Help! My cat won't stop waking me up stupid EARLY

Cat o'clock
By: cloudzilla – CC BY 2.0
I have had my cat, Maya, for five years, and I love her to pieces… 23 hours a day. That other hour, though, I want to chuck her across my bedroom and accompany her flight with a loud string of expletives.

She used to wake me up around six for breakfast (read: she would meow, then sit on me and meow, then sit on my head and meow, then start biting my hair — I'm a heavy sleeper) which was fine, because that was about when I would wake up anyway. But now she starts at 5, or 3, or 1 effing 30 in the morning, picking at whatever might be lying around, and singing the song of her people.

I can't stand it anymore.

Right now when she starts up, I jump out of bed and give her a smidge of food (she's always been on a breakfast/dinner feeding schedule), then she gets less at actual breakfast time (so I guess now she's on breakfast/dinner/early morning snack). But I would love, LOVE, to not have us all awake in the wee hours of the morning every single frickin' day.

So, Homies, any suggestions? -ems

We've talked getting a cat to stop yowling if you can't let it out, but what about when your cat is a super-annoying early riser?

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  1. I hear ya! The only reason I am awake right now is because my jackass of a cat decided to wake us up at 3am. If it weren't below zero I would lock him upstairs where he can't bother us.

    2 agree
    • ADOPTED MY CAT 3 YEARS AGO , SHE IS 5 NOW. SHE CANNOT EAT NORMAL MEALS, EATS TOO FAST VOMITS, SO I FEED HER EVERY 3 HOURS FROM 5 AM TO 9 PM. BUT ALL OF A SUDDEN SHE WAKES ME 11PM,3 AM, 5AM ,8AM, 11AM, THEN SHE SLEEPS FOR 3 HOURS . I AM 70 AND LOVE HER CAUSE SHE HAS PROBS EATING. SHE CANNOT DIGEST DRY FOOD AND VOMITS, BUT I CANNOT SLEEP AND DONT WANT TO BE MEAN SO I GET UP. THOUGHT OF STAYING UP NIGHTS AND SLEEPING DAYS. VET CHECKED HER OUT AND SHE IS FINE. HELP!

      4 agree
    • I TALKED TO VET BOUT HER, BLOOD TESTED AND ALL THEY FOUND WAS LITTLE ELEVATED LIVER COUNT. CAT GETS LOTS OF ATTENTION AND PLAYS. I LOVE HER DEARLY BUT I NEED SLEEP. I GOT SLOW FEEDING BOWL BUT ITS PAIN IN THE HOUSE TO GET FOOD INOTO IT. I WILL LOOK FOR A FEEDER AND IF ITS TIMED IT MIGHT WORK. LAST EASTER SHE STOLE A SLICE OF HAM WHEN I WAS NOT THERE, ATE IT AND VOMITED ALL OF IT, LOL. I SAID WAS IT GOOD GOING DOWN..NEVER HAD A CAT WITH EATING PROB. SHE IS ON HILLS PRESCRIPTION DIET AND I AM AT MY WITS END.

      2 agree
  2. If it's the food she wants you could look into getting some type of controlled feeder. You can buy ones with timers that allow access to a bowl of food (filled by you in advance, so you decide what and how much she eats) at a pre-set time. There are also others which are activated by the cat, but they have to work for the food (usually pushing a toy around or pressing a lever, something like that) and it only dispenses a bit at a time, which both keeps them occupied and ensures they don't just eat the lot in one go.

    If she's actually just looking for attention and waking you up for breakfast is a convenient excuse it may be a harder problem to solve.

    31 agree
    • My cat has free access to dry food (which is what would go in the toys/feeders) and he still wakes me up every morning between 3:30 and 5:30 for wet food.

      6 agree
      • There are feeders for wet food also – we have one, it comes with a small ice pack and works just fine (as long as it's not super hot outside).

        4 agree
  3. not gonna lie my cats crate like dogs as needed generally whichever one wakes me up first at 3am. Luckily they both will sleep in the dog crate willingly so it works obviously the dog is not in the crate At the time. Would love to hear if anyone has a miracle cure.

    4 agree
    • We crate our youngest cat. He'll be four but he's never gotten out of the kitten stage. The only way we can get him to settle down (or stop attacking our other cat, or not running outside when the door is open, or eating every piece of paper in his presence or….) is to put him in the crate.

      Nothing deters him. Not a spray bottle of water. Not a loud noise. Not compressed air. One night I doused him with water and he was still messing around on my bedside table soaking wet.

      Our other cat is super zen. She's basically Buddha. And he's the complete opposite.

      Get a crate. It'll save your sanity.

      3 agree
      • We actually crate one of our cats at night too. We put water in there and a tiny litter box, and some nice blankets, and she chills out and is awesome about it. We do it purely because she'll attack one of our other cats to the point where the poor thing pees/poops herself, and this way everyone is happy. It's only for at night, and the bully cat seems to honestly be happier about it too.

        2 agree
      • I may need to do this….We recently adopted a 1 year old cat to be a wrestling companion for our 4 year old cat. Both are very playful and love to wrestle, but sometimes the new cat plays a LITTLE too rough and causes some screeching. I give them calming treats before bedtime, but I still end up having to put him into a separate room….and unfortunately our only "good" time-out room has a day bed and a leather chair that he loves to claw on when he's in time out. Grrrr….

