why does my cat wake me up at 4am
Last week I showed you and asked whether you had any strange cat science questions. One brave soul, Wajiha, spoke up and said, I want to know how cats can figure out it s 6 a. m. and know it s time to wake you up. Are they smarter than we think? Can they read clocks? ВWajiha may have been asking that question sarcastically, but there are real, rational reasons why
В here are five reasons your cat wakes you up at the same time, every single day. 1. Your cat wakes you up because he is a creature of routine After sharing a home with you for even a few days, your feline friend will get to know your schedule at least as well as you do. If you wake up at a certain time to get ready for work, your cat will figure that out not because she can read a clock, but because she can read you. 2. And routine means seven days a week It takes a while for a cat to grasp the concept of weekends, so get accustomed to being rousted out of bed at the same time or within an hour of your typical workday wake-up time. The good news is that as your cat settles in, she ll start to understand that you sleep later on your days off and will adapt to that schedule. These regularly occurring late-sleep days become another routine. 3. Your cat can tell when you re waking up Humans sleep cycle consists of five stages, ranging in depth from barely napping to so deeply asleep it would be hard to rouse you even in an emergency. Through each stage of sleep, your respiration, heartbeat, and activity levels change, and you go through four or five of these cycles a night.
Once you re at a light enough stage of sleep to respond to your cat s kind attentions, she ll be right over to help you start your day. 4. Your cat feels hungry in the morning, too I don t know about you, but when I get up in the morning I m ravenous. The same is true of your cat, especially if you feed her just after you get out of bed. If your cat is hungry and you re starting to wake up, kitty will be happy to help motivate you to get going. 5. Your cat is most active when you re about to wake up Cats are crepuscular creatures, which is a fancy way of saying that they re most active at dawn and dusk. Their vision is best adapted for the light levels of these in between times, so that s when they do their hunting, playing, and socializing. Keep in mind that a cat who helps you to wake up when you re getting ready to wake up is not the same as a cat who wakes you up at 4 a. m. begging for attention or food. If you ve got a midnight wailer, Catster behaviorist Marilyn Krieger has. Do you have a cat who helps you wake up? If you work nights or odd shifts, how does your cat deal with that? Finally, do you have any more weird cat science questions? Please share in the comments! About JaneA Kelley: Punk-rock cat mom, science nerd, animal shelter volunteer, and all-around geek with a passion for bad puns, intelligent conversation, and role-play adventure games. She gratefully and gracefully accepts her status as chief cat slave for her family of feline bloggers, who have been writing their cat advice column, since 2003.
JaneA dreams of making a great living out of her love for cats. More on cats and sleep: Alarm Clock. Do Your Wake You Up? When was the last time you got a good night s sleep? If your cat won t let you sleep or your cat isВ constantly waking you up at night,В here are six things that might be causing that kittyВ wake up call: Note that this article addresses repeat offenders. If your typically quiet cat suddenly pounces or meows relentlessly one night, investigate: She could be ill, or warning you of a problem. 1. Your cat is waking you up because he or she is sick Some medical conditions inhibit a good night s sleep. Even a mild ailment such as a toothache can make a feline restless. Be particularly suspicious if this is a new behavior, especially in an older cat, warns Cindi Cox, DVM at the MSPCA-Angell adoption center in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. Some of the more common culprits for sudden onsets of yowling are arthritis, hyperthyroidism, and high blood pressure, all of which can be diagnosed and treated by a veterinarian. Start with a call to your vet if your cat is repeatedly exhibiting unusual behavior at night. Getting her on the road to recovery may mean you ll both be sleeping soundly again. 2. Your cat is bored at night If your cat is alone a lot, she s probably resting during the day, leaving her energized to play all night. Look into ways to amuse her while you re out. Toys, window perches, and innovative feeding methods, such as foraging toys or hiding small amounts of food throughout the house, can help, says Cox.
Interactive play with her human family is also important. Get her moving around with a laser toy, dangle a wand while you watch TV, or toss a ball around before you leave for work. Keep her toys fresh by rotating them or bringing home something new. Tucker her out for the day with a longer playtime in the evening, at least an hour before lights out so she has time to unwind. 3. Your cat learned some bad sleeping habits Perhaps when she was a kitten or a new cat, you responded to her wake-up calls by giving a cuddle or freshening her water. Unfortunately, you taught her that you re receptive to midnight visitors. Habits can be reversed, so even if you got off on the wrong foot, you can reclaim your evening. Next time she pounces at an unacceptable hour, roll over and stay put. After several nights of your boring reaction, she ll lose interest. 4. You feed your cat immediately afterВ you wake up Do you sleepily dish up the cat food mere minutes after rising? If so, she may be waking you to invoke the feeding process. Go about your morning activities for a while before feeding or lavishing attention on the cat, suggests Cox. Fend off her hunger by giving her a healthy snack before bedtime, such as a high-protein treat. Or ask your vet about dividing her daily food into smaller meals, spread throughout the day, to help her feel more satisfied. If your cat is finicky for fresh water, indulge her with a self-filling water dispenser. 5. Your cat likes your night light What s dark to the human eye isn t so dark to the feline.
Cats see better in the dark due to having more light-sensitive receptors in their eyes, and small amounts of light may be quite disruptive, Cox explains. If you leave a nightlight on, sleep with the TV flickering, or have streetlights shining into your room, that may be just the right light for fun. Minimize light in the sleeping area or try room-darkening blinds to discourage activity. On the other hand, if your cat is a senior citizen, her failing vision may be making it difficult to see at all, causing her restlessness. A soft light can help. Adjust your lighting, giving each change about a week to take effect, to see what works best for your situation. 6. Your cat isВ waking you up for attention Just like children, some cats will act up for attention even if that attention is you grumpily telling her to get lost. Any attention, even negative, could paradoxically reinforce [the cat s] attention seeking behavior, says Cox. In addition to perpetuating the problem, your harsh reaction can be damaging to her trust in you, and in humans in general. Tough as it may be, keep quiet during her escapades. She s more likely to learn a lesson from your silence than from your annoyed antics. No one likes to be roused from sleep. Assess the situation to discover the problem. With a few corrective measures, you ll both be on the same sleep schedule. Does your cat wake you up at night? How did you deal with the problem? Let us know in the comments! Thumbnail: Photography by Shutterstock.
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