It’s 3:07 AM and you wake up to your cat batting around a toy just outside your door. It is 2:17 and you wake up to your cat walking all over your bed meowing.
Sound familiar? Cats love to operate on their own schedule, they are independent after all. It can be a little frustrating at times as a cat owner though. Especially when you start to lose sleep.
Ever wonder “Is there any way to make my cat sleep when I do, or at least not disturb my sleep?” The resounding answer is “Yes!” These 17 tips will ensure that you and your cat will both get a sound night of sleep. Tonight.
One last note before the tips. If night time activity is a recent change then get your cat to the Vet ASAP to rule out medical conditions.
JaneA Kelley, author of cat advice blog Paws and Effect, says “This is particularly true with elder cats who begin meowing all night when they haven’t done so before. Diseases like hyperthyroidism can be marked by nighttime vocalization. But even younger cats could have medical issues that lead to midnight meowing.”
Now let’s move onto the tips!
#1 Put Your Cat’s Instincts To Work So She Falls Asleep Naturally
Cats have a natural order of operations on a day to day basis. We all know that they sleep…A lot. But there’s more to it than that. Cats, left to their natural habitat, function in a step by step process of hunting, killing, eating, grooming and then sleeping.
Given this is biologically programmed in we humans should take advantage of it! While structured play sessions and appropriate feeding are important be sure to use them at the appropriate time of day.
About an hour before bed schedule your structured play session with your feline friend. Spend at least 15 minutes (30 is better) playing with your cat with any form of toy.
Be sure to end the play session with a physical toy so your cat can pounce and actually ‘kill’ something. This means if you use a laser pointer to start be sure to close your session with a wand toy or something else physical.
After your play session give your cat their normal meal for the evening and then head off toward bed. Most cats will finish eating, groom themselves and then drift off to sleep at this point.
For more detail check out this article with an interview from Jackson Galaxy on the topic.
#2 Love Animal Planet? Cats Do Too! It’ll Entertain Them For Hours!
The more your cat is awake during the day the less likely he or she is to keep you up at night. Cats do after all want to get in their 16 hours of sleep a day. Given this, TV & video can be an excellent entertainment option for some cats.
While not all cats will absolutely love TV, there are a good chunk of them that will sit and watch it. This is especially true for cats that have a high prey drive and like to hunt for toys around the house.
The quick movements of animals and objects across the TV screen mimics what your cat experiences while hunting so it is a very engaging medium.
There are a laundry list of YouTube videos available that worked wonders on Beast and Lexi. Here are 3 of my favorites: YouTube Video 1 (2 hours), YouTube Video 2 (2 hours), YouTube Video 3 (1 hour).
Simply pop them on the TV with the YouTube App and let your kitty watch. Below is a short sample just to give you an idea!
Supervise your cat during the first few experiences. Some cats may attempt to attack the screen and this can be bad for both your cat and of course your screen.
Cats can become frustrated if they are unable to pounce on something after watching for an extended period.
Be sure to have actual toys nearby for your kitty to play with and be sure to jump in and engage when necessary!
#3 Introduce Your Cat To Video Games To Tire Her Out
If you’ve got a smart phone or tablet then you can put it to use to entertain your cat, and not with YouTube videos. There are more than a handful of mobile applications out there made to entertain your feline friend.
They range from a mouse running around the screen to a peaceful koi pond all the way to letting your cat paint a masterpiece and then print out the results.
- Apps are available for both Apple and Android (this is a good list of the best) and they do a great job of drawing your cat’s attention. A few additional tips:
- Make sure your tablet or mobile phone is on the floor when your cat plays.
- Trim your cat’s nails in advance.
- Add a screen protector just in case.
- If you’re in the market for a cat related video game for yourself check out Cat Quest. It is has tons of fun cat puns in the dialogue and has a lot of meowing that kept my cats up and engaged.
#4 Maintain the Mystery Of Her Toys So She Keeps Playing
Anyone out there that’s owned a cat knows that they are inherently curious. After all, the good old phrase “Curiosity killed the cat.” had to originate from somewhere right?
Don’t worry, I have no intention of injuring your cat. But! We can put your cat’s instincts to work again to keep her awake during the daytime hours.
