Take a peep at your cat any time during the day, and there’s a good chance you’ll catch them mid snooze. They curl up on the couch, your bed, or the random sunny spot on the floor and spend hours in dreamland. But as soon as you try to catch some z’s yourself, your cat won’t let you! Cats are notorious for causing their owners serious sleep deprivation. They sleep all day, and as soon as the sun goes down, it’s time to party.
If your cat doesn’t let you sleep through the night, you’re not alone. It’s a problem that many cat owners are forced to deal with. Here’s why.
Cats are Most Active at Dawn and Dusk
The technical word to describe the feline sleep cycle is “crepuscular.” While humans are diurnal (active during the day) and hamsters are nocturnal (active at night) crepuscular refers to all animals that are most active at dawn and dusk.
Out in the wild, those times of limited light are ideal for hunting. Even inside cats feel the natural instinct to run laps through the house whenever the sun is near the horizon. It’s based on generations of ingrained instinct that even the most pampered house kitty can’t resist.
But while no one appreciates being woken up at dawn, a crepuscular sleep cycle doesn’t explain why your cat keeps you awake ALL. NIGHT. LONG. The answer to that mystery has to do with your cat’s daily routine.
Daytime Naps Lead to Nighttime Antics
RSPCA points out that while cats are technically crepuscular animals, their sleep schedules are extremely dependent on other life factors. For example, most inside cats spend their days alone while the humans are at work or school. With nothing but an empty house to explore, it’s easy to get bored. Boredom can sometimes lead to mischief, but more often, cats choose to spend those idle hours sleeping.
By the time the humans in the family are ready for bed, the cat has an entire day’s worth of energy to use up. Sprinting down the hallway at 2 AM sounds like a great idea to a cat that spent all day asleep.
When your cat won’t let you sleep at night, it’s a combination of their natural sleep cycle and the fact they’re allowed to sleep most of the day. While you’re tucked up in bed, your cat’s energy boils over in ways that you can’t always ignore.
Desperate for playtime, a lot of cats resort to pouncing on their sleeping humans or attacking feet beneath the covers. Some cats will also waltz through the house knocking things off shelves while not caring about the noise (or mess).
What To Do About It
If you’re desperate for a full night’s sleep, there are ways to convince your cat to let you rest.
Stimulate your cat during the day
If your cat spends most of the day sleeping, it’s no wonder they’re awake all night. It’s important to at least try to keep your cat active while the sun is still up. When you’re at home, you should engage your cat in regular playtime. Twirl a feather wand around the living room or stimulate their brain with a food puzzle.
If you’re stuck at work, make sure to leave your cat with toys and puzzles. And when you get home, dedicate at least 30 minutes to kitty playtime. By using up energy during the day, there will be less mayhem at night.
Schedule vigorous playtime right before bed
While keeping your cat busy during the day will help, you’ll do your sleep schedule a favor by tiring out your cat right before you head to bed. If you know your cat has a habit of staying up late, do your best to get them good and tired before you get under the covers. Let them chase you around the house or go crazy with their favorite toy. Do whatever it takes to use up most of their energy.
Add another cat to the family
If your cat is the only feline in the family, getting them a friend could help you sleep at night. Friendly cats can keep each other company both during the day and during active nights. So when kitty feels the need to go crazy after bedtime, they can turn to the other feline in the family instead of the sleeping humans.
If all else fails, you can always keep your cat out of the bedroom. Keep your door closed or restrict your cat to a safe area of the house–preferably far away from your room. Your cat might also get better with their nighttime habits as they get older.
But no matter what, remember that cats will be cats. Putting up with the occasional mayhem at midnight is part of being a cat owner. It can be frustrating, but you can’t stay mad at that whiskered face for long!