Hello, Cat Enthusiasts!
Today we are going to find out how to train a cat to sleep at night.
Make Sure Your Cat Is Healthy
Although nighttime activities are natural and normal for the majority of cats, some cats may have difficulty sleeping due to illness. Also, cats who experience emotional distress might have a sleep disorder. It’s important to rule out any health problems before you start training your cat.
Sudden changes in nighttime routine, restlessness, unusual vocalization during the night, weight loss or other symptoms may indicate hidden problem. Observe your cat’s behaviour and if you have any concerns or doubts, contact your veterinarian.
Organize Entertainment for Your Cat
Many cats get overactive and seek attention at night because they feel bored and lonely while their owners are at work or school, so they sleep all day. Fortunately, there are a lot of options to compensate the lack of daytime activity. Here’re some strategies to help your cat spend its energy and exercise its natural behaviours:
Create a late evening play session. Make a routine intensive play session with your cat for 10-15 minutes before the last meal. Try different types of toys: ping pong balls, feather wands, dangling toys, toys with bells. Play fetch with your cat or move the toys around and get the cat running and pouncing to tire it out. Finally, slow down and let your cat catch the toy; then feed your cat. Usually after that cats groom and go to sleep.
Provide your cat with nighttime toys if it keeps waking you up in the middle of the night. Cats often wake up several times at night to eat, drink and explore their territory. Occasionally they find different items like coins or earrings and play with them making loud noises. Nighttime toys are glowing interactive toys that provide great opportunities for quiet nighttime (or morning) entertainment.
Encourage your cat to play independently while you’re at work. Keeping the cat busy during the day won’t let it accumulate energy for midnight crazies. Offer your cat an interesting pastime with cat TV, mechanical and catnip toys or feed its active mind with a cat play mat, or food puzzles. It’s unlikely that your cat will get bored and sleep all day if it has a lot of things to do.
Deal With Hunger
Cats often get hungry at night, so they may struggle to sleep and wake their owners up for food. In nature, cats eat small meals every few hours all throughout the day. To help your cat fall asleep faster, feed it after evening playtime, just before you go to bed.
Your cat will likely wake up during the night, so consider leaving some food and treats for your cat’s late night snacks. To make the ‘night hunt’ more challenging, use puzzle feeder, food dispensing toys or hide food in multiple places. Another good option to feed the cat more naturally is to schedule 5-6 meals throughout the day using an automatic feeder.
Create a Bedtime Routine
Cats love household routines because they make life safe and predictable. Cats are observant and intelligent animals – they always know when we follow regular routines and build their own routines around ours.
Creating and sticking to a bedtime routine is the best way to let your cat know when you’re getting ready for bed. Establish a consistent bedtime and calming routines to show your cat that it’s time to wind down and go to sleep. For example, play relaxing music before bed, turn off the lights and computer, etc.
It’s also a good time to give your cat a portion of loving attention and quiet activities, such as gentle massage, brushing and grooming. If your cat doesn’t appreciate these, remember that most cats enjoy just being around their parents – talk to your cat softly and share calming vibes while performing your usual activities.
Give Your Cat Some Time
Now the most painful part. Once you establish new rules and routines for your cat, you should stop rewarding unwanted behaviour. The only way is to completely ignore its usual nighttime demands. Don’t get up to feed your cat. Don’t talk to your cat. Pretend to be asleep like nothing is going on.
Cats need some time (typically 10-14 days) to break old habits and adjust to new regimen. It won’t be easy for both your cat and your family, so get ready for the battle of wills and sleepless nights during this time. Just stand your ground and don’t react!
Sometimes cat parents don’t realize they cause or even encourage unacceptable behaviours of their cats. Here’re some recommendations on how to avoid few common mistakes of cat owners:
1. Don’t restrict your cat’s territory only during the night. Cats are territorial by nature, often they wake up multiple times at night to explore the house and if they can’t access the areas that they usually can enter freely (e.g., the bedroom), they might think something is wrong and spend hours scratching and yowling at the door. So, if you don’t want your cat in certain rooms at night, keep the doors closed for it all the time.
2. Don’t punish your cat. Cats associate punishment only with the person, not with their actions, so it can’t be used to solve any behavioral problems.
3. Don’t feed your cat first thing in the morning so it doesn’t associate you getting out of bed with getting a portion of food.
Retraining the cat might feel difficult, even hopeless sometimes. It is indeed not easy to convince your cat to change its sleep schedule – it requires much time, patience and willingness to change your own habits as well.
However, most cats can be successfully trained to sleep at night (or at least to be quiet and self-sufficient during the night). Utilize the power of routines, use positive reinforcement rather than punishment, be consistent – and your efforts will be rewarded with better sleep and a much happier cat.
If you have something to add or wish to share your own strategy, please leave a comment.
Thank You For Reading!