There are many benefits to having a kitten in your life, but restful sleep is not among them. Kittens have no concept, or respect for, time. If your kitten doesn’t want to sleep at night, your own slumber will inevitably be disturbed. This will make you feel tired and could harm the feline-human bond.
Don’t prevent your kitten from sleeping during the day. Instead, focus on exhausting your kitten as late as possible with play before providing an evening meal. Avoid getting the kitten too excited at night, and provide a comfortable bed that offers calming, familiar scents.
Kitten sleep training takes time and effort. Sleep training is a two-way process when you have a kitten. While you believe that you’re teaching a kitten to follow your rules, the kitten is thinking the same. Be mindful of any precedents that you set at this pivotal stage of development. The key to a successful night’s sleep is consistency.
Will a Kitten Sleep All Night?
Kittens sleep more than adult cats, apart from senior and geriatric felines. Most kittens can spend up to 20 hours of each day asleep. Kittens are highly active and alert when awake, which takes its toll on energy levels.
Such dozing sounds ideal, but kittens rarely stay asleep for a prolonged period. As explained by Experimental Neurology, cats aged younger than 3 months are unlikely to enjoy typical sleep patterns.
So, if not for 8 hours, how many hours does a kitten sleep at night? That depends on a range of factors. Most kittens will wake up many times at night. How they behave after this depends on how comfortable the kitten is in your home.
Where Should Kittens Sleep at Night?
As well discuss shortly, convincing kittens to sleep when you do is a matter of training. It all starts with establishing the best place for the kitten to sleep at night.
Locking a kitten out of your bedroom while you sleep seems like a good idea on paper, but it can backfire. Many people find that a new kitten won’t stop crying when alone at night. Some kittens even scream when alone, making a din that’s comparable to a newborn child.
Weigh up your options before settling on a kitten sleeping in a separate room. You’ll need to weigh up the pros and cons of sharing your bedroom with your new kitten.
Where Should My Kitten Sleep on the First Night?
Where your kitten sleeps on the first night in your home sets a tone. If the kitten is left alone and frightened, it may remain nervous and anxious for some time. The kitten will associate bedtime with abandonment.
Many experts recommend keeping a kitten close to you on its first night. The exception to this is if the kitten’s mother or siblings live with you. Kittens are used to having company for the first 8 weeks of their life. A kitten with familiar felines around is more likely to stay calm.
Should I Put My Kitten in a Crate?
If you share your bed with the kitten, the decision is irreversible. From that night forth, your bed is your kitten’s sleeping quarters too. With this in mind, it’s inadvisable to let a kitten onto your bed.
Kittens may jump on you while you sleep, attacking your feet or even your face with their teeth and claws. The kitten is just trying to get your attention. One solution to this is to keep your kitten in a crate or cage.
Your kitten is close enough to pick up your scent and take comfort from this, but it cannot physically interact with you. What’s more, if your kitten is not yet toilet trained, you can keep a litter tray in the cage.
Crating a kitten at night is not a failsafe, though. If your kitten doesn’t stop meowing, for example, the noise will still disturb your sleep. Some kittens will also protest being restrained when they are used to roaming free.
If you do decide to use a crate, get one designed for a large dog. Do not force your kitten into a carrier that you would use to transport it to the vet. Also, make the crate comfortable, packing it with blankets and cushions.
Can My Kitten Sleep Alone in a Room?
Leaving a kitten downstairs at night may seem appealing. However, you should only really consider this once the kitten has the lay of the land. As discussed, you should keep your kitten close to you until it starts to settle into your home.
Can a kitten sleep in the bathroom or kitchen? These are popular choices because you can close the door and leave your kitten to its own devices until morning. Alas, this solution is rarely workable.
Kittens are innately curious, and these rooms are filled with potential hazards. If out of sight, the kitten should drink from the toilet and fall in. It may lap up bleach or consume unsafe foods.
