At some point, most cat owners have bought their cat a bed, only to discover their kitty preferred the tissue paper or cardboard box it came in. To try to avoid future heartache of this type, we spent 19 hours researching 62 cat beds and testing 13 of them. We picked seven we love for their style, softness, and cleanability—as well as their ability to meet the behavioral needs of most cats. Although we can’t guarantee a cat won’t snub a bed ever again, we think most cat owners will find a standout here.
We tested cat beds of every style, including bolster beds, cave beds, crate beds, and more. We also reviewed a few that work well for small dogs, because some cats are known to be jerks to their doggy roommates and will steal their cushions. We also discuss how to find the right type of bed for your cat.
- Why you should trust us
- The best cat cave bed: The Cat Ball
- The best cat bed for large cats: Best Friends by Sheri OrthoComfort Deep Dish Cuddler
- The best bed for kneading: 4Claws Furry Pet Bed/Mat
- A thick mat for a carrier or crate: MidWest QuietTime Deluxe Ombré Swirl
- The best heated cat bed: K&H Pet Products Thermo-Kitty Mat Heated Pet Bed
- The world’s cheapest bed: A cardboard box
- Upgrade that box: Omega Paw Scratch’n Massage Bed
- The best cat bed for multicat households: PetFusion Jumbo Cat Scratcher Lounge
- What’s the best type of cat bed for your cat?
- How we picked and tested
- The competition
Why you should trust us
I’ve written several Wirecutter guides about pet products, including pet carriers, litter mats, and automatic litter boxes. I’m also a lifelong pet owner who’s had a cat or two rebuff beds that I just knew they would love, forcing me to return them to the store in shame.
I consulted with Russell Hartstein, a certified pet behaviorist with 25 years of experience, and founder of Fun Paw Care in Los Angeles. I also asked Wirecutter staffers to share which beds their cats prefer, and we had cats from Little Wanderers cat rescue group in New York City test some of our favorites.
The best cat cave bed: The Cat Ball
Why we love it: One of 13 cave-style beds we researched and one of the three we tested, The Cat Ball won out for its large size, quality of construction, washable bedding, use of natural materials, and stellar third-party reviews. If you’re unsure what type of bed your cat will like, The Cat Ball is a safe bet for its enclosed shape, which offers security, and its large base, which is ideal for stretching or for larger cats to curl. It has a foam skeleton, so it’s more comfortable than another spherical-style cave bed we tested, the Meowfia Premium Cat Bed Cave, which has no additional padding. The Cat Ball is made of 100 percent cotton, and is easier to wash than the competition: The others had to be hand-washed or required multiple spin cycles to remove excess water. Though most of the beds we researched are made of synthetic fibers, The Cat Ball is made of cotton, so it’s less likely to irritate a cat’s sensitive nose. This bed is 17 inches in diameter and 16 inches high with entrances that are 6 inches and 10 inches in diameter. It will hold a cat weighing up to 19 pounds.
The Cat Ball averages five stars across more than 1,700 reviews on Etsy. Wirecutter staffers say the accolades are well-deserved: “The ball shape and thoughtfulness of the design were basically engineered to perfectly match up with what the cat brain wants,” said Jacqui Cheng, Wirecutter’s former editor-in-chief. “It’s a ‘safe’ feeling, enclosed space that they tend to love, and the fabrics and padding make it cozy anywhere.”
Flaws but not dealbreakers: Because the foam core is less than half an inch thick it’s not ideal for senior cats who need the support of a thicker mattress. The bed also comes with some specific washing instructions—wash separately from other garments, and beware of shrinkage if it’s washed and dried on the wrong settings.
The best cat bed for large cats: Best Friends by Sheri OrthoComfort Deep Dish Cuddler
We recommend this bed for large cats, a pair of cats who love to cuddle, or senior cats who need extra support.
Why we love it: We picked the Best Friends by Sheri OrthoComfort Deep Dish Cuddler because it’s incredibly cozy and supportive and it’s easy to wash. It’s also sold in a larger size, which is great for big cats or a bonded pair who love to nap together. This bolster bed looks like a catcher’s mitt, so cats that like to lean against their bedding get extra support from behind, and can rest their chin on the front with minimal neck strain (which is especially useful for arthritic and senior cats). It’s lined with sherpa fleece—that polyblend material that has a lofty texture to mimic real fleece—which some cats find instinctually comforting. The plush material is great no matter how a cat sleeps. Wirecutter production manager Lucy Butcher’s 14-year-old-cat Stella “decided that she prefers to squish the whole thing down like a sandwich and sleep on top of it instead of curling up inside it.” Of the four open-style cat beds we tested, this was the easiest to clean, and it bunched the least coming out of the wash because the mitt-style walls are bar-stitched to restrict padding movement. It comes in two sizes: The standard size (20 by 20 by 12 inches) is good for cats and small dogs, and the jumbo (24 by 22 by 13½ inches) can hold multiple cats. Both sizes of the OrthoComfort Deep Dish Cuddlers are also great if you own a large cat who needs some extra room for napping, or own a pair of cats or a litter of kittens who love to cuddle together. Their weight limits are 25 and 35 pounds, respectively.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: Though we recommend this bed for senior cats, the entry lip is 9 inches high, which may be too tall for cats with mobility issues or arthritis. Place a ramp in front of the bed so these cats can get in and out with ease.
