Does your cat have the annoying habit of waking you up at night stepping on your face, patting your head, crawling under the covers and meowing? This can be a real problem. Sleep deprivation caused by a pet has physical and mental effects that last for weeks or even months.
In this article, you’ll learn how to get your cat to sleep at night so you too can get a good night’s sleep. To understand why our cats do what they do, we need to look at their ancestry.
The ancestors of our domestic felines (the North African lynx) preferred to live alone, they were nocturnal or crepuscular hunters. Today, many domestic cats retain these behavioral traits, which affect their sleep and activity patterns.
Today’s domestic cat is crepuscular, meaning it is most active in the hours before sunrise and just after it has descended below the horizon each night.
This means that it is perfectly normal for your feline to always wake you up at the same time early in the morning or to move around the house at night; but you can work with your cat to establish a sleep cycle that works for both of you.
Before you start training your cat to sleep through the night, rule out any medical conditions he may be suffering from.
While felines are naturally more active at night and early in the morning, some also have trouble sleeping at night due to emotional or physical issues.
Infections, disease, and pain can alter the normal sleeping and activity patterns of felines. Rule out any medical issues by taking your cat to the vet for a full health check.
Reasons your cat may have trouble sleeping at night
While it’s normal for cats to be more active in the early morning and evening, they may have trouble sleeping at night due to health issues or stress.
Changes in your individual pet’s sleep schedule can have several causes. Let’s go over some of the reasons why your cat may wake you up at night.
- Chronic stress: Like medical causes, chronic stress can produce a variety of nonspecific signs, including lack of sleep. Besides sleep issues, stressed felines may also vocalize excessively, appear restless, or groom excessively. This type of stress is common in multi-cat households, often causing unrelated individuals to compete for limited resources.
- The boredom: an indoor lifestyle of confinement and boredom without environmental enrichment may predispose cats to sleeping all day and seeking attention from their owner at night.
- Restlessness/insomnia: many cats are restless at night despite being loving and needing plenty of sleep. These cats usually wander around the house in the middle of the night, playing with toys, toilet paper, knocking things off the shelves and trying to get an answer from the owner while sleeping. This behavior is usually attributed to your cat’s nocturnal or crepuscular nature, but it’s not always healthy. Insomnia can extend to daytime restlessness. If your feline suffers from a sleep disorder, a long consultation and a behavioral examination by a veterinarian are essential.
- Environmental changes: cats are territorial and their keen sense of smell is one of the main ways they assess their surroundings. Relocation to a new home can trigger emotional distress, loss of appetite, and insomnia in some felines due to the perception of a new threat to environmental safety.
- Cognitive dysfunction in older cats: Age-related decline in brain function can lead to behavioral changes such as confusion, poor memory, and altered sleep patterns. Signs of the sleep-wake cycle include frequent awakenings during the night, increased daytime naps, and increased nighttime vocalizations. It is estimated to affect more than 50% of cats over the age of 15.
11 tips for teaching your cat to sleep through the night: How to get your cat to sleep through the night?
Fortunately, there are a variety of methods you can use to encourage your pet to sleep on a schedule that benefits both you and them.
Once you’ve established the cause of your cat’s nocturnal activity, you’ll want to take steps to help your cat sleep through the night. The particular approach will depend on your feline’s particular situation, but the following tips will help get you on the right track.
1. Create a cat-friendly home environment
Design an improved and stimulating indoor environment that will increase activity, decrease mental monotony and prevent behavioral problems. Enriched environments should provide opportunities to climb, play, explore, and problem solve without owner intervention.
A healthy and stimulating environment should include scratching posts, cat trees, toys and hiding places.
2. Provide your cat with appropriate litter
Unlike dogs, cats don’t like to nap on the floor, even if they are offered comfortable beds in baskets on the floor. They love hiding places and occupy nooks and crannies as hiding places for uninterrupted rest.
Your cat should have varied sleeping areas around the house, but away from the litter box, food, and water. For anxious/fearful cats, provide additional hiding opportunities with igloo beds or high-sided beds.
A cat-friendly heating bed or pad may be needed when temperature regulation decreases with age or during illness/recovery.
It is true that cats like to sleep with their masters, but if your feline insists on sleeping in your room, place a blanket or your scented shirt near your bed.
3. Respect the importance of a cat’s sense of smell and pheromones.
Cats use a variety of olfactory and chemical signals (pheromones) to communicate with other cats and assess their environment.
Use a synthetic feline pheromone product, such as Feliway, in rooms where your cat spends most of its time and when moving to a new environment. This can help increase their sense of security.
Avoid cleaning areas your cat has marked, provide lots of horizontal or vertical scratching objects, and scatter dry catnip to entice it.
4. Establish a sanctuary room and a series of routines from the first day your kitten joins the family.
Most cat owners think kittens need to be near them at night, especially the first time they arrive, which can set an unfavorable pattern for nighttime play, excitement, and lack of excitement. sleep !
Cats are by nature active at dawn and dusk, but your kitten can learn to adapt her sleeping habits to your lifestyle.
There’s nothing wrong with putting a kitten in a cozy, warm and safe environment until she wakes up in the morning, as long as the room has the essentials, including a comfortable bed to ensure her a restful sleep. Providing a dedicated space for your feline to rest can encourage healthier sleeping habits.
5. Interactive games and chase games should be part of their daily routine, especially before bedtime.
Appropriate play should mimic the sequence of predatory behavior and involve:
- Hunt down
- The hunt for prey
- prey in the mouth
- Prey handling
Grabbing cat toys are more tactile and stimulating. Establish a weekly enrichment schedule with new items and experiences to help your cat be calmer and avoid midnight knocks or bursts of energy at inappropriate times.
6. Don’t use just one food source for your cat!
Hide food in different places around the house or near new objects so your cat can “hunt” for food. Use an indoor hunting cat feeder to increase foraging difficulty and improve foraging skills.
Create homemade food puzzles with egg cartons, toilet paper rolls or cardboard boxes. Feline treat dispenser balls with a hole that dispenses dry food are another challenge after dark.
In addition to puzzle feeders, hide food around the house to promote foraging opportunities while developing problem-solving skills.
Use technologies such as timed vending machines to dispense your feline’s food during the day and dispense food early in the morning while it sleeps.
7. Cat enclosure
Provide access to the outdoors if possible by purchasing or building a purpose-built outdoor enclosure or provide access through a secure yard to eliminate inappropriate play or predatory attention-seeking responses for assertive cats.
8. Clicker Training
Clicker training, especially for an indoor cat, will give them something exciting to do in addition to eating catnip and will make the cat more interested in you. You might even see a side of your cat you’ve never seen before, which will impress your family and friends just as much. More importantly, it will bring about significant changes in your cat’s attitude and daily habits, reducing the need for ongoing attention.
9. Hire a cat sitter
If you work long hours and your cat is kept indoors, hire a cat sitter a few days a week to spend time with your cat, play, learn new tricks, and take adventurous walks on a leash.
Plan home visits around your pet’s circadian rhythm – most felines are crepuscular (especially those with free access to the outdoors), but some cats are diurnal (ours, for example). Pet cats can adapt their activity patterns to their owner’s presence and lifestyle during the day.
10. Teach your cat to shut up
If your cat has a tendency to meow (loud noises, meows), it’s possible that at some point your cat has learned that if it vocalizes it will get food or attention. This type of meowing is a learned behavior. You should train your cat by ignoring the behavior when it occurs and offering rewards when the feline is calm.
11. Cat Massage
Cats that love to be handled and petted will benefit from a relaxing massage therapy before bedtime to help them relax and sleep well into the night.