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What To Do If Your Cat Won’t Let You Sleep
Use these five tips and tricks to stop your cat from waking you up at night!
Since cats tend to be little balls of energy at night, many pet parents assume their cats are nocturnal. In actuality, cats are crepuscular creatures. This means our feline friends are most active during low-light times of day, such as dusk and dawn. If they were living in the wild, this is when they’d be hunting. And after snoozing all day, cats will often stay awake from dusk until dawn.
Unfortunately for cat owners, this sometimes means that you have to stay awake, too. It’s rather common for cats to wake up their owners by pouncing on them, jumping around the bed, nibbling their ears, or climbing all over their sleeping bodies. If this is a nightly occurrence in your household, here’s what you can do about it.
Rule out medical causes.
Younger cats and kittens generally have more energy so it’s not uncommon for them to be quite feisty at night and then settle down when they get older. But if your cat’s nighttime activity is drastically increasing, you may want to visit your vet to make sure the cause isn’t an underlying medical issue. If your cat is in pain or not feeling well, they might be waking you up because they are trying to tell you something. Once you’ve confirmed your cat is healthy, you can use behavior modification training to put an end to your sleepless nights.
Provide playtime and interaction during the day.
Did you know that cats sleep an average of 15 hours per day? After so much shut-eye, it’s not surprising that cats are ready to party once the moon is high in the sky! To encourage your cat to sleep more at night, make sure to provide more playtime and attention during the day, especially before bedtime. Playing fetch or making your cat chase a laser pointer are perfect evening activities to burn off excess energy. This can help prevent attention-seeking behavior from happening at night. Additionally, leave your cat with fun activities to keep them busy when you’re not home. This may encourage your cat to explore or play while you’re gone instead of getting bored and snoozing all day.
Enrich your cat’s environment.
While we’re on the subject of leaving your cat with exciting things to do, you’ll want to take steps to enrich their environment. Cats really do need daily mental and physical stimulation to thrive, and providing that day and night may keep your cats out of your bed. One way to do this is by placing multiple scratching posts around your home. Cats instinctually have to scratch to stretch, express emotions, and keep their nails in good shape. For extra stimulation, provide a variety of horizontal and vertical scratching posts so your cat can mix up his routine.
Another fun fact about cats is that they prefer to drink moving water that is located away from their food. You can appeal to your cat’s natural desires by purchasing a cat fountain that circulates the water. As an added bonus, many cat fountains filter water to keep it cleaner and run super quietly, so you’ll hardly even notice them.
Lastly, a happy cat has plenty of areas to hide in and explore. Cats sometimes like quiet, private places to snooze, and they also love hanging out in secluded cat towers. That said, you don’t need to spend a lot of money to make your cat’s day. Even a cardboard box with some holes punched out could lead to an afternoon of fun!
Change how you feed your cat.
Even though your cat likely has every meal provided to him, he still has the natural instincts of a fierce hunter in the wild. Your cat may not just want to hunt, but actually feels a need to hunt. You can cater to these instincts by hiding food around your home that your cat can hunt for at night. Roaming to look for food is actually a much more natural activity for cats than eating at the same time and place every day, and this hunting process utilizes lots of excess energy. Another idea is to invest in an automatic cat feeder that will feed your cat during the night while you sleep.
Don’t reward unwanted behavior.
Cats are extremely intelligent animals. If you reward them for waking you up at night, they’ll have no reason to discontinue the unwanted behavior because they get something good when they do it. Even if you’re not intentionally rewarding your cat for waking you up, you could be reinforcing bad behavior without realizing it. For example, getting up to pet your cat for a second, feed him, or just chase him out of the room could be perceived as a positive reward by your cat.
At the same time, don’t punish your cat for waking you up or being too active either. As frustrating as it feels to be woken up out of a sound sleep, your cat doesn’t actually have any malicious intentions. Punishing them for fairly normal behavior could just add hostility and stress to your relationship. If modifying your cat’s environment and sleep schedule doesn’t seem to work, the best thing you can do is speak to your vet or a qualified animal trainer for advice. And in the meantime, close your door at night and play some white noise so your cat’s antics won’t wake you up.