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Sleep Deprived Cat Companion!

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
This spring, I lost my female cat companion after 18 years together (she was almost 20). She was a stray who had adopted me, so after a few months of desolation, I adopted a stray from a local shelter. My new cat is male, about five years old, and extremely affectionate. He's been with me only three weeks, but we have a serious problem. He wakes me up--all the time! About two hours after I fall asleep for the night, I am awakened by Grigio's paw lightly brushing my face, and, soon after, his "kisses." He's not at all aggressive, but he doesn't stop until I get up. If I put him on the floor, he'll return shortly and begin the process again.

He's not hungry because I've tried feeding him when he wakes me, but he's not interested in food until the morning. He isn't even interested in playing because if I get up and read or watch TV, he'll go to sleep himself! Unfortunately, once I'm up, I can't easily get back to sleep. But, if I do, he's usually there to wake me again shortly afterwards.

Grigio is not at all feral, so he was obviously raised by people (who didn't neuter him; the shelter did that), but he was rounded up by the shelter as a stray about a month before I adopted him, so I know nothing of his history.

He has always had the run of the house, but one night I was so tired that I closed him out of the bedroom (this was in the middle of the night after he'd awakened me twice). But he cried piteously and clawed nervously at the door. I was worried that he'd stratch the door to shreds, so I let him back in.

I would like to let him continue to sleep with me, but does anyone know how I can convince him to let me sleep? I'm getting desperate.
post #2 of 12
My 82 year old mother is kind of experiencing the same thing, only Benji is okay withbeing put either in the bathroom or having the run out of the house once she locks him out of the bedroom. She found him in the backyard at 6 weeks old, and he is now about 10 weeks old, so he's adopted her as his mommy. She says sometimes he gets under the covers and attacks her legs, so she would lock him in the bathroom with his litter box and water/food, and he's content, but it's only recently that she began to let him roam the house. She gets up during the night to use the bathroom, then leaves the bedroom door open, and he now happily settles down on the bed and sleeps with her. Still, she is TIRED from not only this bedroom routine, but he follows her around all day and wants to play. She just loves this little guy, but she's not used to being the center of attention 24/7. When my sister and brother come home from work (they live at home) they relieve her and play with him. I told her she's lucky she didn't find a PUPPY in the backyard!! Ha ha. Good luck. Be patient. It'll work out, I'm sure!
post #3 of 12
that would be a big behavioral change from your senior!
try a rousing, high-energy play session before bed [many here would recommend Da Bird; the Cat Dancer is also good, or a laser pointer] & see if that helps at all.
welcome to TCS!
post #4 of 12
Hi and welcome The bright side is that you at least have a cat that wants attention (as opposed to my older cat, who would just like to be left alone 24/7).

I agree that a 15-minute play session before bed would be a good idea. Cats need daily exercise anyway, and this will help get rid of excess energy. I definitely know how you feel. I made the mistake of letting Chloe sleep in our room the other night and I only got 4 hours of sleep because of it.

The only other option I can think of would be to put the cat in a spare room for the night (with water and a litter box), one where you won't hear him pawing at the door.

Do you have any sort of toys that he can occupy himself with? Some good ones are the Turbo Scratcher and catnip balls.
post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all your suggestions! I'm going to try both the playing AND feeding him just before my bedtime to see if that helps. He seems to only like wet food, and I've been having difficulty getting him on a schedule because when he first came to live with me, he ate enormous amounts. I suspect he was starving from the shelter (they told me that they fed both wet and dry, but I notice that he doesn't really eat dry, so he may have been hungry a lot). After two weeks here, he began to eat less, but that's played havoc with scheduled meals, since I was feeding him whenever he "requested."

He has toys all around the house that he could play with during the night (and I often find evidence that he has been playing), but I think he likes the human companionship because during the day he always wants me nearby as well.

My former cat was very shy and reserved and only became very, very attached when she was elderly and became deaf (about age 16), so I was surprised at how attached this young guy is.

