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Pet Talk: How Can I Get My Cat to Sleep At Night?

By Sally Salopek

 Q: Our family has gotten our very first cat. His name is Chad and we all love him dearly. But at night he is so active and keeps waking us up. Is this normal and is there anything we can do to get him to sleep at night like the rest of us?

A: I am afraid this is quite normal for cats. Cats are nocturnal by nature and follow a crepuscular hunting schedule, meaning they are the most active at dawn and dusk as this tends to be the easiest time to catch prey for them. This may come as quite a surprise to new cat owners. I’m sure Chad is wasting no time investigating and possibly getting into trouble while you’re trying to sleep. Then come morning he probably enjoys his breakfast and is ready to wind down for a long day of slumber. Even though our house cats are fed in bowls and no hunting is involved, the programming is still there. In the wild they tend to lay low in the darker nighttime hours and also during daylight hours when other predators may be out and about. Some house cats, especially kittens, may be active at any time during the night.

The good news is our domesticated cats are highly adaptable. This means Chad is able to adjust his sleeping habits so he can spend more time with the family. Being a social animal, he enjoys your company.

We used to have one cat who woke us up every night. What worked for us was to keep Poco up until bedtime. We would play with him. Cats love those wand toys and Poco was no exception. If we saw him sleeping we would wake him up for play, pets and even some treats. It didn’t take long and his sleeping pattern changed. He would interact with us throughout the early evening and sleep through the night – at least we think he did because he was not waking us up in the middle of the night anymore.

Cats tend to sleep after a meal, so feeding Chad before bed may also help. If he is waking you up way too early in the morning to eat you may want to try an automatic feeder. Chad will then be waiting by his feeder for his food instead of meowing and crawling all over you.

If your feline is home alone during the day you may try putting a kitty perch by a window with a bird feeder outside so Chad can entertain himself by watching the birds. Some interactive toys filled with treats will help keep him active during the day along with some stuffed toys to play with as well. There are also DVDs for cats to watch for entertainment you could put on a timer. They have birds, mice and other critters and sounds that cats enjoy. This way he will not be sleeping all day and more likely to sleep at night.

I don’t know how old your kitty is, but as they age they tend to sleep more, especially at night.

Hope this helps and all can enjoy a good night’s rest.

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