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Why your cat wakes you up at 4am in the morning

22 September, 2007

This is dedicated to everyone who’s been woken up at the crack of dawn by their cat!

The truth is, it may not be hunger that drives your cat to rouse you.

It’s because cats are crepuscular – a great word that describes activity that takes place at twilight, i.e. at dawn and dusk. 

Prey tends to be active during those hours too, and so cats naturally evolved to take advantage of Mr Mouse’s social hours. 

If anyone tells you cats are creatures of the night, that’s not technically true.  Cats have superb night vision, but even they can’t see in pitch-black darkness, so cats tend to sleep when it’s dark/night.

So, what can you do if your cat’s crepuscular peak hours don’t coincide with yours?

Goes without saying:  don’t allow your cat to share your bed/bedroom.  [i.e. do as I say and not as I do, said she who shares her bed with 2 Maine Coons and is slave to their dawn chorous].  And best to shut your cats at night in a room as far away from the bedroom as possible so that you don’t hear them scratching the door in the morning.

If your cats are your bed companions, try getting black-out curtains to shut out the early-morning sun.  That might buy you a bit of time [but not much - I have black-out curtains].

Try ear plugs to block out their crepuscular cries.  [Works a bit, but not much use when the cat decides to walk on your face, or make bread on your chest]

Try keeping your cat awake during the day, so that it sleeps for longer at night.  Apparently, cats sleep up to 16 hours a day! 

And I don’t know if it’s true, but a psychic once told me that cats journey in their sleep, i.e. their spirits leave their bodies and go on a kind of astral hike which is why they sleep so much.   The same psychic added that cats have the ability to absorb entities – whatever that means.

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88 comments

  1. Just last night I woke up to my cat knocking a Halloween dish off the shelf onto a table. It was a glass container and glass exploded everywhere. :\

    Not exactly fun to clean up at 3 AM.


  2. Heh! I shouldn’t smile, but we all know what cats are like. Do you think she was deliberately trying to wake you up? Or maybe she was expressing an aesthetic opinion about the Halloween dish?

    My worse experience was waking up to the sound of retching and of course it was a cat being sick on the carpet!

    Thanks for sharing your experience!


    • my sister has two cats. i came back on leave and tonight there was a blackout then a flicker of power than nothing. i went to check on my sister upstairs and the one cat was following me until i got to the stairs it stopped backed up and waited to see what i was going to do. i saw the cat and continued up of course armed thinking somebody was up there. got to the top searched sis was ok cat still stayed downstairs. sis told me cat freaks out now n then sometimes hisses at nothing at the stairs.


      • Hello Joe, sorry for the delay in replying.

        Thank you for sharing your experience. So … is the question how to stop the cat from freaking out?

        I know this may sound kooky, but have you tried sprinkling catnip on the stairs? A bit of positive reinforcement goes a long way.

        Of course, if there is a supernatural reason for the cat hissing at nothing then that’s beyond my experience!

        Best wishes,


      • So what do you do when all else fails?


      • Dear Suznstella,

        [sorry for the delay in replying]

        This is a tough one. I think there is always something that can be done, can be tried.

        But if all else fails … perhaps one suggestion is to put the cat in a cattery for a few days to see if that re-sets the cat’s habit?

        Or if it’s affecting your health … consider rehoming. Or getting a companion cat and put them in a room together so they are company for each other in the wee hours of the morning.

        Best wishes, Rona


      • If anyone reading this has any further suggestions or how to help a cat sleep and not wake up at 4am in the morning, please feel free to post. I know from the number of posts that this is a common habit, and I wish I had the answers, but I don’t. Cats are individuals and sometimes something that works for one won’t for another.


  3. Wow you’re really the cat expert! Have you visited this site: icanhascheezburger.com? They have the cutest and funniest pics I’ve ever seen about cats!!!

    By the way, are cats’ eyes supposed to glow red when it’s dark? Cos I had one glare at me when I was jogging at night some time ago and its eyes were glowing red…creeped me out big time!


  4. Hello Yee Hung, thanks for reading my blog. I wish I were a cat expert – I’m a novice breeder so am always learning. I don’t know about cats eyes glowing red, but their eyes have pupils that open larger than human eyes, plus they have some specialised cells at the back of their eyes called the tapetum lucidum which act like a mirror and reflects any light back. Their eyes appear to glow yellow or orange. Humans don’t have this tapetum lucidum so when you take a photo, human eyes appear red.


  5. And all that didn’t come from an expert??? Tapetum what???!! :P

    By the way, I read about that astral thing before, some people apparently do it too. There was this guy who went to Mars and back before NASA was able to get to it, and his description of it fits exactly what whatever NASA put onto Mars reported. Spooky.


  6. My cat Whiskey, dearly missed, used to wake me up most mornings by grooming my hair. :)


  7. Ah, Norman, that is so sweet. She obviously felt you were part of Clan Cat. What our cats do to show us their love for us!

    (Did it mean you had to wash your hair every day?).

    Best wishes


  8. I am having a lot of trouble with my cat scrabbling at the window and mewling as soon as it starts getting light. This is of course is getting earlier and I’m getting grumpier each day that my sleep is cut short by 1-2 hours. He isn’t intentionally waking us and if we lock him out of the bedroom he just scrabbles at that door all night and morning.
    We’re moving soon and I hoped it would be chance to start again in some areas of his ‘training’ but I’d feel cruel locking him in the living room at night, (we have a 1 bed/reception room flat). I was hoping that some kind of deterrent on the window sill might work, I heard double sided sticky tape on pieces of card is unpleasant for them?


  9. I couldn’t believe it when Google found an exact match for my search. The only difference with us though is that our cat wakes us up at 4am with her very loud purr as she demands a little attention. The cats don’t wake us up with any other noise ever for the large part.


  10. Hi Kat,

    It’s very much a lifestyle thing, but if your cat is depriving you of sleep, you’ve got to weigh up whether going without sleep is good for you! I’m not the best person to preach as I’ve let my cats wake me up in the morning!

    Yes, you can try the double-sided sticky tape trick. I hope it works!

    Or, alternatively, you can make it more attractive for him to be sleeping outside the bedroom. For e.g., getting a heated bed for him (unless you live in a region which is hot year-round), and getting an automated feeder which opens round about the time he would normally wake you up, and sprinkling catnip on his bedding which is outside the bedroom.