His litter box is in a spare room (my study) where I also have a nice bed for him. It would be easy to put some food and water in there for the night and close him in, and I guess that will be my last resort.

My vet's office advertises that they have a certified animal behaviorist on staff, and I may try a consultation with him or her before I decide to confine him.

Thanks again for all your help.
post #6 of 12
I forgot to mention that my 82-year-old mother also has a hamster that she puts in one of those big plastic balls every night and he and the kitten chase each other around the house. That still doesn't quite zap his energy at night, so she uses a laser light to make him chase around for about 10 minutes (she complains her finger hurts after a while from pressing down on the button). My year old cat LOVES the laser light and it wears her out!
post #7 of 12
Originally Posted by menasmom View Post
That still doesn't quite zap his energy at night, so she uses a laser light to make him chase around for about 10 minutes (she complains her finger hurts after a while from pressing down on the button). My year old cat LOVES the laser light and it wears her out!
yeah, i don't like the 'pet lasers' that are marketed because of that. i got a small, purse-sized flashlight that has a laser also - that stays on until i turn it off! much better!
post #8 of 12
Originally Posted by laureen227 View Post
yeah, i don't like the 'pet lasers' that are marketed because of that. i got a small, purse-sized flashlight that has a laser also - that stays on until i turn it off! much better!
I'll have to get her one of those!! Thanks!
post #9 of 12
When we got Toby from the shelter about two months ago, we had a similar issue. He was very clingy and would follow us around the entire apartment begging for attention.. this is when we were awake, as well as asleep in bed!

He's settled down and become much more independent in the last 2 weeks. We figure he was just really happy to be out of the shelter and to have a regular source of attention and food (he was skin and bones when we took him home and had lived in the shelter for 1.5 years). Maybe your Grigio will settle down in time too.

Also, I've read that the cat's natural activity cycle is: hunt (ie. play) -> eat -> sleep. so before you go to sleep, you might want to play with him, feed him, and hopefully this will lull him into sleeping at the same time you do. Good luck!
post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks Totoro-

Grigio has been with me almost a month now, so it's possible that his behavior will modify as he becomes more secure. I noticed that it was two weeks before he would go into another room by himself to nap, so more changes may come.

Last night I fed him before bedtime, but it was impossible to play. He was sleepy and regardless of the interactive toys I tried (that he almost always responds to), he ignored me. That resulted in his waking me at 1:30 am! But I'm not ready to give up yet, as I think sleeping in my bed is good for our relationship, so I don't want to ban him.

I'm also having difficulty scheduling his feedings because I've just realized that he "goes nuts" whenever I'm in the kitchen! He will whine and vocalize as though he's starving, but when I give him food, he will barely nibble it. I think that he is so insecure about his food supply that he responds to MY behavior rather than his own hunger. Hopefully, this too will change as he becomes more secure here. I think I just need to adopt a schedule and be firm about it.
post #11 of 12
You could be right about him feeling insecure about his food supply. I had an older cat who was a former mostly oudoor kitty, her previous owner would go out of town for weeks at a time and his son, who was supposed to leave food out for her was very lax about it, and I mean very. After we took her in she would just completly have a melt down if the dry food dish got even close to being empty, didn't matter if she wasn't hungry or had just finished eating, that dish had to be topped up at all times, and she wasn't even a fan of dry food (no teeth, poor thing, we kept it out for our other cat, she prefered fancy feast, and by prefered I mean demanded it at 5am every morning, lol) but there had to be a full dish of it out, at all times or else!
She never did unlearn that, but your kitty is much younger than she was, so he may calm down once he realizes the food isn't going anywhere, and neither are you.
post #12 of 12
Goes to show that cats have feelings too. I would say it is insecurity. Mary was like that for a long time. If I closed her out she would whine and scratch. So finally I did the play and eat thing. After awhile it worked and she became more secure.
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