for a  game night for weeks, and just found out that he is allergic to your pet. Do you have to call off the gathering? Unless your friend’s allergies are quite severe, most likely, your home does not have to become entirely off-limits. With a bit of advance preparation, you can help your friend ward off sniffles, watery eyes, and other symptoms, so that you can both focus on games, conversation, and fun.

RELATED STORY: How to Live With Cat Allergies … And Your Cat!

Try an OTC Solution

Remind your friend that Fido or Fluffy is one of your favorite roommates before this visit. This way, he can take an over-the-counter medication, such as Zyrtec, Benadryl, or Claritin, before coming over. It’s a great idea to keep some of these over-the-counter solutions available in your home, in case folks forget to dose in advance. But remind friends, family, and allergy sufferers that when it comes to allergy medications, taking them before exposure to the allergen is best.

Use Your HEPA

If you have a HEPA air purifier, let it run before your visitors arrive, and continue to keep it on while they are at your home as well. Vacuum your home thoroughly, preferably with a vacuum that has a HEPA filter. Using a HEPA air purifier will help to remove dander from the air within your home.

Go Dander-Free

Speaking of dander: When it comes to pet allergies, it’s the dander that’s the causes the biggest problem. Pet dander is made up of the tiny flakes of skin that your cat or dog sheds. According to the American Lung Association, the allergens from dander remain in the air even longer than other common allergy-triggers, such as dust mites. The more dander you can remove from your home, the better experience your allergic guests will have.

As mentioned above, using a HEPA air filter can be helpful. You’ll also want to vacuum thoroughly, and if possible, wash cushions and other fabric around the home — focus on tackling items that your pet is in frequent contact with, and that your guest is also likely to touch. For instance, if your cat tends to perch on a cushion on your couch, think about washing the cushion’s cover or maybe just removing it from the living room.

RELATED STORY: What You Should Know About Pet Dander

Bathe Your Pet

Before your friend comes over, it could be a good idea to give your cat or dog a bath. This helps with the dander problem. Give your pet a thorough brushing as well.

RELATED STORY: How to Wash Your Cat

Avoid Contact

If it’s possible, keep your pet in a separate room or area of your home. Of course, a visit from your friend shouldn’t feel like a punishment for your cat or dog, so make sure that wherever they’re kept, your pet is comfortable. Finally, your friend probably already knows, but remind your buddy not to cuddle or hug your cat or dog. Affection and contact increase the chances of allergies starting.

Of course, as much as you scrub and aim to remove your pet’s dander, you can’t make your friend allergy-free. It’s possible that even with all of these strategies, your friend may still experience some symptoms — hopefully, your pal will be spared a full-blown attack, and you’ll both be able to enjoy your time together.

Tell us how you handle guests with pet allergies in the comments. And, if you’re looking for a discount on pet shampoo and other commonly used pet-care supplies, consider being a part of PetPlus, a new benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding and more. 


3 Ways to Take Care of Your Pets While You’re on Vacation

This cat wishes you weren't going on vacation

This cat wishes you weren't going on vacation

It’s hot, sticky, and humid outside, so if you’re dreaming of an ocean, lake, or poolside vacation right now, I sympathize. But as you book travel plans, pack your suitcases, and gather up your beach reads, don’t forget your pets. When owners travel, it can confusing for pets who don’t understand where owners are going and when they’ll return. If bringing your pet along on vacation isn’t feasible — or just isn’t right for you, your pet, or your vacation — here are some options for how to keep pets comfortable during your vacation.

RELATED STORY: What’s the Cost to Board Your Cat?

Hire a Pet Sitter

A pet sitter can stop by on a daily basis to give your cat fresh food and water, clean the litter box, and spend some time socializing and playing with the cat. For dogs, a bit more is required from a pet sitter: several walks a day, as well as food and interaction, will be necessary.

Some pet sitters will even stay in your home while you’re away, which will insure that your pet gets the necessary play, stimulation, and social time. Pet sitters can be hired professionally or be a neighborhood acquaintance; whoever it is, make sure to hire a pet sitter that you feel comfortable entrusting with your pet and the keys to your home.

RELATED STORY: Questions to Ask a Professional Pet Sitter

Board Your Cat or Dog

For some pets, being boarded is a reasonable option; for others, it may feel like a punishment. If your pet hates being boarded, and finds the small space and group environment detestable, this option is not right for you. But if your pet tolerates being boarded, give this a try.

