Cat Behavior – Nocturnal Activity

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 16,514
    Feline specialist Dr. Kat Miller discusses nocturnal activity in cats.

    Dr. Kath Miller: Hi! I am Dr. Kath Miller of the ASPCA. Today we are talking about understanding cat behavior and now we are going to talk about cats who are up all night, who are very vocal or who are really active. Is your cat a night owl ? Why are they up all night?

    Well cats actually have a sleep wake cycle where they normally wake up a few times during the night as well as during the day. The last time they wake up during the night is often right around dawn. Cats are predators who normally and naturally hunt the types of critters that are awake at night and at dawn. So it's natural for them to get up during the night.

    So keep your expectations realistic and realize that your cat will wake up a few times during the night. The best thing to do is to help them to get a little bit sleepy right before bed time. So the best way to do that is to really tire your cat out with some play right before you go to bed and this means really, really interactive, rough and tumble, running around, pouncing type of play session.

    So get some toys that are on streams so that you can throw for your kitty. Give them at least ten minutes, maybe 15 minutes of some really active playtime and then give them their meal right before bed. So the combination of tired muscles and a full belly will make them really sleepy and help them sleep through most of the night.

    You can also leave food that is out most of the nights, so when the cat gets hungry during the night, they can have a little snack and go back to bed. You can also get a feeder that's on a timer and set it to open just before dawn, so those cats that wake up really early in the morning and start to try to wake you up to feed them, will actually have to be fed and let you sleep in peace.

    What about cat's that are really, really vocal? There are some breeds especially oriental breeds like Siamese who are naturally more vocal. They are just talkative kitties. So if you have a breed like that, you should realize that they are just going to be talkers. But any breed can be a talker and usually this is inadvertently encouraged by people because when the cat starts meowing, they provide whatever the cat is essentially asking for; whether it's food or attention.

    So keep that in mind whenever your cat is meowing, and giving you a hard time, keeping you awake or waking you up, try to ignore the noisy behavior, and then when it's little low, and your cat is quiet, then get them what they wanted. So only feed them when they are quite. When we get up in the morning, we give them attention when they are quiet. So what you are doing is rewarding quiet behavior and then your cat is more likely to be quiet and you are ignoring the vocal behavior, so they are not getting the rewards anymore and they are less likely to be vocal.

    What about kitties that just seem hyper-active? Well, it's usually the young ones that are much more active and playful than the older ones. So it's natural for kittens and adolescents to be pretty active, up until about the age of two, they will start to calm down and meow out a little bit. But, this does vary by cats. Some cats are really active later into their years, they are just active kitties.

    The best way to deal with that is to really tire them out. Give them play sessions at regular scheduled times during the day, maybe one in the morning before you leave for work, when you get home from work, and then one right before bed time so they are tired at bedtime. This is play that's interactive with you.

    Often cats don't want to play as much when they are just on their own, but if you are moving the toys around and making them scary and jumping fly like a little birdy or like a little mousey, then the cats are going to want to jump and pounce and really get active and that's going to tire them out the best.

    So work with your kitty, these are all natural behaviors, help them to express them in an acceptable way and you and your cat will live together much more peacefully. So hopefully these tips will help you and your cat live together in harmony. Next, we will be talking about aggression between cats and how to work with that issue.