The best bed for kneading: 4Claws Furry Pet Bed/Mat
Why we love it: The 4Claws Furry Pet Bed/Mat is the ideal bed if your cat loves to knead—massage its paws on a surface—an instinctual behavior that reflects contentment. The top side is covered in white furry plush, which is perfect for massages, and the underside is a durable denim-like material. Out of the 16 mats we researched and the three we tested, this is the only one that has a flexible design. It comes as a flat mat and quickly converts to a bed; just fold up the sides and secure them with the button-and-loop closures. The mat retains its shape well in the washing machine, and its soft strands are like new after drying—in fact, we love the luxurious feel of the 4Claws mat so much we wish it came in human size! Unfolded, it measures 24 by 20 inches, and has a 15-inch diameter when folded into a bed.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: This is more delicate than most cat beds we tested because it has longer fabric strands that could become damaged during cleaning. According to the label, the bed should be washed in a garment bag and air-dried, but we placed it in the dryer alone on low heat and monitored its progress throughout the cycle, and it was fine.
The mat is less than a half inch thick, so it offers little support for older cats. If comfort is a concern, we recommend placing this mat on your cat’s favorite chair or couch cushion.
A thick mat for a carrier or crate: MidWest QuietTime Deluxe Ombré Swirl
Why we love it: The MidWest QuietTime Deluxe Ombré Swirl, which is also a pick in our Best Dog Beds guide, is the comfiest crate liner we found. Its shell is supersoft, rivaling that of the Best Friends by Sheri and 4Claws picks. Its plush exterior is covered in tufted polyester in a swirl effect, and it’s durable (it held up well against the plastic meat-shredder “pet claws” we tested with in the other guide). You don’t need to unstuff and restuff the padded insert because the entire bed is washable, and it holds its shape well in the washing machine. It comes in seven sizes, but we prefer the 24-inch bed; it holds pets weighing up to 25 pounds. It comes stuffed with 2½ inches of polyfiber, which provides ample support for cats. Just keep in mind a bigger bed may not fit into a kitty-size crate.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: This bed isn’t ideal if your cat frequently marks its territory; the cushion won’t trap liquids, so a leaking, soiled bed may damage your carpet or hardwood floors underneath. Keep the bed inside a crate with a plastic floor liner to trap liquids.
The best heated cat bed: K&H Pet Products Thermo-Kitty Mat Heated Pet Bed
Why we love it: Wirecutter staffers love the K&H Pet Products Thermo-Kitty Mat Heated Pet Bed for the cats in their lives because it’s the perfect size for pets to enjoy the warmth of a heating pad from the comforts of their own bed. The heated cat bed is 12 1/2 by 25 inches, making it just the right size to pair with a pillow or our other cat bed picks, like the 4Claws Furry Pet Bed/Mat and MidWest QuietTime Deluxe Ombré Swirl. The manufacturer says this mat-style bed heats up to 102 degrees Fahrenheit, which is roughly the same as your pet’s body temperature. As an added bonus, this heated cat bed remains on when it’s plugged in, so it’s always an attractive resting spot for your pet. Since the mat is certified by MET Labs (which independently evaluates products to meet national electrical safety standards), cat owners can feel confident knowing that the mat won’t overheat or start a fire when used properly.
The heating mat insert is removable, so you can easily wash the cushioned sleeve after pet accidents. Just wash it on gentle with cold water, and line dry. The heating mat can be wiped clean with a paper towel, although staffers say pet accidents have never leaked through the cover. The K&H Pet Products Thermo-Kitty Mat Heated Pet Bed comes with a one-year limited warranty.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: This heated cat bed can’t work without an electrical cord. Make sure you plug it into a wall where there’s little foot traffic so your cat won’t be disturbed.
