Why Does My Cat Wake Me Up?

Romeo, a Persian cat and star of the cat humor blog “Romeo The Cat,” is famous for his early morning wakeup tactics. Here are just a few, documented by Caroline Golon, Romeos “chief of staff.”

African wildcats, the presumed ancestor of todays domestic cats, hunt primarily at night. Many cats live a lonely, boring life, with families gone all day and then sleeping all night.

Even if you wait as long as you possibly can, the cat thinks, Well, that took a ridiculous amount of time, but she finally got up and fed me.'” According to Katherine Miller, PhD, a certified applied animal behaviorist with the ASPCA, this process — called intermittent reinforcement — mirrors how slot machines work. Feast: Let the cats eat the final portion of their meal, either in a bowl or from an activity feeder.

Crates can prevent mischief and help kittens learn that nighttime is quiet time. Social contact Interactive playtime — try interacting with fishing pole toys Interesting meal delivery — look into using food puzzle toys Environmental enrichment — create opportunities for more sights, sounds, smells, and things to do Johnson-Bennett says her cycle of four – hunt, feast, groom, sleep – also works on adult cats, but it may take longer and require more patience.

Called an extinction burst, cats ramp up behaviors that have worked in the past. Tynes suggests confining your cat to another room at night until the cycle of attention-seeking behavior subsides. Ear plugs or white noise machine A box fan placed outside the bedroom door (blowing outward as a deterrent) An automatic feeder set to release food at certain times Room-darkening shades because sunlight at dawn or even street lights in urban areas can trigger activity

One caveat: If your cat suddenly develops annoying nighttime habits, it could be a sign of a medical problem, including pain, infection, or hyperthyroidism.

Why does my cat wake me up but not my husband?

Typically, if your cat wakes you up rather than your husband, it’s because she wants something and knows you’re more likely to deliver. … You might be able to persuade her to wake your husband up instead by having him take over feeding and playing duties, but cats tend to be creatures of habit.

How do I stop my cat from waking me up?

Use an automatic feeder to provide food. Set the feeder to dispense the food slightly earlier than the cat normally wakes you up. ….Set out toys and puzzle feeders. Provide entertainment for your cat. ….Play with your cat before bedtime. ….See the vet.

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The better news is that you can recondition your cat to stop waking you up before the sun rises or raising hell at night while youre trying to sleep. Theres a good chance that at some point your cat pounced on you in the morning, pawed at your face, or started knocking things off your shelves.

Theres an equally good chance that you gave them food to shut them up so you could go back to sleep. Start Early: Set the feeder to distribute food slightly earlier than the time your cat normally wakes you up. This way they wont get a chance to act out the behavior that previously got them a reward; i.e., annoy you to get fed.

If your cat starts to bug you in the morning again, set the timer slightly earlier for a day or two, then go back to the later times. If, in spite of your reconditioning training, your cat is still waking you up and seems constantly hungry, there might be an underlying medical condition. But if the real issue is that theyre bored, restless, or just generally active at night, you need to provide alternative forms of entertainment.

The best thing about a food puzzle is your cat will have an additional form of entertainment once theyve sniffed out their “prey.” Furry Friend: If your cat is an only child, you might consider bringing in a new animal buddy to play with them. To prevent an annoying cat from terrorizing you in the morning, you need to put them back in their normal cycle.

You can shut the door, but be sure that youve provided your cat with alternative forms of entertainment, like those mentioned above. Whats more, if you kick them out of the room and shut the door when they start to annoy you, they will see that as part of the morning routine. However, just like shutting the door and ignoring your cat, curtains alone wont solve the problem.

Boredom: An indoor cat that doesnt get much opportunity for exercise or play might yowl excessively because theyre bored.

Your good night’s sleep is extremely important to your health and shouldn’t be interrupted by your kitty. It can be even worse for people with sleep disorders, who may have problems going back to sleep after being awakened by a demanding cat.

Unusual bouts of interrupted sleep can be a sign of illness, ranging from pain from a toothache or arthritis to something more serious like hyperthyroidism , diabetes or neurological conditions. Follow the play session with a light kitty-appropriate snack like a small treat, which should leave your cat not angling for food in the middle of the night.

Last week I showed you how cats land on their feet after a fall and asked whether you had any strange cat science questions. One brave soul, Wajiha, spoke up and said, I want to know how cats can figure out its 6 a.m. and know its time to wake you up. Are they smarter than we think? Can they read clocks? So, if youve ever thought, Hmm, my cat wakes me up at the same time every single day, youre not alone.

Wired to Wake You Up

“I think cats are cooperative and nice about how often they try to complement our schedules,” says Pam Johnson-Bennett, certified cat behavior consultant and author of several books, includingHowever, if left home alone all day with nothing to do except sleep, cats will be more active at night.African wildcats, the presumed ancestor of today’s domestic cats, hunt primarily at night. But that doesn’t mean modern housecats are staunchly nocturnal. Our feline friends do respond to certain cues at dusk and dawn, but cat behavior researchers have found that feral cats or domestic cats adapt their activity cycles to food sources or human activity.In other words, the environment dictates cat behavior. So you cannot blame cats’ nighttime and early morning activities entirely on a feline internal clock.”The biggest myth,” Johnson-Bennett says, “is that cats cannot be trained.” She says if your cat keeps waking you up at night, the idea you can’t do anything about it can “drive you to lock the cat out of the room, put the cat outside, or relinquish the cat to the shelter — all for something that actually can be changed.”A cat‘s let’s-get-up-and-go behavior takes root in boredom. Many cats live a lonely, boring life, with families gone all day and then sleeping all night.”We say that we need to keep cats indoors because it’s safer,” says Valarie Tynes, DVM, a board-certified veterinary behaviorist. “But as we’ve promoted this indoor lifestyle, we’ve forgotten how much we’ve taken away from cats.”

Training Kittens

By waking you up, your cat achieves certain goals:”The cat meows for food,” Johnson-Bennett says, “so you get up and throw some food in the bowl so you can go back to bed. What you’ve done, though, is cemented that behavior. Even if you wait as long as you possibly can, the cat thinks, ‘Well, that took a ridiculous amount of time, but she finally got up and fed me.'”According to Katherine Miller, PhD, a certified applied animal behaviorist with the ASPCA, this process — called intermittent reinforcement — mirrors how slot machines work. “If you pull that handle 50 times, and the slot machine pays off,” she says, “then next time you’re going to be willing to pull it at least 51 times, or 52, or 100 times before you start to think it isn’t paying off. So, the delayed gratification can actually reinforce the behavior more than immediate gratification.”