Have you ever laid awake at night because a cat is scratching at the door, running across your bed (and you), pawing at your face, or meowing to be fed? Here are a few tips to avoid cat-related sleep deprivation.
- Ignore your cat’s nighttime activities. Yelling or throwing your slipper at her will inadvertently reinforce her behavior. From a cat’s point of view, any attention is better than no attention. If necessary, confine your cat to a part of your home where ignoring her pleas for attention is possible.
- Schedule feedings and playtime at regular intervals that are appropriate for the schedule you wish your cat to keep.
- Feed your cat her largest meal right before bedtime to keep hunger at bay.
- Increase your cat’s daytime activity level. Play with her as often as you can. Daytime exercise will make your cat more tired at night, and disrupts those long naps for which cats are famous.
- Try to establish a routine wherein you and kitty engage in a rousing play session just before you go to bed each night.
- Put toys around the house in hiding places that range from easy to moderately hard. The idea is that kitty finds the toys and is delighted to play with his discoveries. You probably don’t want to hide toys with bells in them, or toys that make a lot of noise as they roll on the floor and bounce off the walls.
- Make your bedroom off-limits at all times. Once a cat finds your bed a comfortable place to snooze during the day, he will automatically want to sleep with you at night. Give kitty a comfortable bed in a spare room, corner of the living room (with a screen for privacy), or even a bathroom. If necessary, rub a bit of catnip on the bed initially, to encourage him to use it.
- A single cat may easily become bored at home alone all day, and rightfully will expect his human companion to give him attention in the evening and at night. A second cat will give him companionship of his own kind to keep him happy during the day, and will lessen those nocturnal urges to wake you for play. This is especially true with kittens, who have much more excess energy to burn during their first year of growth. Two kittens are almost always better than one.
- Anytime during the day or evening when you see your cat sleeping – wake him up! Gently be a pest just like he is towards you at 3 in the morning. Don’t let him sleep. Insist that he play with you now. In 10 days to 2 weeks your cat will sleep all night long because he has been sleep deprived during the day