Cats are known for sleeping long hours, but when they’re not snoozing, they can be very active. Those periods of activity often happen during the night. If your cat attempts to wake you after you’ve gone to bed, he may want to play, eat or simply enjoy your company. Young cats under one year of age in particular can drive their owners crazy from sleep deprivation! Understand that the cat’s ancestor, the African wildcat, is mostly nocturnal. Domestication has shifted our pet cats’ activity patterns to be more diurnal (awake during the day), but most cats still tend to wake at least twice during the night. The good news is that cats can learn to let their owners sleep in peace. Rule Out Medical Problems First If your cat restlessly wanders around your house at night meowing or crying, he may be suffering from an underlying medical problem that causes pain or discomfort. If you think this may be the case, take your cat to the vet to rule out medical issues-especially if you notice that he meows excessively during the day as well as at night. What to Do If Your Cat Keeps You Awake at Night To prevent your cat from disturbing you while you sleep, try the following suggestions: Schedule a few interactive play sessions with your cat during the evening. Try using toys that can mimic the movement of mice and birds, such as toys that dangle and wiggle. Games with ping-pong balls, soft balls and furry mice toys are great for cats who like to fetch. Play until your cat seems tired. Feed your cat a main meal just before your bedtime. Cats tend to sleep after a big meal. If your cat continues to wake you during the night for food, purchase a timed feeder that you can fill and set to dispense once or twice during the night. If your cat’s hungry, he’ll learn to wait by the feeder rather than bother you while you’re sleeping. Make sure you reduce meal sizes so that your cat doesn’t gain weight. Incorporate a variety of enrichment activities to keep your cat busy during daylight hours. The more active your cat is during the day, the more likely that he’ll sleep at night. Please read our article, Enriching Your Cat’s Life, to learn about ways to enrich your cat’s life. If your cat is social with other cats, consider adding a second cat to your family. If the two cats are compatible, they’ll probably play with each other and leave you alone at night. However, romping cats can make quite a racket, which might disturb your sleep just as much as one cat trying to wake you! Playful cats sometimes unintentionally injure their sleeping owners. For instance, your cat might notice your eyes moving under your lids as you sleep and swat at your face in play. If your cat tries to play with you or wake you while you’re sleeping, you might need to shut him out of your bedroom at night. If he cries and scratches at the door, you can discourage him by placing something in front of the door that he won’t want to step on, such as vinyl carpet runner placed upside-down to expose the knobby parts, double-sided sticky tape, aluminum foil or a Scat Mat™ (available at most pet supply stores or through online pet supply sites). Alternatively, you can set a “booby trap” outside your door. Try hanging your blow dryer off the bedroom door knob, or placing your vacuum cleaner five or six feet away from the door. Plug the dryer or vacuum into a remote switch (available from Radio Shack). When your cat wakes you by meowing outside your door, you can hit a button on the remote to turn on the appliance. Your startled cat probably won’t return to your door after that! If you need help, don’t hesitate to call in the experts. Please see our article, Finding Professional Help, to locate a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB or ACAAB) or a board-certified veterinary behaviorist (Dip ACVB).
March 14, 2010 By Ruthie Bently The daytime noises have faded away, you’ve finished watching the news or the late show and finally gotten to sleep, and then your cat begins to howl. Because cats are nocturnal by nature, this is when they are most active. Have you ever been woken up in the middle of the night by your cat meowing? This is known as night vocalization, nighttime calling or night calling, and there are different reasons that our cats do it. All cats use vocalization from time to time. They vocalize to connect to each other and to us as well. A mother cat will use it to call her kittens. A cat vocalizes to tell their owner they want food, water, to go out or that their litter box needs to be cleaned. Cats will even use it to let each other know where they are during a game of hide and seek. If a female is in season or there is a territory dispute, two males will use vocalization to warn each other before they square off for a fight, though this is known as caterwauling. Your cat may be disturbed by something they can hear or see outside. It may be as simple as your cat wanting your companionship and they meow to get you to pay attention to them. There are many other reasons cats may call during the night, though. It could be due to insecurity, CDS (cognitive dysfunction syndrome) or they may be in physical distress. A newly adopted kitten, alone at night for the first time, may use night calling. It isn’t used to being away from its mother or litter mates, and might be a bit insecure being in your household. Night calling can also happen if you’ve adopted an older cat from a shelter that is used to being with other cats. A cat may go looking for a housemate that is no longer there and call them, trying to locate them. Senior cats will vocalize if they are hard of hearing or going deaf; if they can’t hear themselves they will meow loudly (like a person who has trouble hearing) to make sure you hear them. Sometimes it can be a bit more serious than this. Your cat may have wandered into a closet, a bedroom or an appliance, gotten shut inside and need your assistance to be released. If you have a night calling cat, there are several things you can do to make life easier for all concerned. If they have a favorite toy, play a rousing game of fetch before you go to bed to help tire them out. A radio tuned to a station that plays easy listening or classical music can help soothe a lonely kitten or an older cat in the middle of the night. If this doesn’t work, getting a baby monitor might. Put one receiver near the cat’s bed and the other in your bedroom. When the cat wakes up you can reassure them through the monitor and help them settle back in. A cat suffering from CDS may awaken and be disoriented; a night light or two around the house will help them reorient themselves in their surroundings and help them maneuver through the house easier. Moving your cat’s bed into your bedroom can help too. If they wake up and are disoriented you can reach down and reassure them with a quick pet. Putting a small blanket or towel in your cat’s bed that they can nestle into will make them more comfortable. If your house is a little chilly, a heated sleeping pad made for pets might also help. My cats meow to me all the time and I answer them. Usually it is something as simple as a water dish that isn’t full enough for them or that they want to eat, and sometimes they just want to play. Thankfully, most of these conversations take place during the day. For those rare times when they do engage in night calling, I try to distract them with a catnip toy. While catnip does help to make my cats sleepy after they play with it, it can have the opposite effect on some cats. The reason for your cat’s night calling may not be apparent at first, so you might want to schedule a checkup with their vet. If there is no medical reason for the night calling, try not to give in every time they do it. If they find out that you will come running every time they call out, they will keep doing it. By assessing the situation and dealing with it early, you can all get a good night’s sleep. Read more articles by Ruthie Bently Find CANIDAE Retailers Near You! The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.Share this: