Kittens spend up to 20 hours a day asleep. When a kitten is awake, it will have energy to burn, and you will need to entertain it. You need to change your kitten’s sleep cycle so it’s awake at the same time as you.
Routine is key to getting a kitten to sleep through the night. Tire your kitten out, especially later at night. Play with, feed, and pet your kitten before bed. Providing calming scents and sounds, as well as a comfortable bed. Encourage your kitten to use the litter box before bed. If applicable, get your kitten spayed or neutered while it is young.
While you are training your kitten, your kitten is also training you. If you respond to a kitten’s demands for attention, it will expect this permanently. You have to set the boundaries so that your kitten knows what’s acceptable.
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How To Make a Kitten Sleep at Night
The formative experiences of a kitten are pivotal to shaping its adulthood. Train your kitten to sleep during the night as soon as possible.
Location and Bedding
Arrange the area in which your kitten will be sleeping. Ideally, the kitten will have a room to call its own. Use a room that you rarely enter, such as a spare bedroom or laundry room. If you don’t have a spare room, pick a corner of a kitchen or living room. Equip this territory with the following:
- A bed
- Food and water bowls
- A litter box
- Cat trees
- Scratching posts
- Toys and puzzles
- Dim night light to help the kitten see
Your kitten’s bed needs to be somewhere the kitten looks forward to spending time. If your cat finds its bed cozy, it won’t be resistant to bedtime.
Kittens love cushions and blankets, so pack the bed with as much soft padding as possible. Don’t pick a bed that’s too big as this will overwhelm your kitten. Pick an appropriate size for your kitten to grow into.
If your kitten is a little jittery, consider a tent in addition to a traditional bed. Even kittens need some time apart from their owners occasionally. A tent provides a kitten with such privacy.
Scents are important to all cats, but especially kittens. According to Applied Animal Behavior Science, kittens bond with their mothers through scent. The smell of their mother and littermates is comforting to young cats.
Before bringing your kitten home, ask for a blanket that it slept on. This will remind the kitten of its previous home. You should also bring home some familiar toys that smell of siblings. Place these in kitten’s bed.
You can also imitate the experience of sleeping alongside a mother cat. Your kitten would likely have sought comfort from its mother at bedtime. Apply a hot water bottle or heated blanket. This will stimulate the warmth of a mother cat.
You can also add a stuffed toy to the bed for the kitten to cuddle. Placing an alarm clock under the cushions will also provide a ticking sound. This will mimic the sound of a mother cat’s heartbeat.
Outside of the kitten’s bed, think about how you can enrich your kitten’s sleeping environment. Pack away any noisy or exciting toys at night. Your kitten may get itself over-excited if it has access to these.
Think about sounds in your kitten’s environment. If the kitten came from a home with children and littermates, it will not be used to silence. This can make bedtime a little scary for a kitten. Unfamiliar outside noises, in particular, will spark anxiety.
Consider leaving the radio on low volume. This will provide your cat with a range of soothing voices to listen to. Alternatively, play your kitten music. The Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery confirms that feline-specific music calms cats down.
Play is more than just fun for cats. It is also an essential element of exercise. You should play with your kitten multiple times a day.
Play exhausts kittens because it stimulates hunting instincts. Cats hunt clockwork mice or feathers on a string as though they were live prey. This requires more energy than you may realize.
Cats begin hunting by stalking prey. This requires the use of all five senses. The cat is preparing itself to attack. Once the cat is ready to pounce, it pushes off using its powerful hind legs. This requires significant physical effort.
If the cat captures the toy successfully, the brain will be flooded with endorphins. This, again, leaves the kitten ready to doze. It has earned the right to sleep.
According to Applied Animal Behavior Science, play will be more impactful if you vary the toys that are used. Kittens grow bored of playing with the same toy time and again. Mixing and matching toys will maintain your kitten’s interest. This, in turn, will exhaust it further.
Always play with your kitten around an hour before you go to bed. This will leave your kitten tired and hungry. This makes this the ideal time to feed your cat. Cats become sleepy while digesting food.
Be mindful of how you play with a kitten at night. Sometimes, kittens grow overstimulated and hyperactive during play. If your kitten is getting too excitable, calm the play down with a less exhilarating toy.