Why Won’t My Kitten Sleep at Night?
Kittens struggle to sleep for a range of reasons. The cat has woken from its nap filled with energy. There are six core explanations for kitten insomnia:
Consider your kitten’s instincts. All felines are crepuscular, meaning that they are most active at dawn and dusk. Therefore, your kitten will likely wake exceptionally early, even if it slept through the hours of darkness.
Early rising is part of feline ownership. Even when it reaches adulthood, you may find your kitten staring at you in the morning, waiting for you to feed it.
Look at things from your kitten’s perspective. It has likely been left its mother and littermates, with whom it spent every previous moment, including bedtime. Suddenly, the kitten is in an unfamiliar environment without its support network.
Kittens get over this quite quickly with appropriate care and attention. Make the transition as smooth as possible, though. Provide the kitten with a familiar scent, such as a blanket that reminds it of its mother, to reduce anxiety.
As per Hearing Research, the hearing of a kitten is comparable to that of an adult cat. As a result, noise can be frightening for a kitten, but so can a complete lack of sound. As always, this comes down to what your kitten is used to.
If your kitten spent its formative years living in a quiet location, a city home could be frightening. The kitten’s acute sense of hearing will be exposed to all manner of new sounds. These could include sirens, car horns, neighbors, or conversing passers-by.
Equally, a kitten that grew up in a louder home will miss this soothing white noise if you live somewhere near-silent. Rural locales may feel eerily quiet. The kitten will initially struggle to sleep without a familiar din.
If you’re tearing your hair out and asking, “why is my kitten hyper at night?” ask yourself if you are partly to blame. Are you placing your kitten in an over-stimulating environment or getting it excited before bed?
Providing your kitten with toys at bedtime may seem like a way to keep it amused while you sleep. Instead, this may get the kitten increasingly excitable. The same applies to popular activities, such as climbing. If your kitten has the chance to play, it will seize it.
Be careful about grooming, too. A little gentle brushing of fur can lull a kitten into sleepiness. Boisterous tickling becomes a game, and the kitten will want to call the shots about when this concludes.
Kittens have small stomachs and eat in equally tiny portions. As a result, kittens eat little and often. What’s more, a kitten may be used to feeding upon its mother’s milk at night.
As we’ll discuss shortly, it’s advisable to feed your kitten as late at night as possible. A feast before bed will tire out the animal and reduce the likelihood of loud verbalizations for food overnight.
Keep a snack handy, but don’t hand-feed treats, or the kitten will assume that it is entitled to wake you at all hours and demand such a pleasure. A small handful of kibble or a bowl of kitten milk from a pet store is recommended.
Is your kitten toilet trained? Does it have easy access to a comfortable and familiar litter tray? If not, the kitten will wake you expecting help eliminating. Rectify this training issue ASAP as kittens have immature bladders, so accidents will otherwise arise.
How to Train Your Kitten to Sleep Through the Night
“How do I get my kitten to sleep at night?” is the most posed question of any owner. Patience and structure are essential. Once you have established where your kitten will be sleeping, you need to work on convincing it to do so.
It will not be easy but resist the temptation to pay attention to a kitten that bites and scratches you while you sleep. If your kitten wants to play, it will do whatever it takes to get attention. If you provide this, even if it is to scold the kitten, this will be considered a win.
Equally, turning out the lights and hoping that the kitten will choose to sleep will be ineffective. You will need to undertake an intense training regimen before you see results.
Do not keep your kitten awake by day, hoping it will sleep at night. Kittens need to sleep near constantly to grow and develop their bones and organs. Instead, tire out your kitten toward the end of the night.
Exhaust the Kitten
Just play, play, and then play a little more. Get hunting toys, such as laser pens or fishing rods. The kitten will love sating hunting instincts by attempting to capture prey.
Kittens are more easily pleased than adult cats when it comes to play but still need variety. According to Applied Animal Behavior Science, all felines grow bored of the same games and activities eventually. Keep a constant rotation of toys and play with your kitten. Once your kitten starts to slow down, encourage it to eat.
Kittens need to eat at least 4 times a day. Most kittens will wake up hungry and request food a couple of times in the afternoon and evening. Offer your kitten’s last meal as late as possible, after its final playtime. Make this the largest meal of the day.
While kittens do not eat a considerable amount, they devour enough to fill their small stomachs. A kitten will be automatically lethargic after a feed. It will likely look to groom itself then fall into a deep sleep. Naturally, the later this happens, the longer the kitten will sleep.
Establish a Bathroom Schedule
Before your kitten starts to doze, encourage it to use the litter tray. Elimination before bed is crucial if the kitten does not yet do so of its own accord. If you need to carry and place the kitten in the litter box, you’d rather not do so at 3 AM.
If your kitten seems reluctant to use the litter box, rub an unscented wet wipe on its anus and bladder. This sensation mimics the sensation of being licked by a mother, who would have previously encouraged the kitten to eliminate.
You should also provide your kitten with a bed. Cats of all ages relish territory, so your kitten will be no exception. If it has a bed to call its own, the kitten will eventually start to gravitate toward it at night.
Learning how to get a kitten to sleep in its own bed can be a training exercise by itself. Essentially, you need to make this bed as comforting and appealing as possible. There are many ways that you can achieve this.
- Locate the bed away from any draughts or noises
- Pack the bed with as many warm, cozy blankets as you can spare
- Apply a blanket with a comforting, familiar smell
- Ensure the kitten knows that it can reach food, water, and a litter tray from the bed
- Consider playing soothing music to encourage sleep
- Spray a little Feliway. The Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery confirms the effectiveness of this product in promoting relaxation in cats
- Lift the bed off ground level if safe to do so as cats enjoy positions of elevation
Once your kitten starts to consider its bed to be a source of pleasure, it will no longer hesitate to use it. The use of a cat bed will be the final hurdle in your quest to encourage a cat to sleep in many cases.
You can consider adding toys to the bed once your kitten starts to settle. As discussed previously, be careful with this approach. It’s easy to cross the line between gentle entertainment and over-stimulation.
How to Keep Your Kitten Entertained at Night
Even if you follow all this advice, you may find that your kitten is full of energy at night. A bout of the zoomies can strike at any time. Sometimes, it’s better to accept that your kitten will have a crazy five minutes and prepare accordingly.
As discussed, only allow your cat to entertain itself once the training process is underway. If you immediately cede to demands for amusement at all hours, your nocturnal kitten will become an adult cat that does not sleep.
If you are confident that your kitten will be safe, allow it to explore the home. Keep all potential stimulation in one room. Consider applying the following to this location:
- Easily accessible litter box
- Cat tree for climbing
- Quiet toys that can be enjoyed alone and do not pose a choking hazard
- A small bowl of kibble in case the kitten is hungry
- Open windows in case the kitten wants to watch the world go by
There are no guarantees that your kitten will remain silent during these activities. All cats are prone to making a great deal of noise at night. You’ll stand a better chance of uninterrupted sleep, though.
Should I Leave a Light on for My Kitten?
If your kitten roams the house at night, you may wish to leave the lights on to keep it safe. However, such illumination is not necessary. The feline eye is adapted to see best in dim lighting. Leaving on the lights wastes electricity and disturbs your own sleep.
Kittens cannot see any better in pitch darkness than humans, so do not plunge the house into complete obscurity. A dim lamp, or even a child’s nightlight, will be more than sufficient. Anything brighter than this risks damage to your kitten’s retinas.
When you first bring a kitten to your home, do not expect an easy and seamless adaptation to your sleep patterns. All felines are crepuscular, and your kitten will initially struggle to adapt to human hours. With time, patience, and training, though, your kitten will eventually start to mimic your sleep routine.