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Where did my cat go at night, and how do I get rid of this monster?

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
My cat Wiggins is going to make me lose my mind. Every night is the same thing, he will not leave my partner or myself alone. I have really reached my limit with him and if I can’t find a strategy to deal with him he is going back to the SPCA so you are my last hope.

Wiggins is almost two years old. We have had him since he was 8 months old, first in a condo apartment and now in our townhouse. He has always been needy and wanted to be around us but we bought into the line that as he got older it would get better. Our approach at first was to keep him locked out of the bedroom, but finally had to give in and let him in after trying all the strategies suggested here to get him to stop pawing at and meowing at the door. (We found the vacuum method using a power bar to turn the vacuum on and off, the most successful for short term relief by the way. However, he would just move down the hallway and meow from a safe distance.) After he started clawing at the carpets and the side of the bed in the middle of the night he was moved to a cat room to spend his night, surrounded by his toys and a huge cat tree. It didn’t stop the meowing entirely, but at least it was far enough away that we couldn’t hear it as easily.

Enter the new house, I really thought he would be better, with lots of stairs to run up and down one would think he might tire himself out. He lost some weight, but he still has lots of energy. We tried letting him into the bedroom again, now he was older we thought he might not be so bad. However, rest assured he has not improved at all. We have tried to tolerate the late night clawing on the floor and side of the bed for attention, the pawing at the closet door, and the annoyance of having him walking on, or near our heads including opportunities for licking. But night after night of being woken up took its toll.

Finally at our wits end we thought maybe the best solution would be to get Wiggs a buddy, Alistar, to play with, possibly another cat would tire him out and would give him someone to play with at night so he wouldn’t wake us up as often. However, the negative behaviour continued. Enter the water bottle and finally locking him out of the bedroom with his 6 month old kitten buddy.

Wiggs returned to his old behaviour, about 3 am every night he is at the door. Pawing at it, meowing, and most recently he has discovered that with the lever door handles he can jump at the handle and if he hits it just right he can get the door to open. So he has started flinging himself at the door. It is driving me NUTS!!!! I have tried the Feliway plug in, all it seems to do is make my throat dry. I have tried the vacuum with him in the past, only a short term solution. I have tried the double sided tape on the door, he just paws at the wall. I have tried the squirt bottle, by the time I get up and open the door I am lucky to see his orange and white butt going around the corner downstairs. And as for tiring him out, forget it, the kitten has just given him more energy. Worst yet, the kitten has now started to mimic the negative behaviour.

So you say, put him in a cat room, yep, spare bedroom in the basement, tons of toys, litter, etc. He does a fantastic job of knocking over anything and everything and loves to try out his claws on the spare bed. I’m convinced his intention is simply to see how angry he can get me.

Tonight was the bitter end. After trying to ignore the meowing at the door and trying to convince myself that he can’t possibly be doing that much harm to the paint job with his claws on the wall, it was the repeated thundering sounds of him ramming against the door that sent me over the edge. Wiggs is now very wet and locked in the spare bedroom with the kitten. I’ve tried everything with this cat and here I sit at 4 am typing a message to a cat board rather than cuddled up in bed. I can’t put up with this anymore.

Before everyone jumps on me let’s be clear. Wiggs has been highly spoiled. He has his huge cat tree and two scratching posts, he has tons and tons and tons of cat toys which get rotated. He is not short of attention, he gets lots of treats and petting and love, during the day time. He has the run of most of the house. He gets the best cat food money can buy and has a self-cleaning litter. Short of hiring him a full time nanny I don’t know how much more a cat can ask for.

What the heck am I supposed to do with this short haired monster so we can get a good night's sleep?
post #2 of 22
I feel your pain. Karmas biggest problem was jumping in the window at 6am and every 15 minutes after untill one of us got up, well more untill I got up. She could care less if my DH was awake, I am all that matters.

