Normal cats sleep an average of 13 to 16 hours each day, usually divided into smaller naps, and they are most active at dawn and dusk, according to PetPlace.com. The stress of a new pet, a move to a new environment, or a medical condition can prevent your cat from getting the sleep it needs. If your cat keeps you up at night with constant play or meowing and seems anxious, you can try to change its behaviour so it sleeps through the night and you both get the sleep you need.
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Things you need
- Cat bed
- Hot water bottle
- Heating pad
- 2 tbsp canned cat food or freshly chopped meat
- Laser light cat toy
- Cat toys on strings or sticks
- Calming flower essence liquid
- Cat pheromone diffuser
- Thick curtains or blinds
Make a comfortable sleeping area for your cat to curl up in. Provide a comfortable cat bed with a soft blanket wrapped around a heating pad or hot water bottle. Cats like warm, soft spaces where they can sleep and feel safe. Place the sleeping area away from a window, to encourage sleep without the distraction of the outdoors.
Feed your cat a small meal before bedtime, such as 2 tablespoons of canned turkey, chicken or fish cat food or freshly cooked chopped turkey, chicken or fish. These meats contain L-tryptophan, an amino acid that encourages the production of serotonin, used to make the hormone melatonin in the cat's body and encourage sleep, according to WebMD.
Play with your cat in the evening to tire it out before you go to bed. The activity will tire out the cat and allow it to sleep during the night. Use interactive toys, such a laser light toy or a cat toy on a string or stick, to encourage your cat to run and jump.
Allow your cat to sleep in your room with you if it suffers from separation anxiety. Close the blinds to shut out the light of the day completely, and hang thick curtains on the windows to block the light to make the cat want to go to sleep. At dawn, the light encourages your cat to wake up and become active. Keeping its environment dark will allow both of you to sleep without waking early in the morning.
Put a few drops of a calming flower essence in your cat's water during the evening to calm it down. Place a cat pheromone diffuser in the room your cat sleeps in to reduce its anxiety and give it a chance to sleep. For multiple cats, make sure each one has its own bed and sleeping area, to reduce stress over shared resources in your home.
Tips and warnings
- Spay or neuter your cat to reduce nighttime activity. This also encourages it to sleep more by reducing mating behaviours and nighttime crying.
- Give your cat enough dry food during the night so that it does not wake you up to feed it. You can use a pet food feeder on a timer to open early in the morning to feed it so your cat will not cry to wake you up for its feeding.
- If the cat has serious medical conditions that prevent it from getting enough sleep, talk to your veterinarian. She might put the cat on anti-anxiety medication or have you give it a small amount of Valium before you want it to sleep.
- Take your cat to a veterinarian for a checkup if it suddenly begins to cry loudly during the night. A medical problem could be causing this behaviour.
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- The Washington Post: Helping Your Cat, and Yourself, Sleep Better; Dr. Michael Fox; Feb. 7, 2008
- Cat World: Nocturnal Cats -- How To Stop The Night Time Crazies
- PetPlace.com: Sleep Behavior of Cats; Virginia Wells
- PetPlace.com: Thwarting the Alarm Clock Cat; Dr. Nicholas Dodman
- WebMD: The Truth About Tryptophan; Lisa Zamosky
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Nighttime Activity in Cats