The world’s cheapest bed: A cardboard box
Why we love it: A cardboard box is hard to beat. They’re inexpensive and easy to find, and cats love sitting in them. The high walls help trap a cat’s body heat and give it the enclosed feeling that cats find so comforting. After unpacking whatever useless human item came in the box, make sure you fold the flaps down into the box to reinforce its walls, and place a cozy blanket or mat, such as the 4Claws Furry Pet Bed/Mat, on the bottom for maximum comfort.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: Corrugated cardboard is flimsy and stains easily, and you can’t wash it like a cushioned cat bed.
Upgrade that box: Omega Paw Scratch’n Massage Bed
Why we love it: It seems silly to pay for a cardboard box, but the Omega Paw Scratch’n Massage Bed has a longer life span than that cardboard box from your last online shopping spree, and it comes with three layers of removable scratch pads, so when a cat shreds a layer to pieces you can remove that layer to make the bed like-new again. It’s also treated with catnip oil, though the brand is unknown, so there’s no way to tell how your cat may react to it. The bed’s sides taper outward to a 45-degree angle so cats can more comfortably sleep in it than in a traditional box. The scratching pads have the corrugations exposed, which massages a cat’s paws while it’s scratching. There’s also a plastic comb fitted into the side of the box so cats can scratch their chin at their leisure. The box measures 16 by 16 by 5 inches.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: We’ve read some complaints that the Omega Paw shows wear and tear quickly, but it’s made of cardboard. We’ve gifted this bed to multiple cats, and their guardians haven’t grumbled about its durability. One cat has used this bed for two years without moving to a new cardboard sheet, though how long the scratching pads last depends on your cat’s activity level.
The best cat bed for multicat households: PetFusion Jumbo Cat Scratcher Lounge
Why we love it: The PetFusion Jumbo Cat Scratcher Lounge is great for homes with multiple cats who love cosleeping, because it can fit four or more cats at once. It’s pricey, but you’re getting two products in one: a scratcher and a bed. As a cardboard scratcher, it’s denser than others we tested. It’s made of 120 layers of 2-millimeter-thick recycled cardboard (yes, we counted), and some cats have enjoyed this bed for more than a year. You can flip it over and use the underside when the top side shows wear and tear, prolonging its life span. This lounger is pretty big, measuring 39 by 11 by 14 inches, and it’s sturdy too—it withstood a 130-pound Wirecutter staffer standing on it.
Little Wanderers, a rescue group in New York City, tested the PetFusion Jumbo and the smaller PetFusion Ultimate Cat Scratcher Lounge within a habitat of 30 cats, and said the cats preferred the larger version. “They really liked it as a lounger and also a play area,” said a volunteer. “One would be on top and another on the bottom and they would swat at each other. I saw this numerous times with numerous cats. Cost is always an issue, but for a multicat household the Jumbo is probably a better deal.”
Flaws but not dealbreakers: Though it’s both a lounger and a scratcher, the Jumbo Cat Scratcher Lounge’s cardboard may be too densely packed for some cats to comfortably scratch. Even without scratching, it’s still spacious enough for interactive play in a multicat household.
What’s the best type of cat bed for your cat?
If your cat sleeps in weird places, or on weird objects, that might just be because it doesn’t have a sleeping surface it likes in a spot it wants to sleep in. Russell Hartstein, a certified pet behaviorist with 25 years of experience, said, “Oftentimes, cats will sleep in odd places when they don’t have a bed or place that they prefer.” So the right cat bed in the purrfect spot may help eliminate your cat’s weird sleeping arrangements.
To find the type of bed your cat prefers, consider these guidelines:
Observe its behavior: Watch where and how your cat sleeps. If it curls into a ball, look for a round bed. If your cat huddles under a basket of clothes or frequently sits under an armchair, try a cave bed. Or, if it sprawls out in a windowsill or on a couch cushion, a mat might be your best bet. “Part of the fun of being a pet parent is just experimenting with what your family member enjoys,” Hartstein said, so if one style doesn’t work you could always try another.
Consider the bed’s size: Depending on your cat’s sleeping preferences, its bed should either be large enough for it to stretch out or small enough for it to comfortably curl up and feel secure. If your cat prefers to lounge about in the open, look for a bed that’s as long as its body (minus the tail), about 18 to 20 inches long. If it prefers to curl up, a round bolster or cave bed that’s at least 15 inches in diameter is a good bet—but don’t shy away from larger beds that are enclosed, because they offer the security some cats prefer with the ability to stretch out when needed. And if your cat is a large breed, like a British shorthair or Maine coon, a bigger bed is always better.
Choose natural materials to start: Cats have sensitive noses, so opt for natural materials, such as cotton, wool, or unbleached bedding, which breathe better than synthetic and may have fewer chemical odors. If your cat isn’t deterred by synthetic materials, such as plush polyesters popular in pet bedding, feel free to experiment as your budget allows.