    When you locked him out, how many days running did you do this? Sometimes it takes a few days to break the habit. It is very hard when they start moaning. Maybe earplugs might work, just for a few days until he gets the hang of not bothering to moan.

    Good luck and let me know how it goes!


  11. Hi Jason,

    Purring is such a nice sound to wake up to! What a charmer your cat is!

    4am … 5am … 6am … I have people writing into me saying their cats wake them up at different times. Some want to eat, some want to play! Cats are creatures of routine, they love ritual and once you let them get into an established pattern, it’s harder to stop the habit.

    If you value your sleep, it may be best not to let her sleep with you – I wish I’d taken my own advice earlier on!

    Thanks for sharing your experience!


  12. My cat keeps me up every night and I”m considering locking him out of the bedroom. The only problem is that he’s a house cat and is devoid of any attention during the day. Do you think making him sleep alone at night would be cruel?


  13. Hi Gabriel,

    No, I don’t think it’s cruel to make him sleep alone at night.

    In fact, it’s a very good idea. If you don’t get enough sleep that would have a negative impact on your health and wellbeing, which would subsequently have a bad effect on your cat.

    For the sake of your cat you’ve got to keep your energy up. Otherwise you’re going to think of your cat as a burden, and not as a companion. So please do consider shutting him out of the bedroom.

    Some cats are just too energetic at night. So don’t feel guilty if you can’t be Playstation to the cat.

    You might encounter a bit of resistance the first few times you lock him out of your bedroom.

    So you need to make it attractive for him to not be in the bedroom with you.

    For example, you might want to give him his own room for the night – it could be the bathroom, if it’s large enough, or a study. Because if you just leave him to roam the house, he might scratch your bedroom door.

    And you might also want to establish a “go to bed” routine for him, the equivalent of supper, bed and bath for a baby. Cats like ritual and routine, and around the same time every night, if you can feed him in the room you’re going to put him in, then he will associate the room with nice things. Maybe play a little game with him. Give him catnip only when he is in that room. And then leave him.

    I’ve heard that heated beds/heating pads are very popular with cats, so if you can afford one, you might find that your cat will find the heated bed more attractive than your bedroom.

    Another thing you could do, if you’re home all day, is to keep him awake during the day. That way, he’ll be tired by night, and might sleep the night away. Or you can wait until the weekend and just keep him busy and playing all day.

    The key to this is persistence, and a pair of earplugs for yourself for the first week or so.


  14. After 2 years of sleeping in the same room (studio apartment) with my cat Pepper, I got a small 1 bedroom apartment. For a week I kept the door closed and kept earplugs in. He didn’t give up, and would bang against the door, meow, scratch and rip the carpet outside of the door. He actually ripped about almost all of the carpet outside of the door. I was terribly sleep deprived after that week and gave in. My bathroom is right off of my bedroom, so the same would happen if I put him in there. Pepper doesn’t even respond to a spray bottle. I think the problem is that he is bored and lonely during the day when I am working and stuff. And that my apartment is too small.


  15. My 7.5 year old Maine coon has been waking me up by crying, almost every day at 3:45 for almost 3 weeks now. My situation: I have 2 roommates. My bedroom door is near the stairs/atrium and there is a door to the atrium. Even if i have both doors closed, i can hear him scratch, and I have no exclusive room that I can lock him in either. I guess it would just be a matter of time to see if he would stop scratching the outer door? By the way, this website is the closest I found to my Google search ‘maine coon wakes me up too early’


    • Are you feeding your cat “treats” by any chance? Especially tuna flavored Temptations? I made the mistake of giving them to our kitty and he became addicted to them. He would stand in the stairwell at night in the dark and howl and howl, I thought he was becoming senile. Once we detoxed him from them the middle of the night howling stopped!


      • Hi BB,

        Good question. But no … I wasn’t feeding my cats “treats” at that point. He and she just got woke up when the sun went up and wanted to go out and it had to be NOW!

        Thanks for mentioning this. It’s a very good tip for those owners who’ve had to wake up in the middle of the night.

        With best wishes for 2010! All at Catswhiskers

        PS – how did you “detox” your cat from treats? We’d love to know – it’s always a hard one for people with cats on kibble.


  16. My cat tigger wakes me at 6am. He comes into the bedroom at about 5am though but sleeps next to me until about 6 when he gets hungery. He then does the bread making thing but with claws on my head. When I wake up he sits there looking totally innocent like they were someone elses claws. Can’t lock him out and can’t be angry because he’s sooooo cute.


  17. Dear Deb,

    You are a cat lover. But seriously, if you do want your sleep, you may have to lock him away in a room where you won’t be able to hear him. Just make sure there’s food, water and a litter tray. And make it a ritual every night – play with him first then give him a treat in the room and then close the door … . Easier said than done, I know!

    Good luck!


  18. My kitty slaps me to wake me up and the second I move she starts purring.. My main problem is going to sleep, at night she is very active and I wake up fairly early. I love my kitties though and this seems to be a phase. I got two of my cats as kittens and they grew out of it, I’m hoping the kitten I have now will grow out of it too. [And hopefully my friends learn to spay their cats so I don't fall in love with anymore kittens :)]

    To share something cute.. type in ‘Simons cat’ in the YouTube search, so funny!


    • Hello Sarah,

      Thank you for sharing your cat story!

      Why is it we let our cats get away with being our masters, eh?

      Does she sleep a lot during the day? If you are at home, maybe you can keep her awake and play a few games with her so that’s she’s tired by bedtime.

      I do hope that as she grows older she’ll grow more mellow. I think she will – kittens are soooo active!

      Good luck!


      • My cat is 13 and she has developed the habit of waking me up at 3:00 or 4:00 am. She will first try walking on me and then when that doesn’t work she’ll walk on the copy machine or chew or claw papers. Any annoying noise to get me up. She had food and water so it was just to get me up. I got into the habit sleepily picking her up and depositing her into the bathroom which works until about 7:30 am or when the sun actually comes up. My daughter just moved in with 2 other girls and took the cat since I’m never home but the cat is not waking ALL of them and my daughter is pleading for me to take the behavioral issues back onto my home, whether I’m there or not. HELP!! Any advice? We’ve tried the earplugs… (works for me) the cat gives up and comes back to bed… but hasn’t for my daughter. Who has time to play with a cat when you get home at 11:00 at night from work? Oh and there is no other room to put the cat in. The girls all have their own rooms and there is no door to the area off the kitchen where the cat box and food dishes are. Now what?!


