Cats are crepuscular (active at dawn and dusk) and nocturnal (active at night). Even though cats are programmed to be active mostly while you’re sound asleep, cat behaviorist Jackson Galaxy from the TV show My Cat From Hell says you can reset your cat’s body clock with a little patience and diligence. Jackson recommends providing toys throughout the day while you’re away to encourage your cat to play in between naps. When night falls, schedule a hearty play session with your feline friend to further tire him out and then follow up with his evening meal. Pushing your cat’s mealtime back will ensure he stays fuller overnight.
If your cat is a free feeder and grazes throughout the day, changing this behavior will be a bit more challenging.
“If you allow them to graze all day long, not only do you not have a chance of affecting their behavior even a little bit, but you’re also not allowing their body to process foods in a natural way…If you’re free feeding, stop and establish a meal time,” Galaxy said.
Meowing that wakes you in the middle of the night could be your cat’s way of indicating hunger or thirst. If you follow Galaxy’s advice to feed later in the evening, like around 9:30 p.m., crying at night for food should cease. Be sure your cat’s water bowl is filled before you turn in for the night, too, so they’re not “yelling” for it at 3 a.m.
A dirty litter box could be the reason your cat is crying at night. Cats prefer a fresh and clean litter box when they go about their business. Try scooping before bedtime so your furry friend has a clean surface to eliminate. Aside from daily or twice daily scooping, your cat’s litter box should be dumped every week or every other week in conjunction with a thorough cleaning. A clean litter box at night will help keep your cat happy and quiet.
Some cats cry at night because they’re lonely, bored, or anxious. Make sure to spend time with your kitty in the evenings to ensure they’re getting adequate love and attention. Cats need interaction and companionship, especially after you’ve been away for most of the day at work. Without one-on-one time your furry friend will become stressed and lonely, and he’s likely to let it be known when you’re right in the middle of REM sleep.
Being able to see their surroundings can help an elderly cat with visual problems or impaired cognitive function feel less fearful and more confident, which should tone down night-time caterwauling.
If your cat’s needs are being met and you suspect the night-time vocalizing is linked to his desire for your attention, by no means should you respond to his vocalizations. As hard as it might be, completely ignoring the behavior with neither a hush nor an admonition will teach your cat that no amount of unnecessary meowing will get you out of bed. It might take up to two weeks for your cat to finally get it but ignoring the meowing outside your bedroom door will eventually cause it to an end. To help you get through this trying phase of kitty development, consider using ear plugs.
Losing sleep because your four-legged companion won’t stop meowing warrants immediate attention. First up, figure out why the behavior is happening, and then set out to resolve it so that you and your kitty can finally get a good night’s sleep.
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