How to Stop Your Cat From Keeping You Up All Night

If you’re losing sleep to a yowling cat or getting pounced on in the middle of the night — and the cause isn’t a medical problem — there are ways to outsmart your nocturnal pet’s behavior.

Are your cats just waiting for that perfect moment to jump on you in bed? Photo: Takashi Hososhima

Any cat parent knows what we’re talking about here.

You’re comfortably snoozing away in your bed minding your own business when you’re interrupted by the sensation of sharp kitty claws digging into your feet or, heaven forbid, your face as your adorable little terror pounces.

Of course that’s not always how it goes; sometimes you’ll wake up to a mouthful of fuzz as she lies down on your face, or a military-like mission to cross the bed in the most dangerous zone that passes over your stomach or to your cat strumming the blinds while trying to sing you a soothing lullaby.

It is important to note that late-night yowling could be a symptom of health problems such as arthritis, dementia, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), kidney disease, high blood pressure and hyperthyroidism.

Assuming you’ve ruled out potential health problems with your veterinarian, you can explain the cat’s motivation with the simple fact that he likes to prowl around at night, making noise and forcing others to join in the fun realm of the awake.

Whatever nightmarish tactics your cat may be using to keep you up, you know one thing is true — it has to stop.

Close the Door

The most obvious but not always functional route is to simply shut your cat out of your bedroom. It is highly likely that you have tried this approach before; you know that this will in effect prevent your cat from getting anywhere near your bed and protecting you from any nighttime attacks, but unfortunately it opens up a whole new can of worms.

Being unable to reach you will generally drive your cat to greater efforts, though whether that’s the result of separation anxiety or the endearing kitty killer instinct remains to be determined. The result is that the incessant scratching and sad kitty yowls will drive you to distraction.

This leads you to your next attempt to get a restful night’s sleep.

Ear Plugs

The way to remedy the noise problem is simple, cold and heartless. Ear plugs will make it possible for you to sleep through the night while kitty sits in front of your bedroom door all night and cries until his little kitty vocal chords get hoarse.

This is, of course, very effective at getting you a solid night’s sleep, but if you can put your friendly fur ball through that kind of thing and still sleep at night, we’re not going to be friends. With a little more planning, you can reach a compromise with your cat that doesn’t involve leaving him all alone weeping at your door.

Ear plugs might have helped this unfortunate caretaker whose cat found an open laptop:

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Tire Him Out

Cats are naturally nighttime stalkers, but that doesn’t mean you can’t mess with his sleep schedule.

Play with your kitty during the day and about an hour or so before bedtime. It’s pretty simple: grab that laser pointer or feather toy and keep him running around for a while. When you see him napping a lot during the day, don’t feel bad about waking him up and getting his sleep schedule turned around a bit so that when you go to bed, kitty goes to bed too.

After you play with the cat in the evening, feed a healthy and filling meal right before you both go to bed; this should tire him out and calm him down.

Throw a Hissy Fit

Even if you tire out your kitty so that he stops trying to wake you up toward the beginning of your night, there’s a good chance he still will try to wake you up with early-bird attacks at 4 a.m. At this point you need to show him who’s boss.

This is going to sound weird, but stay with me here.

Try hissing at him, as this cat communication device tells other cats to back off and respect the boundaries they are creating, or because they are trying to tell you they are in pain. Both of these reasons apply when trying to keep your cat from crossing the boundary, and I’m always in pain when my Sebastiana pounces on my belly. Just use this sound carefully, make it only when appropriate and never part of everyday interactions.

He will eventually learn that this is particular type of button pushing will not fly. Hissing usually works well for a cat jumping up on your stomach, clawing you or rolling on your face, but if he resists you may need to push the cat away as you hiss or growl.

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This featured contribution was written on behalf of Pet Premium by Cindy Romero, an animal lover from North Carolina who loves tiring out her cat with a pink fluffy feather toy. She also has a Himalayan bunny roaming her house that she likes to snuggle with when she isn’t teaching him how wrong it is to bully the cats.