You adore your cat beyond all measure, and there’s nothing you wouldn’t do for them. You don’t even mind getting up to refresh a food or water bowl in the middle of the night… ONCE in a while. However, what do you do when your precious sweetie wakes you up 5-6 times a night, every single night? Is there a reason for the chronic disturbance? Is there anything you can do to change kitty’s sleep patterns (and salvage your own)?
The answers are: yes, and yes! As we all know by now, felines are nocturnal creatures, which means they typically sleep most of the day, and stay up all night. The bad news is that sometimes, we cannot completely reverse the instincts that Mother Nature bestows on our beloved furballs. The good news is that once in a while, our routines rub off on our cats. Or, if they don’t, there are things we can do to ensure that our angel’s nocturnal lifestyle does not rub off on US. Allow us to elaborate a bit more…
Before you figure out whether your cat can adjust to your wake/sleep schedule, you first must learn what it is that keeps him or her awake at night. This will take a little guesswork, but as always, start with the most obvious and easiest to solve issues. Is he or she actually running low on food and/or water after bedtime? If so, add a little extra to his or her dishes just before lights out. If that immediately solves the nighttime wakefulness, then hooray! If not, try some of the ideas listed below.
We promise, this isn’t as counterproductive as it sounds! Pick a night that won’t interfere (terribly) with your normal, work-week schedule. Find some activities that will keep you awake all night (or at least as late as you can possibly manage), and keep an eye, and ear, out for anything unusual. Are there sounds coming from the walls that you don’t notice during the day? Are there strange animal noises popping up outside in the wee hours? As nocturnal guardians, your cat takes up the post of security guard of his or her domain when you’re away (or asleep), and any disruption from the norm can set him or her off. This will disrupt any routine you’re trying to implement, and result in these late night wake-up sessions.
Of course, you cannot just go outside and tell some stray dog (or native wildlife creature, depending on where you live) to be quiet. However, you can consider talking to your vet about ways to sedate your feline. No, not drugs necessarily… your vet can suggest all-natural, non-ingested methods for calming your cat, such as lavender and/or chamomile candles or incense or calming collars. If your cat calms enough to rest soundly, you can couple these with making a soft, comfy sleeping area near your bed, either with a special cat bed set-up, or with soft blankets and a crate, providing an isolated sleeping space for him or her that is safe, warm and comfortable. He or she won’t care about the strange sounds he or she can’t locate, and therefore won’t wake you with fits of discontent or agitation.
Don’t Turn Out the Lights!
Believe it or not, some cats do have trouble seeing in the dark, and we don’t just mean more mature felines! Sometimes, especially if we’ve had them since they were kittens, our cats’ eyes adjust to having some form of light at all times, and their night vision weakens. So, whenever they do rouse in the middle of the night to get a snack, a drink, or to visit the litter box, they can’t see as well as we assume they do. Try getting battery-powered push lights that you can stick on the wall by their food and potty boxes, leave on the light above your kitchen stove, or pick a light in a room that won’t keep you up all night, but will allow your cat to see where he or she is trying to go. Your cat will no longer have a reason to wake you if he or she has trouble seeing at night!
Can’t Make Your Kitty Sleep When You Do?
Ultimately, we can’t change who our felines are. That may mean we cannot force them to sleep anytime we want. That doesn’t mean that we have to tolerate them waking us at night, however!
Sate the Boredom
If your cat keeps waking you to play late at night, try getting him or her some QUIET toys (that are NOT filled with catnip) with which he or she can play. Stuffed plush animals, beanie babies, balls with no bells, and snack dispensers are nice, silent toys that can keep your feline occupied during the nighttime hours, so they don’t wake you out of boredom.
Decorate the Guard Post
If your cat has his or her favorite up-high nesting spot, add some decor to the area! Hang some dangly toys, add comfy blankets, spray it with lavender spray, and add some irresistible snacks. Even if your kitty doesn’t get sleepy, she or she will be comfortable, and busy, enough that there will be no need to disturb you at night.
Don’t Underestimate a Combo!
If you’re having trouble finding one single suggestion that works for your cat, do not hesitate to combine strategies! Every feline is different, so expect different ideas to work better for some cats than they do for others. Mix and match, and feel free to test ideas of your own! The whole point is to find something that works for you, no matter what that is! If you find an idea that does work that we didn’t mention, please feel free to let us know! We’re always looking to learn new things about these beloved furballs we call our babies!