If you are like me, you probably love your cat. I mean, who wouldn’t? Cats are cuddly and adorable! Sometimes, though, they can wake us up when we really want to sleep in late. That is why here is a quick guide on what to do if your cat wakes you up during the early hours of the morning.
It’s vital to your health that you get a good night’s sleep, and your cat shouldn’t be the reason you don’t get it. If you have a sleep disorder, you may have issues going back to sleep after being awakened by your demanding cat.
Why does your cat wake you up at night?
In their wild natural habitats, cats are nocturnal animals. They sleep most of the day and play or hunt all night.
There are a few reasons your furry friend might be waking you up during the wee hours of the morning. These include:
- Your cat might not be getting enough stimulation, enrichment, and exercise during its active periods.
- If your cat spends its active time alone at home (eg. while you’re at work), it may then want your love, attention and companionship at night. They could be bored or lonely, so they want you to play with them or let them out.
- Your cat may want an early breakfast. This could be because they are hungry, thirsty or are looking for a midnight snack – especially if they have had one in the past!
- Their bed or litter box could be disturbed.
- They are in pain or stressed, and just like humans, can’t sleep as a result.
It is very important that you notice what time your cat wakes up at night and take note of why they are waking up. Maybe there is something you can do to help your cat sleep through the night.
If your cat appears to be sick, frisky or shows unusual behaviour for no reason, you should contact your vet as soon as possible.
How to stop your cat from waking you up at night
If your cat is waking you up for a specific reason, such as attention or hunger, there are a few things you can do to help them stop by training (or retraining) your cat to stop waking you up at night.
First and foremost, try to remain calm. It is important that you do not get frustrated with your cat, as this could lead to negative consequences. If your cat has a habit of waking you up early, try to put him or her in another room at night so that you can get some more shut-eye.
Some of the changes below may require behaviour modifications on the human side – so make sure that you and your family are prepared to make changes to help you stop your cat from waking you up at night or early in the morning. It’s important to make choices and plan during the day, rather than making decisions at night.
Help your cat sleep longer by playing before bedtime.
If you notice your cat waking up early in the morning, try playing with them for an hour before bedtime. The more active and stimulated they are during the day, the less likely they are to wake you up at night.
Follow up the playtime with a snack or food.
Make sure your cat has plenty of food and water
Cats like to have a good hunt, eat a large meal and then sleep right after. By simulating a natural situation like this (playtime, then food), your cat should let you sleep longer!
If your cat wants attention or needs to be outside, give them some food or water right before bedtime so that they can wait until morning for more playtime and attention from you.
Avoid feeding your cat at night or at the time of its demand, as they will keep waking you up early. Having a safe, designated area where your cat can sleep, eat and drink without disturbing your sleep schedule might be beneficial to both you and your cat.
Ignore your cat
Sometimes, the best way to get your cat back to sleep is just to ignore them. If you notice your feline friend waking up very early in the morning and wanting some attention from you, try going back to bed and ignoring him or her for a couple of hours. When they really need something – like food – they’ll eventually give up and wait.
The goal is to help your cat understand that waking you up at night will not result in what they want.
If you do wake up at night and give them playtime or food, they may keep waking you up every night. They will be stubborn, so you will need to work extra hard to ignore your cat to get more sleep.
Don’t let your cat sleep in your bedroom
This is a big one. If you have a sleep disorder, you really shouldn’t let your cat sleep in the bedroom. Pets can be disruptive and may keep you up at night – even when they’re trying to sleep.
If your cat is constantly waking you up, it might be time to make your bedroom a pet-free zone that cats are not allowed to enter.
If you do this, make sure your cat has a comfortable bed where they can sleep – ideally in a spare room, a corner of the living room or even a bathroom. Make sure that the cat has access to water and a litter box, and that the bed is away from their litter box, noises and bright light. To entice the cat to utilise the bed in a new location, try rubbing some catnip on it first.
Get a second cat
Am I crazy for saying that?! A single cat can easily become lonely and bored when it’s at home all day while you are at work.
If you have two cats, they can play with each other while you’re gone instead of feeling lonely or sleeping. Thus, helping your cat sleep at night.
This is especially true if you have a kitten, as they have much more energy during their growth and development years. Two kittens are always better than one and it’s also the best time to introduce two cats together.
Bringing an adult cat into a home with another cat can be more difficult as it may cause the existing cat more stress, making the situation worse. We have a guide about how to introduce two cats to one another, but if you are in doubt, it might be best to speak with your vet for tailored advice.
Cats love a predictable schedule and aren’t a fan of surprises. As such, it’s important that you create a set routine and stick to it.
Plan your day and know exactly how much playtime and attention your cat will get. Be sure to include rest time in there too! Giving your cat a set time for food and exercise will go a long way in reducing stress and helping you get more sleep!
Things to keep in mind
Make sure that your whole family is aware of your plans as not to hinder your efforts. If you keep up the steps above for a few weeks only for someone else to feed your cat at night, it may ruin all of your hard work.
Even if you close your bedroom door, a determined cat will scratch the door and floor for a while. However, they should soon give up and go to sleep or find something else to do.
You can help prevent damage to your door by either mounting a vertical scratchpad or by trimming your cat’s claws.
Working to create a more peaceful sleep environment for yourself and your pet may take some effort, but it’s definitely worth it! Not only will you get more rest, but you’ll also be able to spend more quality time with your furry friend.
If your cat is still waking you up at night despite your best efforts, it might be time to take them to the vet for a check-up. There could be an underlying health issue that’s causing them to act out.