My cat won’t let me sleep through the night! Getting your cat to adhere to your sleep schedule can be tricky. The small hours of the morning appeal to your cat’s predatory instincts, desire to get your attention, hunger, and attraction to nightlights.
While cats can be trained to accommodate your schedule, it can get be tough until the right routine has been established. Aggressive meowing, crying and whining, scratching the door, jumping on your bed, and cat butting can all awaken you from your slumber.
In this guide, we will detail the reasons why cats roam during the night and some of the ways you can adjust your cat’s internal clock.
Reasons Why Your Cat Will Not Let You Sleep
Noted below are some of the most common reasons why your cat is refusing to let you sleep:
1) Instinctual Behavior
Although domestication has changed the sleeping habits of cats, most felines still love to roam at night.
Known for sleeping long hours, cats enjoy getting most of their rest during the day, so they are fresh and alert to explore at night. Whether the territory is outdoors or in your living room, instinctual behavior can play a significant role as to why your cat keeps you awake.
- It is common for house cats to awaken 3 or 4 times during the overnight hours. Roaming the house for food, water, and restroom use, coming to visit you can become a bad habit. Cats can become aggravated if they are isolated or deprived of their favorite time for exploration as they are naturally compelled to stalk and hunt after sunset.
2) Boredom and Desire for Your Attention
Where did everyone go? This is likely what your cat is thinking (in its own way) when you and your family depart for the night. This is true if your cat is loving and has a strong bond with you. Left alone, your cat may naturally become a bit restless, bored, and lonely.
Similar to a child who is afraid of sleeping alone in their room, cats can become fearful and panic. Your cat may sleep on your face while you sleep in order to be close to you. This is especially true of kittens who are unfamiliar with the act of you “disappearing” for several hours under the cloak of darkness.
- Never stir your cat into a frenzy and then head to bed. This will confuse your cat and leave them in a hyper mood. Calming down a hyper cat involves you remaining calm. Cats are unable to “shut it off” so quickly. Never schedule playtime moments before bedtime.
3) Poor Sleeping Patterns
If you spent months catering to a kitten or newly adopted cat, your routine might have involved waking up in the middle of the night to check on your new buddy. This interaction likely involved petting, feeding, and attention. While these actions were positive at the time and helped to calm your cat to sleep, it can be hard for them to adjust when those nightly visits come to an end.
While this issue can be rectified by ignoring your cat’s meows, it will likely take some time before he or she gives up. When a source of comfort is taken away from an animal, it can be difficult for them to process the change.
If you do not feed your cat before bed, there is a chance that your cat will come calling in the middle of the night. Additionally, if you are early to rise to feed your pet, they will look for you at the same time each morning. This can cause you to wake up much sooner than you had planned due to your cat’s expectation of food. Never let your cat go to bed hungry.
- Providing fresh water is also essential. If your cat has stale water from earlier in the evening, make sure you supply fresh before you go to sleep. In some cases, you may discover that your cat is waking you up due to something you have failed to do.
5) Attraction to Light
How to get a cat to sleep at night may center around how you use your lights. Unless your cat is of senior status and requires minimal light to see, you are encouraged to turn off all of your lights during the overnight hours.
Because cats have a different type of vision to humans, our idea of complete darkness is different than that of a healthy cat. This is why retreating to your bedroom is not always the end of the story.
If you sleep to the light of a TV or nightlight, your cat can see the glow through the bottom of a cracked or closed door. The attraction can attract your pet’s interest throughout the night so that he or she is never calm and relaxed. If your cat thinks you are up and about, you can likely expect a scratch at the door or a visitor in your bed.
If your cat has a nightly routine of roaming around your home while meowing and crying, it could be due to illness. Different than other more common reasons, sickness is often a call for help that is persistent.
- Does your cat roam your home meowing and crying during the day and night? If overnight actions are similar to those of daylight hours, it could be due to a legitimate medical issue. In which case, you should take your cat to the vet for an examination.
Ways to Prevent Your Cat from Keeping You Awake
Although being kept awake by your cat can be annoying and anger-provoking, the situation can be resolved in most cases.
Let’s explore the actions you can take to ensure that your cat sleeps through the night:
1) Evening Play Session
Engage in a play session with your cat several hours before bed. Using toys that prompt physical and mental exercise is essential.
Games that are stimulating in every sense can give your cat a complete workout. This can tire out your cat which means your pet will be more inclined to sleep while you are doing the same.
2) Main Meal Before Bed
Before you turn in for the night, you should prepare a decent-sized meal for your cat. Because most felines tend to sleep after a meal, this will ensure that your cat is well-fed and feeling slumberous.
If you are unable to provide your cat with a meal before bed, it can be wise to explore the concept of a food dispenser. The use of a timed feeder to ensure that your cat has fresh food during the night. Dispensing snacks once or twice can be an indirect trainer that will keep your pet focused on the dispenser rather than coming to you for sustenance.
3) Busy Daylight Hours
Because cats enjoy napping during the day, it is vital to keep your cat active. This does not have to involve standard play but rather an activity that will capture your cat’s attention and keep them interested and curious.
Dr. Marty Becker at VetStreet.com in a Q/A with Dr. Tony Buffington of The Indoor Pet Initiative at The Ohio State University Veterinary Medical Center notes the importance of enrichment. Dr. Buffington mentions puzzles, window perches, and bird watching availability as three key ways to keep your cat busy and mentally stimulated during the day.
People sleep at night due to being awake and active during the day. The goal is to train your cat and shift their internal clock. Over time, your cat will slowly become more fatigued at night as the daylight hours become busier.
4) Social Engagement with Other Animals
Adding another cat to your home could be beneficial. If two cats are compatible and develop a strong bond, they will have each other to keep them company. This will eliminate loneliness and the desire to have your attention. Two cats could also entertain each other during the day causing both to sleep soundly at night. Being charged with the care of multiple cats is a great responsibility.
5) Close and Secure Your Bedroom Door
If your cat has a habit of entering your bedroom and jumping on you while you sleep, try securing your door. Leaping, swatting, and playing with your face could cause you injury.
By placing something unappealing in front of your bedroom door such as sticky tape, a carpet runner, etc., your pet will be less likely to scratch and claw.
Allow your cat to sleep in a large pen. Equipped with food, water, and litter box, keeping your cat in a large pen overnight can allow you to sleep without the worry of your cat keeping you awake.