        When you started crating your cat at night, what was your technique for getting your cat OK with it?

        2 agree
        • I know you asked Wendi, but I thought I would respond too. πŸ™‚

          We put a tiny litter box in the crate (because she peed in the crate no matter what) and a bed with her scent on it already in the opposite corner. Definitely also provide a small bowl of water (small enough that if she knocks it over being upset at being crated at first it's not a problem).

          Then we would throw treats onto her bed in the way back of the crate before trying to put her in. She would usually smell them and go right in to eat them. She also associated the crate with good things like treats! Definitely do not give in if the cat meows consistently to get out; wait until she's calm to let her out, always, unless she only gets up when you come in to check on her.

          Finally, make sure to give them a lot of attention when they're not in the crate. My cat used to sleep with me for half the night (before going off to attack all the other cats), so she was pretty upset that she'd lost that time with me. Definitely give them enough attention to make them okay with their alone-time in the crate.

          1 agrees
  4. This is my life too! But with two cats! We recently-ish (sometime in December) switched then to a wet food diet and since then they have been much more annoying at night. Could just be correlation.

    My parents' cats are indoor-outdoor so we usually would just let them out in the middle of the night. I haven't found anything as easy with my indoor cats.

    1 agrees
  5. She has you trained pretty well! πŸ™‚

    I would stop giving her anything when she wakes you up that way, because I think that she has learned that all she has to do for a snack is turn into a royal pain. When she starts up, shut her out of the room, and set an alarm so you can feed her on your schedule. It may be annoying at first (especially if she does what my cat Frank does when he gets shut out of a room), but if you're willing to put up with a week or two of initial madness, she should learn that kitty tantrums will no longer result in snacks! The alarm will also clue her in to meal time, so it may help prevent pre-meal begging.

    This worked for Frank, when we first adopted him and he would wake us up meowing at 2/3am on a daily basis. It took a couple weeks of meowing and scratching outside the door, but he adjusted and everybody is much happier for it.

    If none of that works, take her to the vet for a check-up. There could be a medical reason for her behavior.

    90 agree
    • This is a great suggestion! I would also add that if she's bugging you in the middle of the night, you probably need to exercise her a bit more. At least 20 minutes of good hard play really helps. Also, watch My Cat From Hell. It's a lifesaver.

      17 agree
      • I notice that my cat is more likely to start his steeplechase around the bed, humans, and windowsills at 4am if he isn't really tired out from playing the night before. Seriously, 5 minutes with a laser pointer while I brush my teeth and he's out for the night.

        6 agree
    • YES. My cats are trained to wait until my alarm goes off. Then they jump into my arms and demand food.

      It's a bit of a pain, because I have to set an alarm on the weekends, but they will wait patiently until the alarm goes off.

      7 agree
      • My cat used to try to wake me up for food, but I'm stubborn in the morning and after ignoring her enough times, she now prances happily into the room when she hears my alarm go off. Granted, it sounds like she is not as aggressively obnoxious in her efforts to get me to get up, but it was still a great relief when she finally viewed my alarm (which I normally snooze several times) as the cue that I will start responding to her brattiness. Good luck, OP!

        2 agree
    • I second this. My cat will even let me sleep in on weekends because she knows it's useless to bug me until my alarm goes off. Bonus…once my alarm does go off, she's the most annoying thing ever, which helps me not to press snooze 20 times.

      Just to warn you, though, it will probably get worse before it gets better. When cats learn that being an annoying ass gets them what they want, they are going to up the asshole factor when that thing isn't working anymore. "Maybe if I scratch at the door AND yowl for an extra five minutes, that will be the magic ticket!" You just have to stay firm for a week or two, and eventually cat will get the message that it's useless to bug you before your alarm goes off/you open the door in the morning. It's just going to take a few weeks of boot camp to get to the other side.

      20 agree
    • My cat does the same thing, and it has been especially difficult to get him to stop because he is now on a variable feeding schedule. I'm still in university, which means my schedule (and therefore Wheatley's) is a little bit wonky on a day to day basis. The schedule used to be perfect: up at six for kitty and human breakfast, then dinner at six that night. No whining, just lots of excitement when he knew it was feeding time. Now my schedule is a bit different with school, work, and transit times so sometimes he gets fed half an hour or an hour later than usual. Variable schedules are notoriously difficult to get rid of (there should be some videos on Youtube about Skinner and pigeons, if you're interested), so I hope you have a more regular schedule.

      If your schedule is more stable than mine, you should be able to combat this more easily. Pick a time and stick to it, and don't cave in to whining — no matter how loud and obnoxious kitty may get. If you can, try not to give them any attention at all when they start their meowing because that will only reinforce the behaviour. I've taken to locking my cat outside of my room at night and only opening the door to feed him at six and to let him in to watch the sunrise at my window, and it mostly helps. (I say mostly because if my partner is over, all Wheatley wants to do is have the opportunity to cuddle him, which complicates things further. Sigh).

