If you’ve been losing sleep because your cat has suddenly decided that 3 am is the purrfect time for a game of chase-the-mouse (real or imaginary), you’re not alone.
I have been there, and it’s one of the things that frustrate me the most about being a cat parent because it becomes hard to get my day started when I have been up all night, plus I love my sleep.
Whether it’s persistent meowing, pawing at your face, or playing with loud toys, these interruptions can leave you feeling exhausted and frustrated.
Here are some of the reasons why your cat might be turning into a nocturnal nuisance:
1. The Energy of Youth
Kittens are like human babies – they have plenty of energy to burn, and they’re still exploring the world around them.
If your kitten is constantly waking you up at night, it may simply be because they are young and full of energy.
Solution: To help them settle down, try engaging them in active play throughout the day. A tired kitten is more likely to sleep soundly through the night.
2. Golden Oldies
As they age, some cats can suffer from cognitive dysfunction syndrome, a sort of feline Alzheimer’s, which can cause confusion and restlessness, leading to nighttime disturbances.
Solution: Regular vet check-ups are crucial for your senior cats. Create a calm, stress-free environment to help them settle down at night.
3. Breed Characteristics
Some cat breeds are simply more active at night than others. For example, Siamese and Bengal cats have a reputation for being nocturnal creatures.
If you have a cat with a high-energy breed, you may need to adjust your schedule to accommodate their natural tendencies.
Solution: While you can’t change your cat’s breed, understanding their natural tendencies can help you adapt your routines to better suit their habits.
Try scheduling an extra play session before bedtime to help them burn off some energy.
4. Dinner Time
Cats in the wild would usually hunt at dawn and dusk, so they naturally get hungry around these times.
If your cat is waking you up demanding food, it’s just following its instincts!
Solution: Try feeding your cat a small meal just before your bedtime. This can satisfy their hunger and help them sleep through the night.
5. Change is Hard
Cats are creatures of habit, and any changes to their routine or environment can cause anxiety and disrupt their sleep.
That includes everything from moving to a new house, getting a new pet, or even changing their food.
Solution: Try to keep changes to a minimum, and when they’re unavoidable, introduce them gradually to give your cat time to adjust.
6. Lonely Nights
If you’re away at work all day, your cat might be trying to make up for lost time when you’re finally home and in bed. Cats can get lonely too!
Solution: Spend quality time with your cat when you’re home, and consider getting interactive toys to keep them entertained during the day.
7. Indoor Blues
Cats who live indoors often lack stimulation, leading to increased activity at night when the house is quiet and boring.
Solution: Provide plenty of toys, scratching posts, and window perches to keep your cat busy during the day.
8. Love is in the Air
Unneutered or unspayed cats can become more active during the breeding season, which can often mean nighttime shenanigans.
Solution: Unless you plan on a litter of kittens, consider neutering or spaying your cat.
9. Bright Lights, Big City
Cats are sensitive to light, and bright street lamps or screens can mess with their internal clocks, making them think it’s time to play when it’s actually time to sleep.
Solution: Keep your home as dark as possible at night to encourage your cat to sleep.
10. Health Concerns
If your cat’s nighttime activity is a new development, it could be a sign of a health issue such as hyperthyroidism or arthritis.
Solution: As always, if you’re worried about your cat’s behavior, consult your vet. It’s better to be safe than sorry!
How To Stop Your Cats From Waking You up at Night?
Here are six strategies I have used that you can use to improve your sleep as a cat owner.
1. Engage in Evening Play Sessions
Cats are crepuscular animals (most active at dawn and dusk) and often have bursts of energy at night.
Engage with your cat in a vigorous play session throughout the day and before bedtime.
This will help them use up their energy and encourage them to sleep when you do.
2. Establish a Consistent Feeding Schedule
Cats are creatures of habit. Feed them at the same times every day to establish a routine.
If your cat usually wakes you up because they’re hungry, try feeding them a small meal before bed.
This can help keep them satisfied throughout the night.
3. Create a Comfortable Sleep Environment
Make sure your cat has a cozy, quiet place to sleep. If they feel safe and comfortable, they’re less likely to wake you up.
Consider getting a heated cat bed or a plush blanket, especially for colder months.
4. Use Feline Pheromone Diffusers
Pheromone diffusers mimic the “happy” pheromones cats release when they’re content.
These can help reduce anxiety and promote a sense of calm, leading to a more peaceful night for both of you.
