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Cat Awake at Night? Limiting Nocturnal Activity in Cats
Veterinary & Aquatic Services Department, Drs. Foster & Smith
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Ways to keep your cat sleeping during the nightBecause cats are nocturnal they prefer to be up at night. Because they are predators they may sleep up to 16 hours a day. One of the most common complaints we get about cats from their owners is that the cats keep them up at night. There are several things you can do to help reverse this bad habit so everyone, including the cat, gets a good night's sleep.

  • Provide the cat with a bed that is warm and comfortable in a location away from your bedroom.

  • Close your bedroom door at night to prevent your cat from coming in to play.

  • Keep your cat up during the day and increase daytime activity. Try playing games, giving your cat a cat tower near a window, or providing cat videos for your cat's viewing pleasure. Rotate toys every few days to reduce boredom and add interest.

  • Play with your cat in the evening before bedtime.

  • Don't feed your cat first thing in the morning. Many cats wake owners up to be fed so only feed later in the morning and then give small meals throughout the day. If you are not at home, consider using a timed feeder or put small amounts of food in food dispensing toys, or hide kibbles throughout the house. Feed the largest meal before bed.

  • You may want to try remote correction when your cat starts to meow during the night. This could consist of using an air can or water spray bottle, or tossing a soda can filled with a few coins. Another option is to put some type of noise making device, such as a vacuum cleaner, on a remote switch. Using one of these methods will startle your cat and get her to stop the behavior. The important thing to remember is that your cat must not realize you are the one responsible for the correction.

  • Another possible response is to totally ignore any of your cat's nighttime behaviors. If you show any response your cat will have succeeded in getting what he wants. One of the worst things you can do is hold out for a long time, and then finally give in. This has been shown to be one of the best ways to reinforce the bad behavior and encourage your cat to continue it.

  • Finally, if the problem is serious and as a last resort, consult with your veterinarian regarding the use of medications to "reprogram" your cat to a better sleep/wake cycle.

By using a combination of these options, hopefully you and your cat will sleep the night away.

Click here for a pdf version of this article.  See related products at Pet Supplies  
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