      2 agree
    • I did this with my cats at home. They decided that 5a was an awesome time to wake me up on the weekend just 'cause they were bored. I ignored them hard until I was ready to get up. It takes a bit of time, but they did adjust and we're all happier for it.

      You're going to feel like the meanest pet parent in the universe for a bit, but know it's for everyone's best interest.

      Good luck!

      2 agree
  6. We have a cat that will climb onto our headboard and jump onto us in the middle of the night. Like a dick. What we have found works is to feed the cats only once a day, right before we go to bed. The dick cat only seems to pull his late night antics when we don't feed before bed, so we've just switched their feeding schedule.

    13 agree
    • Yes, I have a colleague who does this too and he swears by it. His two cats never bother him anymore.

      3 agree
      • I read this as your colleague is the one jumping from your headboard in the middle of the night. Just me?

        36 agree
    • Yup! Feed them at night, so that they hopefully go into a food coma, and don't under ANY circumstances feed them in the morning. Give them no reason to get excited in the morning. We have 6 cats now, and since we've been feeding them only at night they have not woken us up! πŸ™‚

      5 agree
    • THIS! The only thing that stopped our cat was switching to feeding once at night before bed. Then she was bloated up like a t-rex and early morning shenanigans ceased as she snoozed in late. Took nearly two weeks to achieve but totally worth it. She still gets to sing the song of her people but its at a much more respectable pre-bed time frame.

      2 agree
  7. We had this problem too. I found that NOT feeding my cat until about an hour after I get up has made things much better. That way she doesn't connect me being up with feeding her. It took a few days of not giving into her and then her driving me a bit crazy for the first part of that hour but now it's all good. Maybe give it a try. (Sometimes she still wakes me up but she wants to play. I don't even pet her and she lets me go back to sleep.)

    26 agree
  8. Agreed with Kara. We feed our cats twice a day, so we got two identical alarm clocks. We set the alarms for after we've gotten ready for the day and well before we go to bed, so that it's clear that the alarm clock is the major cue for food; not getting up, not showering, not brushing our teeth etc. Our cats are now acutely trained and sit attentively for the alarm to go off, only sometimes getting meow-y within 30 minutes before the alarm. It's actually quite fun to watch them sit and then barrel towards the kitchen once the alarm sounds. Warning: this may still make weekends difficult if you have a tendency to sleep in; either make sure to change the alarm to account for the later time you wake up, or start having a regular schedule even on the weekends. They also get super pissed with Daylight Savings. We also turn it off if we know we're going to stay out late and miss the alarm or if we're going on vacation and have a catsitter over- you can extinguish the conditioning if you consistently have the alarm go off without feeding.

    12 agree
    • Super smart. Since I switched my cat to a breakfast and dinner feeding schedule she definitely associates breakfast with me waking up. Waiting until after I'm up and about for a while and then feeding her is a great idea. This morning, VERY early, she was super annoying, crawling all over me and trying to sit on my face. When I got up I fed her immediately. I then discovered she had also knocked the toilet paper into the trash and peed on the futon. NOT COOL. Just enough pee that it was clearly a message "I'm annoyed you won't get up and feed me NOW 2 hours before normal breakfast time." Brat. I definitely need to stop associating breakfast with me waking up. The alarm is brilliant. So is the automated feeder idea someone mentioned.

      5 agree
  9. Back in September, we adopted a young cat from the SPCA. In the past week, he has decided that between 7 – 7:30 a.m., he needs to start trying to knock anything off my side table that he can reach. And if he can't reach, he jumps onto it. I always move him away from the area but that doesn't work. He has food, so I'm not sure what he wants. My friend and I talked about a squirt bottle, but it doesn't seem to bother him. I just want to sleep!

    • Try this: tire him out by playing a lot with him before dinner. Let him go crazy with a laser pointer, whatever gets him to run around a lot. Do this for a long time (it's going to stink taking that much time, but you should only have to do this for a few days, and hopefully he'll start forming better habits). Once you're finally done playing, feed him his dinner. Feed him only this once, so he gets all his food at night. He will be a bit tired out from playing and now he's sated and will likely want to clean himself and curl up for a while. If he's hungry at night, he is probably going to be much more active.

      I can't guarantee that this will help, of course, but it certainly helped for us. Our cats' schedules are now basically aligned with ours; they mostly sleep throughout the night. Also realize that your cat will get a little less crazy annoying as he gets older. πŸ™‚

      5 agree
  10. I dealt with this recently and the advice I got worked like a charm. 1. NO MORE MIDNIGHT SNACKS. If he knows you'll get up to feed him then he doesn't have a reason to stop. 2. If you haven't already, set feeding times every day. 2-3 small meals is best. This will help reset his natural rythem to match yours. 3. Give him a rousing play session before you go to bed. If you're like me and don't feel like moving after work laser pointers work great:) 4. At first he'll probably still try to get your attention at night. Ignore him. Voila! You'll be getting better sleep in a couple of weeks tops:)

    9 agree
  11. the key is not to feed her when she wakes you up. I had this happen and I thought the only way my cat would leave me alone was to feed him. Problem just got worse. A little background – he's morbidly obese. Was 30lbs when we rescued him. He's on a strict diet because he would literally eat himself to death if given the chance. So don't worry that He's starving. Anyway, It took awhile, but I stuck it out and quit feeding him every time he bothered me. He eventually realized it wasn't going to work and left me alone until my alarm went off. I was just rewarding his annoying behavior by feeding him. It's been years since he's woken me up for food.

