My cat won’t let me sleep at night! What to do?

Your cat doesn’t want to sleep at night? Do you feel notoriously tired by your cat’s night activity? You are not alone – more than half of the pet owner does not sleep peacefully at night.

The popularity of cats is constantly growing, and with it, new cat lovers are coming. The percentage of keepers sleeping in the same room with their cat is also growing: in 1998 it was 45%, now 62% of respondents admitted it in a survey. Unfortunately, only 27% of them sleep peacefully, 40% – occasionally wakes up and 21% are awakened every night.

WHAT CAUSED THIS SITUATION?

Different needs

The source of many misunderstandings between cats and their owners originates from a lack of knowledge about the needs and nature of the animals. Cats are nocturnal animals. While we curse them because we want to sleep, the cat is just starting its Mardi Gras, it is a completely natural behavior. That is one of the reasons why any punishment for this behavior is pointless and would be unfair. So, nothing can be done? Of course, it can! All solutions are in the second half of this page, but please read the whole text, you will not regret it.

Health issues

If nocturnal activity has never been a feature of your cat (yes, it can happen) and it changed suddenly, you must visit a veterinarian. Many diseases can manifest itself as increased vocalization or night-time hyperactivity. The most common problems are diseases of the mouth and associated pain. It is also worth to check is your cat is not suffering from hyperthyroidism, painful arthritis or hypertension.

Hunting cycle disorders

Cats are hunters. In the wild, hunting is one of the pillars of survival and, apart from sleep, is the predator’s main occupation. Everything looks good in the picture, but practice in many cases if far from perfect. The majority of cat owners leave the cat a full bowl, usually of harmful dry food, available 24/7.

Standard hunting cycle of a cat

Mr. Boots no longer has to hunt to eat – the cycle is disturbed.
Unfortunately, a lot of owners do not play with cats. But when they play, it either lasts too short or does not resemble hunting. A lot of owners just wave a toy in front of the mouth of a cat. They are surprised that the cat is bored and wags its paw a few times and goes away.
Mr. Boots is not sufficiently stimulated, he is bored – therefore the cycle is disturbed.

HOW TO FIX THIS MESS?

Restrict access to food

An adult cat should eat at least 2 meals a day. When the cat leaves the meal, put the bowl away in an inaccessible place. Constant access to the bowl (especially if you have more than one cat) deprives the owner of control over the amount of food consumed. This is one of the main reasons for obesity and may lead to serious behavioral problems. The meal should consist of balanced wet food – high quality canned or raw food. The dose should adjusted to the cat’s weight. In the case of canned food, you may follow manufacturer guidelines described on the label.

Example: ‘Mr. Boots’ – weigh 5 kg (11 lbs), he should consume 200g (7 oz) of food per day. In this case, the daily dose can be divided into 2 meals of 100g (3,5 oz) each. Cats quickly get used to the constant feeding times. However, in the initial phase of the change, the owner’s patience is important.

Increase the cat’s activity

Playing with the hunter should be the interaction between the keeper and the cat. Just because your pet has a plethora of toys that lie under the sofa it doesn’t mean that he is happy. The fun is supposed to imitate hunting, and the toy should behave like a runaway mouse. It should change the direction and speed of movement, stop from time to time and hide e.g. under the pillows. To be fair, even the most advanced toy can’t give such satisfaction and pleasure as an active owner.

The activity should be adapted to the cat. If he is obese and has problems with movement or the cardiovascular system, fun should be shorter, less intense, but more frequent. For a healthy cat, the hunt can last up to 30 minutes. Kittens need very intense play and often owners get tired faster than a cat. Healthy animals should play with the owner at least twice a day. You will see the limit, the cat will just lie down or breath deeply.

Rebuild relation ‘hunting = food’

Make the cat get used to the fact that without activity (even a short, 10-minute one) there is no meal. Combining these two components, we restore the cat’s hunting cycle, which we can then use to our advantage.
Knowing the pattern of behavior, we can control a cat’s activity. After intense fun, meal and toilet, the cat goes to sleep. If the cat will feel safe and is fed before you get to bed, there is a good chance that he will sleep all night!

DONT’S

What you should definitely NOT do:
– respond to meowing;
– call the cat;
– give him any food;
– pet him anyhow!

If you get up because of meowing, you will teach the cat, that it gives benefits. If so, earplugs are the solution, you will need them for some time

Don’t isolate the cat.
If so far the kitten could walk around your home, and you will suddenly restrict access to the bedroom, this will confuse the cat. Usually, it causes stress which leads to frustration, intense vocalization or even direct aggression towards the keeper.

WHAT IS FORBIDDEN?

Shouting!
Trying to scare the cat!
Any other form of violence!

Note that each cat is different – in some cases, it will take two days to change and three weeks in other. Changing animal behavior, whether it’s a dog or a cat, is always a process.

I wish you only peaceful nights
Your Inari!