My Cat Is Keeping Me Up All Night

A night of deep, undisturbed sleep is important for your health, and therefore should not be interrupted by anything or anyone, including your cat. However, cats have different sleep cycles than humans and other animals. This is because cats are crepuscular, which means that they are more active and busier in the evening or early morning.

If you are constantly woken up by your cat by playing on the bed, continuous meowing, or asking for cuddles, you are not alone. ‘Night crazies,’ as cat owners call them, is common for cats. This phenomenon can cause sleep deprivation, and for owners with sleep disorders, this can even worsen their sleep cycle.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to stop your cat from waking you up at night, and we are going to talk about those through this post.

my cat is keeping me up: a cute girl sleeps with a cat
Image credit: Image by Sarah Richter from Pixabay

Signs of Cat “Night Crazies”

Your cat may display different, hyperactive behaviors which will hinder you from sleeping comfortably at night. These actions may begin in the middle of the night or early in the morning which include:

  • Running across your bed or your furniture
  • Walking or zooming across you
  • Loud meowing or crying
  • Biting your toes
  • Attacking or biting your ears and hair

Before we head on to the main topic of this post, it is important to know first the causes behind a cat’s active behavior.

Causes of Active Behavior in Cats

As mentioned earlier, cats are hyper and more active at night or in the early mornings because they are crepuscular. It is their natural instinct to hunt, run, and travel during these times of the day. However, there are also other instances which may result to excessive crepuscular behavior in cats, which includes:

1. Your cat is bored

If you are busy all day, it may cause your cat to get bored which, in the long run, may cause them to develop destructive behaviors. In addition, due to excessive energy that was not burned off, they may tend to wake you up when you’re at home so they can get your time and attention.

Remember that while they may look snobbish and independent, social interactions are still important for cats. Without enough stimulation during its active periods, cats may look for companions that they can play with.

2. Your cat feels alone

If you work or study during the day while your cat is home alone, he may spend his time sleeping while waiting for you. Because your cat gets enough sleep in the morning, it may lead to him being very active at night to release all his energy.

3. Your cat is hungry

Most often, cats wake up in the middle of the night because they are hungry. After all, it is their natural instinct to forage and hunt for food in the twilight hours.

4.     Your cat is old

Like humans, cats may also have changes in their sleeping patterns as they age. This is normal, and is part of the aging process of cats.

5. Your cat needs something from you

When your cat’s bedding is messy, or his litter box is full, he may wake you up in the middle of the night if he needs to relieve himself. Therefore, it is important to fix your cat’s bedding, clean his litter box, and provide him with water before going to sleep so they won’t interrupt you later on.

6. Your cat is suffering from health concerns

When a cat is suddenly hyperactive at night, it might be because they are uncomfortable and would want to tell you that something is wrong. Some of the health issues include:

  • Pain or injury
  • Anxiety
  • Toothache
  • Arthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Neurological conditions
  • Chronic illness
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Dementia which can cause neediness, poor memory, and lack of sleep

While cats are naturally active at night, if it becomes more intense and unusual, or if their behavior is accompanied by other sickly symptoms, it is important to visit your veterinarian right away so that they can check and diagnose your cat.

How to Stop Your Cat from Keeping You Up at Night

While being woken up in the middle of the night is frustrating, fortunately, there are techniques you can do to limit your cat’s hyperactive behavior while you’re peacefully sleeping. These techniques may require you to change your schedule or your environment, so make sure that your family, or those people living with you are also aware of these changes.

1.  Don’t reward your cat’s hyperactive behavior

Many cat owners encourage night time activities by mistake. Your cat might be waking you up in the middle of the night and to make them stop, you’ll get up and play with them or give them whatever they want. Once you give such reactions to your cat’s behavior, you are actually giving them the idea that they can get your attention by disturbing you.

The first step to stop your cat from waking you up is by not giving in to their hyperactive behavior. If they learned that they can’t get your attention by their hyperactive behavior, there’s a high chance that they will leave you alone.

2. Give your cat enough exercise

Like with dogs and other pets, cats also need an outlet where they can release their energies. If they are allowed to sleep all day, the tendency is they will be too active at night. Therefore, it is important to allot time to play with your cat. Mostly, they will enjoy chasing a laser pointer, playing feather sticks or teasers, and they can also play fetch. These activities will help them get tired, and will make them recharge at night.

3. Provide your cat with various activities while you’re gone

Aside from providing your cat with exercise, it is also important to give them fun activities in your absence. This will encourage them to be active even when you’re gone. Some of the things you can provide your cat with is a food-dispensing toy, or a feeder toy, that will activate their instinct to catch and hunt, tower track toys and other puzzle toys.

