Cat not sleeping at night

Archived Q&A and Reviews

See also: Cats and Babies
July 2003

My kid sleeps through the night, but my cat keeps me awake all night. She used to sleep in the bedroom, but since we have had the baby, we have wanted to keep her out of the bedroom and out of the bed (Where she will go once she is in the bedroom). She has started to scratch on the door at night at about 1 or 2 hour intervals. I have tried squirting her with a sprayer, which makes her go away, but then she comes back again. I know she is lonely and wants to be with everyone. She tends to sleep all day, so if there was a way to keep her up in the day that would help her to sleep at night.

Tired from feline sleep deprivation torture

Hi, We have the same issue with one of our cats. We found an excellent solution Baby Gates!!!

If we set up a baby gate in the hall before our room, it keeps the cat away. We have one cat who is graceful and athletic... she can jump over it. Our other cat, however, can't get over it and just goes away.

If the gate idea doesn't work, maybe you could keep your door open and set up an inviting bed for the cat in your room, but off of your bed. Our cats really like to sleep on pillows or thick blankets...

Good luck,
zoo mom

We have an indoor/outdoor cat. I make sure that he stays outside all day with his food and water. While I always see him sleeping outside, it is not as sound of a sleep that he gets indoors. Then just around an hour before we all go to bed I put him back out for his final romp and let him in on our way to bed. It works most nights! Good luck!..
Two practical solutions

1) Let the cat go into your bedroom. She won't harm the baby, don't worry about that. We sleep with our baby and two cats, very happily.

2) Lock the cat into another room, preferably the one where his food/litter box is. If you can't, then put him in the bathroom with food and a smaller litter box. anon

Boy, do I hear you!

When my first child was born we had exactly the same problem as you do. Our daughter slept very poorly, too, so we were tortured all night by a yowling cat and crying baby. It was awful!

We tried everything putting in a cat door to the porch and locking her out there at night (she yowled outside the window instead); locking her in the kitchen with baby gates (she climbed six feet up to squeeze through a 3'' gap - this is a 16 year old cat!); you name it, we tried it (except putting her outside for the racoons to eat). She was completely untrainable, and we were exhausted with trying to cope with it her need for love and attention was just too big for anything to overcome.

I hate to say it, but we really didn't find an answer. It's only now, after she died (was killed by dogs, not ready to go yet) that I realize how much that miserable period contributed to my post-partum depression! With my second child, no cat, no sleep problems (she is a better sleeper anyway, but without the cat it made a HUGE difference), no depression.

All I want to say is PLEASE consider giving the cat to a relative or a friend on a temporary (6 months? a year?) basis, so that you can get through this crucial period. Then, by the time she comes back, she may have different expectations of where she can go and when.

If I had had my brain (which I didn't, because I wasn't sleeping), I would have done this, and saved a lot of counseling and exhaustion and probably quite a few wrinkles and unfortunate relations with my oldest daughter.

Been there

April 2002

We have a 5 month old boy, and a cat about 2 years old, which we've had since he was a kitten. It seems that kitty has finally noticed our attention shift to the baby, and has begun to act out in the past month. Typically, the cat will howl and/or scratch at our bedroom door from 2 AM on. He seems to want food, but all night-time feeding strategies we've tried end up with the same result. So now, in an ironic development, we're sleep deprived from the cat, and not from the baby, who has slept through for a couple of months now. If push comes to shove, the cat will have to go, but we're not to that point yet. Any similar experience or advice on this? Thanks. Eric and Debra

I recommend calling Kate Gamble, Feline Behaviorist! Sounds crazy, I know, BUT when my cats were having some serious behavior problems that were keeping me up at night, I had a phone consultation with her. She had some VERY good ideas that enabled me to change some of my cats' behaviors in a very kind manner and start getting sleep again. I've actually used her on two occasions with good results. Her website is: and her phone # is 530-887-1957. Good luck!!! Marie, Ron & Freya (& their four cats)
Cats acting up can be so frustrating. One thing I've found that worked very well is a spray bottle filled with water, set on ''stream.'' Curbs all sorts of cat behaviors. Keep your bedroom door open and the bottle by the bed. Good luck. Jennie, mom to humanchild Graham, cat Sylvester, and dogs Max & Maddie
You have my empathy. In fact, I posted a similar question about 7-8 months ago. Our cat was pretty high maintenance, demanded a lot of attention, and yowled all night long. (She was also very sweet and loving, but that was besides the point.) We tried squirting her with water, giving her more attention, giving her more food, inviting her to sleep on our bed, etc. but nothing worked. The only we could get a decent night of sleep was to put her in our office (located in the garage), along with her food, water and litter box. On warm nights, when we left our windows open, I could still hear her from across the yard. Ultimately, we knew we had to give her away, a thought that made me very sad, since I had her for over seven years. Although we had a hard time finding her a new home, I also felt very strongly about not leaving her at an institution that would potentially put her down if she couldn't be adopted. Fortunately, her previous owner (who still had Kitty's sister) agreed to take her back, although that meant flying her out to Brooklyn. It was a happy ending for all. Good luck, Teresa
Oct 2001

We are looking for advice or resources/experts on cat behavior modification. We, for lack of a better term, need to Ferberize our cat. She meows and howls REALLY LOUDLY during the night, and wakes everyone up, including our 5-mo-old baby (who, by the way, doesn't sleep thru the night either). A decent night of REM sleep has become elusive and impossible.

We have to keep Kitty indoors, as she is allergic to flea bites, so putting her outside at night is out of the question. We have a small house, so we still hear her even when we put her in a different room and close the door. Any suggestions or advice would be much appreciated. Thanks! Teresa

It sounds like there is a lot going on with your cat. I can recommend an excellent animal communicator in El Cerrito, Carla Simmons. She has been a great help to me with my cats. She is bright, perceptive, and may be able to help open up communication and improvee things for both you and your cat. Highly recommended. Carla is at 236-1902. -- Bay
I realize that this puts me at the other end of the spectrum from the person who recommended an animal communicator, but all of my (moderately successful) attempts at feline behavior modification have involved squirtguns.
I, too, have had the most success with a squirt bottle. Whether it be clawing furniture or getting into things or rooms they shouldn't, the bottle worked. Sometimes all I have to do is reach for it now and they know to stop what they are doing. It is not violent and it doesn't hurt them in any way, but it does make them behave. By all the time they demand from me for attention, I don't believe it has warped their personalities in the least or made them afraid of me in any way. They are very affectionate creatures, but they are still animals and will revert to their natural behavior without reminders now and then.

I used the same principal to keep other people's cats from digging up my yard for a litter box. Set up your automatic sprinklers to go off at random times during the night and the neighborhood prowlers will stay away from your yard to avoid an unwanted shower. Most cats don't like unexpected exposure to water. My two like to play in water, but only when they instigate it. marianne