While cats enjoy a life without big surprises they tend to love small surprises. This means that new toys are far more interesting than old toys.
Having a rotation of toys of available for your cats is imperative for keeping them entertained. Be sure to put toys that aren’t in use away in a cupboard or shelf where your cat can’t see them. This way when you bring them out they seem brand new!
Another item that might help is a quick spritz of Catnip Spray on an older toy. You can find Catnip spray at any pet store these days or you can pick it up from Amazon for a couple of bucks.
Last but not least, if you happen to order items and have the shipped to your house (who doesn’t these days?) then be sure to keep the boxes around so your cat can explore them. If you’ve got multiple boxes you can re-arrange them in different ways to keep your cat interested and thus awake.
#5 Spay or Neuter Your Feline Friend To Minimize Yowling
According to the most recent research a large portion of American house cats are already spayed or neutered. Cats that aren’t yet fixed though often exhibit a host of frustrating behavioral problems including yowling all through the night looking for a mate.
If your cat is not yet spayed or neutered then you should consider getting this done ASAP. Not only are there a variety of health benefits (longer life, less likelihood to develop cancer, etc.), but it generally helps calm cats down.
To be 100% clear, spaying or neutering is not a guaranteed fix for every behavioral problem in the book, but it often has positive benefits from a behavioral standpoint and is a good choice for the overall cat population.
If spaying or neutering your cat is difficult to consider due to costs then look into free or heavily discounted services through the ASPCA at this link.
#6 Adopt a Fluffy Friend For Your Cat To Tire Her Out
If your cat currently flies solo and you’ve never explored having another cat in the house then you may want to consider it. My household started with one cat and she often slept all day. Since I volunteer at the local shelter I decided to foster a cat to give her some company and they hit it off well.
I now commonly find their toys strewn about the house when I get home. Not only does an additional cat bring your feline friend a companion to pass the time with, it encourages them to exercise and play together which when done right will ensure they sleep at night!
Note that some cats are absolutely not open to having another feline in their territory. If you already know your cat is a solo cat then this is obviously not a good choice.
If you’re not sure about your cat you might want to try fostering from a local shelter to:
- Do a good deed for a kitty in need
- Understanding how well your resident cat will adjust
Most foster programs will let you foster anywhere from a week to a few months. They also love it if you have a ‘failed foster’ and end up adopting the cat directly. Check out PetFinder to help you locate local shelters and rescues!
#7 Provide a Separate Bed For Your Cat So She Isn’t Sleeping On You
A large percentage of cat owners, 62% according to recent research, let their cat sleep in their bed with them. There are a host of benefits to allowing your cat to sleep with you, in particular stress relief. You also get the enjoyment of listening to them purr and knead as they get read for bed.
That being said, cats are not well known for sleeping for long periods of time. They tend to sleep in short naps throughout the entire day.
While most of us cat owners enjoy having our cats sleep with us (me included), I’ve found significant benefit in having my cats sleep nearby instead of directly on my bed with me.
I own a small cat bed and it sits on my nightstand and I encourage Beast to sleep in it with treats or by simply picking her up and placing her in it.
Not only does this keep her nice and warm and comfy, but it stops her from walking all over me to find a spot for herself. She also is a tiny furnace and she makes me hot beyond belief when she lays on top of me so this is an absolute necessity for me!
#8 Get an Automatic Feeder for Morning or Night Feedings
If your cat wakes you up with a ton of noise looking for food early in the morning or the middle of the night then consider an automatic cat feeder. There automatic feeders for both dry and wet food.
You can simply program your feeder to pour out a certain amount of food or pop open a prepared dish of food at a specific time of day.
Not only will this make your kitty happy when he or she wakes up hungry in the morning, but it’ll also save you from having to wake up and prepare cat food!
This means you can kill two birds with one stone at night when you’re getting ready to feed your kitty dinner after that play session we talked about above!
#9 Consider Your Lighting So Your Older Cat Isn’t Confused
As cats age their eyesight can start to decline. No surprise, this is true across every animal in the world, including us humans. Older cats though may start to experience problems in the dark especially.
