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Does Your Cat Wake You Up in the Morning?

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
I just got this article from Dr. Jon in my email. I know that this is an issue that we all deal with!!

Waking Up at Dawn
Dealing with cats that wake you up before the alarm clock is frustrating, especially you want to sleep! Contrary to popular belief, cats are not nocturnal. The term “nocturnal†refers to the lifestyle of being awake at night instead of during the day, and that isn't what cats do. They sleep at night as we do, just not for quite as long. Cats are “crepuscular,†which means they are most active at dawn and dusk. This is because their ancestors' prey was most active at these times, so it made sense for them to adjust to that schedule. No creature in his or her right mind ran about during the heat of the day or in the middle of night when it was pitch black. Though cats' night vision is very good, they can't see without light. Instead, they sleep.

And herein lies the problem of the chronic “alarm clock†cat. Two things combine to make this phenomenon possible:

1. Nature. Your cat's internal clock and crepuscular nature tells her that it's time to get up at around dawn. Depending on the time of sunrise, cats will become active sooner or later. During summer in lands of midnight sun, cats may not be triggered by the dawn. During the long, dark, sunless winters of the Antarctic, a cat would probably sleep till lunchtime everyday.

2. Training. This is where the cat's owner comes in. Let's say your cat becomes active first thing in the morning. She quickly becomes bored because there's nothing going on. If you so much as look at this cat, rewarding her with your attention, you may well get more of the same in days to come. Worse still, if you assume that your cat is pacing around and scratching your furniture because she's hungry, and you get up and feed her, then you have really made a bed upon which you must lie (awake).

At this stage, pretending to be asleep, yelling at the cat, rolling over, and other forms of stubborn resistance usually do not work. The cat continues her (no doubt) occasionally successful quests. And remember, occasional reward is a more powerful reinforcer than continuous reward (reference: the slot machines in Las Vegas). Some of the things you do may even amuse and entertain the bored cat and serve as reinforcers in their own right. You may, in effect, become a big squeaky toy for your cat.

Here are some suggestions to prevent early awakenings:

Highly Recommended
Understand your cat and don't blame her for the way that nature designed her. Have some patience and forbearance as you try to realign her habits.

Fit thick, lightproof curtains in your bedroom and hallways so that your whole sleeping area is totally dark at night.

Do not respond (in any way) to your cat's dawn-time demands ... ever.

Feed your cat twice daily on a set schedule, but do not feed her first thing in the morning.

Keep the cat occupied during the day (exercise, games, toys, bring her to your place of work, etc.)

Things That Might Help

Feed your cat her last meal of the day at bedtime, which may help her sleep (“as the blood rushes to her stomachâ€).

Get a cat for your cat so that you are no longer her sole source of entertainment.

Give your cat the internal-clock-resetting-hormone, melatonin at night to induce a lengthier period of sleep. Consult your veterinarian before giving this or any other medication.

The most important things to remember about “early morning syndrome†is that it is a natural tendency for cats to rise and become active at dawn, and that owners can inadvertently feed into this tendency by responding with attention or food. If you are not careful, a cat that you feed at 6 a.m. will start jumping up on your bed at 5:45 a.m., trying to get a jump start on her day. If you respond to your cat's 5:45 a.m. demands, next you will find yourself being woken up at 5:30 a.m., then 5:15 a.m., and so on, until eventually you're being woken up in the wee hours.

Because most cats are keen to bend the rules, ()especially where food is concerned, and are naturally quick studies, it is important to make acceptable house rules and stick to them. If you cave in under pressure, you will get more of whatever behavior you have just rewarded. That is to say, you can inadvertently train a cat to wake you up. The old proverb about “making your own bed and lying in it†really applies here, except that you won't be doing much lying. If you do have a problem of this nature, you should avoid making any early morning activity rewarding to your cat. It may take weeks to accomplish what you set out to do, but it will finally dawn on the cat that sunrise doesn't signal anything worth waking you for - and then you'll be off the hook.
post #2 of 19
I see I've created my own monster!
post #3 of 19
Ours can tell time.....we get up at 5:00 am through the week because we have to for my hubby to get to work on time.....and on the weekends we get up at 5:00 am because the cats "tell us" it`s time!
post #4 of 19
If I'm not up by a certain time, I get "nagged". But I've learned to ignore it.

It's the crashing objects after I ignore the nagging that get me out of bed.
post #5 of 19
Popsie goes through stages. He will meow at me all morning long untill I get fed up and make him leave. Then suddenly he'll stop for awhile and leave me sleep in peace.
post #6 of 19
Sassy has just started within the last week or so waking me up at 6:00 a.m., I ignore her until around 7:00 a.m., and then I get up and feed her. She will usually leave me alone for about an hour and then she is right back in my face meowing!!
post #7 of 19
Originally Posted by JuJubee View Post
I see I've created my own monster!
As have I... a 3:30 am monster! Must bookmark this thread and master the following
Do not respond (in any way) to your cat's dawn-time demands ... ever.

