Cats can be pretty demanding at night. Your cat may run across your bed, poke at your face, bump its head against yours, or stand on your chest. The cat may even yowl, howl, meow, cry, and even trill around the clock. Even though cats are lazy and docile throughout the day, they can come to life after dark. It may even seem the cat does not want you to sleep at night.
Most cats wake their owners up accidentally or on purpose because they are night owls. It is a normal instinct for them to play, hunt, eat, and explore new things at this time. This is even more true for older cats, cats with health problems, cats that generally spend time outdoors, hungry cats, or bored cats. Your cat may not let you sleep because he needs attention, food, playtime, or help, or because he is confused.
If your cat is bored, playing with him more during the day will help solve the problem.
If the reason is a medical problem, you should get the cat medical treatment.
If the cat wants to go outside, you could put a cat flap.
Playing with your cat just before bedtime and then feeding him can help him sleep through the night.
And if all else fails, you can lock your cat out of the bedroom or wear earplugs so you can sleep through your cat’s activities.
Why is My Cat Restless at Night?
It is pretty normal for a cat to be restless at night. During the day, most cats spend their time napping, sunbathing, and doing other low-energy activities.
This helps them conserve their energy for dusk and nighttime rest. It is at these times that a cat runs at peak performance.
Although cats are known to be crepuscular, most cats have a distinct activity level at night.
So, while they are most active at dusk, their second most active time is at night. This is the ideal time for a cat to:
- Run around
- Exploring the environment
- Meowing and calling out to other cats
In the wild, cats are much more likely to prey at night and not be spotted by other predators. When you are sleeping, however, this can be a nuisance.
Aside from instincts, your cat may wake you or keep you awake for other reasons.
Fortunately, you have some degree of control over these factors. You can’t stop your cat from being active at night. However, you can address the following causes:
- A desire to go outside
- Health problems
- Some adverse effects of aging
A bored cat might try to wake you up to play. However, it may also entertain itself by jumping around the house, knocking over objects, or meowing.
If you find that your cat sleeps all day and keeps you up at night, boredom is probably the cause.
If your cat doesn’t have a playmate, she may be very restless at night. She struggles to entertain herself and will disturb you. This is even more likely if you do not play with your cat during the day.
When night falls, she is excited after a long, boring day and suddenly has double the energy.
That’s when your sleep schedule has to suffer the consequences. There are ways to recognize a bored cat before it becomes disruptive:
- Repetitive behaviors: These include excessive grooming, meowing, pulling out fur, and pacing.
- Excessive eating: A bored cat may beg for food or eat at night to pass the time.
- Inactivity: Your cat may not want to play during the day and may sleep to relieve boredom. This changes when she can no longer ignore her pent-up energy at night.
- Destructive behavior: Cats like to provide their own entertainment. This includes destroying furniture, scratching or climbing curtains, and sometimes going to the bathroom outside the litter box.
As cats are naturally active at night, they will also try to hunt and eat during this time. Your cat may also work up an appetite while playing.
Knowing you are standing by as a food source, she will wake you up for a meal.
This is especially true if you offer her fixed meals instead of free feeding. The cat can’t find its own prey, so it will ask you to satisfy its hunger.
Sometimes, the cat will even playfully bite or paw at you. This is to wake you up and even burns off some of the energy she has for playing and hunting.
If you don’t have a cat door or lock it before bedtime, the cat may wake you up in protest. She wants to go outside during her highest energy time to hunt and see new things.
It may also be that the cat prefers to defecate outside instead of in her litter box.
She will wake you up since she cannot solve this problem herself. Some cats are so persistent that they even hit you in the face.
Many cat owners complain that their cat wakes them up to go outside, especially if their cat is usually an outdoor cat.
Unfortunately, there is no practical way to prevent your cat from doing this. As long as she is not allowed outside, she will continue to wake you up.
You can prevent this by acquiring a cat door, leaving it open at night, or moving your cat to another room.
Perhaps your cat doesn’t just run around and play at night. Instead, she’s looking for attention and making loud noises at all hours.
If this is the case, your cat may have a health problem. Perhaps she is suffering from an injury or struggling with an illness.
Since the cat is most active at night, she feels more discomfort than during the day when she sleeps.
She may also wake you up because she wants to be comforted or rummaging around in your bed to find a cozy spot where she feels comfortable.
Also, watch for sudden changes in behavior, appetite, or gait. If you notice a problem, contact your veterinarian to have the cat examined and treated.
One study examined and compared the sleep-wake cycles of young and older cats. In this study, researchers found that a cat’s sleep cycle changes dramatically with age, much like in humans.
Older cats have more fragmented sleep and less REM sleep than younger cats.
So your older cat might wake up more often, have a lighter sleep, or sleep at irregular times. Therefore, she has many opportunities to occupy herself at night.
She might wander around the apartment to entertain herself. She may also be startled by a slight noise.
