Why is my cat awake at night?
Cats are naturally more active during dawn and dusk - kittens and young cats in particular. If you look at the behaviour of cats in the wild, such as the African wildcat which shares ancestry with our pet cats, they are crepuscular - meaning they're more active during dawn and dusk. A prime time to hunt for rodents and other small prey, it's no surprise that cats spend most of their time roaming around at night.
Why does my cat wake me up in the morning?
Most cat owners will be familiar with their cat trying to wake them up in the early hours of the morning - either by miaowing or pawing at their face!
While this behaviour can be annoying and endearing in equal measures, this is usually a normal part of being a cat. While cats have adapted over time to fit in with the waking patterns of humans, many will still be easily woken at the first sight of a sunrise.
If you're concerned about the four-legged furry alarm clock in your house, there are a few things you can do
- Rule out any medical issues. Some medical conditions cause cats to wake up in the night, cry excessively or feel restless and disorientated. Try not to tell your cat off for waking you up at night
- they could be trying to tell you that they're unwell - Finding out your cat's motivation to wake you up could be helpful. Are they waking because they're hungry? Try feeding them smaller and more regular meals during the day to stave off hunger, or install an automatic feeder to open during the night or early morning
- Provide your cat with plenty of play during the day to use up their excess energy. A fishing rod toy should do the trick!
Of course, if you're really struggling for sleep, visit your vet to get a referral to a qualified behaviourist to identify the underlying reason for your cat's night-time waking. Visit the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors (www.apbc.org.uk) for more advice.
Should I keep my cat in at night
Cats Protection recommends that you keep your cat in at night to keep them safe. Increased risks during night time include:
- Road traffic injuries and fatalities
With some studies suggesting that more road traffic injuries happen late at night, it is wise to keep your cat indoors. It isn't just busy roads that cats can be killed and injured on either, but also quiet, country roads that can catch cats off-guard. A light-reflective collar may help them be seen but collars themselves are not without risk. To ensure the collar is properly fitted, two fingers should fit snugly between the collar and the cat's neck. Make sure it has a quick-release fitting to prevent injury.
- Risk of harm from animals and humans
Cats can be injured through contact with other animals or even by humans, which is more likely to happen at night. Cats are also more inclined to fight during the night time, particularly when stumbling across each other's territories. Avoid injury by keeping your cat safe indoors.
How can I keep my cat entertained indoors?
If your cat is used to being active at night, they can easily become restless and stressed when kept indoors. You'll need to provide plenty of things to keep them occupied - from toys or climbing frames to puzzle feeders. Make sure you also provide a clean litter tray and fresh water (kept far apart from each other) to use at night.
As cats are natural hunters, ensuring they have mental stimulation is important in ensuring they don't feel frustrated. You'll find a number of cat toys in pet shops designed for this purpose, or your can choose to make your own. Ping pong balls and empty egg boxes make great play things for energetic kitties.
It's no surprise that cats love to climb and hide inside things too, so providing a place up high as well as climbing frames and boxes are a welcome treat. Make sure your cat has access to a scratching post too, in case they take a liking to your sofa!