      • Hi Suznstella,

        You mentioned you let your daughter have the cat because you are never at home. Is this 24 hours? Or is it more a case that you are concerned the cat won’t have any company during the daytime? If so … cats sleep 12-14 hours during the day, so I wouldn’t worry about her getting bored if you’re not around.

        I’ve read your other comment, and am full of sympathy. I’m like you – I have a cat who wakes me up, and I feed it and then go back to bed. Sometimes I fall asleep, sometimes I toss-and-turn. Not ideal.

        It could be that your daughter will get used to the cat.

        But because it’s an older cat, it’s set in its ways.

        You may have to take it back. Or put it in a cattery for a bit and see if that will break its habit. Or rehome.

        Best wishes and good luck


    • Hi Molly,

      I’ve heard that the trick is to put a belljar or a pot or a bird cage over the catnip.

      A good friend of mine, who helps play with the kittens, has recently had great results with growing a sprig of catnip in a glass jar of water – it’s sprouted roots and is on the windowsill so her cat can’t get at it. Once it’s stronger I think she’ll plant it out … sometime in the spring/summer.

      Nematodes … well, they’re supposed to work, but I still had slugs. Maybe it’s because I didn’t use the nematodes as soon as they arrived so maybe they lost their efficacy. Sigh. I almost used slug pellets, but held back. I used to go out into the garden at night and spend half an hour every night picking them up and hurling them into the (ssssshhhh) neighbours’ gardens. I think they just thought it was a bit of exercise and crawled back. I even tried beer traps, but all it meant was that all the slugs in the neighbourhood used to drop in for a quick pint before munching on my lettuces. I try so hard to garden organically, and even contemplated using Rudolf Steiner’s Biodynamic method of getting rid of slugs (check it out on the internet – urgggh). I even once managed to get a hedgehog but it escaped.

      Hope you have better luck!


  19. Hello Catwhiskers, I rescued a cat out of a neighbors bush almost a month ago, had noticed her living there for about 2 months prior but because of her horrible meow (terribly gruff and her sweet face goes all Halloween cat scary) I assumed she was feral. Well she began to follow me when I walked up or down the block. That led to me leaving food outside my door and ultimately her coming inside my place. Needless to say she has never attempted to leave again!

    It’s amazing how quickly she warmed up to me, I can only assume she once belonged to someone and craved that human attention. Within this short time span her behaviours change so quickly. Within days she begun sleeping under the covers with me and sits on my lap all day long whilst I’m at the computer (work from home a lot).

    The problems started a week ago. I adore sleeping with her, we actually spoon (yes, I’m like Elmira from Tiny Toons) but last week she started waking me up several times a night by sticking her nose up mine and basically sufficating me in my sleep! I know she just wants attention but I need her to stop so I can breath.

    I live in a large open space so can’t shut her away at night unless I put her in the bathroom and I just don’t like that idea (meows that terrible meow if I do anyway). I don’t like the idea of leaving food out all day but have begun putting a little kibble out just before going to bed. Is there a way to nip this behaviour in the bud?

    Thanks and great site!

    Oh, and I’m not the actress, MBB is my cats name : )


    • Dear Naomi,

      Thank you for reading my blog and thank you for your kind comments.

      I think it’s wonderful what you’ve done for MBB. Isn’t it amazing how your love has transformed her? She definitely knew who her special human was going to be!

      OK, I’ll be honest – I don’t think there’s an easy solution to your cat waking you up or suffocating you. You could try blowing into her face when she does that – a lot of cats don’t like that – and that might put her off snuggling close to your mouth/nose. Or rub your face with something like eucalyptus oil – they don’t like that either, but that might put her off sleeping with you.

      But the waking-you-up business, that’s a tough one. Would you be able to place your finger on any event that could have triggered her sudden need to wake you up? Did you for instance eat tuna that night??!!! Or have you started sleeping with the curtains wide open so that the earlier sunrises are waking her up?

      The only solution really is to shut her away in the bathroom. If you make it a pleasant ritual, then she’ll grow accustomed to it. Like play with her in the bathroom, give her a bit of catnip, a bit of kibble. Then shut the door. Invest in a pair of earplugs. After a few evenings she should stop mewing. But if you still want to sleep with her then there’s no solution except sleepless nights. That’s in my personal experience.

      I like Meredith Baxter Birney too – I remember her in the American series “Family”. She was very beautiful.

      I’ve just been onto your website – great site and great photos.

      Good luck and all the best – please let me know if any of the suggestions work.


  20. Oops, my post name was supposed to be my kitty’s name: Meredith Baxter Birney. Real fan of those Lifetime Television for Women movies ; )


  21. Hi everyone,

    It was so great to read all your comments etc. I am not alone with the wake night antics. My two very beautiful boy and girl maine coons are driving me crazy, when I go to sleep at night and between the hours of 4:00 and 5:00am. I had Saskia speyed but not Bastian, I had wondered if this was the night time problem but alas it’s not! Although he does spend a lot of time chasing her, sniffing her bits and jumping on her still….. so I may need to spey him before he is one, cause I hate seeing her looking very annoyed and hiding from him.!!!!!?????

    Eliz and co xx


    • Dear Eliz,

      Thank you for reading the blog and for sharing your experiences – join the club!

      Absolutely – get him neutered. Soon! Otherwise he will start spraying. Intact male cat wee is terrible – very hard to get rid of the smell. And once he gets into the habit, even if you get him neutered, there’s a chance he’ll still spray.

      So get him neutered … asap!

      Most people don’t wait until one year old. They get it done by 7 months latest.

      As for the waking up at 4am business … well, the only way to get a good night’s sleep is to not sleep with the cats. That’s based on my personal experience and the experience of those who’ve written in. Cats have their own routines and they don’t care if we don’t share their hours!

      Saskia and Bastian are lovely names by the way.

      Good luck – keep us posted on how Bastian does!

      Best wishes.