The only thing that really worked was to change her sleep paterns. If its possable can you or your partner keep Wiggs up during the day. My DH works at home so he started this with Karma. Now she goes to bed when we do and gets up when we do. Other than that I don't know what to say. Hopefully someone else will come along and give you some more advice.
post #3 of 22
Have you considered changing feeding times to give him at least a snack before bed? I'm not saying it'll be magic, but it could help. Cats are nocturnal and his instinct is to go hunting (or whatever is open to him) at night, and instincts are hard to change (it's not his 'fault', and he doesn't get that you need to sleep, but wants you to join him in his prowls - even if they only extend to your bed!). A little meal might short circuit his feeling of needing to hunt for food or whatever he's missing, and you could adjust his other meals to fit in.
post #4 of 22
Thank you for giving Wiggs and Alistar a good loving home.
In my experience cats do adjust to my sleeping hours or maybe it is the other way around. I've had whiners, door rammers, wall scratchers during the early a.m hours. It's their most active time. I do not know how it happened but with only a few hisses, and "ignoring" them, they've learned to either sleep with me or occupy their time in silence.
post #5 of 22
Fergus is a door rammer too, to the point where we have to put a small dumbbell in front of the bedroom door if we want to have any privacy. Mostly, I've just given up, and given in, and I now allow him to sleep and cuddle with us.

I do feel for you. When kitties persist, they PERSIST. Perhaps your kitty has some anxiety issues about being left alone at night...there are some people on here that have put their kitties on medication for severe behavioral or emotional issues.
post #6 of 22
Thread Starter 
I am curious what time people have tried to feed their cats to minimize their evening hunts. We have been feeding Wiggs and Alistar at about 7am and 7pm. We try not to feed them any earlier, but when Wiggs gets too annoying I have a habit of getting up as early as 6am to feed them. I don't like giving in, but anything for a few extra minutes of sleep.

We have also tried to tire Wiggs out during the day by waking him up while he is sleeping, not something he approves of by the way. We have limited success with this because we both work so he can nap all day long most days. On weekends we do all our running around for life stuff and I always think he walks to the door, watches us leave, and then hops into his kitty bed or onto a near by register and naps all day, broken only by visits to the kittens food and knocking over the occasional item to give the illusion he was awake. You can rest assured that he is at the door again as soon as the garage door opener sounds ready for another round of fun.

More suggestions are welcome!
post #7 of 22
Have you tried one of those cat feeders that work on a timer? You could set it to 5am to provide a snack to keep him occupied for a few hours.

Or how about a secure outside enclosure which he has access to only at night (through a cat flap or something). Going outside to watch the critters would give him something to do.
post #8 of 22
What I have done with cats like this is first off put soft claws on them so they can scratch all they want and not do any damage. Then put them to "bed" everynight in the bathroom or basement, with the other cat and toys and food and water, and if it is the basement, the cat tree and the big stuff too.

In the basement you are less likely to hear them, they can scratch all they want and you can also play music or leave a tv on for them to drown out there meowing and to get their attention.
post #9 of 22
OMG, I had to read your post twice. Then I got my husband to come and read it. We asked "is someone making fun of us?". What you've described is almost exactly what we go through with our cat Wiggums. At least we're not alone!
I'm tempted to suggest a name change and see if that works!
Our Wiggs is over 3 years old now, and still up to his night time shenanigans.
We're pretty much in the routine now where I get up at 3am to feed him and he settles down till 6am or 7am. That's a good night. Some nights he's just a constant irritation every 10 minutes or so. He comes in, scratches the bed or knocks over the waste basket or runs across the bed, meows, scratches the closet doors, and as soon as one of us moves, he takes off out the door and hides. Then 10 minutes later he's at it again. The only solution for us is to lock him up. We're not happy about it, but as we've told ourselves, most other people would just give him up.
We feed him as late as possible - right before going to bed, and this seems to help. Waking him up constantly in the evening is a routine for us.
I've often wished we had a basement to lock him up in at night. Yours sounds ideal - lots of space and toys for him. Is there anyway you could protect the spare bed so you can still lock him & Alistar in there? And definitely try SoftPaws.
I like the idea of an enclosure he could go out in at night. That would give him lots of excitement.
And as a last resort, you could try anti-anxiety meds to calm him down. It would be worth a try, especially instead of rehoming him.
post #10 of 22
I know many people who put their cats in the basement for the night-time. As long as they have their litterbox, food/water and eachother -- there is nothing wrong with it. It makes no sense for him to have the run of the house if he is going to scratch the door all night. Just make sure the basement is "cat-proof" and start a routine of putting them down there when you go to bed and letting them out when you wake up.
post #11 of 22
Boy, do I feel for you. Two suggestions for you: first,


If you just can't ignore them -- like when they're walking across your face, as mine used to do -- go ahead and get up, but don't feed them!

