Dear Miss Behavin’: I recently adopted a cat and she is great except for the fact she runs around all night long and meows in my face at 3 a.m. How can I get her to sleep through the night?
As hard as it sounds, the best thing to do is ignore her when she is keeping you up at night! Your efforts to discourage the behavior may in fact be reinforcing it. Some people may feed their cat when they meow at 3 a.m. to stop their meowing, which would encourage the cat to meow earlier and earlier to get their food!
Try getting her on a play and feeding schedule in the evening. She may be rambunctious at night because she has a lot of left-over energy from the day. Cats are naturally active at dawn and dusk and given the choice they would sleep the entire day away. In the evening before your own bedtime, give your cat a nice long play session and tire her out. After the play session, feed her dinner.
Naturally cats want to hunt, eat, groom, and then sleep. If she is tired and full right before your bedtime, she will be more likely to sleep through the night herself. Of course, if her meowing is excessive, talk to your vet as excessive meowing could be a sign of medical issues. If she still is active late at night, leave some toys out to keep her busy. With some patience and planning, you and your cat will have a good night’s sleep.
Alex Elias is the Assistant for the Behavior and Training Department at the Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA. For more information, visit www.PHS-SPCA.org, call 650-340-7022, ext. 416, or e-mail email@example.com.