I just want to sleep! My full-time indoor cat keeps me awake all night.

There is a classic cat caregiving problem on the Reddit.com website from a woman who is at the end of their tether. They have 2 cats and the boy was neutered recently (and therefore is young) but he is stopping them from sleeping. They tried ignoring him. They allowed him to come into the bedroom but then they stopped him coming into the bedroom. 

I just want to sleep! My full-time indoor cat keeps me awake all night.
I just want to sleep! My full-time indoor cat keeps me awake all night. Image: MikeB.

But he continues to wake them up at least twice between 3 AM and 6 PM every night. He chews "and destroys everything on our bedside tables, knocks things over, and steals things and runs away with them". They have given him a lot of toys which he happily plays with but it isn't enough. His owners want to sleep more than four hours a night.

I'm sure that they are describing a not untypical situation in any home with any full-time indoor cat. Male cats tend to be more of a problem because they have bigger home ranges than females and therefore the confines of a home will be more difficult to adapt to. This couple have tried all they can to play with him and to stimulate him to no avail.

The problem, as we all know, is that the domestic cat's circadian rhythm is totally out of sync with the human circadian rhythm. They tend to be active at dusk and sometimes throughout the night and then at dawn and they sleep from around mid-morning to mid-afternoon. The opposite can be said about people. And we buy into this difficulty when we adopt a cat. The problem is exacerbated with full-time indoor cats because they will tend to be bored because they are under stimulated through play.

It is almost an intractable i.e. unsolvable problem because of the inherited behavioural traits of both humans and domestic cats. They simply are not compatible in terms of the time that they are active. Of course, I'm sure there are some people who are active at night and sleep during the daytime and this must suit their cat companion tremendously.

The answer apparently to try and tire your cat out to try and shoehorn their behaviour into the circadian rhythm of humans. And Jackson Galaxy, the well-known American cat behaviourist has written about this in his book Total Cat Mojo.

Stop your cat waking you at night as per Jackson Galaxy

I've written about it myself based upon his book and therefore all I can do is to suggest you read the linked page above. However, I am sceptical about the outcome. I don't think that it is going to be easy to solve this problem. I suspect that in most homes people find a reasonable solution (compromise) which gets them by but there is always this underlying problem. Cats will wake up their owners at night. Even indoor/outdoor cats. Mine does.

Perhaps it might be worthwhile, before adopting, to consider what type of cat you want to adopt. For example, I think females will be less active at night than males. And I think perhaps the Ragdoll, a laid-back cat, might be less active than a non-purebred cat. Certainly, a male Bengal cat is not going to be very quiet at night. The wildcat hybrids are generally more active than the standard domestic cats. And old cats will be less active than youngsters. Adopt an old cat. They are often left on the shelf at shelters.

Of course, the other solution which goes against the grain of a lot of people's thinking is to allow your cat outside at night. That is unsuitable in many locations but if it is considered suitable in terms of safety then it would substantially solve the problem. But even them it won't be the magic solution.

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