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Finally Getting a Good Night Sleep

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
I wanted to thank everyone for their advice and sympathy over the past year or so and post a solution to my sleepless nights problem which might help out others.
Some of you may recall my 4:00am post from many months ago that I was at my wits end. In summary I have two cats. While my partner can sleep through all their antics, I'm a light sleeper and they have been driving me nuts for over a year. Some nights have been better than others and some weeks have been hell.
My original intention was to keep my new cat out of the bedroom entirely so I didn't have cat hair over everything and so it couldn’t disturb us at night. If you track my posts you will find out that failed miserably. From kittenhood Wiggs would stand outside the bedroom door and howl at night. When that didn’t work he would paw the door like mad. I tried the spray bottle, he figured that one out and would run away when I got up. I tried the vacuum outside the door hooked to a power bar, that only lasted so long as he figured out he could run down the hall and howl from there. Besides, by the time I turned it on he had already woken me up. I actually think it echoed in the hall making it louder. Finally I gave in and let him in the bedroom where his behaviour was mixed at night. Some nights he was good... others not so much.
I can’t recall exactly what he was doing when I posted at 4:00am. I know that it was my third sleepless night and I was at the end of my rope. I do know that he would walk on my pillow, lick my head, scratch at the bed, scratch under the bed, scratch at the carpet, and generally make a nuisance of himself all night long.
Don’t get me wrong. During the day he is a great cat. A real lap cat, he can sleep in your lap for hours purring the whole time. But at night something else came out, some sort of a Satan worshiping devil cat.
This problem went on for about a year and a half. In that time I moved from an apartment to a house where he managed to learn how to open leaver style door handles. This information escalated his problem if he was kicked out of the bedroom as he would now jump at the door handle resulting in a loud thump on the door, which followed his meowing and his pawing at the door.
At some point we decided as a last resort to get him a buddy to play with at night. So we went down to the SPCA and got a kitten. What the hell were we thinking? Now the two of them were able to tag team at night. Wiggs could sleep while the kitten would run around and scratch at the underside of the bed or meow at me from beside the bed. Most frustrating was the fact that my partner would just roll over and go back to sleep.
We tried putting them in the basement spare bedroom. The kitten expressed his dissatisfaction by turning the spare bed into a kitty washroom and they destroyed the room every night. I know all about the feliway spray. I don’t know what cats this stuff calms down but I would need some sort of tranquilizer to calm these two down.
My saving grace was the fact that my work takes me away from home frequently. However, when I got back from the last long haul away both cats were so happy to see me that they kept me awake for two nights in a row. I can totally sympathize with all the posters who are ready to kill their cats. I have laid away at night calming myself by thinking about the various ways to “off†Wiggs. You would be surprised what you can come up with when you put your mind to it.
We tried the CAT SCAT spray bottle recently. For those who have not reached this point of desperation, it’s a compressed air bottle with a movement sensor on top of it. This is a great product by the way, keeps cats off counters and away from things you don’t want them at. I recommend it highly. Cat gets close and SPPPLLLLAAATTTT it shoots out air and makes a hissing noise that scares the cat away. Placed strategically at the door jam it did a pretty good job of keeping Wiggs away for one night. The second night, however, he was meowing and pawing at the door and in the background I could hear the bottle hissing repeatedly to no avail, see previous comment about devil cat. By this point all the bottle was doing was giving me warning he was at the door so I could lurk on the far side and snap the door open and spray him in the act of pawing at the door. Sort of pathetic eh?
Anyway, all this as a prelude to my final solution which has so far given me two weeks of relative bliss. After trying a variety of solutions with nothing working I thought why not combine two ideas. The sensor on the SCAT bottle worked well at knowing the cats were there and the vacuum did scare the cats. I’m pretty handy, so with credit card in hand I headed to Home Depot and purchased an electronic eye light switch, some wire, the male and female connectors for an extension cord and a concrete wall receptacle box. Total cost was about $35. Essentially I have an electronic eye that kicks on my vacuum for about 20 seconds when it senses movement. Sort of like a security sensor light for the back yard, but to keep cats away from me at night. And it works AMAZING!
The first night Wiggs tried it out and you could hear the vacuum kick on a number of times through the night. I just turned on the fan to drown out the noise and slept through it. The next night Wiggs got a bit braver and made a couple of runs for it, but the vacuum gave me warning he was coming so I was able to spray bottle him as soon as he was upstairs and then I carried him downstairs. I also held him close to the air exhaust from the vacuum as we went past, which reinforced the fact he didn’t like the vacuum (I use a small hand vacuum I have for the stairs). He has now stopped trying to get past the vacuum. He does set it of at about 7:30 when I’m late getting up to feed him, but I can live with that.
For setup, I have the electronic eye on the first step of the stairs and I have the small vacuum above it on the next step, but your home would determine how you would need to set it up. Any electrician can put together the box for you. The clutter on the stairs is a bit of a pain, but after a week I have added a light timer that shuts it down during the day so it does not go off as we walk by. The cats see the vacuum and steer clear of it for the most part now.
This solution is not for everyone. I quite literally tried everything short shock collars or getting rid of Wiggs (which I seriously considered on many occasions) to solve his behaviour problem. This is the only thing that has worked. Hope this helps.
post #2 of 3
Don't you love how cats are nocturnal. I had 3 kittens at the same time and they did that. I love when they run across the bed and scare the (you know what) out of you. Good news though, eventually they grow out of it. Well at least MOST of mine did. I still think I am outnumbered and have 4 under the age of 2. Thanks for making me laugh, it's nice to know we are in it together.
post #3 of 3
Thread Starter 
Glad you enjoyed the post. I had another good night's sleep last night! It's still working!
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