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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-03-2009, 08:45 AM Thread Starter
 
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Middle of the night wakings

Dexter has gotten increasingly insistent and annoying about waking me up at all hours. He'll often start with the "face bump" which is cute and affectionate, but then he'll graduate onto more painful techniques...gently batting at my face, and licking/biting my cheeks. Usually he bats with no claws but last night he (gently) tapped my forehead with a single claw. I gave my customary sharp "ow!" reaction but he seemed to interpret that as a sign that I wanted to play because when I reached out to him, he pounced on my arm with all three pointy parts of the front half of his body. It was all playful, but at 2:30 in the morning I sure wasn't in the mood.

My only solution so far when he gets too disruptive is to lock him in the guest bathroom where his litterbox and automatic feeder are, but I HATE doing that to him. I try to reserve it for rare occasions when I went to sleep only a couple extra hours and he's preventing me from being able to, or if I have to get up early and he keeps waking me up. But more often than not, I get to the guest bathroom and his little cat eyes are so adorable that I can't bear closing the door. And when I do manage to leave him in there, I have to close my bedroom door so I can't hear him crying, he gets so distraught!

I understand cats are nocturnal, and I don't mind if he's up and about, but how can I get across the fact that when I'm asleep, he needs to leave me alone? Ignoring him won't work if he's using his claws or nibbling on my face.

I also want to reiterate that he is a wonderful, loving, friendly cat. None of these behaviors are being done out of malice. My guess is he's either bored and wants to play, or he's hungry (which it seems to me like he's never NOT hungry!)

My experience of keeping him awake more during the day has been that he'll fall asleep at the same time I do instead of getting a lot of energy right as I'm getting ready for bed, but then he'll wake me up at 2:30 instead of his customary 4:30. This cat naps hard! I'm not sure it'd be possible to keep him awake more during the day, but could that be the solution? Just not letting him take his 4-hour afternoon nap?
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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-03-2009, 10:26 AM
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Re: Middle of the night wakings

Ugh, I have the same problem with Dante. Bedtime for us = playtime...and usually his most aggresive play time. I have yet to come up with a solution either other than keep him out of the room. Every night though I'm hoping that he'll be a good kitty and sleep with us. But as soon as I'm getting ready for bed he'll run into our room and jump on the bed with his eyes as huge as saucers and his tail lashing and he's in pounce mode. Once we're in bed he'll pounce on the feet, dig under the side of the covers to find flesh, bite the hands and arms and get all entangled in the hair. He's even bopped me in the eye a few times. But on the rare nights when he does let us fall asleep...in the early mornings he starts it up...ugh. He's only 7 months and not an overly cuddly cat to begin with so I'm not expecting him to sleep between us every night all night. I just want him to know that that's our sleep time.
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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-03-2009, 11:22 AM
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Re: Middle of the night wakings

Honestly? I shut mine out of the bedroom. I sleep with earplugs, so if they cry I don't hear it, and they always greet me happily in the morning.

I do feel guilty as I watch the door close on Stormy's big yellow eyes, but they get to sleep all day and I don't. So my sleep quality takes precedence... and my sleep quality definitely improves when I sleep catless.

Last night since I was getting up early I decided to let them stay (I get up earlier some days than others, and of course they always want to wake me at the earliest of my usual wake times.) So, they woke me up an hour and a half before I meant to get up, and I couldn't go back to sleep. That will teach me...
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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-03-2009, 12:38 PM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Middle of the night wakings

I was hoping I could keep him with me Locking him out of the room might not be the best solution either, because he doesn't just meow plaintively, he tries to poke his paws under the door, making it bang over and over again! Sounds like my options are the guest bathroom (it's so tiny!) or just put up with it. Has anyone successfully found a way to teach their cat that nighttime is not playtime?
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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-04-2009, 07:47 AM
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Re: Middle of the night wakings

Hey Sweetwater,

Please pardon me if it seems like I'm intruding (I was an active member of this forum many years ago, and due to a recent addition I felt like joining the community again), but I have a similar problem with my ~six year old male. The thing I've found to be most helpful is to try and keep him awake during the 4-5 hours before bed. That way he's also tired when we are. I've found, too, that once we go to bed, he feels like playing for a while. Thus we hangout in the bedroom for half an hour to an hour and watch teevee shows on dvd on my laptop before bed. Then we can all wind down at the same time. I love to sleep with my cat as well, so the extra effort is worth it to me. He sleeps thru the night usually and only seems to wake me up if I forget to feed him before bed, hehe. Good luck!

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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-04-2009, 11:06 AM
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Re: Middle of the night wakings

A good play session with Da Bird or a laser pointer and a snack before bed will put him out for several hours. Then when he wakes you, ignore him, roll over, bury your face in the pillow, pull the covers over your head, do not move, do not talk, completely ignore him. It may take a week or two of this, but he'll get the message. Any response from you, whether positive or negative is a response and he's learned that he can get a reaction by bothering you.

Also, don't feed him as soon as you get up in the morning. Cats will typically wake up about an hour before normal feeding time and become active...in the wild they hunt, in captivity they bother their human. So if you get up at 7 and feed him immediately, he will wake at 6 and start bothering you. If you then start getting up at 6 and giving him some food and going back to bed, eventually he'll start getting up at 5 etc. If you wait to 8 to feed him, he'll stir at the same time you do.

Oh...and clip his nails so when he bats at you he won't be hurting you.


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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-04-2009, 12:22 PM
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Re: Middle of the night wakings

Thanks for the advice...although this wasn't my original post heh.
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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-05-2009, 08:11 AM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Middle of the night wakings

Yes, I appreciate the advice too. I kept Dexter up from about 7:30 on til my bedtime, and I vaguely recall him waking me around 2:30 in the morning (about two and a half hours after I went to sleep) but he must not have been too bad because I really don't remember I will work on keeping him awake longer and tiring him out more before bed. I'll admit I was a bit lazy with the laser pointer!
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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-05-2009, 10:27 AM
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Re: Middle of the night wakings

Make sure to give him a snack before bed too. Cats go through the following cycle: wake, hunt, eat, groom, sleep. The play session is the equivalent of the hunt, reward his efforts with a tasty snack and he'll finish, groom and then go to sleep.


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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-05-2009, 09:09 PM
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Re: Middle of the night wakings

In addition to all the great advice already posted, growling and/or spitting at Dexter (cool name, by the way) when he wakes you might work. It's the feline equivalent of saying, "back off!" and it worked to train my Spencer to wait for the alarm clock before laying on my face for his good-morning love-fest.

Also, finding a specific trigger the cats can associate with breakfast every morning might help, too. I always feed my five after I shower. It means I have an audience while I'm drying off, but I get to sleep as late as I like.

Good luck! Let us know how it goes.

A.C.
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