Instead, show them that the only result they get when they force you out of bed is being put in their cat room for the rest of the night. It will take them awhile to give up... and they may never give up completely... but mine accepted it within a month or so.

I would also try a Feliway Comfort Zone diffuser and perhaps some Rescue Remedy or other herbal product that might calm your kitties a bit. Don't give up until you've given those a shot -- they can be amazingly effective.

And y'know... I wonder if it might help to create a ritual that accompanies bedtime every night. As someone else suggested, a late-night feeding, a few minutes of affection and quiet reassurance before you retire... always the same, night after night. Cats love routine, and they might respond well to that.

Good luck!
post #12 of 22
I just want to say that you deserve kudos for not giving up on your kitty after so long, and for giving both of them such a wonderful home with lots of love and affection. I don't have any advice for you, just encouragement and lots of {{{good luck}}} vibes for you and your kitties!
post #13 of 22
You might want to try making him "work" for his food...although my cat doen't have the nighttime issues yours does, I have been feeding him using treat balls (they each hold about 1/8cup food) and I give him 2 just before I go to sleep... He keeps himself busy rolling them around (on the other side of the house) at night and will take breaks every so often. The kind I've been using is "OurPets play-n-treat", but there are many types sold for dogs, just find one that is the right size to dispense kibble. It's worth a shot at least.

post #14 of 22
What an excellent idea, ArtGecko! I'll have to find some of those myself...
post #15 of 22
Instead, show them that the only result they get when they force you out of bed is being put in their cat room for the rest of the night. It will take them awhile to give up... and they may never give up completely... but mine accepted it within a month or so.
This worked with Smidge. She wasn't as bad as your Wiggins, but I lost sleep for two full weeks from her night time crazies. She ultimately wanted to sleep with mother, so getting kicked out the moment she acted up worked on her.

Be consistent and unemotional. He gets out of line, immediately remove him. He will complain loudly I'm sure, but endure it and do not respond. Eventually (we hope) he will get it and stop acting up when it is nighty-night time.

Setting up a bedtime routine with Smidge helped too. I stick to it no matter the time I'm going to bed. The simple rituals are my way of conveying it is bedtime...meaning no wakey the momma up time.
post #16 of 22
I'm sorry you're going through this but well done for being as patient as you have been so far! I hope the problem gets solved soon.

I don't think I can really offer any advice. Libby was never as bad as that. When she was a kitten we shut her in the living room at night and she would cry and scratch and run at the door. It was quiet enough that we could ignore it though, and we did. Though my husband kept wanting to check on her because he felt bad. That only set progress back though, she stopped when we stopped going to check on her.

Then when we let her have free run at night she would be on the bed, trying to play, under the covers constantly trying to get at our feet and keeping us awake. It really drove me nuts and freaked me out (I hate things touching my feet!).

Only two things I can suggest, or that have been suggeted that I can concur with, are routine and not giving attention. When Libby would wake me up in the night biting my feet I would pick her up, pet her, talk to her... then I realised what a bad idea it was. So I started just sitting up, placing her on top of the comforter and laying back down. It took a lot of very restless nights doing this but finally after several weeks she stopped and hasn't done it since.

Through routine she knows when to settle down too. She's not even involved in the routine but watching me (clan her litter box, clean her food/water dishes, put away toys she can't be left alone with, etc.) she knows to follow us into the bedroom and get on the bed and curl up.