4. Set up your cat’s environment before sleeping

If you don’t want your cat to run or walk on top of you in the middle of the night, make sure to close your bedroom door so that they won’t have the chance to wake you up. It is also important to provide them with fresh and clean water, access to clean litter, and comfortable bedding so they can sleep peacefully and won’t ask for your help in case they get thirsty or they suddenly want to relieve themselves. If your cat is making noises, you can use ear plugs so that you won’t be easily disturbed by their meows and cries.

5. Never punish your cat

While getting interrupted from your good night sleep can be one of the worst feelings in the world, punishing your cat is never, and will never be the solution to your problem. Never shout or hit your cat to discipline them for their actions because it will only lead to them feeling resentful towards you which can result in a broken, stressful relationship.

6. Help your cat readjust his body clock

You can help your cat readjust his body clock by playing at least an hour with him before bedtime. This will ensure that they are tired enough to sleep without interruptions. It is also important to give them light meals so that they won’t get up feeling hungry in the middle of the night.

my cat is keeping me up
Image credit: Alexas_Fotos from pixabay

7. Use an automatic feeder

If you have a cat that’s always hungry, you may want to invest in an automatic feeder. Using an automatic feeder is simple: just set the feeder to dispense a small amount of food at the time where your cat usually wakes you up.

8. Don’t encourage your cat to sleep on your bed

If you’re experiencing a sleep order, or you’re having a hard time getting back to sleep after being woken up, it is best to not encourage your cat to sleep beside you. You can either give your cat his own space in a different room, or a corner of the living room with enough privacy (since cats like to stay in a place where they can have some privacy). Let them know that your bedroom is off limits all the time. If you’re still training them to stay in their own space, you can try rubbing a little amount of catnip on their bed so that they will be encouraged to use it.

9. Provide your cat with a companion

Although this will not be applicable for everyone, if you can, you can try providing your cat with a second cat that they can play with while you’re out for the day. This will allow them to play with each other, thus encouraging them to sleep continuously at night. While it is easy to have two kittens play with each other, introducing two adult cats can be quite a challenge. Therefore, introduction between two adult cats should be done carefully and correctly so that it doesn’t cause stress or clash between them.

10. Make a routine that fits your schedule

If you allow your cat to wake you early in the morning for their breakfast, they will continuously demand you to feed them at that time. Therefore, it is best to set up a routine for your cat’s feeding and playing time so that they know when it’s time to eat, play, exercise, cuddle, and sleep. Fortunately, cats hate surprises and thrive on predictable schedules so you’ll just have to stick with it for a full night’s sleep.

11. Use positive reinforcement technique in training your cat

As mentioned, punishing your cat is never the option in teaching them not to wake you up at night. Although training your cat is not the easiest solution on this list, this is still doable, and perhaps the most effective solution once you learned how to do it properly. Positive reinforcement techniques include food rewards, praises, and plenty of playtime.

While this solution is easier for cats who have responded well to training before, this can still be possible for other cats provided that their owners are patient and consistent with the training.

12. Take your cat to the veterinarian

If your cat is old and suddenly won’t stop meowing and crying, it is best to seek help from your veterinarian. In most cases, there is a medical reason behind a senior cat’s consistent meows and cries. Same thing goes for a young or adult cat that used to be quiet at night, but suddenly won’t stop crying.

Read also: Ailurobphobia or fear of cats

Other Things to Consider

Some, if not all, of the solutions mentioned above will not happen overnight, so it is important that you and your family members are guided well during the adjustment periods. Here are some of the things you can consider or follow while teaching your cat not to wake you up at night:

  • When your cat is used to sleeping on your bed and you suddenly close your bedroom door, there’s a high tendency that they will scratch at your door to let you know that they want to go in. In such cases, you can try installing a scratch pad by your door, or trim you cat’s nails to keep your door free from scratches. Over time, your cat will eventually give up from scratching your door.
  • Try playing soothing sounds that will help you and your cat sleep continuously, including sounds of ocean waves, waterfalls, chirping birds, blowing wind, or just white noise.
  • Use earplugs to prevent yourself from hearing the sounds made by your cat.

Final thought

Above all, the most important thing is to keep reminding yourself that cats, like all living things, do what works for them. This means that if you allow or encourage your cat to disturb your sleep, then waking you up will become a habit.

Before taking an action, the first thing you should do is to determine the reason behind your cat’s behavior as it will be a great factor in knowing what’s the next step to take. If you are unsure of what’s going on, it is best to seek your veterinarian’s help as they know best how to help you and your cat.

Leave a Comment