Hi stranger! Signing up for MypetMD is easy, free and puts the most relevant content at your fingertips.

Get Instant Access To

  • 24/7 alerts for pet-related recalls

  • Your own library of articles, blogs, and favorite pet names

  • Tools designed to keep your pets happy and healthy

or Connect with Facebook

By joining petMD, you agree to the Privacy Policy.

Cat Interfering With Your Sleep?

How to Deal With Your Cat Waking You at Night


Owning a cat is a fantastic and rewarding experience. And in the end, they become more like our children than mere pets. Unfortunately, just like young children, they can keep us awake at night for various reasons. This lack of sleep often wreaks havoc on our lives, especially for those of us who have to get up early for work.


So, why do cats keep you up at night? And what can you do about it?


Melanie, for instance, has had cats all her life. But her new kitty, Iggy, has been leaving her exhausted at work. "He thinks it’s playtime when I am trying to get to bed. And everything is a toy, even my fingers and feet. I don’t know what to do!"


If this sounds familiar, don’t start weeping. As Melanie discovered, the answer was pretty simple. She sets aside between 30 minutes to an hour for kitty playtime. Laser lights, colorful string, toy mice, whatever gets the cat worked up. Of course, as she says, "You need to be part of the play. Sometimes I run around the house with Iggy chasing me, and it works beautifully -- for both of us. At bedtime we’re both extremely tired and sleep like logs."


John had a similar problem. His cat, Shadow, would always "run around like a mad thing at the most inopportune time -- from 3 to 6 o'clock in the morning. And not just running and leaping about, but yowling." It was driving John crazy.


His solution? "Playing with Shadow helped, a little. But after I got him neutered he calmed down. My vet said it helps tomcats calm down, and it worked." It helps by stopping those irksome I-want-to go-on-the-prowl-and-meet-a-lady-cat hormones. The other bonus: your cat won’t start spraying in the house. And what about queens (also known as female cats)? It helps them, too. No unwanted kittens and no going into heat. Perfect.


Erin had a slightly different problem with her cat, Charlie. "Working long hours meant when I got home, sometimes late at night, all I wanted to do was collapse in bed. But Charlie wasn’t having any of it. He’d not only run about, jump on me and wake me, but would also be very vocal. I don't think I had a good night's sleep for a month."


Erin tried playing with Charlie; she even tried feeding him catnip. Finally she came to a realization. "He was bored all day by himself. So I got another cat. I did worry they wouldn’t get along, so I waited until I had a week’s vacation. Now, Charlie and Bella are best buds and when I get home, we play and then go to sleep."


James had this to say about his cat. "Tigra was fine when we went to bed; she liked to curl up next to me. But when she’d decide to wake up and play, she was looking for a play buddy. She’d run around the room, even nipping my arm lightly to get my attention. My solution was simple: she got locked out of the room."


How did that work? Well, his solution takes time, patience and determination. "She would cry and scratch at the door, but I wouldn’t give in. Eventually she would do it less and less, and now, she hardly does it at all."


James says it took him almost two weeks, lots of valerian and ear plugs to make it through, but it worked. Now he gets to have Tigra with him and a decent night’s sleep.


Then there's Vanessa. Her cat would always wake her at 5 o'clock in the morning; something she found was giving her dark circles under the eyes and making her less efficient at work. "Max always woke me wanting to be fed," Vanessa said. "So I simply started making sure he got his evening meal around 10 p.m., rather than at 6, as I had always done. Now I’m able to rest at night, and Max is no longer begging for food at some ungodly hour."


So if your cat is keeping you up at night, take heart from these stories. It might take a little trial and error, but you should be able to find the right solution to combat your cat’s behavior. Whether it’s play, a change in dinnertime, a companion, training or even a little catnip, we know your answer is there, just around the proverbial corner.



Why Do Cats Sleep So Much?

Training Your Fearful Cat

Cat Behavior 101


Image: Debs / via Flickr

Comments  2

Leave Comment
  • Cat Wakes Me Up
    07/25/2016 11:51am

    I have a cat who is about 2 years old. We've had him for about one year. He always seems to be very hyper at night while I'm trying to sleep. Especially now that I have a new job and really need to get lots of rest at night. He did this when we first got him and I had a different job then.

    I've played with him at night before going to bed, that doesn't help. I have another cat but he's 10 and not as playful. And he sleeps all night long. The younger one picks on him a lot. We live in an apartment and can't have more than 2 cats. Our 10 year old is so sweet and he's really great with my almost 14 year old son. And our younger cat also likes to holler a lot while we are trying to sleep. I can't close my bedroom door, which I've tried, because he not only holler a lot but he also scratches at the door and tears up the carpet.

    Every little thing is a toy for him all night long and he also gets in my bedroom window and I guess he sees bugs out there flying around and birds. He often scratches on my window as well while I'm trying to sleep.

    He loves sharpening his claws on my mattress, even though he has 3 different things that are meant for him to scratch his claws on. He will use them some, but he uses my mattress the most. He chews through cell phone cords and iPad cords, he licks the trash bags that are in the trash cans, he licks the shower curtain, he eats toilet paper and several other strange things. I let him eat before I try to go to sleep and I close the bathroom door to prevent him from doing annoying things in there and I put a tall laundry bucket in front of the door to keep him from scratching under the door, trying to get in.

    I'm an extremely light sleeper and it's extremely frustrating and I am very cranky because of the lack of sleep. I plan on buying some ear plugs soon. I'd just like to know if there are other things that I can do to get my cat to sleep at night and let me sleep. I've tried using a water bottle, yelling at him and scolding him and sometimes even swatting him. Nothing works. He will race under my bed when I get up and when I lay back down, he's out and extremely hyper again. None of it really phases him at all. Any suggestions?

  • 09/26/2016 03:17pm

    Shut your bedroom door, put your vacuum cleaner by your bedroom door, plug in your vacuum cleaner in your bedroom. Whenever the cat scratches turn it on inside your bedroom. Also try spraying lavender or citrus scent around your bedroom door. Use ear plugs, ignore your cats drama. Keep your cat up as much as you can during day. Feed before you sleep. If you think this is animal cruelty, then sorry, I can't help you.

Sign up for the Cat Care Journal

Monthly expert tips and stage-by-stage advice to help care for your cat.

By subscribing you agree to receive special offers from Pet360 Inc and Church & Dwight Co., Inc., the makers of ARM & HAMMERTM.

Cat Care Questions
Answered By

Q. Why do kittens meow?

A. The truth of the matter is there isn't one clear answer. However, many experts agree...

Read More
Q. Why do kittens purr?

A. A kitten's purr is another complex emotional signal that is designed to communicate...

Read More
Q. Should I speak to my kitten?

A. Yes, by all means, please do. The happiest kittens are those that feel like part...

Read More
View All the Questions

Featured Breed



Featuring Graphite
The Abyssinian belongs to the ticked or agouti breed, both terms used for the cat's type of fur. Its distinctive feature is its silky, multicolored coat, which is a combination...