You have an important meeting in the morning and your cat wakes you up at 4am. Why? And what can you do to prevent this from happening again?
Although cats evolved for nocturnal activities, upon domestication they adapted to human lifestyles.
Domestic cats tend to be more active early in the morning and at dusk, not in the middle of the night. They also alter their activity cycles to accommodate their human housemates.
This means that if you sleep at night, your cat should also rest. And many people sleep with their cat. In a survey of women in the United States, about 30% slept with at least one cat.
So why do some cats want to play in the early morning?
The reason Why your cat waking you up will often help you figure out how to stop it. Here are three reasons why your cat might be waking you up and how to fix the problem.
1. They are hungry
This is one of the most common reasons. Unfortunately, one of the first things a sleeping person will do is feed their cat. This rewards the behavior and makes the cat more likely to repeat it.
To start solving this problem, make sure your cat is eating enough throughout the day. You can give them a satisfying meal or snack just before bedtime.
If you usually feed your cat in the morning, you need to make sure your cat doesn’t associate waking up time with breakfast time. Leave some space between when you get out of bed and when you feed your cat breakfast – aim for at least half an hour.
You can also train your cat to associate something else with feeding, like saying “breakfast time!”.
2. They don’t have a routine
Cats like predictability.
Keeping a regular routine has even been linked to reduced stress levels in cats.
To maintain a routine, keep mealtimes, playtimes, and grooming times around the same time each day.
Empty the litter box at regular, predictable intervals (a dirty or disturbed litter box can also be a reason your cat wakes you up). Try not to move litter boxes, bowls, or scratching posts unless necessary.
If something changes in its environment — you go on vacation, move furniture, or have a new guest or pet — your cat may return to early morning wake-up calls. This is typical for cats.
Keep the routine as consistent as possible and your cat will eventually adjust to the new normal.
3. They don’t drain their energy throughout the day
It’s common knowledge that cats like to sleep, but they also like to play and move their bodies, just like us.
It’s important to give your cat access to a variety of toys and resources around the house to interact with, especially if you aren’t home often.
Scratching posts give cats a place to climb and stretch. Balls, soft toys and motorized toys allow them to play and exercise.
When you’re home, engage your cat with an interactive toy (like a magic cat wand) or play a chase game around the house. You can even try to invent a game that your cat will enjoy.
Cats get bored easily. Keep your playtime varied. And don’t play with your cat in the hour before bedtime. Ideally, a play session before you go out and after you get home should help keep your cat quiet at night.
To help! I made these changes and my cat woke me up again!
Your cat may still wake you up for a while. This behavior may even get worse in the short term as your cat adapts. The key is to ignore your cat’s behavior at night or early in the morning. Don’t get up and, if you can, don’t interact with your cat when he wakes you up.
If you’ve tried everything and your cat still wakes you up, it’s time to see your vet. There could be a health reason behind the behavior.
Hopefully you and your cat can agree on bedtime and wake up time. It’s totally possible to love your cat while sleeping.
Susan Hazel, Lecturer, School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences, University of Adelaide and Julia Henning, PhD candidate, University of Adelaide
This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.