Are your cat’s nocturnal antics driving you crazy? So many readers sent emails telling nighttime tales about their cats; the 3.00 a.m. zoomies that sound like a herd of elephants stampeding through the house. Or the 5.00 a.m., “feline alarm clock” that jumps on the bed and announces its time for breakfast, pawing the bedcovers to “help” you get up and oblige. Being busy at night and the early dawn hours is perfectly natural instinctive feline behavior. But thankfully, there are ways to get your cat to embrace your time clock.
My cat sleeps all day and then drives me crazy at night. How do I stop him from disturbing my sleep?
Cats are crepuscular which means they are most active at dawn and dusk. As predators in the wild, they do their hunting in the early morning hours as daylight begins. So, they are alert and full of all the conserved energy they’ve stored by sleeping at least 16 hours during the day. As cats age, they can sleep or catnap (snooze with one eye open) for even up to 20 hours.
While indoor cats don’t have to hunt for food, they’re still wired to wake up and prowl around the house and engage in games, on their own or with other feline family members. Kittens don’t have an “off-button” so they can be particularly busy at night and the early hours of the morning.
Fortunately, there are several things you can do to train them to fall in with your schedule and sleep patterns.
Although cats do sleep a lot, it’s important to remember in a domestic setting, they often sleep because they are bored! By engaging kitty in games and giving her a nice tall cat tree near a window so she can people and birdwatch, you are adding to her mental and physical wellbeing. Researchers claim that 10 minutes of intense focus on a puzzle game is the equivalent of 40 minutes of active play. So it’s a really good idea to engage in games just before you go to bed so she’ll be more inclined to curl in and sleep too. Games with wands or laser toys are excellent because they will have her chasing around – and tire her out.
Also, change the feeding schedule if you feed twice a day. Instead of serving the evening meal when you come home from work, delay it later so the kitty will be more inclined to sleep through the night with a full tummy.
If you feed kibble, an automatic food dispenser will be your best friend as you can program it to deliver her daily food portion divided into mini-meals served throughout the day starting at 5.00 a.m. This way, she won’t wake you but stand guard by the dispenser instead.
Why won’t my cat sleep in her own bed?
Cats can be bed hogs; they love warm sleeping places and love to curl up with you because you radiate heat and, besides, she’s cuddling in because she loves you and wants to be close.
Try taking your kitty’s own bed and placing it on your bed in the spot she likes to covet. But don’t draw attention to it – let her discover it for herself. Then slowly move her bed to a position where it doesn’t disturb you too much. Ultimately, the goal is to place it alongside your bed on the floor.
If she doesn’t fall for your tactics. Try placing other beds or rugs around the home which may attract her attention instead. Or place her in a different room at night. But bear in mind cats hate closed doors and she may meow until you come and get her…
Why does my cat howl in the middle of the night?
Fortunately, cats are living longer than ever before — well into their teens and even into their twenties. And feline senior citizens often suffer from some form of cognitive decline and even dementia, just like people do. Often a senior kitty may wake up and not be fully aware of her surroundings and howling is a sign of distress until she recognizes where she is. This situation could be exacerbated by hearing and vision loss too. By picking her up and comforting her, she will soon settle down and go back to sleep. If it happens regularly, there are cat-shaped soft toys that you can place a warming pad or an alarm clock inside and position close to where she sleeps. The warmth and ticking sound can be comforting.
Also, be sure to rule out any medical issues such as painful arthritis, hyperthyroidism, a serious condition that affects the thyroid glands, or hypertension, all common in aging cats, and known to induce howling.
To learn more about your cat’s health, feeding habits, and fun facts about cat poop, read more in the Skoon blogs.