What to do if my cat won't let me sleep?

What to do if my cat won't let me sleep? - OutdoorBengal

If your cat attempts to wake you after you’ve gone to bed, he may want to play, eat or simply enjoy your company. Especially kittens under 1 year can drive us crazy from sleep deprivation!

Dealing with our cat's crepuscular biorhythm can be very annoying, especially because most of us already must work around our party-to-the-night neighbors and the get-ready-with-my-heels-on neighbors.

Discipline Cats

This article is part of

How to Discipline a Cat Series

I would like to share with you practices and products that will get you to sleep through the night:

The Key Things You Can Do To Stop Your Cat From Waking You Up at Night:

  1. The bedroom is a no-play zone
  2. Lights on-off every day at the same time
  3. Darkness means peace
  4. Play with your cat several times a day but especially at night
  5. Don’t Free Feed Your Cat
  6. Never, ever respond to your cat's demands at night

Let's review them in detail! Also, if you stick to the end of the article, I’ll share with you that one mistake you might be doing can make everything else worthless.

If you are a new cat mom or a new cat dad, even if you’ve had a cat for a while and are looking for a fresh start, consider checking out our Youtube Channel! I am uploading weekly advice as well as tricks and tutorials so you can do more with your cat.

Like this video about getting your cat to sleep through the night:

Why do Cats Stay Up at Night?

Cats are expert solitary predators that prey on a wide variety of small animals primarily rodents, birds and even insects. Because most of their prey are crepuscular or nocturnal, cats have evolved to be crepuscular as well (active primarily during twilight - dawn and dusk) which is precisely when you would like to be flattening the mattress.

A “typical” wild cat will kill and eat approximately nine small meals throughout the day, with several unsuccessful hunts scattered in as well. These cats must work to get their food. Their behavior is characterized by periods of rest (waiting for an easy kill) broken up by short bursts of relatively intense activity.

To make matters worse, our schedule likely reinforces their nocturnal behavior. Most of our cats have little to no stimulation during the day. You are at work, the house is quiet, and your cat has nothing to do but sleep.

Your cat blossoms when you get back home from work. How should we For your cat, the active day begins when you get home from work and your home springs to life.

Working at an office makes it hard for cats to burn energy during the day. Playtime after work will help you get rid of some of your cats extra energy!

Changing the behavior may be your first route of action, but living with your cat requires some compromise. (Like in any relationship, right?)

Cats Love Routine, Use it!

If you set up a routine and some rules and stick to them, your cat it's going to be very good at following them. 

These are some of the things that you can do to stop your cat from waking you up at night using routine as your ally:

Set the tone that the bedroom is a no-play zone

If you don't use the bedroom as a play zona and keep all cat toys out of the room. your cat is going to learn that once someone is on the bedroom, they are trying to sleep and they are not going to engage in playtime.

Don't give in. Never play in the bedroom, even when you want to. 

Lights out at the same time every night

Once that happens, no other interaction but cuddling can happen. Turning off the lights at a consistent time is an important part of the bedtime routine script. This doesn’t mean that you can’t stay up a little later on the weekends, but starting darkness at the same time every day and linking this darkens with quietness is an important first step towards relaxing and cuddling up at night. What happens when you sleep in on the weekends. That messes up your cats circadian rhythm. 

To your cat there's no sleeping in. They don’t do weekends. Every day it’s caturday! 

Sleeping in is great, but sometimes we can snooze away an entire morning unless someone intervenes. Cats seem to know when humans are oversleeping, so if the harassment just won’t stop, maybe it really is time to take the hint.

But I know that you don’t need me to tell you this, so let’s see what else can we do!

Don't Free Feed Your Cat

Free feeding your cat happens when your cat has free access to food (which usually means having always dry food available) in combination or not with scheduled meals. Instead, put your cat on a schedule.

If you feed your cat 2 or 3 times a day, slightly bigger portions, you can use them to regulate when your cat gets their rest, which will be after eating. I serve Mia 1 meal every 8 hours (at 11pm, at 7am and around 3pm). By doing this we will induce sleep about the time we go to bed.

If your cat is munching all day, they know they can stay awake and get a snack whenever they need. 

Playing With Your Cat Will Drain Their Energy and Help Them Sleep

Schedule several interaction sessions during the day. The more active your cat is during the day, the more likely that they’ll sleep at night. Playtime is not only great to drain your cat’s energy, it’s are also a great way to bond with your furry friend.