Older cats may have bursts of energy at random times, especially at night.
Older cats are also more likely to suffer from mobility issues, intestinal problems, and joint pain.
All of this can lead to your cat asking you for help, meowing in discomfort, or causing commotion because he can’t explore your home as skillfully as he used to.
The Cat Keeps Waking Me Up to Get Attention
Some cat owners are kept awake by their cats because they make a lot of noise and run around at night.
For others, the cats purposefully try to wake them up. This may include the following:
- Sitting on your chest
- Walking over your legs
- Pawing at your face
- Meowing at you
- Rubbing or bumping their head against you
- Stare at you
This is usually the cat’s way of asking for something. It is usually one of the following things:
- Being let outside
Because most cats that are struggling with a medical problem will withdraw and meow in discomfort.
Cats with behavioral problems usually take out their frustrations on furniture or other objects in your home.
Instead, when your cat specifically turns to you, he wants your undivided attention.
Cats are even willing to settle for negative attention. If you push her away, tell her no, or get up to bring her weaving, the cat will still get your attention.
Cats are playful creatures, and this behavior can become a game that she enjoys.
My Cat Wakes Me Up at 3 A.m.
Most cats wake their owners up at random times. However, if you find that your cat is constantly waking you up at 3 a.m., don’t worry.
Contrary to what popular myth would have you believe, cats do not have an attachment to a witching hour. The cat may choose approximately that time for the following reasons.
Depending on where you live and the time of year, 3 a.m. may be just before dawn.
Cats are most active at dusk, so your cat will be revved up to play. This burst of activity may wake you up.
Depending on your sleep schedule, 3 a.m. may be right in the middle of your 8-hour rest period. This could be the deepest sleep phase when you begin to dream.
When the REM cycle kicks in, your body responds as follows:
- Increased heart rate
- Movement of your eyes behind your eyelids
- Increased breathing rate
- Increased blood pressure
You may even start talking in your sleep or twitching slightly while dreaming. When this happens, your cat will notice.
She may be intrigued by your small movements or think you are awake because you are breathing harder. If you talk in your sleep, the cat may come closer to investigate you or ask to be petted.
Since you are actually asleep, this nudging may wake you up. You will not remember your unconscious activity, so it will appear that your cat chose the timing.
Depending on your cat’s feeding schedule, 3 a.m. may also be the halfway point for cat meals. If she feels hungry after playing, she may make you feed her.
Feeding the cat later or earlier could shift the 3 a.m. time.
My Cat Does Not Stop Making Noise at Night
Most cats wake their owners by throwing toys around, bumping into objects, or raising their voices.
This can make it difficult to sleep even when the door is closed. Although it’s annoying, it’s normal cat behavior.
- At night, your cat has more energy to play and explore.
- Cats see better in the dark, so nighttime is ideal for exploring new smells, sights, or toys.
- Your cat knows other cats are awake at night, so she might call for a mate.
These are all clear, simple answers. Things get more challenging when your cat starts making strange noises.
In addition to howling and meowing, you may hear slight clicking, chirping, or trilling noises. Rest assured that your cat has not adopted a strange nocturnal language.
Instead, she chooses a particular sound for each situation she encounters at night.
- Chirping: This sound is meant to mimic the call of a bird or rodent. Cats use it to attract or distract prey or to determine how well the prey can hear them. This helps them improve their hunting skills.
- Trilling: cats trill with their mouths closed, producing a sound that is a mixture of meowing and purring. This sound is used as a greeting or sign of recognition. The cat may be trying to get your attention.
- Yowl: A yowl is a loud and prolonged meow. It is similar to a howl but lasts longer. Your cat yowls when it is in distress, in pain, or trying to mate.
My Cat Howls Or Meows at Night
Perhaps your cat’s worst sin is being a screamer at night. The cat may meow, howl, yowl or make other strange noises.
This can make sleeping difficult at night, especially for light sleepers. Here are the reasons for this noise and how to stop it.
The Cat is Extremely Bored
Bored cats can wake you up at night. However, an exceedingly bored cat will kick it up a notch and howl incessantly. This is the cat’s way of showing its displeasure and venting frustration.
Even if you continue to sleep and don’t respond, the cat may yowl until it feels entertained again.
However, if you respond, the cat may learn that yowling is a quick way to get your attention.
Offer her toys, food, or a companion to play with so she doesn’t resort to this behavior.
The Cat is Ready to Mate Or in Heat
Cats yowl as a mating call and can reach impressive octaves. If you find sleeping to your cat’s calls impossible, consider having it neutered or spayed.
The cat could be in heat, looking for a mate. Depending on her sex, she may also be responding to the pheromones of a nearby cat and trying to locate it.
Yowling may occur during mating if you have a male and a female cat, both of which are not spayed. If you do not want kittens, it is advisable to separate them or have them spayed.
