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Cat Will Not Sleep Through Night

Beth asks

MY FIANCE IS AT WITS END WITH ONE OF OUR CATS. THEY ARE BROTHERS AND ONLY ONE SLEEPS THE WHOLE NIGHT THROUGH. THE OTHER IS UP PAWING AT THE DOOR TO GET OUT ANYWHERE FROM 45 MIN TO HOURS BEFORE EITHER OF US HAS TO GET UP. I HAVE TRIED DOUBLE SIDED TAPE, NAILS (SHARP SIDE DOWN), AND ALUMINUM FOIL TOO. LAST NIGHT MY FIANCE ALMOST SLEPT IN THE LIVING ROOM. PLEASE HELP AND THANK YOU IN ADVANCE FOR ANY ASSISTANCE. 

Hi, Beth.

I am sorry to hear your kitty is not letting you and your fiancé get much sleep! Your question is a little difficult to answer without some additional information such as how old the cats are and how long the problem has been going on, but, I will try to make a few suggestions to help you out.

First of all, it sounds like your cat is either seeking attention, food, or, just has a different sleep schedule than everyone else. Young cats may be more playful in the middle of the night or early morning hours while senior cats may develop an Alzheimer’s-like condition called cognitive dysfunction causing confusion and changes in sleep-wake cycles. Older cats may also have underlying health problems that lead to behavior changes, so, if this is a senior cat, blood tests would help to rule out underlying problems.

It sounds as though you have already tried some methods of deterring him from scratching at the door. If it is possible to ignore the behavior (ear plugs, white noise machine), leave the door open or have the cats sleep somewhere else, this may solve the issue. It is important NOT to reward the cat or give him attention as this unintentionally reinforces the bad behavior. Try to give the cats attention only if they are sitting quietly and not when they are vocal or demanding. If having the cats sleep elsewhere or ignoring the behavior is not possible, here are some other suggestions.

Increasing daytime or evening activity with attention and interactive toys such as a laser light may tire the cats out making them more likely to sleep all night. If he wants to be fed, a later high-protein meal or a self-timed feeder may be a solution. Setting an alarm clock to go off just BEFORE the time that the cat wakes up and giving him food or attention then setting the alarm 5 minutes later every couple of days until the desired wake time is achieved may retrain him to wake up at a more acceptable time. Feliway and classical music are non-medical options that may be calming. As a last resort, melatonin, anti-anxiety medications or sedatives may be necessary.
I hope this provides you with a few more tricks to try, but, you may want to bring your cat to your veterinarian for a visit to make sure there are no medical problems causing him to be a nocturnal nuisance!

Dr. Sabrina Walters

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