Sleep deprivation from thoughts running around our heads is one thing. However, the fatigue and irritability that ensues the following day seems even worse knowing that what the French refer to as a “nuit blanche” was, in fact, because your cat refused to go to leave you alone and let you enjoy a good night’s sleep.
First and foremost, know that you’re not alone in your frustration – in fact, it’s considered as normal feline behavior for cats to be alert at night! However, so you don’t go certifiably insane, you must take action to guarantee you wake up in the morning feeling fresh rather than completely exhausted. This article intends to explore why your cat is waking you up at night as well as how to switch their sleep schedule.
Why Your Cat is Waking You Up at Night
It’s entirely natural for cats to have increased activity during the night. Given that cats were only recently domesticated in the last few thousand years, their sleeping patterns haven’t quite shifted to match humans’. According to PetMD, the cat’s direct ancestor, the African wildcat, is a solitary nocturnal creature possessing hunting patterns that aren’t diurnal in any way.
Of course, it makes perfect sense why wild felines stuck to a nocturnal sleeping schedule. Rodents are most active when there is less danger about – that is, between dusk and dawn – and guess who enjoys feasting on rodents? Cats.
The good news is that domestication has shifted cat’s sleeping patterns so owners do get to enjoy their pet’s company during the day. However, some cats become accustomed to this new sleeping pattern easier than others. If your cat is in the latter group, don’t despair – there are many routines you can follow to encourage your feline to adapt to your routines.
How to Stop Your Cat from Disturbing Your Sleep
- Check your cat out for medical issues
A cat pawing at your face craving your attention and yearning for food as soon as the first of the sun’s rays emerges is one thing. Yet constantly awaking in the middle of the night to find your cat wailing and crying is another. Cats tend to not be shy when announcing ailments, so it could be best to take them along to the vet so they can check them out for any underlying health conditions. That’s why it’s so important to try not to scold your poor kitten for waking you up at night, as you could put them off voicing their concerns to you in the future.
- Interactive play sessions should take place during the day
Although felines are portrayed to be solitary creatures who don’t need much company or attention, this isn’t quite the case. Cats really do benefit from interactive play with their owners just as much as dogs do and love the consistency and bond with their owners that playtime engenders.
Certified cat behavior consultant Pam Johnson-Bennet recommends that owners should schedule their play sessions in twice a day, lasting ten to fifteen minutes per session. Not only will playing with toys keep the bond between you and your cat strong, but this will also use up much of cats’ excess energy that they keep pent up during the day! Experts recommend purchasing ping pong balls to throw around for your cat to exert energy chasing after. For a wider selection of choices, check out our guides on interactive cat toys and cat toys.
- Purchase an automatic feeder
Just like humans, cats are incredibly food motivated creatures and won’t hesitate to wake you up to get your attention if it means that there is the prospect of a food-based reward. That’s when automatic cat feeders come in handy as a solution to your bedtime problems. Scheduling your machine’s internal clock will provide your cat food when you’re happily enjoying a good night’s sleep.
On a similar note, cats and kittens alike tend to sleep well after a big meal. Accordingly, why not feed your cat a main meal just before you head off to bed? Chances are they’ll sleep soundly through the night.
- Ever thought of adding another kitten to your family?
If your daily schedule as a working adult primarily consists of activities outside the house, your cat may be waking you up in the night because they’re just so pleased that you’re home. Adding another fur ball to the family will provide your lonely cat with another family member to play with throughout the day. However, be warned that this potential solution may backfire with two cats instead of one bashing around at night!
- Encourage your cat to partake in enrichment activities
Your kitty may want you to play during the night because they’re quite simply bored with nothing better to do. Boredom is especially prevalent in indoor cats who don’t partake in scavenging.
To alleviate their boredom, you’ve got to step in. Go any old cardboard boxes lying around? Bring them out of storage for your cat to destroy, then. Cats love enclosed spaces to hunker down in and are even said to love the smell and texture of cardboard itself. Don’t have a cat scratching post for your pets to take out their energy on? Buy one! Kittens will love marking their territory and leaving pheromones behind on the objects they scratch. Finally, is there a stand-out window in your house that boasts an elevated view of the world around? We recommend buying a perch for your cat to observe the world from above like the royalty they are. Seriously, there is so much you can do to stop your pet from going stir-crazy and ensuring they sleep right through the night. For more options head over to our guide on cat window perches.
If These Techniques Aren’t Working, Call your Veterinarian
If you’ve tried out all our tried and tested solutions for coaxing your cat into sleeping at night to no avail, contacting your veterinarian is in your best interests. They’ll be able to provide you with expert guidance concerning how to train your cat to sleep through the night. Your vet may even put you in touch with an animal behaviorist who will provide you with situation-specific guidance. Hang in there – before you know it, you’ll go to bed knowing that both you and your cat won’t be waking up in the middle of the night anytime soon.