The early morning wake up call is a common experience for many indoor cat owners, so find out why and how to stop your cat waking you up early.
Our rescue cat Alfie has always been a mischievous chap, but even from a young age he’s always woken us up at around 4am (sometimes even earlier) every morning for his breakfast, no matter how late we feed him.
We decided to look into the root cause of this behaviour and see if there was anything we could do about it. This brought us to the excellent article by WebMD which covers the issue extensively:
You can prevent nighttime activity in kittens if you understand that kittens go all out, then crash. “With kittens,” Johnson-Bennett says, “it’s bursts of energy. They go 90 miles per hour, and then they fall asleep.”
Johnson-Bennett suggests creating a routine based on a “cycle of four,” in which kittens get everything they need before bedtime:
Hunt: Let the cats pretend to hunt by playing with interactive toys.
Feast: Let the cats eat the final portion of their meal, either in a bowl or from an activity feeder.
Groom: Grooming helps the cats unwind
Sleep: At the end of the routine when it’s bedtime, the cats fall into a nice slumber.
You might also consider crate training, a mainstay of puppy training that Terri A. Derr, DVM, recommends for kittens as well. Crates can prevent mischief and help kittens learn that nighttime is quiet time.
We started to put the above principles into action, beginning with dedicating 30 minutes every evening to playing with Alfie, letting him chase and hunt with the help of toys and laser pens.
Once he was worn out and had finished hunting, we then fed him his favourite meal of wet food topped with a sprinkle of biscuits and some added water.
Finally after letting his dinner go down, we popped him on his favourite evening sleeping spot, our bean bag cube in the corner of the room. We then spent around 10 minutes grooming him with a soft brush, something he’s not always a fan of. Having been exercised and fed though, we found he was far more tolerant to being groomed (and this also helped us catch his lose hairs before they found their way onto the carpet).
By changing our routine slightly to allow us a more structured time to play, feed and groom our cat, we were amazed to find how quickly this established routine helped him sleep through the night, cutting down dramatically on our 4am wake ups!
Is your cat waking you up early? Let us know is the above steps worked in the comments. Whilst actively playing with your cat can’t be topped, we’ve listed a few of our favourite interactive cat toys below: