Updated: Jan 16, 2021
Are Cats Actually Nocturnal?
Most people don't know that cats aren't nocturnal, they are actually crepuscular. Crepuscular creatures are more active during the early evening and early morning. Dusk and dawn are when prey like rodents are most active. Just like us, cats also get sleepy after a decent meal. So if your cat typically wakes you up in the middle of the night, try tiring them out with their favorite toy after you feed them a large meal right before you go to bed. That way your cat will be exhausted along with a full belly, which is the purrfect combo for a good night's rest for both you and your cat. So here are a few helpful tips and tricks on how to teach your cat to let you sleep through the night.
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Cats will wake you up if they are hungry or simply because they want your attention. As I mentioned before, feed your cat their largest meal right before you go to bed. This will help prevent them from waking you up for a midnight snack. A simple solution would be to free feed right? That's up for debate, from my experience as a pet sitter I beg to differ. Most cats that I have taken care of that have access to food at all hours of the day have been the most active at night. As I mentioned before, cats get sleepy after a decent meal which can result in multiple cat-naps throughout the day which equals one energetic kitty.
According to cat behaviorist Jackson Galaxy "If we allow our cats to graze all day long, you’ll have no chance of affecting their behavior. Their bodies aren’t getting the time to process food in a natural way because they are constantly in an arch of digestion. This arch creates a state of unpredictable energy.".
I understand the appeal of free feeding. Your cat can eat whenever they get hungry, but free feeding can also lead to obesity in cats. A majority of the people that I have talked to say they free-feed because they have busy schedules and they don't want their cat to go hungry if they end up having to stay late at work. You can always use a pet care service to stop by and feed your cat in the middle of the day. If you prefer to save some money I would highly suggest getting an automatic feeder.
A lot of our clients use the WOPET Automatic feeder it can dispense anywhere from 2 teaspoons to 4.5 cups of dry food per feeding. You can easily establish a feeding routine throughout the day. If your cat typically wakes you up at 6:00 am to feed them breakfast as mine does, you can adjust your feeder to dispense food at 6:00 am so you can continue sleeping. There are many other automatic feeders out there, WOPET just happens to be our client's personal favorite.
Tire Them Out
Make sure to give your cat attention and play with them throughout the day. The more active they are throughout the day the more tired they will be at night. That last play session right after their largest meal before you go to bed really helps get that last burst of energy out.
This Feather Wand by MeoHui is a great option when it comes to cat toys, it comes with two poles, five feather attachments, and four worm attachments. You know your cat better than I do, maybe a laser toy is more up their alley. Whatever their favorite toy maybe, have fun with it. Your cat will love the attention, and I don't know about you but I love watching my cat play, jump, and run. Physical and mental stimulation are very important in your cat's daily activities.
Animal Humane Society suggests feeding some of your cat meals from a food-dispensing toy. "Feeder toys simulate a wild feline’s hunt-catch-consume behavior, providing both mental and physical stimulation."
When your cat is scratching at your door or meowing at the foot of your bed in the middle of the night, ignore them. I know this might sound odd but If you don't ignore them they will continue the behavior because you are giving them exactly what they are wanting which is your attention.
According to the Animal Humane Society "Many people reinforce boisterous nighttime activity without meaning to. They might get up to feed, play with, or simply chase them out of the room. All of these responses teach the cat that disturbing you gets attention. The first step is to avoid rewarding the disturbing behavior with your attention."
If you've tried every trick in the book and nothing is working you could simply put your cat in another room each night right before you go to bed. Make sure to put a litter box, water, and food in the room. For a little added comfort you could give them an article of clothing that smells like you to curl up in.
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