I have a cat, he’s male and I’ve had him for almost 5 years now. We’ve been through three moves in the course of a year. I’m sure that’s been stressful. My problem is that he’s waking me up almost every hour on the hour. I feel like I have a newborn baby at home! I recently took him to the vet for his physical and all is well. I realize that cats are nocturnal and it’s in their nature to hunt at night but I’m absolutely exhausted. I’ve tried playing with him before bed to try and tucker him out, but it hasn’t made much of a difference. – L.L.
After three moves in a year, he’s probably just checking to make sure you haven’t moved. I know theoretically cats are nocturnal but I have a hard time calling any pet that can and does sleep day and night as anything but lucky. Also, after 5 years what are the chances he wakes up one night and says, “Hey I’m nocturnal and I’ve decided so should you be too.” Nope, something else is going on.
I don’t think the upheaval is the cause, as if he was that sensitive it should have started on your first or second move. I’ve found that when an animal has a sudden unexpected change in behaviour it’s worth a trip to the vets for blood work to see if something is physically amiss. Most physicals don’t include blood and if not I think you should go back.
With this sort of thing though, often there’s another cat prowling about in the vicinity. Usually they need a visual to go over the edge but if you’re in a walk up or a high rise maybe he is seeing a feline infringer. Even if you’re higher up, just hearing some yowling would be enough to upset him on “his” new territory.
You’re on track as far as trying to wear him out before bed which can be tough as “Feel the burn”, isn’t exactly part of a cat’s vocabulary. A cat’s idea of a workout is chewing its food. However with a little creativity you might get him moving. Try giving him a paper bag to play in, a ping-pong ball to knock about, feather on a string, chase the dot from a laser pen, but only before bed.
On the flip side, when he wakes you up for attention, why don’t you give him some. Keep a spray bottle beside your bed and spritz him. The key board cleaners that are used to blow cookie crumbs from a keyboard make a hissing noise and can make some cats change their ways. For interfering with my sleep, more my style would be a blast from one of those mini air horns you hear at hockey games. I’d want him to be thinking, “For God sake! Don’t wake him up. He’s a bear without 8 hours.” Your neighbours mightn’t be thrilled with that one.
However, before you start rocking his sensory world have your vet do a blood panel and look and listen for any sign of other cats in the neighborhood.
John Wade the Dog Trainer