Do you sleep with your cat? My human has a rule that I have to sleep with her at night! But not everyone can sleep as comfortably with their cat as my human and me. Maybe your cat is restless at night, or demands a post-midnight snack, or decides that your toes make fun 3 AM cat toys.
If you want your cat to sleep peacefully with you all night, there are workarounds for most problems. If the problems have been going on for a long time, they may be hardwired and difficult to break. Whether you want to persevere and solve these problems is up to you. But no matter where you and your cat are with your bedtime arrangements, here are 5 tips to get a good night’s sleep with your cat.
- Establish a bedtime routine.
Cats thrive on routine, so creating one for bedtime makes sense. The routine most commonly used involves playtime and treats. Give your cat a good enough playtime to tire him out, then reward him with a few treats before turning in.
The important part of this routine is to make sure to tire your cat when playing with him. Don’t leave him wound up or he will be too restless to sleep. Is yours an active cat, especially a young one? You should be playing with him several times a day so he is ready to sleep at night. Cats that don’t get enough activity during the day are more likely to cause a disturbance in the late night hours.
If your cat isn’t particularly playful — say, if you have a less active senior — you can create a routine around something else. Maybe a grooming session, or just a treat or a cuddling session. The important thing is to have a routine that your cat enjoys and will look forward to.
By the way, creating a routine with your cat is good for you too! Bedtime routines help humans settle down for a night’s sleep too. And doing something with your cat keeps you away from looking at your phone or tablet — something you shouldn’t be doing before bedtime anyway.
- Have a special blanket or sleeping area for your cat on your bed.
You can prep the blanket or bed by setting it out during the day for your cat to sleep on> Then once she’s gotten her scent on it and clearly likes napping on it, move it over to the bed. If she has her own special spot on the bed, and it smells like her, she is more likely to use it.
- Keep the cat toys in another room, far away from the bedroom.
Unlike humans, if a cat wakes up in the night, he won’t lie there tossing and turning or trying to count sheep. He’ll get up and go do something. For many cats, this might involve playtime. You won’t be able to stop your cat from doing this. The best thing you can do is make it easy for you to sleep through it. Once they’ve gone off, played, and tired themselves out again, they will return to bed.
If they bring you a toy, make sure to return it to the play area the next morning. Don’t engage with your cat if he wakes you up with the toy other than to acknowledge it before turning over and going back to sleep. Don’t toss it away, or get up to take it out of the room. Your cat may mistake this as an invitation for a play session. And you don’t want to establish that kind of routine, and allow your cat to think it’s okay to wake you up in the night to play.
- Never get up to give your cat late night or early morning snacks.
The treats before bed should be the last time you give your cat any sort of food until breakfast. If your cat thinks you will get up to feed her, you will not get any peace! Your cat will establish a routine that is guaranteed to disturb your sleep every single night.
Ideally, your cat should be fed regular meals two or three times a day and not be free fed. This helps establish routines around food. If you can’t do this, or if your cat gets hungry while you’re asleep, you can try a couple of things to solve this. Consider setting up a timed feeder that releases a little food at regular intervals through the night. (Figure out how much to work in as a regular part of her daily food intake). Or you can put out a treat puzzle in the room with the other cat toys. Neither of these require your presence.
- Ignore any attention seeking behavior from your cat once lights are out.
This is more important than you may realize. If your cat does something to grab your attention, and it works, he will do it again, and again, and again. So don’t reward this type of behavior with your attention.
I will tell you a little story to show how this works. Back when Binga was young, she would claw the box springs in an effort to get attention. My human never responded to her. She just rolled over and went back to sleep. Her ex, however, would get annoyed, tell her to stop and just generally give her lots of attention. (Binga did not care that it was negative attention.) He had to get up earlier than she did, and you know what happened? The moment he was up — or on the days he was out of town — Binga never bothered my human with her box springs activity because it didn’t work on her! So let that be a lesson to you.
Have you already established the routine of getting up in the middle of the night because your cat is acting out? While it’s not impossible to change this behavior, it will take time, effort and a lot of ignoring. But if you want to sleep through the night and not have to lock your cat out of the bedroom, it is worth it.
I hope you’ve found some of these tips helpful! Let me know how you sleep with your cats in the comments below.
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