Q. Why does my cat like to climb on me and lay stretched out on top of my torso when I'm in bed. Obviously, there's a duvet between me and her, so I'm not sure if she's doing it to get the warmth from my body. Or is it a dominance thing? Jacqueline Davis, via e-mail
A. Dominance – having or exerting authority or influence. This is a part of being a pet owner. It does not mean that your furry companion controls you. Do we not feed our companions when they are hungry or stroke them when they want affection? Dominance is such an old-fashioned word. I wouldn't be concerned with your cat's behaviour at all. When we bring kittens into our lives they look for a new mother figure. One part of this bonding is laying on you for the warmth and also to hear the heartbeat (when they are babies and suckling they sleep very close to the mother to feel secure and warm).
You should be honoured that you have such a close relationship with your moggy and that she feels comfortable enough with you to display this behaviour as cats can be very independent and aloof. Even with the duvet between you two, the cat will feel the warmth of your body with the added bonus of the comfort of the duvet!
You express concern that your cat might get under the covers with you, but this is one of the bonuses of having a pet, your own personal hot-water bottle. Your cat may just want to get warm and usually – as my dog did – they get out in the middle of the night because they get too hot. If you don't already, get into a routine of cleaning her paws and hind area before she gets into bed to avoid any cleanliness issues. I would only start to get concerned if you wake up to find your precious moggy holding a pillow over your head!
Remember that if an animal shows signs of distress or discomfort an early visit to the vet is always recommended