  22. Ahhh!! My cat starts out the night sleeping at the foot of the bed. Sometime after 2am, he starts making regular forays up to the head of the bed, creeping up the pathway between my husband and I. He purrs loudly the whole way. If he can make it up to our heads, he lies there for awhile, purring louder than a bulldozer, then starts stroking our heads. If that doesn’t get a response, he will start tapping our face. Our response is to toss him off the bed. He’ll wait for a half hour or so, then jump back on and start the process again. You can tell he knows he’s not supposed to walk up to our heads, as he proceeds oh-so-carefully… one slow paw at a time… waiting to see if we notice him creeping up the pathway. If I turn or breathe loudly, he’ll freeze mid-step, waiting to hear if I settle back down again. It’s driving me crazy!


    • Hi,

      Thanks for sharing your Sleepless in Catland experience!

      What slaves we are to our cats, eh?

      I wish I had a fix for the sleepless nights, but I’m afraid the only cure is to … not sleep with the cat.

      Best wishes,


  23. [...] The Cat’s Whiskers About my litter of Maine Coon kittens, being a novice cat breeder and all things mostly related to cats « Great Cat Breeder’s Blog – Mythicbells Persian Cats and Kittens Why it may be good news if your cat wakes you up at 4am in the morning 15 March, 2010 Some of you cat lovers may already have come across my ealier post on why your cat wakes you up at 4am in the morning. [...]


  24. I have two beautiful, rescued siamese mixes. Needy Petie, the gregarious, over the top, affectionate, vocal and “in your face” kind of kitty. He wakes me up promptly begining at 5am with pulling on my eyelashes, placing his paw directly on the center of my forehead and climbing back under the covers after shoooooing him away ( this is usually were he sleeps between my husband and i body stretched full length out for max body heat) if I have not stirred up for his satifaction, he will either nip the leg, or come out and start rattling the wooden blinds and/or rubbing on the bedside light, knocking over candle holders, you name it…. he THINKS i am supposed to be up with him. He constantly is following me around “helping me with my chores” and all my morning chores… unfortunately, my husband is on vacation right now and Petie doesn’t understand that we CAN sleep in ( i normally make coffee and breakfast for my husband as he leaves for work at 6am) Any suggestions as helping my kitty not be so adament about waking up? My husband will be deploying soon to the land of the sand and will working nights so i can get on his schedule.


    • btw… the boys are 7 years old.. we have had them since they were 3weeks and 6 months old…. they are “army brats” LOL


    • Hello Sara,

      Thanks for posting on my blog.

      Aren’t you lucky to have Siamese-mixes – I bet they’re very intelligent. These Oriental cats – they are so clever they need constant stimulation, and they think they’re human!

      OK – the only 100% guaranteed solution is to not let Needy Petie sleep with you. Sorry if you wanted a compromise. The other thing you could do is rouse and offer him some food and see if that quietens him down. You could also try feeding him outside the room and then closing the door and sneaking back to bed. But I don’t know if you’re like me – once I’m woken up I find it hard to fall back to sleep.

      Black-out curtains might help to stop the dawn light from getting in and waking him up. But again, there’s no guarantee.

      It’s not easy to re-train a cat to not sleep with you, but it can be done – just make sure you make it a ritual every night, play with him, give him a treat, then close the door on him. And get some ear plugs in case he meows.

      At the end of the day, it’s not good if you’re suffering from lack of sleep. So as much as you love Needy Petie, you’ve got to think of yourself and your husband too!

      Good luck!

      PS – Needy Petie is such an interesting name!


  25. good to read everyone! I have a hyperactive young male cat, Ronan, who we keep indoors. He is neutered. He was kept out of the bedroom until recently, and he never woke us up before 9 am. But he was meowing loudly all day long. I’m home most of the day and he gets several intense playing sessions a day. We let him into the bedroom at night, and the day meowing lessened considerably. At first I got long cuddles in the early hours. BUT. he’s become very active from about 4:30 onwards, including climbing the curtains next to the bed and scratching violently at the window. At some point he’d stop and be all cuddly and sleep. But it’s driving me nuts. I am trying the vacuum cleaner thing, which seems to have stopped the curtain climbing and window scratching, but not the general busyness. I hate to lock him out of the bedroom again, especially if it’s going to make him meow all day again.. but…

    He is impervious to catnip or honeysuckle. Never meows for food. Will play until total exhaustion and panting, last thing at night, but still is up bright and early. A blackout curtain isn’t really possible, we have a huge bay window.


    • Hi,

      Thanks for sharing about your early-morning experience! As you can see, it’s a common experience for people who let their cats share their bedrooms!

      OK – there is only one solution and that is to keep the cat out of the bedroom. One of my friends has suggested something else – whenever the cats wake her up too early she pops them out of the bedroom and closes the door on them, and then ignores them. She claims they’ve learnt that waking her up early means being chucked out of the bedroom, so they’ve stopped doing that.

      You mentioned the vacuum cleaner thing – out of curiosity, what’s that?

      Your sleep is important – I know you love your Ronan, but really if you’re cranky from lack of sleep it doesn’t help matters.

      Another suggestion: You could try getting another cat to keep Ronan company and who would play with him during the day (and night).

      Best wishes,


  26. I guess we’re lucky because our cat Puma only wakes me at 5 a.m. But the way he does it is so obnoxious: he digs holes in the bed sheet. He digs furiously, but only on my side. He would not dare wake my husband. He’s smart that way. My husband semi-gently flung him once, years ago, and Puma never forgot that. When I finally get up (to save the linnen) he loses interest, does not even demand any breakfast. I thought that making him wait until 7:30 for food would show him who was the boss, but this does not phase him in the least. He just wants to dig until I get up. I locked him out a few times but could not fall asleep without the purring and cuddles. I’d rather be sleep-deprived than go through purr-withdrawal.


  27. Hello Arlette, thanks for sharing your 4am experience with us! I think what I’ve realised is that there’re loads of cat lovers like us who prefer to sacrifice some sleep for the sake of our cats. I just wish there were some way to speak “cat” so we could tell them to wake us up at a more civilised hour in the morning!

    A friend of mine says what worked is putting the cat out of the room everytime he woke her up, and shutting the door on the cat. After a few times, the cat got the message and stopped waking her up because he didn’t want to be exiled outside the bedroom.