While cat whiskers are amazing things (and help your cat navigate in the dark) it is possible that your cat simply doesn’t understand why she can’t see as well as she used to a night time.
Sometimes this lack of understanding can cause your feline friend to speak out and let you know she’s lost and confused. This means meowing. In the middle of the night.
If you’re starting to experience this with an older cat then you might want to explore providing a nightlight in a strategic place to ensure your cat can see where she needs to go.
#10 Teach Your Cat Ornithology (Bird Watching) So She Zonks Out at Night
It is nothing new that cats love to look out the window, but the window can get boring if there’s not much out there that’s moving.
Spice things up and install a bird feeder and a window bed. This gets your kitty a front row seat to the action of all of the birds coming back and forth to feed.
I use a very small bird feeder that is 100% clear and attaches to the window with suction cups. This feeder is by no means a necessity, but it provides an completely unobstructed view.
This means your cat stays locked in for a longer period of time. I’ve also noticed that the cat proximity does nothing to deter the sparrows or cardinals from ravaging my bird feeder.
You might even get extra lucky and attract a squirrel if you put the feeder low enough down or provide the type of feeder that a squirrel can get into.
My cat Lexi not only chatters extensively at the birds whenever they are there. She constantly gets into full butt wiggle mode and pounces on her own inside to show the birds who is the boss.
#11 Give Your Cat a Relaxation Boost Before Bed
Feeding your cat a little bit of catnip can help them relax before bed time. We often hear that catnip will cause your cat to become full of energy and bounce of the walls.
The inhalation of catnip is what causes your cat to become a bit crazed or loaded with energy. On the other hand when cats eat catnip most of them experience a calming effect just like that of a sedative.
You may also try placing a Feliway Calming Cat Diffuser in the room your cat sleeps in. Feliway has a calming effect on cats by diffusing a synthetic pheromone into the air that makes your cat feel like she is in a safe place.
While the more traditional use is to help a cat adjust to a new house or to decrease behavior like spraying it can also have benefits to encourage a more generally relaxed demeanor.
#12 Relocate the Cat Bathroom To Minimize Midnight Noise
I’m not sure about your cat, but my cats make an absolutely crazy amount of noise when they are finished using the litter box. It seriously sounds like they are trying to dig their way all the way to China through the bottom of the litter box.
And you know what? No surprise! This used to constantly wake me up until I relocated the litter box.
Keep your cat’s litter box as far away from your bedroom as possible. If you can put it inside a mostly enclosed space like a closet or a mud room this is even better.
Anything you can do to minimize the noise made from your cat kicking litter or banging the flap will provide a more peaceful night of sleep
#13 Hire a Robot Servant (Vacuum) And Have It Work While You’re Away
We’ve all seen the iconic photo or video of the cat riding around on top of the Roomba, and yes, it is hilarious. The simple fact though is most cats are not only intrigued by robot vacuum cleaners, they are not terribly thrilled by them.
This means as a robot vacuum is doing its job tidying up the house it is likely keeping your kitty awake and alert, but with no real threat at hand.
Two birds, one stone! Especially if you have wood floors like I do and there’s often litter all over despite your best efforts.
There are a few things you’ll of course want to consider here before kicking off this idea:
- Run your robot vacuum at least a few times while you are around to determine how your cat will react. If he or she is clearly freaked out then this isn’t a great idea.
- Check around the house before leaving for the day. I’ve had my vacuum roll right through a pile of cat puke and then drag it through the house, not so fun to clean up later. Ugh. Yuck.
Oh, and if you haven’t seen the video then check it out below…
#14 Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked – Keep Your Cat Awake Until Bed
Another easy way to ensure your cat sleeps at night is to simply wake him or her up whenever they try to take an extended nap during the day.
This is most important to enforce once you’re home from work or school. The more you keep your cat awake between then and bed time the less likely she will be to wake you up throughout the night.
This is one of the easiest methods to execute on, if of course you are actually at home during the day. All it takes is giving your kitty some butt scratches or chin scratches to convince her to wake up.
