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Clingy meowy cat waking me up at night

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
My cat Souffle is driving me crazy! He's 15 and very attached to me, clingy is a good term for it. He follows me everywhere, even to the bathroom. He has a fit if I go in a room and close the door, his pupils dialate and he will howl and scratch at the door for HOURS (not exaggerating here) until he either forces the door open, or someone lets him in. He really works himself into quite a state.

I just moved out on my own a couple of weeks ago and I took Souffle with me. His behaviour was tolerable before, mainly because he went outside on the deck in the afternoon when it was nice outside, and at night he was locked downstairs with his brother in the rec room. People usually look horrified when I mention this, but they had plenty of food and water and toys and their litter down there, and a huge overstuffed chair and a variety of cat beds. Of course they ignored the big nice chair and cat beds and crammed themselves into the tinest cat bed together. He did not have his scary scratching fit when in the rec room, for some reason.

Anyway, now Souffle is with me and he will not let me sleep. He is an extremely talkative cat which I can tolerate in the daytime, but at night I need my sleep. He meows and meows and meows and howls and tries to sleep on my face or my neck. He wakes me up at midnight with his meowing. This is the reason that he had to go in the rec room, by the way. I can't lock him out of my bedroom at night because he stands at the door and goes into his desperate scratching fit. He's not hungry (he gets a bite to eat right before I go to bed) he's not thirsty, he gets lots of attention and playing with during the day.

What can I do to calm my crazy cat down so I can get some sleep? Keep in mind that this is not new behaviour, if he was allowed to sleep with me before I moved out he did the same thing.

Any help or suggestions would be appreciated!
post #2 of 12
Moving a cat at that old of an age can be VERY hard on a kitty, especially since he had another cat to socialize with. Perhaps another cat would help and make it so you are able to shut the door?

Have you ever talked to your vet about this behavior before?
post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by 3calicos
Moving a cat at that old of an age can be VERY hard on a kitty, especially since he had another cat to socialize with. Perhaps another cat would help and make it so you are able to shut the door?

Have you ever talked to your vet about this behavior before?
I've mentioned it to my vet and she just said that some cats are more needy than others.

Souffle was like this before I moved, but I could tolerate it because he went into the rec room at night. Before I moved he would completely ignore the other cat and would pester me at night if not put into the rec room.

He actually handled the move pretty well, better than he did when we moved ten years ago. After that move he hid under a dresser for a week!

Maybe he's bored? I don't think another cat would help because he completely ignored his brother when they lived together and fixated on me for attention.
post #4 of 12
He's lonely and feeling insecure. He has lost his brother and his familiar home and now all he has is you. He is an older cat who doesn't adjust to change well. You really will have to spend a lot of time reassuring Souffle - even if it means waking up and cuddling him in the middle of the night at the loss of your own sleep. You are now all the world to this cat and when you moved him away from his brother and home, you took on the responsibility of filling those roles for him. He may eventually learn to relax enough to let you sleep through the night but it is going to take him some time. He is 15 years old - he needs you - think of this like having a newborn baby who needs you even when you are tired. I do know what you are going through as I went through it as well when I moved six cats nearly 900 miles to a new home. Even though they still had each other, they wanted my reassurance as well.
post #5 of 12
Even if it seemed like he ignored the other cat at home, there was another cat and also I'm assuming other people. So now all the attention he has ever needed is only coming from you at all. I'm not sure about getting another cat at his age but you will have to be willing to be his only companion.

Anyway, Souffle was used to the routine of being in the rec room at night with his brother (and they did like each other, or they wouldn't have slept in the cat bed together!) so it would bother him not to be. It is not so much anything but it is the routine. Now that he doesn't have a routine anymore, he wants your attention and he wants to sleep with you.

The only way to make a cat stop keeping you up is to ignore it and pretend to be asleep even if the cat sits on your forehead and claws at your ears. Really really the only way. That said, he needs extra attention and playtime during all other hours, and maybe some new super fun toys to play with alone while you're gone. And especially a lot of love right before bed. Eventually he will calm down at night and learn to play quietly.