  28. Well I have an update on Ronan. What we do now, is let him sleep in the bedroom (on the bed, usually…) until he wakes up, and if he is loud and playful (most nights, but not always), we put him out and shut the door. This could be anytime betweeen 2:30 am and 5:30 am. We let him in again later when we wake up, when he usually cuddles nicely, going to sleep for a bit. He doesn’t meow to get let into the bedroom after we have locked him out, unless it’s getting on for after 8:30 or so. I think this is because when we first got him we didn’t let him in the bedroom, so he’s used to being locked out. However, what we also do is close the doors to the living room and my office when we go to sleep, so he has less roaming possibilities, and then when we do lock him out in the wee hours, we open these doors. His favourite chair is in the living room, so he’s pretty happy to explore etc by himself.

    So, it does mean being woken up pretty much every night, but it also means we can go back to sleep afterwards without being disturbed much, and we also get his cuddles and company (and vice versa).

    (He has not learned not to wake us up as he doesn’t seem to mind being locked out…)


    • Dear Sandra,

      Thanks for sharing the update about Ronan!

      I’m so glad that you found something that works for both of you. I’m going to update the blog post and mention your success story. It’s good that people write in and share what works for them and to know that there is hope for us who get woken up by our cats!

      Best wishes!


  29. I hope someone is able to help me with this- when my husband is away, my cat will let me sleep until 10 or 10:30 before waking me up- which I’m fine with. But when he is home it seems to be all hours of the morning. I thought it was because I am pregnant, but when he was just away for a week, she never bothered me. I just want to sleep!!!


    • Dear Kelly,

      What does your husband do with your cat when she wakes up early? Does he play with her? Does he feed her?

      If that’s the case, she associates him with being fed and played with.

      When did this behaviour start? Was it recent or has it been something that’s gone on for a long time?

      From my personal experience, the only surefire way to get a lie-in if you have cats, is to not have the cat share your bed. So lock the cat out of the bedroom when your husband is around.

      Alternatively, you could try associating your husband with a not-so-pleasant experience. Like have him ignore her when she wakes up. It will take some training to correct her behaviour. It would be easier to lock her out of the bedroom.

      Sorry I don’t have any more advice – perhaps someone else might have experience of getting round this problem.

      Best wishes


      • My partner and I have had our Persian ‘Alfie’ for just under a year – he was just under 3 months when we took him from his parents and siblings.

        He soon became accustomed to scratching at the bedroom door at 6 in the morning, then often at 5, and occasionally earlier.

        Items were placed in front of the door, to the point where we would barricade ourselves in, to try and keep him from the door.

        We used a pet repellant on the door…placed the hoover next to it(he doesn’t like the hoover when switched on), but despite all efforts, we suffered endless months of disturbance at dawn and before.

        As a last resort we put him in the utility room downstairs, with plenty of comforts and his litter tray.

        Initially, his cries left us guilt-ridden, but we persevered with this routine. Several months later and Alfie pretty much sets his own bedtime….

        When my partner goes upstairs to bed, Alfie will unfaillingly follow, for a drink from the cold tap and a long brush. He will then come downstairs, gain my attention, then lead me to the utility room where he will sprawl out on the wooden floor whilst I gather his tray and replenish his biscuit bowl. The odd moth or two may well be an added attraction, nevertheless Alfie now spends his nights seemingly ‘as happy as larry’, and our sleeping patterns have returned to normal!

        Where there’s a will there’s a way…..


  30. !!! My cat Tiki wakes us up every morning by coming into our bedroom and getting in our box spring. The spray bottle used to work, but now it has gotten to the point where she doesn’t care. And when we get up (very angry at 5 am) and shut her out of the bedroom, she will then claw at the doors until someon gets up and squirts her until she runs away. Then sometimes she proceeds to knock stuff off shelves or goes crazy on the couches! She is a indoor cat, and we have a golden retriever who sleeps in the room with us so do you think it would be mean to lock her out altogether? I mean i love her, i just dont want to hurt her feelings… the thing is, she used to be fine the first two months we had her before we got the dog, but ever since then she wakes us up EVERYNIGHT, even when she has food. its just getting frustrating, im almost to the point to where i want to get her declawed. :(


    • What about leaving both dog and cat out of your bedroom at night? Then they have each other to play with / bother?

      We have resigned ourselves to being woken up at night by our cat, at which point we lock him out of the bedroom. But he doesn’t meow or cause havoc, other than when it’s actually time for us to get up, thankfully. Perhaps because when we first got him he we did not let him sleep in our room at night (lord knows why not).

      Squirting makes a cat not trust you, in my experience.


    • See my post below (wrote in wrong place) for words of encouragement and advice.


    • Dear Owner of Tiki,

      I understand how tired and frustrated you must be with the cat waking you up.

      But as you know, from reading this post and the comments that people have left, Tiki is only behaving according to cat behaviour. She wakes you up at 5am because that’s the time that ALL cats wake up. They are most active during daybreak and twilight. So she is not trying to annoy you. She is just expressing normal cat behaviour.

      She also sounds like a very intelligent cat in the way she tries to get your attention. I have a Bengal who will knock things off shelves if she wants my attention. I had a friend who had a Siamese cat who used to jump onto the kitchen counter where the mugs hung on hooks and the cat used to run his paw along the line of mugs so that they rattled. The cat knew that this would get my friend’s attention. So again … your Tiki is behaving like a normal and intelligent cat – you are so lucky to have such a clever girl!

      She also sounds like a young cat – how old is she? And what breed of cat is she?

      All young cats have a great deal of energy. All cats loves to climb and jump. My kittens used to climb up the curtains. In the wild or outdoors, they would be climbing trees. So all this is NATURAL can behaviour. It is not bad cat behaviour – it is normal.

      Because she’s an indoor cat, she will need more stimulation than an outdoor cat. So get her toys, exhaust her. Get her a climbing tree.

      I think one solution to explore is yes, to lock the bedroom door, or leave her in a separate room with her food and some toys. Make a ritual of it every night before you put her in her room and close the door. Make a fuss of her, give her a little treat and say “good night”.

      You might also want to consult an animal behaviourist who can figure out why she’s suddenly behaving differently. I suspect it’s because she’s maturing. But maybe she wants to share space with you and your husband and the dog.