    7 agree
  12. At 5am this morning I woke up to my cat Mini trying to get at some papers on my nightstand. At 6am I woke up to her playing with a bottle cap noisily on our concrete floors. At 7am she was doing the same thing with a chopstick, & meowing at me, despite the fact that she had food & free rein of the apartment. I threaten to turn her into a hat, but she's heard that many times before & ignores me.

    I just wanted to bitch & whine.

    19 agree
  13. Everyone's got it exactly right – for goodness' sakes, stop jumping out of bed in the middle of the night to feed your cat! Cats (and many animals) are the epitome of behavioral conditioning: if they build up an association between behavior and reward, *they will keep doing that thing*. Right now you've trained your cat to raise hell anytime you're asleep and he / she's hungry (can't remember and it's on mobile so hard to lookup OP's cat's gender). Stop getting up, lock the cat out, put on some earplugs and ignooooore until you are ready to get out of bed.

    Even the whiniest cats, when they learn that whining gets them nowhere, stop.

    12 agree
  14. My mom's cat would scratch at the door for the entire night, so she started putting him to bed in the basement. She'd feed him just before bed by putting his food in the basement and shutting the door while he was too busy eating. In the morning she feeds him again when she lets him out. He was upset for the first couple of weeks, but now he runs to the basement at bedtime and enjoys his domain for the night.

    5 agree
  15. Mine too! I would love advice. He doesn't want food! We have tried setting up automatic play things (like a robot laser thing-y and an automated mouse toy). Nothing! He seems to just want us up. I have taken to sleeping with a squirt bottle and squirting him, which works for about 15 seconds. What if it isn't food-motivated?

    1 agrees
    • Because, like a child, he wants YOU, not an automated robot. YOU need to play with your cat. Pets are not ornaments. Give him a good 20 minutes of play, every night before bed.

      3 agree
      • woah nelly. watch the assumptions there. you don't know that sarah doesn't play with her cat for an hour every night before bed, or that she thinks of her cat as an "ornament." your advice is solid, but why the assumptions and accusations? we're all just strangers on the internet.

        16 agree
  16. I agree with everyone – stop getting up to feed her when she acts like a butthead. It's just reinforcing her behavior. My cat sleeps with us, but he follows me to the bathroom when I get up to go in the middle of the night. He yowls for a little while because I think he gets confused why I'm not going downstairs yet (he's 12, so he's got a bit of old kitty brain), but when he realizes that I'm back in bed, he stops pretty quickly. He usually settles back in until the alarm goes off. Your cat may not even want feeding – she may be one of those cats that wants some pets and play time in the middle of the night. It may be a good idea to shut her out of the bedroom. You can trick her by getting up and then shutting the door behind her. Hopefully that will help get the message across that it's not cool to wake people up at some ungodly hour.

    3 agree
    • Ha, you think a simple door will get them to stop waking you up… NOT MY CATS. Oh, no. My cats first learned how to use the door handle (the handle kind, not the knob kind). So then I had to wedge the door closed. Then they learned to stick their paws under the door and pull repeatedly, essentially banging the door very loudly. Then after I began stuffing clothes under the door to prevent THAT, they started using the door as a scratching post, as well as the wall next to it, which was doing permanent damage. Oh, and they never stopped whining. (This all took place over a couple months, so you would think they would have learned that I wasn't going to give in to them!) Anyway, the only thing that worked for me was no longer feeding them in the morning. And not giving them attention in the morning, either, unless they weren't being annoying to get it. Sigh. I wish a simple door worked.

      4 agree
      • We only recently started letting our cats in our room at night, but prior to that we had the same issues with them being super irritating (and property damaging) at the door. We bought a SSSCat on Amazon. Despite the stupid name, it worked great. It's basically a motion detector that blows a hiss of compressed air to scare the cats. Now I have it set up next to the closet to keep them from opening it and rummaging through at night.

        2 agree
        • Yeah, the Ssscat things are pretty good. We use them on our counters to keep cats from breaking dishes at night. I hadn't heard of them while we were still having trouble with the door, though. Fortunately, feeding the cats at night and them getting a bit older has made it so that we can let the cats sleep with us now, and everyone is happy.

          2 agree
      • Because we had old doors, even the knob kind couldn't stop ours. They'd get their paws beneath the door and lift until the latch disengaged, then come in.

        The naughtier cat died of old age a few years back, but his sister is still around. Very elderly, and very loud. Wanders the halls at night yowling. She doesn't want attention (she's always been fairly shy) she's just scared she's been abandoned in the house alone and needs reassurance.

        • Have you had that checked by a vet? I don't want to be a Debbie downer but I had a cat that started crying at night for no reason & it turned out to be a very serious illness (she had brain cancer). She also started acting confused & walking in circles around the same time, so if any of those are happening too I would recommend a check up ASAP.

