How to Get Some Sleep... and Keep Your Cat

posted on Wednesday, October 18, 2017 in Pet Help

Get Some Sleep

Cats are Crepuscular

Cats are crepuscular, which means they are most active at dawn and dusk. If you find this annoying, rather than punishing your cat for following her natural activity schedule, train her to shift her active phase to earlier in the evening/later in the morning. You might find it easier to provide kitty with quieter nighttime activities that are less intrusive on your sleep; and don't let kitty use your bed/bedroom as the playing field.

Who's Training Who?

The first rule is not to make matters worse. One reason your cat is acting this way is because he is getting something out of it. For example, some owners actually get up and play with their cat, thinking he is lonely. Others feed the cat and then wonder why kitty wakes them up in the middle of the night. This is basically training and rewarding the cat to practice this behavior. Certainly you should be sensitive to your cat's needs and feelings, but if he is lonely or hungry, play with or feed him earlier in the evening.

Day or Night Shift

Nighttime activities are the norm for animals such as cats. Given the choice, a cat would sleep all day long and then about eight or nine in the evening, she would get up, stretch, scratch and go about the business of being a cat. Cats are most active at dawn and dusk. The only thing wrong is the cat's activity schedule is out of phase with yours. All that needs to be done is to change your cat's working schedule from night-shift to day-shift. This is much easier than it sounds.

Play Sessions

You cannot expect your cat to sleep 24 hours a day, he needs to play sometime! If you do not provide some kind of daytime activity, he will spend the day asleep. Rather than letting your cat snooze all evening while you are watching TV, turn off the tube, get down on the floor and play with your cat. Tie a feather or piece of crumpled paper to a length of string and run around the house dragging it behind. Train your cat to climb his scratching post; train him to fetch and run back and forth between you and a friend. Visit the ARL's Animal House store and look for new and interesting toys for your cat! Make toys of your own; most cats have a wonderful time rolling around inside a box sprinkled with catnip. Try to tire out your cat early in the evening as this will greatly increase the likelihood that he will sleep at night. Schedule feedings and playtime at regular intervals that are appropriate for the schedule you wish your cat to keep. The more regular you make the cat's new routine, the quicker he will adjust.

Wake-up Call!

Anytime during the day or evening when you see your cat sleeping - wake him up! Insist that he play with you now. Your cat will eventually sleep all night long because he has been sleep-deprived during the day and because he is content that his needs are being filled.

Patience is Key

It may take 10 days to 2 weeks to reset kitty's internal clock so don't be discouraged if during this time, even though you are doing everything right, he will still automatically wake up or think he wants to play or eat in the wee hours of the morning. Just wait it out. If you give up too soon, you will have to start all over again.