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So frustrated--sleeping problems and my cat.

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
Our big boy, Terrell, wakes us up at 3AM literally every morning to feed him breakfast.

I am SO frustrated! And totally exhausted. I don't know what to do. This has been going on for about a year now. We feed him at 8PM, so I don't really think he's hungry. But he will NOT let up. He'll walk all over us or meow really loud in our face.

It's like having an infant! I am so frustrated.

I was thinking about feeding him later at night, but that would mean he would go from 6.30AM to 10PM with no food. That doesn't sound right.

Any advice?
post #2 of 18
have you tried leaving a little dry food out in his bowl during the night? That's the only way i managed to stop my old cat, Kipling from attacking me at 5am every morning. Playing with him just before bed time might help to wear him out too.
post #3 of 18
Do you get up to feed him when he cries? If you do he isn't going to stop. Hard as it is, you need to ignore him - even when he's climbing all over you! I think you should also feed him a bit later in case he is hungry - how about feeding him earlier in the evening and then again before bed? I feed mine 3 times a day.
post #4 of 18
Have you tried giving him a few smaller meals during the day? Mine eat breakfast (6-7 am), 'supper' 3-4 pm and snacks in the evening, and none are overwt., all are happy and all sleep thru the night. Is there some reason you're only feeding him twice a day that way? Cats love to nibble, graze, etc. rather than get it all down at once - big cats in the have very different lives and you can't go by their 'schedules' to feed housecats.
post #5 of 18
Thread Starter 
Our vet told us to feed him twice a day. He's on SD prescription diet food because he's overweight, so I'm wary of messing with his meals and mealtimes. I'll ask her about that, though.

The thing is, I don't think it's because he's hungry. He eats at 8PM! Often there will still be food in his dish when we go to bed, so he doesn't scarf it down or anything.

I think it's behaviorial, not hunger. It is SO hard to try to ignore him, when he's walking all over us (literally!) and meowing in our ears.

We absolutely adore him, but I think some tough love is in order. I am thinking of getting a baby gate....

Thanks for the responses so far. Any other ideas??
post #6 of 18
You're going to think I am kidding, but I'm not....get ear plugs! Really! They work wonders. If your big boy also climbs on you, you will need to shut your bedroom door. You will need to keep the door shut and wear the ear plugs only for a few weeks before he breaks the habit. But, remember, once you remove the ear plugs and open the door, he will test you and you must not fail the test -- so, make sure you do not respond to him at all when he cries or walks on you. If you do respond, he will start the behavior all over again!

Good luck!
post #7 of 18
Yes...pay no attention. Earplugs are a good idea. It takes time to break this kind of behavior. We've gone through it as well. If you give him any sort of attention or affirmation then he will just continue.
post #8 of 18
Thread Starter 

Well, we fed Terrell half of his evening food at the normal time and half at about midnight (when my night-owl husband was ready to go to bed).

Sure enough, at 4.45AM this morning he wakes us up, pacing up and down the bed, walking all over us, meowing, etc. UGH! But we both just ignored him and tried to rest through it all. Well, this kept up the entire time. He did finally settle down at around 6.15, but since my alarm goes off at 6.30, it was little respite.

I fed him 1/3 of his daily food at 6.30AM. I'll feed him another 1/3 when I get home at 6PM, and another 1/3 when my husband goes to bed. Again, tonight, we'll ignore his bad bahavior.

But we'll keep at it! And I'll keep you all posted.
post #9 of 18
Sleep is very important for you to be healthy. Definately close the door...get ear plugs if you must, or turn on a fan blowing against the wall for white noise. Terrell can't be that hungry @ 3am. It is probably more of an attention thing. And remember, it takes 19 times to make a habit. So you'll have to keep him out while your sleeping for almost 3 weeks, but eventually he'll get the hang of it. And yes, be firm when you do open the door, if he cries or tries to wake you up, put him out and close the door. No food. Check with your vet about leaving maybe 1/3C of dry food out for the night and cutting back on his dry food during the day. Keep us posted.
post #10 of 18
I feel your pain! I had been going through this with Lilly, who wanted me to get up- didn't want food or anything else! I had resorted to getting up & putting her in her carrier in the other room (she doesn't mind being in there). I couldn't just close her out of the room because she would pull out individual carpet strands around the door frame!
I finally just started ignoring her, and now, she'll make an attempt, and when I don't respond, she goes under the bed & back to sleep until I get up. It *does* work- you just need to be patient about it!
post #11 of 18
Can't you just close your bedroom door?