You also may want to consider a compromise spot for him to sleep, like down by your feet or by your elbow instead of on your face. The best way to do this is to consistently move him to the spot you want him to sleep in, and then pet him and coo at him while he's there. If you do this every time he lays on your head, he will get the point and happily sleep somewhere else on the bed.

Your cat is craving stability, comfort, and routine from you right now.
post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 
I guess I'll just to wait it out, then!

He does get a LOT of attention, he is not neglected by any means.

I wonder if a Feliway plug in would help?
post #7 of 12
I love the Bach Flower Remedies as well. We can use them on our pets just as we use them on ourselves.

For his stress I would suggest Rescue Remedy. It is a combination of different Bach Flowers that help with stress.

there are a few other specific Bach Flower Remedies that might be good for him as well, once you narrow his behavor down to a cause. It sounds to me like he is insecure.

Here is one link to a website that uses Bach Flowers for animals.


You can get Bach Flower Remedies at ANY healthfood store. Wholefoods/Central Market/FreshFields etc. I wouldn't think GNC has them.

They run about 15.00 a bottel and you would only need the rescue remedie and maybe one other to help with either confidence or calming.

THEY REALLY DO WORK. I need to stress this!

If you have any questions, just ask me in the thread. I think it would be helpful for other people that want to encourage a more pleasing behavior in their animals. (Or husbands. )
post #8 of 12
I was in no way saying he was neglected at all. It's just that he needs, like, superhuman levels of interaction to help him adjust to his new life. It's almost like all the attention he ever got from the combination of everybody where he used to live he now needs twice that much from you for just a little while until he isn't as anxious.
Feliway can never hurt, and might help calm him down a little. I wouldn't expect it to be a miracle cure in this case, but he might feel better.

The sleep-training will take a little while, but the worst thing you can do is give up and start trying to lock him out or scold him for nighttime yowling/needling. Sometimes I think cats really have no idea why we sleep so hard and stubbornly for the whole night and then stay awake all day. They must think we're crazy. And if you've noticed they can sleep through anything, so they must not know how obnoxious they are to us. And don't be surprised if suddenly he starts making as much noise as he possibly can in your room. I have bells hanging by more door and Zissou learned how to ring them to try and wake me up. And if you have a noisy toy he hates, put it by your bed, and he'll play with it. However, if you stick with ignoring him while you really are sleeping (or were before he woke you) then once he gets it it will last the rest of your lives together. If you try scolding him or whatever, it'll work for awhile and then you'll have to start doing it again.
post #9 of 12
what about moving the second cat in with you? at least on a trial basis?
post #10 of 12
Does he have food out all night? Has he lost any weight?
post #11 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the suggestions you guys!

Yarra: I will definitely look for that stuff. Thanks!

Zissou'sMom: Hee. I know what you meant, don't worry. Souffle is getting loads of attention right now. I've discovered that if I really annoy him at night when he starts with his head butting and meowing he'll sullenly go and sleep down at the foot of the bed. I don't scare him, I just shake the bottom sheet around a bit where he is, which he is not fond of. Of course that doesn't stop him from sneaking back up when I am asleep and plopping himself down over my face.

I haven't even tried locking him out of my room because I know from past experience that not only will he be traumatised by the experience, he'll scratch and meow at the door non-stop for the entire night.

I think I will get a Feliway plug-in. He's fine in the apartment when I am here, but I don't know how he fares when I'm out or at work.

Rarepuss: I'm afraid bringing the other cat over isn't an option. He's very ill (osteosarcoma) and I don't want to stress him unnecessarily.

cloud_shade: He does not have food out all night because he isn't a good free feeder. If food is in his bowl he eats it immediately. He gets fed before I go to bed, and again at around 7 in the morning, then he gets another bit of food at 5 o'clock when I get home from work. Actually if anything he's getting a bit chubby!
post #12 of 12
I had the same problem with my 10 month old cat. Although i couldnt give in an just let him in the bedroom. It made for some pretty long nights with no sleep. First aof all I agree with the others that your cat probably misses his friend. The solution that i used and it worked great was i took the vacuum cleaner put it outside the bedroom door and plugged it in on a powerbar on the bedside table then when ever he scratched i would turn it on.

Try it out and let me know if it works.

Its worth a shot
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