  17. I had the very same issue. Seriously, what is with the hair pulling? RUDE!

    We got this for our kitty and it's the best purchase I have made for him.
    http://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B00JIWW3VU/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o05_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    I have it set to feed tiny portions, 4 times a day. Because it always feeds at exactly the same time and is never ever late, he got used to the timing. Also, since I'm no longer the bringer of food, he stopped associating me with eating. Now if he's really hungry he will meow at the feeder in anticipation.

    This one is great because you can record a super creepy audio message to go off then it feeds. Just think of the possibilities!

    7 agree
  18. I second a lot of the things that other people have already said, but I just wanted to describe my routine:

    -Have a specific feeding ritual so the cat knows when it's time for food (ours is after loading the dishwasher at night, but the alarm and other association-based ideas above are great.) My cat regulates how much he eats and never completely empties his bowl, but he always gets his bowl filled and a couple of dental treats added at night.
    -Make sure at some point in the day you exercise the cat. Experiment with different types of toys to see what they like. Some cats love laser pointers, but they make other cats anxious.
    -At night, have a ritual. After living in a studio with my cat, I am so thankful to have a bedroom door now, so I use it! When I'm brushing my teeth at night, the cat hides under the bed. He is waiting for me to use the laser pointer for him to chase out of the room and down the hall, and at this point I close the door. It took a week or so of him jumping at the door periodically throughout the night, but then since we didn't respond to it, he eventually stopped! Cats will respond to ANY attention, either positive or negative, so they will keep finding ways for you to pay attention to them. We also put a comfy cat bed beside the bedroom door. I imagine him thinking "Well, they aren't answering the door. Oh, look! Warm bed!"

    This is what worked for us, and I think I got a lot of it from Jackson Galaxy's show or blog. And also a bit of trial and error.
    One thing that was next on my list to try was a motion activated puff of air that you can place outside your bedroom door to dissuade the cat from jumping/scratching. We didn't end up having to use that, though.

    1 agrees
    • What did you do when you lived in a studio apartment? I just got a 3 month old kitten and live in a large studio, probably the size of many small 1-bedrooms but just that there are no doors. My kitten is great and I play with him before bed to tire him out, but I am a light sleeper in the early morning when he gets a bit more restless and starts licking my face, I have no idea what to do with him! I'm worried about losing sleep since I am a student and really need to be focused during the day.

  19. "Singing the song of her people" made me laugh. I know that song well!

    I refuse to get up and deal with the kitty when he decides it's time for breakfast because like others have said, cats are smart and they make that association with human up = food time. My bedroom doesn't have a door (it's the only room upstairs so it just goes straight up into it from the stairs), but I've put a cat tree in the bedroom next to the window and that seems to keep him pretty well entertained during the night. He's content to sit on his perch and survey his kingdom.

    3 agree
  20. I learned early on that cats are basically human toddlers for their entire lives. They need routine to thrive, and they will create that routine themselves if they have to. Having to take back control from the cat will result in kitty tantrums, but they will generally accept the new routine eventually.

    Remember, they are like toddlers. Their whole lives. Treat them as such. Remove temptation, keep a routine, and give them attention.

    7 agree
  21. I've got three kittens who wake up a half hour before my alarm, just to play. Bec. the sun's up! It's time to stir up shit! That's what they do! Not for food, just bec. they're hyperactive kittens. *sigh* The gods made them cute so we don't kill them when they're young πŸ˜‰

    8 agree
    • So this. The amount of times a day that "You're lucky you're cute" is uttered is just unbelievable.

      4 agree
  22. Automatic feeder. We had this problem with one of ours, and we now have it set to feed her both meals. Ours is programmable and for us, was worth the investment. She can paw at it and get a couple pieces out at a time on occasion, but the way the feeder works, it just shrinks the size of the next meal by that many pieces. It took a little while, but now she looks at it as the food source rather than us. Sleeping without that issue is the best!!

    Here's a link to one like ours from Target
    http://www.target.com/p/aspen-pet-electronic-programmable-feeder-cat-bleached-linen/-/A-13966367?ref=tgt_adv_XSG10001&AFID=google_pla_df&LNM=13966367&CPNG=Pets&kpid=13966367&LID=8pgs&ci_src=17588969&ci_sku=13966367&kpid=13966367&gclid=CjwKEAiAsJanBRCgnpfa0orvyz4SJAAbxEq-faR932gvggsW4P0nOAnOiii7ESDyLnYxx2sgTu1raxoCcqDw_wcB

    4 agree
    • I have the same feeder as above and it's awesome!

      I had the same annoying behavior with my cats and found that (1) giving a little treat of wet food before bed and then (2) feeding them with the automatic feeder completely solved the problem in less than a week.

      My cats now see the automatic feeder as the "food source" and not me. The one time (in two years) that the feeder jammed and the cats did not get their food, they sat in the kitchen and meowed *at* the feeder and did not even come bother me. Luckily, I heard them and got up and un-jammed the feeder but it didn't even occur to them that I could get them food.