Feed your cat twice daily on a set schedule, but do not feed her first thing in the morning.

And I've tried the following...
Things That Might Help

Feed your cat her last meal of the day at bedtime, which may help her sleep (“as the blood rushes to her stomachâ€).

Get a cat for your cat so that you are no longer her sole source of entertainment.
The bed time meal doesn't seem to help.

First it was Frankie who woke me up... usually around 5 am. Then I got Wickett... now Frankie leave me alone but Wickett wakes me... even earlier!
post #8 of 19
Mini is our little alarm clock, but she isn't so bad-she knows what time the alarm clock goes off & Daddy gets up first. Although she will also do it on the weekends, she has saved us from being really late for work a few times!
I've told Mike a time or two not to feed them as soon as he gets out of bed...(he usually feeds them in the morning, cuz I am still in bed)I don't know if he's paid heed to that, or not. But at least Mini follows him out, leaving me to sleep, but she knows my time, too, she'll come back in & start tickling me awake. She's so sweet, it doesn't bother me enough to change it. I don't mind waking up with a smile!
post #9 of 19
Both my guys usually start around 7 but both for different reasons. Sassy wants food and as soon as I feed him he just goes back to sleep. Linus wants to play and will bring most of his toys into bed with me unless I throw them for him...He generally does this for awhile and then lays down beside me to nap for awhile.
post #10 of 19
Originally Posted by JuJubee View Post
I see I've created my own monster!
Hahahaha me too!!!!
Sophie eats first thing in the morning and screeeeeams if he's awake and not being paid attention to.
post #11 of 19
Pepper wakes me up every morning-- sometimes at 2, sometimes at 5, sometimes at different times. If I don't get up, I get claws in the head or side of the face. I have scars on my arm where he decided to wake me up one morning. I have to wake up and "reward" him or I risk more of my blood being drawn!
post #12 of 19
Fortunately no.
post #13 of 19
Karma use to cry and make a ton of noise to get us up. After weeks of ignoring her she started to give us attention. Now she will stnad on my hair and let out a cry untill I look up and say good morning to her. Once I do that she lays down on my pillow and starts to purr and lick my face and hair. As long as I am petting her she will stay. Half the time she will just fall back asleep around my head and will stay all day if i don't get out of bed. The other half is she will move on to my DH and do the same thing. She now waits to get fully up untill we are ready. My favorite part is how she asks for permission to wake me up before she starts to cuddle. Its so cute.
post #14 of 19
Loki generally leaves me alone. Sometimes he'll start pushing things off my chest of drawers, and that gets me up. I don't think he's doing that to get me up, though. Sometimes he'll cry and whine, though.

Possum has started to do annoying things in the morning though. I usually sleep on my chest, and he's started to try to see what's underneath(?)! Actually, I'm really not sure what he's doing , but it does seem to be like him trying to get underneath the covers. He's definitely not kneading. Anyway, he "digs" at my boobs, and though I trim his claws, it certainly doesn't feel like it! It's a pretty awful sensation in the morning.

Sometimes he's just content when I put my arm around him. If I don't have to work that day, then I'll get up and feed them breakfast and then go back to sleep. They both leave me alone after that.

I am sort of beginning to suspect that Possum is trying to kill me. Sometimes he likes to sleep up near my head and enjoys being pressed against my nose and mouth! Me, not so much. On one occasion last week I rolled over to breathe, and he climbed over me to sleep up against my face again!

post #15 of 19
Angel gets all loving in the morning, crying and head butting us, even laying on our throats so we would comfort her. We just pick her up (My husband picks her up from the nap of her neck like a momma cat) and put her on the floor or even out of the room if she's really bad. It seems to be working but it's almost a good thing for us because we both tend to sleep in late.
Our kitties are free fed so we know it's not because that they're hungry. But what other reason can there be?
post #16 of 19
The cats used to wake us up every morning... But now they (sort of) know that they shouldn't do that. This morning Bigsby woke me up though, he was purring LOUD and jumped on the bed to be petted. Man, that purring was so loud. I could still hear it even when I put him out of the room :O
post #17 of 19
That's a great article, very helpful and informative!
post #18 of 19
Thanks for posting that article, it was very informative!

My little Sushi wakes me up every morning to snuggle. She'll nudge me until I let her underneath the covers, and then curl up next to me until I get out of bed
post #19 of 19
This morning I was awoken by Kahlua and Joey running around like idiots and one of them hit the rug in the bathroom and slid into my bedroom wall making a very loud thud! Gotta love how much energy cats have first thing in the morning!
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