By the same token, do not allow the kitten to grow bored. Kittens have limited attention spans. If the cat is weary from play, it will look for other ways to amuse itself. This can get the kitten wound up and energetic all over again.
Food is a key element of getting your kitten to sleep through the night. The food that you offer is critical, as is the time at which you feed.
We discussed playing with your kitten an hour before bed. You should lay down food at the same time. Play, food, and grooming are preferred pre-bed activities for any cat.
By feeding your cat late at night, it will be drowsy when you need it to be. With a full stomach, your cat will groom itself and doze off. If you time it right, you can enhance the chances of a deep slumber. This will enhance your chances of a good night’s sleep.
Do not just feed a kitten once or twice a day. Kittens have small stomachs and cannot each too much at once. They are also active. This means that a kitten will burn off the calories that it consumes almost immediately.
As you can imagine, this means that a kitten feels hungry most of the day. Divide your kitten’s food allowance into four separate servings. The first should be at the start of the day. As discussed, the last should be an hour before bed. The other two can be spaced evenly.
How you do this is up to you. It could be advisable to save some dry food for your cat to eat overnight. Invest in a timed feeder to release kibble periodically. This way, if your kitten wakes up hungry, it will have a food source. The kitten can then eat, groom and sleep once more.
In addition to encouraging your kitten to exercise physically, work on stimulating its mind. Kittens are constantly curious about the world around them. The more new experiences a kitten has, the happier it will be.
Non-hunting games are another great way to stimulate a kitten’s mind. Consider creating treasure hunts. Hide food around the house, so your kitten needs to sniff it out. This is especially impactful if you are not home during the day.
Pet stores will also have a range of puzzles and games for cats. Oftentimes, these remain food-focused. Your kitten will need to learn or memorize a pattern to unlock a reward. The more your kitten learns, the more exhausted it will become.
Speaking to your kitten is also a good way to exercise its mind. Many cats enjoy conversing with their owners, especially kittens. Young cats are verbose. If your kitten speaks to you, respond.
Grooming and Petting
Cats of any age find grooming and petting relaxing. You can encourage your cat to sleep by providing this attention at night. As always, there is a fine balancing act to consider. Do not get your kitten too excited through physical attention.
Do not groom your kitten for the first time before bed. Your risk frightening and overstimulating the cat. Once the kitten is used to being petted and groomed, it will welcome this attention. Eventually, the kitten will find the activities calming and relaxing.
As kittens have a shorter sleep cycle than adult cats, the need to eliminate needs to be taken into consideration. Kittens also have immature brains and bladders. Your kitten will likely need to use the litter tray at some point in the night.
If your kitten has been trained to use a litter tray, ensure it has easy access to this. Don’t place the litter box too close to the kitten’s bed. The smell will be strong and deter the kitten from sleeping. Just ensure your kitten can make it in time if it wakes up in the night.
If your cat is not yet fully litter trained, you will need to use training pads. Before putting your kitten to bed, encourage it to use the bathroom. Place your kitten in the litter box and use soothing, appealing command words. The pads are then an emergency back-up.
You can also stimulate your kitten’s need to eliminate, much as its mother would have. Take an unscented wet wipe and gently rub it against your cat’s bottom. This will remind the kitten of being licked by its mother to stimulate elimination.
If your kitten has an empty bladder and bowel, it will likely sleep longer. It may not make it through a full 8-hour night. Kitten bodies are too small for this. It will minimize interruptions to sleep, though.
Spaying and Neutering
Unless you plan to breed your kitten when it grows up, get it spayed or neutered ASAP. Clinical Techniques in Small Animal Practice has stated that kittens can be spayed or neutered from 6 weeks old.
Fixing your kitten comes with a range of benefits. For a start, it will make your young cat easier to train. No kitten will ever win awards for their attention span. This procedure reduces the number of active hormones in the body, though.
Spaying and neutering calms kittens down. Do not panic. Your kitten will not undergo a huge personality shift. It will remain playful, mischievous and lovable. It will just be more serene.
It may take days, or even weeks, of training to get your kitten to sleep throughout the night. Remain patient and consistent during this period.