      Finally, please please please do NOT declaw any cat. When cats are declawed, this is the equivalent of amputating the first section of our fingers (not just the fingernails). Yes, it’s that bad. And it’s excruciatingly painful. Declawing is banned in the UK. I can’t imagine being able to survive without the first digit of my fingers – I would be a cripple.

      Declawing will not stop her from waking you up – in fact, it will cause her life-long agony and she will express find other ways to express her frustration.

      Here are some articles on why declawing is a bad idea: http://ezinearticles.com/?Is-Declawing-Bad-For-Your-Cat?&id=183310 http://www.declawhallofshame.com/wst_page5.html http://kittencareguide.com/why-is-declawing-a-cat-or-kitten-a-bad-idea/

      If you feel you have tried everything, and you have reached the end of your patience, and you’re tired and frustrated, then perhaps you might consider rehoming Tiki. It is a tough decision, but I’m sure you love Tiki dearly otherwise you wouldn’t have lasted for so long.

      At the end of the day we must put our pets’ needs FIRST because they depend on us for their food and well-being and you want to know that you did the best for her, and not just for yourselves.

      Please let me know how things go.

      Best wishes and good luck!


      • Tiki is just over one years old. and dont worry guys, i would never de-claw my cat.. those were just words of frustration. thanks for the advice. we have been locking her out of our room for just a week now and she doesnt wake us up at all.. a couple mornings she has clawed at the door, but not early.. like at around 7-7:30 in the am so it is working good so far. thanks again


      • Dear Bre,

        I’m so glad that things are better in your household.

        (and a huge sigh of relief here that you’re not going to de-claw your little girl)

        Tiki’s a great name for a cheeky, intelligent cat. What colour is she? As she grows older, she’ll grow more sedate. That is, unless she’s a Bengal or Oriental-type cat!

        You might want to invest in a pair of ear plugs (like I have!!!) so you don’t hear her scratcing at the door.

        Good luck and do keep us updated – she sounds fascinating!

        Best wishes again!


  31. PLEASE DON’T SQUIRT YOUR CATS WITH WATER!!!They don’t understand what they are doing is wrong, it’s in their nature and squirting them is just cruel, not a good way to teach them to change their behaviour. Making a loud noise and clapping when they do something wrong is better.

    AND NEVER DECLAW YOUR CAT!!! Don’t you realize that’s like someone cutting off your first digit of every finger. When you look at it in those terms how can you even consider it?! I had friends whose cat kept clawing on their door so they nailed a pillow to the outside of it. They did it in a very neat and attractive way so it wasn’t visually unappealing and they couldn’t hear the cat scratching. In fact the cat eventually stopped clawing at the door altogether.

    Meals should also be given twice a day and food shouldn’t be left out all night so to appease her. If you feed her twice a day and try to give that last feed late say at 9 pm she shouldn’t need to eat again until like 9 am.

    Also, is she still a kitten? They have tons of energy and need to burn it off. Have you tried playing with her hard for 15-20 minutes before going to bed? Use a toy like a cat jumper so she really burns through energy.

    You say she was fine until you got the dog, maybe introducing a dog to the mix and spraying her and getting her all worked up is adding to her stress and that’s why she’s acting out. Perhaps you should not worry so much about hurting her feelings but actually listening to the cues she’s sending out. Maybe you don’t actually give her enough attention now that you have a dog.

    If you are actually planning on going through with the declawing I urge you to consider giving her away to someone else who will be willing to deal with her rather than resort to something so barbaric. She’s just being what she is, a cat, and if it doesn’t fit with your lifestyle maybe it’s best to give her away. Don’t mean to come off harsh but think you need to take a step back and really look at all the factors as to why she maybe acting in a way you don’t like and figure out if you can help solve those problems in a humane way.

    GOOD LUCK!!!


    • thanks for the advice, and no i wont de-claw my cat.. they were words of frustration only. and i dont think squirting the cat with a water bottle is cruel by any means.. shes not scared of it and she doesnt mind water so its not a big deal.
      but thank you for the advice. It is appreciaited, and since i have locked her out of our room.. everything has been fine!


      • Hi Bre…sorry if I came off harsh, just stressing the importance of not declawing the kitty. Glad to hear you are making headways with her. We’ve all been there in terms of frustrated at one time or another: my little guy has recently decided to make the bathtub his litter box. Best of luck to you all!


  32. [...] Why your cat wakes you up at 4am in the morning September 2007 51 comments 3 [...]


  33. Hi!
    My kitty problem is slightly different to most peoples- I leave my bedroom door open at night, allowing my 10 month old cat Oscar to sleep with me but wander in and out of the room in the night so as to feed and use litter tray etc. My sister and mum sleep with their bedroom doors shut.
    At a very young age Oscar would wake me up in the night but now I have no problem. My mum, however, has to put up with him scratching and meowing outside her closed bedroom door most mornings any time between 3 and 5. I wouldn’t mind him waking me up at all but it’s really stressing my mum out-all he wants to do is be near her and cuddle but she doesn’t want to sleep with her door open and once she wakes up she finds it hard to drop back off.
    I wondered if you might know why this is happening and what I can do to stop it- it is beginning to cause arguments!
    Ellie


    • Hi Ellie,

      I will have to have a think about this.

      But I have a few questions:

      – Is your mother the primary carer for your cat?

      – Is she the person who feeds the cat and who cares for and plays with the cat when you’re not at home? If that’s the case, maybe your Oscar is just being smart and going to your mother to be fed when he wakes her up in the morning.

      You might want to try this:

      – feed him when he gets up in the morning and before he gets to your mother’s room And play with him.
      – Or … lock him in your bedroom. And don’t let him out.
      –Or … give him his own room to sleep in, well away from your bedrooms.

      I know this sounds like you’re isolating him, but your mother’s sleep is also very important!Put him into the bedroom about the same time every night because cats like ritual. Make a fuss of him, give him a treat and then close the door firmly. He will learn to associate the room with having nice things.

      You may need earplugs for a few nights.

      Please let me know how you get on.

