Cats are programmed to be active at dawn and dusk, but you can change their behaviour.

Ah, sleep. At the end of a long workday, you look forward to uninterrupted slumber, but your cat has other plans. In two hours, he jars you awake by leaping on the bed — knocking the air out of you. An hour later, he swats a book off your nightstand. And 30 minutes before your alarm sounds, he begins loud, demanding meows – “It’s time for the food porter to feed me!”.

Common Complaint.
Quite a few cat owners comment on being disturbed at night by their cat. Even veterinarians have to contend with the issue.  Playful kittens aren’t the only felines who disrupt their owners’ sleep. Cats who have displayed proper manners at night can suddenly become restless and vocal especially when they become seniors.

In general, nocturnal species are most active at night. Cats, however, are crepuscular, meaning that they’re awake at twilight. Cats may not be truly nocturnal like many rodents, but feral cats in cities are more active at night when dogs are asleep, enabling them to find food more safely in dumpsters without being stalked by predators and cats seem to be genetically programmed to be more active at dawn and dusk.

The reasons can also be medical and behavioral. Book an appointment with your cat’s veterinarian for a complete physical exam.

These conditions top the list of physical reasons for nighttime wakefulness:

1. Cognitive dysfunction syndrome, (CDS), a degenerative brain disease similar to Alzheimer’s in people.

2. Hyperthyroidism, a common endocrine disorder resulting from the production of excessive thyroid hormone, occurs in middle-aged and older cats. Those affected develop voracious appetites but experience weight loss. They tend to be more active and vocal.

3. Diabetes typically causes ravenous appetite, weight loss, increased water consumption and urination. As a consequence, cats may awaken in the middle of the night because they’re hungry or the water bowl is empty. Urinary tract infections or bladder stones can also trigger cats to awaken their owner by urinating on the bed.

4. Pain due to arthritic joints can make it hard for cats to find a comfortable posture to sleep.

5. Infestation of fleas, ticks and other parasites.

6. Side effects from certain medicines. Make of a list of those your cat takes, including supplements, and review them with the veterinarian. Pets who are hyper-excitable as a side effect of a medication usually can’t settle down.

No to Early Dinners; Yes to Late Dinners.
Once medical reasons for your cat’s increased nighttime activity have been ruled out, look for clues pointing to a behavioral reason. It would be helpful to record and report specific changes in your cat, such as heightened nighttime activity, to his veterinarian.

One consideration: Unintentionally, you may be encouraging wakefulness in your cat, especially if you feed him an early dinner and a meal as soon as you awaken in the morning.

Give their pets a late meal before the owner’s bedtime: these pets are less likely to wake their owners due to hunger.

Equally important is delaying feeding in the morning. You need to re-set his breakfast clock.  Avoid having your cat expect to be fed as soon as you wake up ; that can motivate some cats to bother you while you are still in bed.

Bored cats can unleash their pent-up energy by scratching furniture at night and batting objects off tables and counters. Effective boredom busters include:

1. Clicker training to teach basic cues like sit, come and shake paws.

2. Introducing a puzzle feeder a cat must manipulate to access a treat inside.

3. Use a wand toy or a laser tag toy to exercise their predator instincts. End the play by giving him a chance to catch “prey” by tossing a paper wad or soft toy mouse.

4. Providing play-alone toys like a ball inside a plastic circular track, or ‘hidden’ in a basket.

For more information, contact Oromocto Veterinary Hospital. We’ll be happy to help!