Keep comfort in mind: Consider your cat’s mobility level and stage of life. For example, a senior cat will need a thicker, orthopedic bed with a low entry lip, while a spry juvenile will not.
Make sure it’s easy to clean: To save your sanity, purchase a cat bed that’s machine washable, and follow the care instructions closely, because even the slightest adjustments in the washer or dryer could cause a cat bed to bunch or tear.
Where to place a cat bed: A cat’s favorite napping spot can offer clues to where you should place a cat bed. If kitty frequently naps in a sunny window, near a warm floor vent, or on the highest perch on a cat condo, consider placing the bed in those areas. And don’t forget to measure the space first to make sure the bed will fit.
How we picked and tested
After researching cat beds online and talking to our experts and our staff, we compiled a list of more than 60 cat beds. We whittled the list by considering the shape/style, size, cleanability, materials used, and online user reviews. We preferred beds that were widely available from retailers like Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond, Chewy, Jet, Overstock, Petco, PetSmart, and Walmart, among others. Because cats can be picky, we kept testing to a minimum and relied heavily on third-party and staff reviews, though we did test according to the following criteria:
Bed shape, style, and size: We categorized our beds based on sleep style: bolster, cave, mats, and lounger beds. Within each category, we compared their quality of construction, softness, and thickness levels. If the characteristics were similar, we favored larger beds over smaller ones.
Cleanability and shape retention: We tossed washable beds in the washer and dryer and evaluated for how easy they were to clean and dry. Then we examined the cat beds for signs of wear and tear.
Materials: For cats who aren’t offended by beds made with synthetic materials, we opted for beds that were loftier and softer to the touch, which points to better comfort. We also favored beds with nonskid bottoms, which helps keep them from moving across slick hardwood floors.
Cave cat beds and dome cat beds
The Armarkat Cat Bed C11CZS/MH has a rectangular base, a dome-shaped top, and a removable pillow. The bed and pillow are filled with an extra-thick layer of 100 percent polyfill that took a long time to dry during our tests; it also took three turns through the spin cycle to remove the excess moisture trapped in the polyfill.
The Meowfia Premium Cat Cave costs as much as The Cat Ball, but it lacks the extra hole and thicker layer of padding that we think most cats would enjoy. It’s made of merino wool, so it’s soft, but it can only be hand-washed.
Bolster cat beds and open cat beds
The AmazonBasics Octagon Pet Bed has flannel-canvas sides that retained too much water after washing. It took two turns in the spin cycle, which would annoy most people. It also bunches easily in the wash, and should only be air-dried.
The round Aspen Pet Self-Warming Bed had too much cushion, so it constantly leaned to one side, which would bother most cats trying to find a comfortable position. A Wirecutter staffer who owns this bed experienced the same issues, stating that her cat avoids the bed for this reason.
The K&H Pet Products Self-Warming Lounge Sleeper’s shell is plush fabric, but the thick bedding is difficult to wash. It took two passes on spin cycle to remove excess water trapped in the bolsters, and the center cushion bunched more than those of other bolster-style beds we tested.
The PetFusion Ultimate Cat Scratcher Lounge is $30 cheaper and five inches shorter than our cardboard lounger pick, the PetFusion Jumbo Cat Scratcher Lounge. This one is just as durable as our pick, but it fell short of our recommendation because it has deep curves that are uncomfortable for some cats to sleep on. It also lacks valuable sleeping space on the bottom tier, so it’s not ideal for multicat households. The Jumbo has a flatter shape so cats can use either the top or bottom level.
We researched 14 cat mats, and the Easyology Thermal Pet Bed Mat is the biggest mat we found, measuring 31½ by 17 inches—but it’s too big to fit into smaller spaces like windowsills and cat perches. With that said, we love this brand for its cat litter mats, and its sleeping mats are equally great.
Bryan Gardiner, What’s up with that: Why do cats love boxes so much?, Wired, February 3, 2015
Russell Hartstein, CDBC, CPDT-KA, canine executive officer, Fun Paw Care, phone interview, March 16, 2018
Volunteers (and cats), Little Wanderers cat rescue group, phone and email interviews, March 5, 2018
Jennifer Sellers, Why Do Cats Knead?, Petfinder.com
About your guide
Kaitlyn Wells is a staff writer covering all things pets and commuting gear at Wirecutter. She has a decade of experience volunteering with animal shelters, and, of course, commutes to work. Since joining us, she has recruited over 150 cats and dogs (and their owners) to test things. She’s always excited to share photos of her pets—just ask her.