Cat keeping you awake? How to manage night activity

Naturally nocturnal, cats are more active during nighttime hours than during the day. If your cat is keeping you up, follow these tips to manage their environment so that you can get some sleep.

Don’t reward the behavior with your attention

People sometimes reinforce their cat's boisterous nighttime activity without meaning to. They might get up to feed him (since “that’s what he wants”), try to play with him or chase him out of the room. All of these responses will teach your cat that disturbing you works, and that they will get some kind of payoff. The first step is to avoid rewarding the disturbing behavior with your attention.

Provide enough exercise and stimulation earlier in the evening

Cats will sleep all day if allowed, so make time for regular sessions of interactive play early in the evening. Even a little bit of playtime will go a long way towards tiring your cat out.

Provide daytime activity in your absence

One option is feeding your cat one of his meals from a food-dispensing toy. This simulates a cat's hunt-catch-consume behavior, providing both mental and physical stimulation.

Manage your cat’s environment during the night

If your cat is jumping on the bed and disturbing you, confine him in another room so that he can't practice the wrong behavior. You can keep him in a kitty-proofed room with a litter box, water, bedding, and (quiet) toys. If this isn’t possible, a large dog kennel – big enough to allow the cat to sleep away from the litter box – can also serve this purpose. (If you choose this option, let your cat out immediately when you awake.) You can also place a towel between your closed bedroom door and the door frame to prevent door-rattling. White noise machines in the bedroom and ear plugs can also help you get a good night’s sleep.

Don’t punish your cat

As frustrating as this behavior can be, it's not generated by spite, resentment, revenge or any other human emotion. Persisting in this belief will only set cat and owner up for a hostile, stressful relationship, and will not ultimately solve the problem. Focus on teaching appropriate behavior by following the guidelines above.

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