Play until your cat seems tired but don’t stop just yet. Let your cat rest for 10/20 minutes and start over. Cats are not an endurance animal, they hunt in bursts and the best way to keep them engaged is to play with them at their rhythm.

How To Keep a Cat Entertained When at Work

If cats are sleeping all day out of boredom when you’re at work, then it’s natural that they’ll be energetic and ready to play when you are ready for bed.

If you work during the day, you might want to invest in some toys, food puzzles, and other ways to keep your cat awake and draining their energy while you are away. If your cat has more energy than you, try clicker training.

Clicker Train Your Cat

Stimulating your cat mentally will drain their energy faster than any other sort of playtime. If you don’t know what clicker training is, you can read this post or check this YouTube video. A few months back I filmed a very comprehensive tutorial to start clicker training your cat.

It’s a good idea to have the last of the training or playing sessions right before their last meal of the day. That resembles the most their hunting and eating pattern in the wild, that will follow with sleep time.

Take Your Cat Outdoors and Socializing

If your cat is good with other cats, consider adding a second cat to your family. If the two cats are introduced properly and are compatible, they’ll probably play with each other and leave you alone at night. However, I’ve experienced myself 2 romping cats instead of one and that will just be twice as noisy and disturbing…

A more silent alternative is to let your cat access the outdoors at their will. You need to know that this might pose a risk to your cat’s health given the outdoor threats as well as to the local fauna as cats are an invasive species, so I personally don’ t recommend it. If you don't know what to do, here's a video talking about PROS and CONS of Walking Your Cat on a Leash:

If routine, scheduled meals and play won’t make the trick, there are some products that might help. In case you are interested, I’ll be adding the links to amazon in the video description below:

Feed Your Cat Before Going to Bed

Make night time hunting time!  As mentioned before, it is normal for cats to hunt overnight, looking for small bites and taking small breaks. If your cat needs those breaks at night, There are some small feeders shaped like mice that you can stuff with food and hide around the home before going to bed. This is going to keep your cat busy when they wake up for munchies!  …and you can finally get some uninterrupted sleep.

NO BOWL – Cat Feeder https://amzn.to/34X7Nqw

5 Compartment Spinner – https://amzn.to/351DY8m

Automatic Feeder - https://amzn.to/387AJhG

Automatic Feeders in The Morning so You Don't Have to Wake Up

Automatic feeding systems that deliver the cat’s first morning meal are an awesome tool for buying a couple extra hours of sleep. Make sure you adapt the amount of calories intake if you incorporate additional feeding at night as your cat might gain weight otherwise.

Get the auto feeder set to serve the first meal of the day at whatever your cat’s witching hour is.  The food drops out automatically, they have a snack, and either go back to sleep with you in your bed or go take a nap somewhere else.

Don't Do This if You Want to Sleep Through The Night

I promised I’d share with you the one mistake many people with disturbing cats make. Never ever respond to your cat seeking attention at night.

If your cat wakes you up at night, the worst thing you can do is give them any sort of attention. Don’t yell at them, don’t swat at them, and certainly don’t get out of bed to feed them.

Never. Ever. Give in to Your Cats Demands. If you do so, you are reinforcing the behavior and it will happen again.

Giving a response (even if it’s only one, or negative) will provide your cat the engagement they are looking for and will just keep doing it. This is specially important if you sometimes respond to their ask and sometimes you don’t. Intermittent reinforcement is the strongest type of motivator. Think about gambling, it gets addictive because you never know when you're gonna win so you keep trying. This is what you do to your cat when you sometimes give in to his behavior but sometimes don't.

 Also, responding (positively or negatively) when they get specially annoying or loud will just train your cat to be specially annoying or loud to make you react. If you have to wake up anyway for any reason, wait for the moaning to stop and then feed, you have to avoid him making the connection that meowing = food.

What We've Learned To Help Our Cat to Sleep at Night:

  1. The bedroom is a no-play zone
  2. Lights on-off every day at the same time
  3. Darkness means peace
  4. Play with your cat several times a day but especially at night
  5. Don’t Free Feed Your Cat
  6. Never, ever respond to your cat demands at night

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Also, if you want to read/watch more like this, consider subscribing to our YouTube Channel, I’ll be uploading content regularly to help you, do more and do better with your cat.

Good night!  Sleep tight!

Albert & Mia

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