Do make sure to check the facility first, and make sure the accommodations are clean and pleasant. If you’re looking for a place to board your pet, try asking your vet first — many veterinarian’s offices board pets, and all vets should be able to recommend a reputable kennel.

RELATED STORY: What’s the Cost to Kennel a Dog?

Leave Your Cat or Dog With a Friend

Before using this option, think about how demanding your pets are. Will this be too much of a burden on your friend? If you have a puppy or a notoriously challenging cat or dog, this might not be the best option. And, if your friend has a cat or dog, this option might not work, since your vacation-time may result in a week of your friend supervising territorial disputes.

Wherever you decide to leave your pet, make sure the people responsible have your contact information, the vet’s contact information, and a general sense of your pet’s disposition and habits. A note with feeding instructions, schedule information, and play guidelines will be immensely helpful as well.

PetPlus offers a budget-friendly way board your pets while you’re out of town. Find out if PetPlus is right for you, and get more information on the members-only benefits, which include discounts on food and vet visits, as well as boarding discounts.


6 Dog Safety Tips for the Fourth of July

Dog with American Flag

While we just talked about this topic with Sam’s post on Tuesday, the topic of dogs and the 4th of July is a hot one, so we’re revisiting some points and introducing a couple new ones.

Loud noises. Big crowds. Flashing lights in the sky. Leftovers from barbeques. The Fourth of July is a great day for families and friends all across America, but can be challenging for your dog. Find out six simple ways you can ensure a healthy, happy, anxiety-free day for your pup.


1. Food Safety During Barbeques

Whether or not you allow your dog to eat human food is likely a decision you’ve made a long time ago. But food at a barbeque can be particularly dangerous for dogs: alcohol is always a no-no, but so are the onions you’re having on your burger, the avocado in your guacamole, and the bones that might be in grilled chicken. Be sure to let your friends know not to share food with your pet.

RELATED STORY: The Most Poisonous Foods for Dogs


2. Prepare for Loud Noises

If you know — or suspect — that your dog doesn’t like loud noises, plan ahead. Make sure your pet has a safe spot in the house to hang out, cover up the noises if possible, and provide your pet with a Thundershirt or other swaddle-like outfit.

RELATED STORY: 5 Tips for Dealing with Dogs Scared of Loud Noises


3. Don’t Bring Your Dog to the Fireworks

The crowds of people, loud crash of the fireworks exploding, and unexpected flashes of light are hard on your dog. We recommend that you leave dogs safely at home. It’s easy for a dog to panic, run away, get lost, or generally freak out during fireworks. Since it’s not a pleasant activity for pets, leaving them at home is both the kindest and the safest option.


4. Definitely Don’t Leave Your Dog in the Car

If for some reason, leaving your dog at home is not an option, it would be preferable to bring your dog with you rather than leaving your dog alone in the car. During the heat of the summertime, leaving your dog in the car — even with the windows cracked open — is unsafe.

RELATED STORY: 5 Must-Read Safety Tips for Pets in Hot Weather


5. Make Home Cozy for Your Pet

If your dog will be home alone while you’re out celebrating Independence Day, or even if you’ll be around, make your house into a comfortable environment for your pet. For crate-trained dogs, the crate can be the most comforting place to ride out the wild night. Close the curtains to help block out the lights from the fireworks, and think about leaving the television on, or playing music for an audio distraction. Make sure that all doors and windows are closed — even a normally placid pup can have an urge to escape when confronted a the fear-inducing situation.


6. Be Careful With Sunscreen and Bug Spray

What’s good for you isn’t necessarily OK for your pet. Don’t give your pet a spritz of bug spray, and avoid using sunscreen for people on their fur. As well, citronella and lighter fluid can also be dangers for dogs, so make sure to keep those items far away from your pup.

RELATED STORY: Top Mosquito-Borne Illnesses


PetPlus isa new benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding and more. Is it right for you and your dog?


5 Tips for Comforting Dogs Scared of Loud Noises

Dogs Scared of Loud Noises

For dogs scared of loud noises, summer can be a frightening season. Thunderstorms abound by day. The ‘pop-pop-pop’ of fireworks can startle us at night.

Why are dogs scared of loud noises?


All these loud and unpredictable noises may be tough for your dog to take. If the sounds of the season make your pet skittish, they are not alone — many dogs get fearful, anxious, and unsettled during fireworks, storms, and in the moments leading up to a storm’s arrival.

There are simple strategies — some done in advance, and some enacted when the storm strikes — that can help quell your dog’s fears and allow them to endure the noises with relative ease.