      3 agree
  23. My husband has the cat from hell; he had her when I met him. When I would stay with him when we first started dating, I found that it was like having an infant in the house; one who wasn't in a crib and could jump on and destroy stuff. She would wake us up about every 2-3 hours. It was nuts. And he played with her all the time, and half the time would still have food in her bowl. She would do anything she could to wake us up: yowl, sit on my head ( I am allergic to her), destroy everything. It got a little better when he started feeding her just before bed and stopped picking her up when she was bad, but she still woke us up a bunch. So, when we moved in together, I said we could not let her in the bedroom. She meows a bit at night and the morning, but we can actually sleep through the nighy now; it's much better for everyone's health.

    1 agrees
  24. Can I add an additional question: My 8-y-o cat also sometimes does this (it seems to come in waves) but I live in a studio apartment, so there's no way to shut her out of my bedroom. I've looked into cat feeders, but they're expensive ($100+). She's not nearly as interested in playing as once she was, though I do try to get her tired out before bed. Ideas or suggestions? Thank you!

    • Oh, man my cat was a year or two old when I git him, and I was living in a studio at the time, so I feel your pain. I slept with a squirt bottle beside tge bed, moved all the stuff off my dressers he would try to knock over, and slept with a heavy blanket over my feet so he wouldn't attack them. The bathroom was tiny, so I just couldn't shut him in there, but hopefully yours is bigger.

  25. This really resonates with me. We have a cat who used to wait patiently until the alarm went off around 6 am and then run to the food bowl to await his breakfast. On the weekends he'd have to pester us, but of course we wanted to sleep in so we'd do our very best to ignore his meowing and face-pawing.

    This was a huge mistake. You see, he has a "food obsession," as the vet describes it, and it has driven him to find more effective ways to get us up. He now has discovered that the quickest way to get us up in the morning is to PAW AT THE BABY'S DOOR, which sometimes wakes her up. Not cool, dude. And since we are in no way willing to risk a cranky awake child, he decides to employ this tactic whenever he's hungry, so he often wakes us up at 5. Totally unacceptable in a house full of late sleepers (even the baby! Thank you, dominant genes!). Mind you, we don't feed him earlier than normal, we just get up to shoo him away, which he views as rewarding behavior.

    We've tried an automatic feeder to teach him that he doesn't need to freak out over breakfast, but his Awake Human = Food association is so strong that he chows down, then resumes his jerkish behavior because he's a moron. We've started barricading the baby's door with the laundry basket and pillows, which sometimes works, but it seems like a bad idea in case of an emergency. Commercial cat deterrents seem to be designed to keep cats away from a general area, and since our cat must walk past the forbidden door in order to get to the litter box, this is a no-go. What we REALLY want is one of those plastic floor mats with the little spiky grippies on the bottom that we can turn upside down and stick in front of the door. Not harmful, but not at all fun to step on! But we're having a hard time finding one that's not overly huge.

    Meanwhile, our other cat angelically snuggles against us in bed and is happy to be fed whenever it's convenient for us. Thank goodness.

    1 agrees
    • There's something called a scat mat that is basically a mildly electrified mat that you place on the floor and apparently they learn not to step on it very quickly. Of course, humans must also avoid it. I've never used one because I feel like it would just cause more problems at our house, but it could help to keep the cat away from the immediate area in front of the door…?

    • I mentioned the Ssscat upthread, and maaaaybe it would work for the baby door? Not knowing your setup it's hard to say, but if you put it up against the door frame and turned it so the sensor was angled toward the door, it should only go off if the cat is really close to the door, not just walking down the hallway. Of course, your baby also has to be able to sleep through the spray of air and the cat's reaction.

      Knowing your cat is going to wake you early every morning is horrible, you have my sympathies!

      • I didn't know they could be turned in different directions! I wonder if it would fit in the doorframe while the door is shut. I'll have to look into this.

  26. This has been happening with my 6 month old puppy except he wakes us up to go pee. We take him to the dog park for an hour every day and don't give him water after 7pm but he still wakes up as early as 4am. Once he's back inside he usually goes right back to sleep but once we're up we can't sleep. Any suggestions?

    • If you have an enclosed yard are you able to install a doggy door that you can unlock at night for him?

      • unfortunately we live in an apartment building so we have to take him out ourselves every time

        • This will pass. My puppy needed to go out in the middle of the night for a few weeks too but now sleeps from 10.30pm – 8.30am no problem.

          1 agrees
    • Take him out to pee. Some puppies aren't super in control of their bladders until about 12 months. And if you aren't using a crate yet, look into getting one. Our dog sleeps soooooo much more soundly after he's been put up because he knows he's "off-duty" once the door is shut.

      1 agrees
    • Take him out to pee. 6 months is still very young – many dogs are just starting to gain relative bladder control at that age, so it's very normal and typically expected for puppies to have to go out in the middle of the night, or very early. A crate DOES help (if you're not using one) – my puppy is now 9 months and has been sleeping through the night in her crate since she was probably 4 months.

    • If you're ok with him doing his business indoors, have you thought about a piddle pad or even doggy litter? Both are readily available at pet supply stores. I have two friends who routinely use piddle pads (one because the dog is old and can't always wait to be taken outside, and the other because it's just a terribly trained dog) and they work very well.

  27. As a dog person, I find this thread fascinating. My dog's morning routine is set to my work schedule, but he definitely has learned what time breakfast is. My limited understanding of cats is that they don't work quite the same way.

