Being woken up in the middle of the night by your cat can be an all too common experience. While some may think it's all in a day's work being a cat parent, there may be other reasons why they're pestering you with excessive meowing and face pawing. Let's investigate!
Have you ever wondered why your cat likes to wake you up at night? Let's take a look at some of the reasons and how you might be able to change them.
Why does my cat wake me up at night?
People with cats know that the sleep cycles of their fur friends are not the same as theirs. Of course, there will always be individual variations between animals, just like with humans. The truth is, most cats are most active at dawn and dusk. Trouble is, this also includes in the middle of the night!
Scientists believe this behaviour stems from cats' ancestors, when wild felines were most active while their predators were less likely to be so. These times of day are also when many rodents come out of hiding to feed themselves.
Despite cats having access to the most of the necessary resources in a domestic environment, they still tend to conform to this kind of sleep pattern. They may also not be as generally active as they would be in the wild and therefore have energy to burn.
Cats communicate their needs by meowing
It turns out that cats predominantly only meow at humans. True, they might emit a meow-like sound during an altercation with another feline, but the classic meow is their means of communicating with us.
Experts believe that cats attempt to express their physical or emotional needs to us by meowing and rubbing themselves against us. However, it is not known whether cats trained us to understand this behaviour, or rather they adapted their behaviour so that we might understand them.
Sometimes, your cat will genuinely be hungry when they wake you. This will usually happen around the same time each morning (anywhere between about 5am and 7am). However, if your cat is adequately fed per directions for their age, weight, breed and lifestyle, it is important not to feed them if they wake you during the night. Responding to this behaviour can quickly lead to a learned habit. This in turn can result in unhealthy weight gain and behavioural troubles for you both.
As we've mentioned, we give cats most of the necessities to lead a healthy life. But even despite all this, they can often remain less active than their ancestors.
Your cat may wake you simply because they are bored or because they didn't expend their energy during the day. Where you can, providing adequate toys, regular human interaction and activities, will help to ensure they are being kept entertained and stimulated.
For indoor cats, you will be the primary source of interest for your cat. There may be some days where you don't have time to play with them, which means you may just have to accept being woken up!
What can you do?
If regular nighttime interruptions occur many times during the night, it could be worth investigating if there are any underlying health problems. Sometimes, these can be confused with a behavioural problem. If in doubt, talk to your vet.
It may be useful to get more toys for your cat so that they can distract themselves during the day. You can use your creativity to make a catnip mouse or ball in fabric, for example. Puzzle toys are also a popular choice!
Simply put - we recommend playing with your cat as often as you can. Furthermore, ignore their meows during the night as much as possible so as not to encourage this type of behaviour. It may take a few restless nights, which isn't ideal, however it all comes part of the deal of being responsible for another living creature.
If your cat does meow at you, don't get up, talk to your cat or look at them. After a few nights, perhaps a couple of weeks of being strong, you should notice this behaviour begin to wear off. Stay strong!