Nighttime Feline Fiasco: How to Stop Your Cat From Waking You up at Night
26 Oct 2023.
It can be frustrating to settle in for a night of solid shut-eye, only to be awoken in the wee hours by an overactive feline. Our fur friends sleep a lot, so it might seem strange to find that your cat likes waking you up at night. And it’s never fun to have your sleep disturbed, even if the culprit is a cute little furball. Is there a way to stop your cat from waking you up at night? Cat in a Flat finds out!
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Why is your cat awake at night?
Do you ever wonder what makes your cat more active at night? Cats may have domesticated themselves hundreds of years ago, but many their wilder instincts still remain intact. This includes Mr Whiskers’ night-time habits. Felines are crepuscular, which means that they are active at dawn and dusk. And, because most prey tends to be active at night too, some kitties are also more likely to be up and about throughout the night. This instinct could explain why your cat is waking you up at night with their nocturnal zoomies.
Other reasons your cat is waking you up at night
Besides Mr Whiskers’ natural instincts to be active at dawn and dusk, there can be other reasons for why your cat is waking you up at night.
- Lack of stimulation. A feline may become active at night if they’re not getting enough stimulation and exercise during the day.
- Too much alone time. If your kitty spends long hours home alone with no one to play with, they may be waking you at night for quality playtime.
- Hunger or thirst. Perhaps your kitty is hungry or thirsty during the night.
- Dirty litter box. Cats are tidy animals, and a dirty litter box can spark some annoying behaviour. Which is understandable. You’d be mad too if you had to use a dirty bathroom, right?
How to stop your cat from waking you up
While it’s incredibly frustrating to have your cat waking you up at night, you should never punish or shout at your kitty. Our furry friends are only doing what comes naturally to them and have limited ways of communicating with us. Instead of scolding them, here are a few ways you can stop your cat from waking you up at night:
Establish a routine
Routine is incredibly important to cats. To keep your feline happy and healthy, try to stick to the same daily routine as much as possible. This means playing with and feeding your cat at the same times each day. Also make sure to include cleaning your cat’s litterbox in your daily routine. All these small tasks will add up to more well-balanced feline.
Play and feed before bed
Since your cat may be waking you up at night to socialise or seek attention, you should make sure that you prioritise daily playtime with your cat. Schedule multiple 10-15 minute play session throughout the day and one right before bed. This will help tire your cat release energy and make them less likely to wake you up at night.
Also aim to feed your cat a meal in the evening. This way when bedtime rolls around, they aren’t hungry. Avoid feeding your cat snacks at random times throughout the day (including any late night snacking). By scheduling playtime and mealtimes at the same time every day, your kitty will start to anticipate high and low activity periods and adjust their body clock accordingly.
Increase daytime activity and environmental enrichment
You can’t be around all the time to entertain your feline, so you should try to create a stimulating home environment for your cat. This is especially necessary if Mr Whiskers is purely an indoor cat.
- Provide safe toys for your kitty to play with on their own.
- Make sure they have plenty of cat trees to climb and explore.
- Provide your feline with a window perch where they can watch birds.
- Consider getting another cat. If your feline has a friend to play with, they’ll release more energy throughout the day. Just make sure you take the right steps to introduce a new cat into your home.
If possible, aim to spend quality time with your kitty in the afternoon and early evenings. This will reduce nocturnal activity and prevent your cat from waking you up at night. If you work outside the home and your furry friend spends long periods of time alone, you may consider hiring a cat sitter to provide at-home day care for your kitty. A sitter can come in the afternoons to play with and spend time with your cat so Mr Whiskers is less likely to wake you up during the night.
Provide a safe sleeping alternative
If you have trouble sleeping, it’s probably not a good idea to let your cat sleep in your bed with you. Instead, limit bedroom access at night and provide your kitty with a comfortable bed in another part of the house. Make sure you place your cat’s bed in a corner and, if possible, place a screen around it. This will help your fur friend feel safe and secure while sleeping in their bed. You can even use a pheromone diffuser in Mr Whiskers’ sleeping area. This will help relax your cat and make them less likely to be up and about at night.
It may be tricky to stop your kitty from entering your bedroom at night—especially if they’re used to 24-hour access. Keep your door shut at night and ignore Mr Whiskers when they scratch or meow at the door. Be consistent. After a time, your kitty will get used to sleeping in their own bed.
Check for medical issues
If you follow all the above tips and your cat is still waking you up at night, the next step is to check for potential medical issues. Your vet will be able to rule out behavioural causes for nocturnal activity. They can check to see if your kitty is in pain or has a glandular issue such as thyroid disease. If Mr Whiskers has a clean bill of health, consult your vet about other ways to prevent your cat from waking you up at night.
Remember, kittens and younger cats will have a lot more energy than older cats and are therefore more likely to be active at night. If you take the right steps to reduce night-time activity, your kitty should grow out of it. If you’d like more tips on dealing with other tricky feline behaviour, check out our blog posts on what to do about excessive meowing and how to stop your cat from scratching your furniture.
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