Or, can you just leave food in his bowl all the time? Or is it wet food?

You definately need to get your sleep, so I would say try the ignoring thing, and perhaps he will stop the habit.
post #12 of 18
Thread Starter 
I wish I could just shut the door! But he would meow still and scratch and scratch and scratch. And probably destroy the carpet, too. Ugh! It wouldn't be much better.

Plus, we have a little 2-year-old kitty who I don't want to punish, either.
post #13 of 18
Have you thought about getting an automatic feeder?
After years of being awakened around dawn on weekends and holidays (I get up at 5 on weekdays, and my husband is up by 4:30 if he is working early shift), I finally got a battery-operated feeder with a timer right before Easter. It has been working like a dream. I fill it with Jamie's breakfast (dry) and set it for 5:00 a.m. before going to bed. He goes downstairs, eats, and then comes back to bed.
If all else fails, you might want to try one.
post #14 of 18
Thread Starter 
That is a good idea! I've never heard of them. Can you just get one at PetSmart? Or did you order yours online??
post #15 of 18
Yes, you can get one at Petsmart. Here's one I found on Petsmart's site:

post #16 of 18
my husband and i had this exact problem and we solved it in a matter of days! my younger kitty was actually biting me, along with anything else he could to get me to get up and feed him (he also learned how to open closed doors...no kidding!), and it kept happening earlier and earlier in the morning.

i researched that cats instinctively feed at dawn and dusk, but when you enable them, they will continue their behavior, and the "dawn" gets earlier. so what you need to do is modify his behavior...just like you would with a child.

tomorrow morning when your cat comes a callin'...lay perfectly still. DO NOT REACT in any way to him. don't move, don't talk, don't even look at him. i know this is difficult (i would lay there sweating because i couldn't move), especially when he gets mad that you're not doing what he wants. but within a matter of days, IF YOU ARE CONSISTENT he will stop. the other key is DO NOT FEED HIM upon your waking....i wait til 9 or 10 am if i can so that they realize that feeding time is up to me...not them. i don't feed them again til 10pm or so at night.

you must be consistent, and i can almost guarante that it will work for you and your buddy, and you will have a much better sleep in a few days! good luck!
post #17 of 18
I have a very similar problem as well. My cat will start with meowing, then he'll start scratching under the bed and the blinds. When I ingnore him he will then knock stuff off the night stand and dresser. This morning he knocked the alarm clock on the floor! It doesn't matter where it is on the dresser, he will swat at it until it falls.

Should I continue to ignore him but move everything off the dresser and nightstand? I think that would work, but then when I put stuff back up won't he start all over again?

I saw a product that was like a compressed air can with a motion sensor on it. It beeps first then sprays something that the cat doesn't like when the sensor sees the cat in the area. Has anyone tried this?

I understand and agree with ignoring the bad behavior in order to not "reward" it, but I can't have all my lamps, jewery boxes, clocks sitting on the floor.
post #18 of 18
When I used to shut my boys out of the bedroom one of them had early morning alarm call in his job description but usually waited until a reasonable hour. Then he started getting earlier and it got to the point where he was howling and scratching at the door at 4am. Apart from anything else I live in a block of apartments and was worried that my neighbours would start complaining about the noise. I just completely ignored him and eventually he'd stop. For a while. Then he'd start up again but every time I ignored him (even if it was time to get up I'd wait for a reasonable break in the crying). It took a long time but he did eventually give up on the whole thing and revert to his slightly later alarm call.

Provided you've excluded any health problems I think you have to be really tough and completely ignore them. It isn't necessarily a quick solution but it does usually work eventually if you stick to your guns.

Btw, I think the automatic feeder is a great idea if you think your cat is genuinely hungry.
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