For this, I use the Stress Stopper Cat Relief spray solution from Jackson Galaxy in my cats’ room to reduce stress and create a relaxing atmosphere.
5. Implement a No-Bed Policy
If your cat’s disturbances are too frequent, consider training them to stay off your bed.
Provide them with their own comfortable sleeping area instead.
It may take some time for them to adjust, but it can greatly improve your sleep quality.
This is where we went wrong with our cat.
We allowed her to sleep on our bed, and there are nights when she would be going in and out of the room.
This hurt our sleep because we kept waking up to open the room door, which would really frustrate me.
The solution I chose to use was making sure that my cat was active during the daytime, and that really helped.
6. Ignore Your Cat
Yup, I said it. I used to do this with my cat in the beginning, using nature sounds to drown out her meowing, and I found it really helpful.
On top of ignoring her, I would put her bed by the door and close the door.
This actually worked a few times, but when it didn’t, I would just ignore her until she stopped meowing.
Ignoring only worked because when she would try to meow louder, the sound would just be absorbed by the nature sounds I had on speaker.
Whatever you do, don’t be so quick to respond to your cat’s meowing; it only encourages them to do it more because it tells them that you’re rewarding their behavior.
If you can wait, it’s best to reward your cat’s silence and wait for them to stop meowing before you respond.
What to do if your cat keeps waking you up at night for food?
To stop your cat from waking you up at night for food, one of the first things to look into is having a routine, a set feeding schedule, and keeping them active during the day.
Establishing a routine is important to help your cat understand when it’s time to eat. They thrive on consistency and structure, so try to feed them at the same time each day.
Ensure they get enough exercise during the day, whether it’s through playtime with toys or even a walk on a leash (if they’re up for it!).
This will help them burn off energy and reduce their need for food at night.
Another option is to invest in an automatic feeder so your cat has access to small, regular meals without you needing to get out of bed.
I know, I know, cats and routines don’t exactly go hand in hand. But trust me, if you start feeding your feline friend at the same time every day, they’ll start to understand that breakfast isn’t at 2 am.
Also, try to keep them active during the day and give them something to do!
Invest in some fun toys or scratchers, and ensure your cat can access different levels and spaces to explore.
Why does your older cat keep waking you up at night?
Your older cat is probably waking you up at night due to changes in their sleep patterns.
As cats age, they may become more active during the night, causing them to meow or paw at their sleeping humans.
However, it’s important also to consider any underlying medical issues that could be causing this behavior.
It’s also important to make sure your cat is getting enough stimulation during the day to prevent boredom and excess energy at night.
If you’re concerned about your cat’s nighttime behavior, it’s always best to consult with your veterinarian to rule out any health issues and develop a plan to help your cat get a good night’s rest.
Regular vet check-ups are a must for senior cats.
Is it bad to keep your cat in a room at night to stop them from waking you?
It might not be the best idea to keep your cat locked in a room at night.
Think about how it would feel if you were stuck in a closet for eight hours straight! It’s not very nice, and your cat may become destructive as a result.
If you keep your cat confined in a room at night, they can become very anxious and have bad behavior, which could become a problem for you.
Cats are natural explorers, and they need room to roam and play. Being cooped up in a small space for too long can be frustrating and stressful for your cat.
If you’re worried about your cat keeping you up all night, try finding other solutions like toys using some of the options I spoke about above.
Here’s What A Cat Behaviorist Say You Should Do
I learn a lot about how to train my cat from Jackson Galaxy, and I am willing to share what I learn with you.
Jackson Galaxy emphasizes the importance of committing to the Three R’s (Routine, Ritual, Rhythm) when dealing with cat behavior issues.
He suggests establishing a daily routine for your cat, including feeding meals at specific times and incorporating playtime around mealtime.
Through doing this, you will help align your cat’s natural rhythm with yours.
He also advises making the last meal of the day for your cat about an hour before bedtime, as this can help them settle down and sleep when you do.
He highlights the significance of getting buy-in from everyone in the household. It’s crucial for everyone to have a consistent reaction to the cat’s behavior and follow the established routine.
Jackson Galaxy compares the adjustment process to jet lag, stating that after about a week of committing to the Three R’s, you should start to see a difference in your cat’s behavior.
Additionally, he mentions the importance of rewarding silence rather than rewarding unwanted behavior.
He encourages establishing daily rituals and including your cat in socially significant areas of the home, such as your bedroom, as it helps them feel secure and confident in their territory (your home).