    I do have a somewhat related Question: What do you do when you have a neighbor cat who quite regularly yowls at 4:00 a.m. to be let in? I remember a post from a while back about neighbors who have barking dogs, but it might be awkward to approach my neighbor about their loud asshole cat.

    • Sorry, I realize I'm responding quite late and this might already be resolved – I would approach it the same way I would approach a conversation about a constantly barking dog. I'd talk to the neighbor nicely and at a time when the action wasn't happening (so maybe go over there in the afternoon or evening, not 4am when the cat is yowling). I'd start with something like "Hi, I was just wondering if it would be possible to keep your cat indoors at night, or for you to set an alarm to let her in a bit earlier? Her (his?) 4am cries to be let in are quite loud in my apartment (house?) and it's actually been waking me up every day." You might not get the response you want (ie. yes, we will do that, we didn't realize you could hear him/her) but at least that will open the conversation in a relatively pleasant way. Hopefully, the neighbor really doesn't realize the cat is such a nuisance and will be willing to make a change once the issue is brought up.

  28. Train her with the foodz. Get up when she wakes you. Spend time with her. Do not feed her. About an hour after you get up turn on alarm clock/phone alarm and feed her instantly. Repeat with evening feed. Only feed her to the sound of the alarm. In two or three days she will get it. Alarm = food. She won't wake you until the alarm goes off. You can then drop the night time alarm for feeding. I have to do this at the start of each summer as my cat begins to associate daylight (hello 4.30am) with food over winter. Only takes 2 or 3 days.

    1 agrees
  29. Just wanted to add that if you shut kitten out of the bedroom and you have issues with pawing and scratching at the door, try putting up regular aluminum foil on the bottom of the door with masking tape. I had a kitten who was not a happy camper when my partner with a cat allergy moved in and he couldn't sleep in the bed anymore without killing said partner, and that worked like a charm while he was getting used to being out of the room. He still meowed for a week or two but stopped scratching and batting at the door.

    • I've heard that many cats don't like aluminum foil and will refuse to walk on it. Unfortunately, my cats have super powers and not only don't care about walking on it, they LOVE playing with it and tearing it apart and crumpling it and batting pieces of it throughout the house. Instead of keeping them away from things, they got new ways of making noises and thought they were given toys. And yes, I did tape it down. πŸ™ Anyway, definitely worth a try, but don't be discouraged if your cats are weird like mine.

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      • Don't feel bad. I tried putting foil under our tree last holiday season and my cats didn't care either. It seemed to remind them of their crinkle toys and added to their enjoyment as they removed all the ornaments they could reach.

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  30. Having two five-month-old kittens definitely keeps us up a lot at night… and we can't shut them out of the bedroom, because then they'll just go after our expensive couch and table. Better to be able to shoo them away from the curtains, I guess. I'm hoping they'll grow out of it. Reading these comments, I'm intrigued at the prospect of getting them feeders so that they don't associate me with food. However, new question:

    What should I do about one cat being a food hog?

    My kittens are littermates. The male, Mooch, is fascinated by his sister Lea's dish and tries to eat out of it at every feeding, even when he's still got food in his. She's not as assertive and lets him. I've tried putting them in different rooms, but they don't like to be alone, so whoever's on the other side of the door scratches at the door, which distracts whichever one I'm with, and then no one eats. The only way Lea finishes her food is if I sit between them and pick Mooch up and return him to his bowl when he makes a dash for Lea's. Getting a controlled feeder sounds good in theory, but I worry that Mooch will just, well, mooch off Lea's when I'm not there to remove him. Do you have any suggestions on how to keep him at his own dish and leave Lea's alone?

  31. This is what most cat behaviorists would say: She's bored to tears and that's why she annoys you to tears. 1) Stop freefeeding; only feed in the AM and PM about an hour before bedtime. 2) Play with the kitty between PM feeding and bedtime. Cats do best with a routine like eat-play-sleep. If that doesn't alleviate things, then play with her more at other times of day, too, because you are her one true human pet afterall. You may need to incorporate things like taking her on walks (letting her walk you), or increasing the flow of your living space. (Flow =/= chi; flow = cats like to follow a path of least resistance as they roam, and if the clear and obvious path ends, then they get stuck and kinda freak out.) That's all the advice I can offer! Good luck!

  32. I don't know if I had smart cats (well one was stupid) or what, but I find all these stories about their cats waking them up funny. I have never had any past cat or current cat ever wake me up for feedings, more water, or to be let out. They would give me strange looks if I have not put food/water in their bowls when I got up. But nothing past that. But my dogs I have now currently, they are the ones that wake me up to feed them (I get up really early for work, so they get used to me letting them out at 4am, hence to say on my days off I am still expected to feed and take them out by 5am at the latest, sometimes they get the time really off and think just because I am up at 2am to go to the bathroom that means feeding time).