Again, good luck, I really hope you find a solution!
post #17 of 22
My "Bandit" does all the irritating nighttime sleep depriving things mentioned with the addition of licking and chewing on my hair. He also does this when I am sitting in a chair. The sensation and noise drives me crazy not to mention loss of sleep, especially at 3AM. I have started putting him in his room(litterbox, toys etc.) if he is still doing this after putting him on the floor( gently of course ) about 100 times. I also feed him late in the evening. I am hoping that he will eventually get the idea, if a cat ever gets the idea of stopping doing something he enjoys. Please wish me luck.
post #18 of 22
I can really relate to how you feel with lack of sleep. I had the same problem with my kitty keeping me up all night, so now he sleeps in my office. I felt terribly guilty at first, but if I don't sleep I'll get sick. So it's him or me.

Can you do something to cat proof your room downstairs? Put an old bedspread on the bed or an old bed in there instead? At least they have each other. Mine is alone, but he doesn't seem to mind it. We have lots of cuddle time in my bed in the morning after I let him out. If you don't need that room for anything now, maybe it can just be the cat's room. Maybe let go of worrying about scratches on the wall. You could spackle and paint it in the future. Right now you need your rest and sleep!
post #19 of 22
Thread Starter 
Hi everyone. I was really at the end of my rope last week when I posted up so I appreciate the time everyone spent replying to my post. I took quite a bit of advise from here and appreciate that everyone was so supportive.

I have adopted the approach of putting the cats to bed each night when we go to sleep. The cats have the run of the guest bedroom in the basement. To make it more pleasant for them I purchased a new small cat tree for that room (for scratching and sleeping in and on. It seems like half my furniture is now cat trees and cat scratching posts, however, whatever works to keep them from scratching on the furniture, etc… is fine by me.) I also took some advise from TheCatSite and added a LED night light in the room so they are not in a pitch dark room at night. I hadn’t thought much of it before, as cats have excellent night vision, but in retrospect as a basement room it was really far too dark to put them in without it. They seem to like that addition and it seems to make them calmer in the room. They have quite a few cat toys in their room and I try to mix it up a bit by changing them every few weeks (I found nine toys under one piece of furnature when I rearanaged the room, they are a bit spoiled). Their litter was already is there and when they are put to bed they get fresh water and the remained of Wiggs cat food moved down from the kitchen (I can’t put the kitten food in there or big Wiggs will be big fat Wiggs so we only put Wiggs indoor cat food in the room). To compensate for being on indoor cat food at night, the kitten, Alistar, now gets a teaspoon of wet food with his kitten food at each of the two daily feedings. So far this has worked really well. The cats are not making much of a fuss at all. I think it also helps that the bed down there is our old queen sized bed so I think it probably smells sort of like the bed upstairs. We keep an old duvet cover on the bed directly on a mattress pad and we have removed the pillows as well. I can’t honestly say that the room is cat proof yet. I want to get a tube to put the electrical cables going to the laps into so the kitten will not be able to chew on the cables. Also I had to put a small hook on the sliding door to the furnace room after they figured out that by moving the cat bed they could get into there. But we are 100% better off than we were a week ago. I can’t tell you how good a night of sleep I had the first night they were locked away. It was like wonderful! I still do feel a bit guilty about locking them up, but this is a far better option than giving them up. We still get to enjoy two really wonderful cats during the daytime when they are at their best, and we get to sleep at night. It’s the best of both worlds.
post #20 of 22
that is WONDERFUL that you are doing all of this. Cats can't help it sometimes and are just crazy and take a long time to grow out of it! This is a great idea and just stick with it and I am sure you will see results. Just don't give in! A few other things you can do, if there are any scratching issues, look into Soft Claws and if there are any spraying issues then try Feliway plug ins or sprays. Actually I would suggest Feliway no matter what just because it usualy works so well and will calm them even more.

Those toys that dispense food are a great idea too. I think I am going to get a few of those.
post #21 of 22
here is an article that addresses this

post #22 of 22
I'm a little confused...is it just that you don't want your cat sleeping with you at night? B/c my first thought is to just let him in the room with you to sleep! Have you tried this? Or does he play on the bed all night?

I find that my kitty will sometimes be active right when i go to bed, but within about 10-15 minutes she settles down and comes to sleep on the bed.
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