why does my cat wake me up so early

As a pet sitter I m often asked why the cat wakes its human so early in the morning. The harsh truth is because the cat s human parent responds to the kitten s demands for attention and thus, through unintentional positive reinforcement, has trained the cat that it is ok to get mom or dad out of bed. No one really likes to hear that answer, so instead we should look at why the cat is predisposed to waking early. Today s house cat is descended from the ancestors of wildcats (
). Wildcats fed on prey (such as mice and rats) that was active in the dawn and dusk hours. Therefore, wildcats had to be up and active at daybreak too. The house cat is true to its ancestry. Many people don t realize this and they mistakenly believe that cats are nocturnal, meaning that they sleep during the day and are awake at night. This belief may arise from the fact that cats sleep 16 hours or more each day and are often seen taking naps during the daylight hours. However, in reality, cats are crepuscular, which is a very fancy word to say that cats are active during the dawn and dusk hours just like the wildcats. That is why kitties are often awake during the very early hours and are ready to eat or to play while their human only wants to sleep just a little longer. 1.


Install blackout blinds or blackout curtains to prevent sunlight from entering the room in which the cat sleeps. This may help to prevent the sunrise from triggering the cat s instincts. 2. If the cat is fed on a schedule, you can change the schedule so that the morning feeding is later in the day and the evening feeding is right before bedtime. In this way you can gradually train the cat to expect to eat later in the day so that it doesn t wake you up to feed it early in the morning. It will take several weeks before the cat learns its new schedule. If you free feed, it would be advisable to fill its bowls with fresh food and water immediately before going to sleep. 3. Try to prevent boredom by spending a lot of time playing with the cat. Give it a lot of attention and exercise every day. Make sure it has toys to keep itself entertained. 4. Don t allow your cat to sleep in the room with you and shut your bedroom door to prevent it from coming into the room while you are sleeping. This is a really hard thing to do.


But, if you don t respond to the cat s demands to enter the bedroom, eventually it will content itself sleeping some other place just as comfortable. Sigh В I could not do this one though. Last week I showed you and asked whether you had any strange cat science questions. One brave soul, Wajiha, spoke up and said, I want to know how cats can figure out it s 6 a. m. and know it s time to wake you up. Are they smarter than we think? Can they read clocks? PWajiha may have been asking that question sarcastically, but there are real, rational reasons why Phere are five reasons your cat wakes you up at the same time, every single day. 1. Your cat wakes you up because he is a creature of routine After sharing a home with you for even a few days, your feline friend will get to know your schedule at least as well as you do. If you wake up at a certain time to get ready for work, your cat will figure that out not because she can read a clock, but because she can read you. 2. And routine means seven days a week It takes a while for a cat to grasp the concept of weekends, so get accustomed to being rousted out of bed at the same time or within an hour of your typical workday wake-up time.


The good news is that as your cat settles in, she ll start to understand that you sleep later on your days off and will adapt to that schedule. These regularly occurring late-sleep days become another routine. 3. Your cat can tell when you re waking up Humans sleep cycle consists of five stages, ranging in depth from barely napping to so deeply asleep it would be hard to rouse you even in an emergency. Through each stage of sleep, your respiration, heartbeat, and activity levels change, and you go through four or five of these cycles a night. Once you re at a light enough stage of sleep to respond to your cat s kind attentions, she ll be right over to help you start your day. 4. Your cat feels hungry in the morning, too I don t know about you, but when I get up in the morning I m ravenous. The same is true of your cat, especially if you feed her just after you get out of bed. If your cat is hungry and you re starting to wake up, kitty will be happy to help motivate you to get going. 5. Your cat is most active when you re about to wake up Cats are crepuscular creatures, which is a fancy way of saying that they re most active at dawn and dusk.


Their vision is best adapted for the light levels of these in between times, so that s when they do their hunting, playing, and socializing. Keep in mind that a cat who helps you to wake up when you re getting ready to wake up is not the same as a cat who wakes you up at 4 a. m. begging for attention or food. If you ve got a midnight wailer, Catster behaviorist Marilyn Krieger has. Do you have a cat who helps you wake up? If you work nights or odd shifts, how does your cat deal with that? Finally, do you have any more weird cat science questions? Please share in the comments! About JaneA Kelley: Punk-rock cat mom, science nerd, animal shelter volunteer, and all-around geek with a passion for bad puns, intelligent conversation, and role-play adventure games. She gratefully and gracefully accepts her status as chief cat slave for her family of feline bloggers, who have been writing their cat advice column, since 2003. JaneA dreams of making a great living out of her love for cats. More on cats and sleep: Alarm Clock. Do Your Wake You Up?

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