Cat keeping you awake? How to manage night activity

Many cat owners find their feline’s nighttime habits frustrating, though the cause is natural. Cats are crepuscular, which means they are most active at dawn and dusk. Some kitties are more active through the night, but that doesn't make them nocturnal animals (a popular myth about our feline friends).

Living peacefully with them entails shifting their schedule slightly and managing their environment so you can sleep.

Don’t reward the behavior

Many people reinforce boisterous nighttime activity without meaning to. They might get up to feed, play with, or simply chase them out of the room. All of these responses teach the cat that disturbing you gets attention. The first step is to avoid rewarding the disturbing behavior with your attention.

Provide adequate 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. Many cats enjoy cat teasers, playing fetch, or chasing a laser pointer. Even spending five minutes a day on these activities can go a long way in stimulating and tiring out your cat.

Provide daytime activity in your absence

One option is feeding your cat meals from a food-dispensing toy. Feeder toys simulate a wild feline’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, close your bedroom door so they can’t practice the wrong behavior. 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 is not generated by spite, resentment, revenge, or any other human emotion. Avoid giving in to this belief to prevent a hostile, stressful relationship.

Above all, remember that all living beings do what works for them: if your cat is allowed to disturb you at night – or worse yet, is rewarded for doing so – the behavior will continue. Managing your cat’s behavior and environment can set both of you up for long-term success.

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