      Best wishes, The Catswhiskers


  34. My one male cat Frankie sleeps in the living room, while my other male cat Paco, sleeps w/my husband and I. Without fail, Frankie will come into the bedroom, and start meowing, usually around 4:30 a.m., every morning! (this morning, it was 3:00!) It’ll be a short, semi-quiet one at first, and then more progressive. He will then start meowing/confronting Paco. This goes on most of the day/night…the confrontation. And yes, they’re both fixed. We think Frankie is Paco’s father, or brother, as they are both Bengals, and look a lot alike. We think Frankie is part Siamese too. Paco was at our house when we bought it 15 months ago, and Frankie showed up about 5 months later…we live in the country.


  35. I have a smart kitty. I usually have a glass or mug of water on the night stand. When she wants me to wake up she will gently tap me on my nose with her paw. If I ignore that, she goes for the cup of water on the nightstand. I swear I will open up my eyes and she has one paw poised above the cup ready to dip it in…all while looking at me innocently. She knows how to get my attention alright…but luckily she sleeps until 6:30 or so.


    • Wow – can I swap your kitty for mine (and then I can get a lie-in until about 6.30am …).

      Your kitty is obviously a professional human-trainer. She sounds so polite and restrained too. Mine just jumps on my solar plexus – better than any alarm clock I know.

      Thanks for sharing – it really brought a smile to my face, imagining the game between you both and the cheeky grin on her face!

      Best wishes,


  36. [...] Catnip, Cat …Cat Toys – Selecting the Right Toys for Your Cats Play PreferenceWhy your cat wakes you up at 4am in the morning « The Cat’s …Why does my cat leave feces outside the litter box, but urinates …Understanding Why Cats Fight [...]


  37. It?s really a nice and useful piece of info. I?m satisfied that you just shared this useful information with us. Please stay us up to date like this. Thank you for sharing.


  38. I’m familiar with cats night time activity, and for the most part this isn’t a problem. However, recently, my one cat has taken to repeatedly meowing and attempting to wake us up. Usually, as soon as one of us gets up, she dashes to her food bowls, which end up being still full. Considering how she normally chows down on it, I doubt it is that she dislikes it. If she was out of food or water, I could understand, but I’m just perplexed.


  39. HI there…. we’ve just bought a gorgeous cat from the local RSPCA shelter. She was a little feisty in the shelter as she found it very stressful and felt threatened by all the noise and other cats surrounding her. They were desperate to rehome her as the longer she stayed in there the worse she would become. Although she took a few chunks out of me on the first couple of introductions, she was clearly desperate for lots of care and attention.. so we brought her home to have plenty of fuss, play time, room to mooch about and investigate and a long and happy life. She is a house cat which is ideal as we have a two bed apartment with a great view. I’ve bought her an activity centre, lots of toys which i give her on a rotational basis so she doesn’t get bored with them, a crinkle tunnel, a couple of beds and fleeces in various places so she always has a safe and comfy place to snooze and perching posts, so she can have a nosey from a safe height. What a difference!!!!, we’ve had her 4 days now and there’s been no aggressive attitude infact quite the opposite, she’s a loving lap cat who loves to play… We just have one problem. Her chosen “safe place” which she adopted when she arrived is under our bed.. so we don’t want to shut her out of the bedroom at night, but she’s keeping us awake demanding fuss all night. Any ideas how we can resolve it for her benefit as well as ours. Thanks.


    • Forgot to mention she’s 3 and a half… we feed her first thing in the morning and about 9 at night after a good hour or so play time. She also has a slimcat ball with some specialised indoor cat dried food in so she can have an active part in hunting/chasing her own food…. so we’re giving her plenty of enrichment and fuss in equal measure. She’s not noisy when she’s walking all over us in the night, she just can’t seem to get close enough and nuzzles up to our faces purring until she gets a fuss. I know this is probably for re-assurement at the minute. We have both taken 2 weeks off work to make sure she is fully settled in and happy before we go back to work.. where she will be on her own for about 5 hours max 5 days a week.but obviously we would like to try to sort out the disturbed nights before we go back to work…. Any ideas gratefully received…


      • Hi Jacqueline,

        You are certainly doing everything you can to give your girl a happy life – what a lucky cat.

        It could be that she sees you as her cat equivalent, so she wants to play. If she wasn’t so shy and traumatised by other cats I would suggest getting a companion cat to keep her company.

        If you’ve tried the other measures, i.e. shutting her out of the bedroom during the daytime and weaning her into a shelter outside the bedroom, and it doesn’t work, then I’m afraid that shutting her out of the bedroom during the nighttime may be the only answer.

        Hope this helps. I’m wishing you all the best of luck …


    • Hi Jacqueline,

      Thanks for reading my blog.

      Sorry I didn’t reply earlier – I have been travelling.

      I haven’t come across a situation like yours before, but I believe there are two parts to the issue:

      1. Your girl’s need for protection under the bed 2. Your girl waking you up in the morning.

      The only way I know of dealing with (2) is to shut the cat out of the bedroom. An alternative is to use some deterrent like the noise of something cats don’t like, for example, a vacuum cleaner, run for a few seconds everytime she tries to wake you up over a few days, but I would strongly advise against using any loud noises in this case because she’s such a gentle and timid soul and it would give her a nervous breakdown.

      Another thing you could do is fill the space under the bed so that she can’t get under the bed. Again, this is not ideal if done suddenly.

      So we have to first deal with (1), how to get her out from under the bed. Have you tried getting her used to being out of the bedroom during the daytime? Just shut the door and make sure she doesn’t have access to the bedroom. This will slowly accustom her to not having access to the bedroom. Try putting catnip in a room that is not the bedroom, and all her toys there. Do not have any toys in the bedroom so that she doesn’t associate the bedroom with fun and games. No food and drink either.

      Please try this and see what happens. Just get her used to the idea that outside the bedroom is more fun than being inside the bedroom. If she climbs on the bed, take her off and carry her into another room and stroke her there.

      Also, provide the equivalent of the bed’s protection for her – maybe a dark box, or a large paper bag she can hide under. Put her food bowl nearby to entice her to use that space.

      This will all take time of course. But if you really cannot get any sleep, then at the end of the day, it’s important that you get sleep and shutting her out of the bedroom may be the only solution.