  33. My cat was doing this, so now I lock her out of the bedroom at night and ignore her. If she cries at night, it doesn't wake me now, and she moves on, unless I sleep in past about 8am, then she gets more aggressive in her meowing. She also does it when she hears me moving around in my room, so if I wake up and don't want to get up and feed her, I stay as still as possible. πŸ™‚

    1 agrees
  34. I used to have this problem with one of my cats especially. For him, it really did seem to be mostly a food issue. After wanting to kill him for a few weeks, I finally bought an auto feeder. Mine has five different compartments you can fill with however much food you want, your can program it to rotate at different times; just set it up and let it do its thing. Obviously this is much better suited to dry food than wet, but my cat is a general food-lover and not overly picky about what form his food comes in. It took him a few nights to figure out that this new thing was trustworthy and that it really would give him food every night, but after he caught on, him waking my hubs and me up became a very, very rare occurrence.

    Sometimes one of the cats, or my dog, will decide that it's just the perfect time to play and snuggle NOW. After a quick check to make sure they don't legitimately need something (is the dog about to have diarrhea? If yes, PLEASE DO wake me up!) and if all is well, I'll usually shut the offender out of the bedroom. This seems to reinforce the idea that waking me up any time does not equal snuggles any time. If shutting the door isn't doable for whatever reason, you might look into a crate as someone else suggested. You could even get a fancy crate with special beds, etc… your cat might even really love it!

    Obviously, I'm not saying you should be heartless, just set your boundaries to maintain a healthy relationship. If she's upset about something (a new move, your other cat died, something scary happened that day, etc) you may need to give her a little extra attention to help her through the difficulty, just like you would with a child. Right after I moved recently, about a month ago, my food-loving cat needed extra reassurances that everything was ok, and sometimes he needed them in the middle of the night. That's ok, I get it. It's normal for them to be upset by upheaval in their lives, but for most problems, it should resolve itself within a few days.

    In normal circumstances, give your kitty plenty of love and affection during normal waking hours, make sure she has enough to eat and drink, get the auto feeder set and maybe give her some extra special time with you before bed. I usually watch TV for a while before bed and it's kind of a free-for-all snuggle-fest for whoever wants to join in. Every now and then one of them will wake me up for a non-urgent reason, but it's pretty rare now that I have the auto feeder and door closing happening. Good luck!

  35. Our cat used to yowl endlessly very early in the morning, too. I agree with many others – no more snacks – you are giving her positive reinforcement for her behavior (strengthening a behavior by giving a pleasant reward). What we have found works with our cat is a remote switch hooked up to the vacuum cleaner. It's a little mean, because she hates the vacuum, but man it works. You can buy a remote switch device online or in a home improvement store for about $20. You plug the noise-maing device into an outlet near where you want to scare the cat away, turn the device on (it won't actually turn on yet, don't worry), then when you want to scare the cat you click the remote that comes with the device. Click the remote again to turn it off. We close our cats out of the bedroom at night, but I think it would work even if you didn't. Every time she cries at night, I click the remote and turn on the vacuum. She doesn't know I've done it with my remote, so it just seems like a terrible magic punishment for yowling. So, she doesn't cry anymore! The only problem is, she's way too smart for her own good, and when the vacuum isn't posted outside our door she is more likely to cry. But if we put the vacuum back in its place guarding our door, she's quiet as a mouse (even when we don't turn it on). I highly recommend it!

    P.S., remote switches are super-cool for the rest of your life, too. Never get up to turn off lights again! If they weren't a little too pricey for it, I'd have them all over the house.

  36. Thanks so much for this post! My cat has been waking me up several times a night by scratching at the mattress next to me. I know exactly why–I recently started a full-time job, and she is very upset that Mommy is no longer home all day to give her pets and cuddles. I'll try playing with her for a while before bed.

    Now, if anyone has any tips for keeping her off my keyboard, I'm all ears…

  37. Although it's effective, I can't, in good conscience, recommend my own particular method of discouraging cats from pestering you when you're asleep. But I will share it w/you anyway, in case you want to try it. Because it does work. I don't do it on purpose anyway. But if I'm startled out of sleep, I wake up fast, & mad, & I screech really loudly. I'm like, "WHAT THE F-U-U-U-H? WHAT??? WHAT??? H-E-E-E-Y!!!", They happen to totally hate when I do that, so my "goosey-ness" inadvertently keeps them from bugging me at night. Unless it's (what they think is) an emergency, like if they've befouled their drinking water by drooling specks of dry food into it.

    BTW, my 3 cats have fresh water, & dry food available at all times. They eat snacks of it whenever they feel like it. This is not a good practice for people who live w/cats who have starvation-fear-food issues, but none of my cats do.

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  38. You must NOT under any circumstances let him know that you are awake and absolutely DO NOT EVER feed them. That is what causes the problem. Think of it this way when a toddler has a tantrum – if mom gives him candy to stop crying what is going to happen next. The kid is going to scream until he gets the candy. I have 5 cats, I fostered 11 kittens in the last 4 months. I AM the crazy cat lady. The cats wake my husband up all the time and he gets so mad that they never do me – you know why because he FEEDS them….

  39. I have the same issue! I have an automatic feeder for my kitten and he still meows non-stop for hours even after his breakfast gets dispensed at 6:30 am. I have to close my bedroom door at night because my kitten will just jump on my face the whole night. He understands when I go to bed at night and doesn't meow as much but as soon as its 5:30 am or around that time he just starts meowing non-stop. I can't get any sleep!!

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