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deni's avatar

How do I get my cat to quit disrupting our sleep?

Asked by deni (22649points) October 5th, 2010

Another cat question!

My cat seems to have the most energy around 1–4 in the morning. This is particularly awful because my boyfriend gets up around 4:30 for work so those are his last hours of sleep and lately we have both been up every 10 minutes during that time. My cat during the day is affectionate and a snuggler but not anywhere NEAR how much attention he wants at those hours of the night. He walks all over us (literally and figuratively, ha), sits on our heads, licks our hair, meows, purrs in our faces….pretty much anything he can do to keep us awake and giving him attention. Sometimes I try to snuggle him against my body and pet him so he just calms down and goes to sleep but it doesn’t really work. He also seems to have restless leg syndrome at night, he never stays still.

Anyhow, WHAT DO I DO? It’s more of a problem for my boyfriend, but it’s also an annoyance to me, and I therefore spend that time of night awake trying to get the cat off of my boyfriend so he can sleep, and therefore I am left to deal with the cat.

I don’t want to put him outside our room and close the door because then he meows and will be lonely. And my point of adopting a cat is to not make him lonely anymore! I just want to teach him that it is fine to sleep and snuggle with us at night, but meowing and butt-in-the-face at 3 am is not okay. How? Help?

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12 Answers

tragiclikebowie's avatar

My aunts cats frequently have her up at 3 and 4AM. She has not been able to change this, and I have no idea how you can. Just thought I would let you know that you are not alone.

theichibun's avatar

Do you sleep with the door open? If not, that might help. But beyond that, have a spray bottle handy and shoot it whenever you get woken up.

MissAnthrope's avatar

The cat has you trained. He wakes you up and gets attention and snuggles.. so he’s learned he gets something out of doing this.

My cat got into the habit of waking me at 3–4 am.. I think she wanted to go outside because she was bored. It didn’t take very long to break her of this and she doesn’t do it anymore.

My first step was ignoring her. I know when you’re sleepy and tired and have been woken up in the middle of the night, it’s super irritating and hard to do, but ignore your cat. Mine would rub her face on mine, on my nose, meow annoyingly, get all up in the blinds on the sliding glass door and make a racket. She was very persistent.

1) If you don’t react, the cat learns there is nothing to be gained by this behavior.
2) If he doesn’t get this within a week, whenever he is being annoying, use a squirt bottle (not in the face) or remove him from the bedroom and set him up comfortably in another room (ideally one where you can’t hear him meow). This will teach him that there is an unpleasant consequence to being annoying.
3) At her most insistent, my cat would be all up in my face and not leaving me alone. I pushed her away and ignored her until she settled down.

She hasn’t woken me up in the middle of the night in well over a month. She used to do it sporadically, but after I got back mid-August, this was a nightly thing for my first week back. Take it on a night-to-night basis. If he doesn’t wake you up, you don’t have to do anything. If he’s being annoying, you have to do something unpleasant as a correlation with the behavior if you have any hope to extinguish it. This will take some patience, but I know you can do it if you stick with it.

Good luck!

Frankie's avatar

My cat used to do this when I first adopted him and he was very young (2–3 months old). I tried for several nights to just deal with it, but eventually I had to shut him in my storage closet so I could sleep between the hours of 4 and 7. That seemed to work; after spending a few hours in the closet a few times he seemed to get over it. I know he still wakes up and walks around my apartment during that time, but he’s learned to stay quiet and not bother mama :)

Scooby's avatar

All I can say is my cats try their best to manipulate me this way too, you have to be firm to be faireā€¦ is the cat a house cat 100%?? Or did I miss that? :-/ let em out more…

tinyfaery's avatar

@MissAnthrope Has it right. She trained you to wake up, now it’s time for you to train her not to wake you up. It will take a bit of time. Make sure your kitty has food (if you let her graze), water and toys before you go to sleep. A good, hard play time right before bed will also help tire her out. Just roll over and put your pillow over your head.

deni's avatar

@tinyfaery if we leave food out, he over eats and them vomits. So we have learned we can’t do that….I thought maybe that’s what it was, that he’s hungry…and it does make sense, my boyfriend feeds him before he leaves for work, so about 5 Am every day, then he eats again later in the day. So maybe he is just hungry? But I fed him this morning and he’ll eat two bites and come back and put his ass on my face so i don’t think that’s it.

I’m sure you guys are right. I’ll just ignore him from now on. We’ve been throwing him off the bed but he just comes right back. A spray bottle would be handy too.

SamIAm's avatar

my cats always had kitty olympics at 3am – ALWAYS when they were younger. but they played with each other – so maybe that’s the answer, get another cat.

i have the same problem with my boy – he wakes me up every effen morning for breakfast between 4:30am and 7am and then throughout the day will meow so annoyingly when he wants to eat (he’s nearly 20lbs, the cat needs to go for a run). i have recently thought of putting a spray bottle with some water in it next to my bed to shoo him away in the middle of the night. and i know when we were training the kitties, my mother used to fill a spray bottle with water and a little vinegar to keep them off the counters, etc… maybe try that too??

Plucky's avatar

Aside from spray bottles and ignoring him (which are great ideas as well)... If those don’t work, you can also try crate training your cat. We did that to all 4 of our cats because the neighbour below us (we lived in an apartment at the time) complained about them “stampeding” all night. The first week will most likely be horrible…lol but it’s worth it.

With crate training, you first get a crate/kennel. Then when you two go to sleep for the night (or whomever is up last), the cat goes in the crate for the night. Don’t worry about food ..he will not starve. He most likely will be loud for the first while but will learn that it is for sleeping and that he will be let out every morning.

How old is your cat? Is he neutered?

lillycoyote's avatar

@PluckyDog LOL Everybody, run for your lives; it’s a cat stampede!!

Response moderated (Obscene)
RocketGuy's avatar

My dog used to wake my up at 6:00am so I could go out and play with him. One morning I grumbled, then grabbed him to cut his nails before going out. He got the message right away – if you wake up Daddy, he will get mad and cut your nails.

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