1. Swaddle Your Dog

For dogs scared of loud noises, some dogs may benefit from feeling snuggled in a blanket or from wearing a swaddle-like garment. One popular choice is the Thundershirt, which provides a calming pressure on your dog’s body. Or try a calming collar, which is also aimed at soothing pets in tense moments. Whatever garment you choose, putting it on as the storm approaches and your dog’s anxiety heightens can help ease your dog’s storm-related stress especially if they’re dogs scared of loud noises.

RELATED ARTICLE: Pet Emergency Preparedness

2. Have a Safe Comfort Zone in Your Home

Whether it’s a crate, your bathtub, or under the bed, your dog may already gravitate toward a safe, comforting spot in your home. If so, allow your dog that comfort during a storm’s buildup, or when the fireworks boom. Just keep in mind that this is meant to help your dog, so if your dog dislikes their crate or whines when stuck in small places, ignore this advice. Make sure to keep the crate and any room doors open so that if you pet does become uncomfortable, it’s easy for them to run and hide.

RELATED ARTICLE: A Guide to Dog Crates and Collars

3. Cover Up the Noises

Consider using a white noise machine, playing music, or going into a remote area of your home like the basement, far from outside noises, to help obscure the sounds of thunder or fireworks. Even turning on the TV or the radio can help to distract dogs scared of loud noises.

4. Distract, Distract, Distract

Just as you might look away when you’re getting a shot, distractions can help take your dog’s mind off of the loud noises. Try playing games indoors — tug of war or tossing around stuffed animals or soft balls could be all the distraction your dog needs from the storm.

5. Get Dogs Accustomed to Loud Noises

This won’t work day-of, but you can try planning ahead and slowly getting your dogs desensitized to loud noises. Try playing the sounds of thunder and firecrackers at a low volume, while providing your dog with positive reinforcement in the form of cuddles and treats. Over the course of days or weeks, gradually raise the volume slightly, being certain to stop playing the track when your dog becomes anxious. With exposure, it’s possible that your dog will become accustomed to the noise and realize that nothing scary or threatening will occur.

COMMUNITY CONVERSATION: My Dog Is Terrified During Thunderstorms. What Should I do?

Tell us: Does your dog get skittish from loud noises? Share your tips in the comments! And don’t forget that all pets can benefit from PetPlus, a new benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding and more.



Should Your Pets Be Allowed to Sleep in Bed With You?


Who sleeps in your bed at night? Are your pets allowed to sleep in bed with you and your loved ones? If you’re like many pet owners, your cat or dog is one of the family members snuggled up under the covers.

According to figures from the CDC, around 50 percent of dogs sleep in bed alongside their owners, and 62 percent of cats cuddle up with their pet parents at nighttime.

Is Co-sleeping With Your Pets Healthy?

But is this good for you? According to research done by Dr. Duthuluru, recently presented at an annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, more than 60 percent of people co-sleeping with their pet reported poor sleep quality, and a third of respondents also mentioned waking up during the night due to their pet’s movements and activity.

RELATED STORY: All About Cat Sleep

So yes, there are many reasons it’s best for your pet to sleep in their own bed. Most likely, if you sleep pet-free, your sleep will be a bit sounder.

And, if you’re at all allergic to pet dander, keeping pets out of the bed will help limit your symptoms. Of course, allowing your cat or dog in the bed can increase your chances of exposure to fleas or ticks, as well as muddy paws and little bits of cat litter.

RELATED STORY: Is My Dog Sleeping in My Bed a Bad Thing?

Why Do So Many Pet Owners Allow Pets in Their Beds?

Yet for all these factors arguing against co-sleeping with your pet, there’s a reason so many people do it. Having a pet in your bed is comforting and reassuring; it’s nice to have a cozy companion right there as you drift off to sleep. In a way, the reason for sleeping with a pet are similar to why we sleep with our spouses and significant others: the need for closeness.

As Jon Methven writes for the Atlantic, “We sleep together not because it’s fiscally responsible, but because we are affectionate beings. Our minds need rest, but our minds also need camaraderie and intimacy and whispering.”

My cat, Vera, was the runt of the litter, weighing in at around eight pounds.

Despite her petite size, some nights, it feels as though she is occupying fully a third or half of the bed, taking up as much room as a tiger. But for all that — the restless nights, the awkward positions to accommodate her foot-of-the-bed spot — I wouldn’t trade her nighttime presence for anything.

She’s a warm, loving, purring comfort. And bonus: on winter nights, she doubles as a foot-warmer.