I’m also lucky in that if I pick either of my cats up they wake up immediately and want to get down and walk around. Figure out a gentle way to wake your kitties up that keeps them up…
#15 Turn Your Cat Into the Next World Traveler
If you’re not already familiar with the idea of Adventure Cats then you should definitely check out this amazing website that details all of the comings and goings of cats that go out into the wild with their humans!
This includes every variety of cat. From those that ride along in backpack carriers with their humans while they hike all the way to those that have been leash and harness trained and love to go hiking with their humans.
You can get your cat started on becoming an adventure cat by picking up a leash and harness yourself and taking your cat for short walks around the house or outdoors. I live in downtown Chicago so I don’t love walking my cats on the sidewalk.
Instead I use a Bubble Backpack to get them to an open space or a park first! Giving your cat the chance to experience new places and smells is an experience that will keep her locked in for an extended period of time.
Not only does this ensure she stays awake, but it also ensures that she’s fully ready to fall asleep for a good long time once you get her home!
Learn the basics of turning your cat into an adventure cat here.
#16 Entertain Your Cat (And Yourself) From Afar
Although it is often noted that cats are nocturnal, they aren’t. They are crepuscular, meaning they are most active at dawn and dusk.
This means they sleep a lot during the day. Keeping your cat awake during the day is a great way to ensure your cat will spend most of the night sleeping.
Unfortunately a good chunk of us are away during the day at work or school. This means your cat is likely zonked out in the comfiest spot in the house (or in the spots they aren’t allowed on while you are home!) all day long.
So what can you do short of trying to sneak home to wake your fur ball up?
Welcome to the world of remote controlled feeders and toys!
There are a laundry list of products on the market, we’re going to focus on those that can wake your kitty cat up. Two great ways to do this are with:
- Remote controlled video, audio & laser pointers:
- Log into the app on your phone and not only do you get sound and video (and can speak to your cats), but you can flip on the built in laser pointer and drag it across the floor!
- This is perfect for an extended day away at work. Log into the phone app for 5 minutes during lunch or between meetings and get your kitty running around a bit. The most well known company in the space is PetCube.
- Remote controlled treat dispensers:
- This contraption will allow you to deploy treats from the click of your phone. Since most cats come running to the sound of the treat bag your cat will quickly recognize the sound of the treat dispenser deploying a snack and come running.
- There are obvious concerns with using this method exclusively, feeding your cat tons of treats will fatten him or her up!
#17 When All Else Fails…Close The Door for Privacy
A hefty chunk of cat owners absolutely love sleeping with their cats, myself included. But if you’ve tried a wide variety of methods to achieve a full night of sleep and you haven’t seen success then you might try this as a last resort.
Try putting your cat in another room or simply closing your bedroom door while you sleep.
When I put mine in the second bedroom they didn’t bat an eyelash and went right to sleep without a single meow of complaint. On the other hand if I leave them outside the bedroom and close the door they bonk and paw at it the whole night.
I’ve deployed the SSSCat Cat Deterrent to deter this behavior and had some success, but it was simply easier to put them in the other room when I need a night to myself.
I’ve spoken with numerous other owners that have cats that don’t mind being locked out of the bedroom at night one bit.
You may have to experiment with where to keep your cats for the night, but if they are driving you nuts in the room then definitely try some alternatives. You shouldn’t feel bad about it as many cats will quickly adjust and go to sleep without any problem what so ever.
Wrapping It Up
These days sleep is proving ever more important for good general health. Ensuring you get a sound night of sleep is very important, especially if you want to have a great day when you get out of bed.
The most important thing you can do to ensure you and your cat both get a good night of sleep is to make sure your cat is good and tired out around bed time. This means keeping your cat focused and engaged during the day, even if you’re not around, and then providing good quality play time before dinner and bed!
One last item worth calling out. If your cat is meowing or causing a ruckus all night long and none of these methods help then there may be a medical issue at hand. You should consider taking your cat to the vet to ensure there isn’t a health related concern causing your cat to stay up all night.
What method have you found to ensure you and your cat(s) all get a good night of sleep? Tell us about your favorite method, or better yet what you’ve experienced across a bunch of cats! Feel free to leave a comment below or send me an email at Craig@StuffCatsWant.com.