The Cat Feels Trapped
If your cat can explore outside during the day, he may howl if kept inside at night.
Cats know that nighttime is the best time to explore and hunt.
If she is forced to look out the window and watch opportunities pass by, the cat will become frustrated.
She will then howl in protest until you let her out.
The Cat is Confused
As a cat gets older, the body and brain wear out. Cats with cognitive dysfunction often spend their nights howling or meowing loudly.
They may feel disoriented, confused, and not know where they are. This is a way for them to express frustration and ask for help.
The most common symptoms of cognitive dysfunction in cats are:
- Strong vocalization
- Increased nocturnal activity
- Aimless wandering
If this applies to your cat, it’s time to make an appointment with your veterinarian. Treatment and medication can help relieve your cat’s symptoms.
The Cat is Sick
Cats usually only howl loudly when they are in pain. If your cat has no other reason to howl but does it frequently, you should talk to your veterinarian.
Excessive howling is a sign of kidney disease or hyperthyroidism in cats. The howling often continues during the day or gets worse when your cat tries to use its litter box.
How Can I Prevent My Cat from Waking Me Up at Night?
You have two options if you are at your wit’s end because your cat won’t let you sleep. You can teach the cat to quiet down at night, or you can try to force it to let you sleep.
How Do I Make My Cat Sleep Through the Night?
Most cats do not naturally sleep through the night. However, like all living things, they will sleep when tired. You can encourage your cat to nap at night.
Let the Cat Hunt During the Day
Cats are most active at night because that’s prime hunting time. If you keep your cat more active and focused during the day, he will have less energy after dark.
Play with your cat 2-3 times daily, for about 30 minutes each time. You can also do this 5-6 times daily in smaller 10-minute intervals.
Your cat will still wake up and explore, but only to a limited extent.
She will also be less likely to bother you if she feels her social needs have been met during the day.
Let Her Eat Just Before Bedtime
Instead of feeding your cat several hours before bedtime, give her a meal just before you turn out the lights.
In the wild, cats go hunting and expend a lot of energy in the process. Once they catch their prey, they eat and then preen themselves.
Then they fall asleep because they are tired and have a full belly.
Although your cat doesn’t expend much energy eating from the food bowl, the instinct remains. She will probably relax and take a nap right after the meal.
This nap will last even longer if you play together just before the meal.
For the first few nights, you may not notice any change. This is because the cat still sticks to its regular routine and has not yet adjusted.
Her body sends conflicting signals that say she is tired and wants to sleep but also that she has energy because of the night and is ready to go.
If you are consistent with this new routine, the cat will eventually get used to it.
How Do I Get My Cat to Let Me Sleep?
Maybe your cat won’t accept the new schedule. Or perhaps you don’t have the luxury of enduring sleepless nights until she does.
In either case, there are quick ways to keep your cat from waking you up at night.
Lock the Cat Out of the Bedroom at Night
If your cat doesn’t have access to you, it can’t keep you from sleeping. So, try to put the cat outside your bedroom and close the door.
This will limit the noise reaching you and keep the cat from lashing at your face.
If that’s not possible, for example, in one-bedroom apartments, you can also put the cat in the bathroom and leave it there for the night.
Ensure she has enough toys, water, food, a litter box, and other ways to occupy herself. Otherwise, she might get even more bored and frustrated.
Fortunately, bathrooms rarely have so many delicate items your cat could destroy.
Play White Noise Or Wear Earplugs
Maybe your cat behaves himself when he’s in your room, but he can still be noisy. Conversely, she may yowl so loudly that you can hear her outside your room.
In these situations, you can play white noise or soft music to keep your brain from focusing on the cat’s noise. Wearing earplugs can also block out the noise so you can rest.
Procure a Feeder
Your cat may wake you up specifically to eat. Many owners even complain that their cat refuses to let them sleep because they have a set feeding schedule.
You can remedy this by purchasing an automatic feeder. This will release food at specific times or provide a steady supply when your cat eats.
Once this basic need is met, the cat may leave you alone.
Where Should My Cat Sleep at Night?
Cats do not need specific sleeping areas to be comfortable. In fact, most cats have several places to sleep in the home.
This way, you can be sure the cat is not bothering you because it is unhappy with its bed. Even a new bed or a different location for the existing bed will not change anything.
However, to prevent the cat from bothering you, you can give it its own bedroom. This can be in the bathroom, kitchen, or some other place where you can keep the cat away from you.
Most cats prefer to sleep in a covered or secluded area, near a heat source, or high up on the floor.
The cat is less likely to complain about being evicted from your bedroom if such a place is available.
Summary: Why Won’t My Cat Let Me Sleep?
Cats won’t let you sleep at night because they are too active during this time. Whether they’re complaining about an illness, calling for a mate, or just bored, they want you to solve the problem.
You can get the rest you need by ensuring their needs are met and possibly locking them out of your bedroom.