      Let me know how it goes …

      Best wishes,


  40. I purchased a new bed in Feb 2011. My cat realized she could leap at it and hang on thanks to her trusty nails. It’s loud, ANNOYING, and she caught on quick that it was an attention getter. She started purposely waking me. We moved, I thought it would get better, I bought a water bottle hoping that would deter her.
    It’s worse now. She scratches at my door, which is open, but it wakes me from “deep sleep”. Drives me insane. I like haven’t slept for 3 days because of her.
    I don’t just lose 1- hours.


    • Dear ineedsleep,

      Sorry for the delay in replying.

      I know you don’t want to lock her in the bathroom because of the cigarette smoke, but could you leave a window slightly-open for ventilation?

      Also, make a ritual of putting her to bed in the bathroom – play with her, give her a toy and a treat. Then close the door.

      And get ear plugs.

      I know that it sounds cruel, but you need your sleep! She will get used to being shut in the bathroom.

      The other alternative, if you live in a house is to get a cat flap installed so she can come and go at 4am.

      Best wishes,


  41. I’m posting from cell so I apologize for having to post twice. I hit the comment button to soon.
    I am losing all sleep. She can be knocked out in the closet. And the moment I crawl into bed. She gets up n starts scratching at my door. I wake angry cause I’m soooooo tired. I have to jump up and spray her. Which has totally caused my blood pressure to go up I can feel it.
    I started putting her in the bathroom when she starts. But I feel bad when I wake in the morning and fiction let her out, my bathroom reeks of cigarette smoke coming in from another unit. Which I’ve complained non stop about. So if I put her in there I have to leave the light on cause that keeps the fan on. But then she’s sleeping in the bright light all night. Which also feel bad for. So now I hate putting her in bathroom. But the water bottle isn’t working. I swear she has gotten worse cause she likes me chasing her n squirting her with it.
    I am getting up 3-5 times a night.
    I am not getting any sleep, I love love love Shyla, but she’s making me want to throw her out the window.
    Which I’d never do. I am just very frustrated n very tired. :(


  42. My cat has this habit of taking socks, she gets them from the hamper or wherever she can find them, then she starts meowing like a maniac and doesn’t stop until she runs into the living room with the sock and deposits it on the living room floor. Some days the socks just pile up in the living room. She gets them from our room, she goes into my sons room and takes his socks, wherever she can get them. What on earth is she thinking?


    • Hello Ursula,

      Your cat is playing!

      If she’s ever had kittens, it could be she’s remembering having kittens and moving them about.

      I think she sounds really intelligent – she’s trying to get you to play a game with her! Or she’s hunting and socks are her “prey”.

      I think it’s great to have a cat with such skills!

      Best wishes,


  43. If we don’t get up at 4am and let his out, as he walks all over us, he will urinate in the kitchen, so we have to get up and let him out. We tried putting a litter box where he goes but he just goes beside it! He’s been to the vet, no bladder issues. What to do?


    • Hi Jilly,

      Thank you for your e-mail.

      Have you considered getting a cat flap installed so he can let himself out?

      I think he’s a smart boy to show you how annoyed he is when you don’t let him out. I know it doesn’t seem that way, but he is doing his best to tell you what he wants.

      Best wishes, Rona


  44. My kitten (of which breed I have no idea) has just turned ten weeks old. I’ve been keeping her since she was about seven weeks because her mother wouldn’t feed her. She has always been waking me up around 8 in the morning though for most times she will go to sleep with me easily and not cause too much fuss, but now I’m living with a friend and little Altair(my kitten) likes to wake me up then attempt to wake up my friend. I can’t lock her out of the room because my friend’s father is allergic so I tend to wake up early with my cat so she doesn’t wake up my friend. (I really don’t want her upset enough to make the cat leave completely since this is the only place I have.) Water doesn’t work on Altair because she likes to jump in the shower with me and get bathed. I’m not sure how coins will work with my friend either.


  45. My brown tabby female, Ripley, akes me by knocking things off my desk or bureau. She sleeps in her bed, on my bed. If I lock her out I have had several nights of a football lineman hitting my door, plus eventually she gets the knob to turn and voilla, she’s B A C K! She knows many words, walkies; lt’s go nighty nite, go sleepy; you’re silly (whereupon she flops on her back and begins twisting all over the place); and many more. She’s five and I know it’s too late to change me (um her).


    • Dear Joslene,

      Wow, your Ripley sounds real cute. But I bet she knows that too! She sounds like she’s got you wrapped round her paws!

      Can I take it you don’t mind her waking you up?

      Best wishes,


  46. It took me three hours to fall asleep last night. -3 hours- and the cat has just woken me up at 5AM. I want to scream. This has happened for the past few weeks, I can’t take it anymore!


    • Dear The Tired One,

      Sweetheart – your health comes first. Please please see if you can get your cat to sleep in another room. It may take a few days of suffering and ear plugs, but you will benefit when you get a solid night’s sleep.

      This sleeping with cats business is bad. I know because I do it, and now it’s hard to break the habit.

      Another trick might be to put your cat in a cattery for 3 weeks and that might break the habit – when he gets back, have a room ready for him, and get into a routine of putting him into that room at night and shutting your bedroom door.

      Good luck and best wishes,


  47. My cat Meredith Baxter Birney passed away nearly 2 weeks ago suddenly. Not a night goes by that I don’t miss having her wake me up by walking across my head, licking me with her sand paper tongue or mewing loudly to get me out of bed to fix her breakfast. Sometimes it’s the annoyances you miss most when your pet dies. I hope you all can grow to find them endearing and appreciate your animal wanting to be with you rather than have them stress you out.


    • Dearest Naomi,

      Thank you so much for sharing.

      Meredith Baxter Birney has been a part of this blog – we first met her when you told me that she had adopted you and one morning had a kitten in your bed – what an amazing day that must have been.

      I have been so happy to have known Meredith and shared in her life. The story about her kitten made a lot of readers very happy because it was a miracle of life.

      And even though she has passed on, we will continue to remember her …

      Love and best wishes,


  48. How do I stop my cat from scratching and meowing at the door at 4am.


  49. My daughters cat do ricochet rabbit in the morning. And the run past my face making funny noises as the run past me I tell them to stop and do for a short while then they are back at it. The baby cat is a terror. But very affectionate.


  50. […] snoop dogg the doors riders on the storm 320 would be close. The frequencies such as dog whistles, and have access to dry clean bedding and shoulders) and were only jealous of his beautiful orange coat. Children, when […]



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