Cats keeping their owners awake on a night seems to be a relatively common complaint. So this article hopes to address how you can go about changing your cat's sleeping habits so that you are all in sync.
The cat's sleep cycle:
It is important to understand that cats are naturally nocturnal animals. That means, they sleep during the day and are active (hunting) at night. Humans are diurnal, meaning we typically are awake during the daytime and sleep at night. The aim is to re-train your cat to follow a similar sleep pattern to you. Ie; awake during the daytime, sleep at night.
So, what can I do to re-train my cat to sleep during the night?
- Schedule play during the daytime/early evening hours. Interactive toys are the best for this so that your cat can satisfy his hunting skills find something he can stalk, chase and finally capture.
- After playing with your cat, feed him a high protein meal. This would simulate what happens in the wild. Ie: hunting down, killing and eating the prey.
- Discourage catnapping, especially in the early evening.
- Start as you plan to continue. If you want to discourage cats from sleeping in your bedroom, it is easier to start from day one.
- Close your bedroom door.
- Get your cat a playmate. If your cat is home alone during the day, he may be more inclined to while away the hours by sleeping. If he has somebody to play with, he may be more active.
What you should not do:
- One common mistake pet owners make with cats who wake them on a night is to get up and play/feed them. This re-enforces that the behaviour will result in a reward, and therefore they will continue to do so.
- Use physical punishment on the cat. Not only is this cruel, but it will only serve to instil fear in your cat. Which is not the kind of relationship you want with your cat. If you are having problems with your cat scratching at the bedroom door try ticking some aluminium foil or bubble wrap over it as cats don't like the feel. Confine your cat to another room such as the laundry (obviously put in food, water and a comfy bed).
- Re-training your cat may take time. With patience, it should be possible for you to get a good nights rest.
If this wakeful behaviour is new it is worth having the cat checked over by a veterinarian as there could be an underlying medical reason for a change in routine.