How to stop my cat from waking me up at 4 AM

If you're developing drooping eyes and exhausted frowns due to your four-pawed friend, something needs to change. There are a variety of things you can do to stop your cat from waking you up early, so let's take a look.

Your cat might be cute, but if it's waking you up then something needs to change.
Your cat might be cute, but if it's waking you up then something needs to change.  © Unsplash/Kote Puerto

It can be incredibly frustrating being woken up at ungodly hours every single morning. Sure, your fluffy little friend might be cute, but sleep is important, and this dreadful demon is making your life a misery. Do you need to get rid of the cheeky dude, or is there someway to stop your cat from waking you up?

If you've ever wondered "How do I stop my cat waking me up?", then this cat guide is for you. TAG24 will also look at how to stop your cat from meowing at the door in the morning, and why they aren't sleeping, too.

My cat wakes me up every morning meowing

Cats that have started waking up their humans by meowing each and every morning have likely come to this behavior through positive reinforcement. Have you been feeding your fluffy feline friend whenever it asks for it, have you been getting up at 4 AM and letting it outside, or have you been giving it pats at unreasonable hours?

If you have answered yes to any of those questions, it is more than likely that your behavior has actually caused this frustrating problem. It is true that cats do, indeed, have different sleep schedules to the rest of us, but that alone doesn't explain your sleeping problems. Your cat is domesticated, and should have fallen into alignment with your schedule pretty quickly.

Ultimately, if your cat is waking you up every morning meowing with unfounded gusto, it is likely a result of an over-affectionate human giving in to your feline friend's every whim.

Why do cats wake up so easily?

Humans are lucky, as we enter rather long periods of deep sleep that help to keep us awake and alert for around 16 hours a day. Cats go through stages, spending most of their time in a half-sleep-like trance, and only entering deep sleep for short periods of around ten minutes.

When a cat enters periods of REM sleep, they will also begin to dream, which can cause all sorts of things like twitching and flicking. During particularly bad dreams, cats have been known to wake up quite startled. When this happens at nighttime, cats will likely wake you up for companionship.

These two factors (amongst others), combined with the fact that cats are evolutionarily nocturnal animals, make them highly likely to wake up at times that are very inconvenient for us humans.

It can be very frustrating seeing your cat sleeping all day, especially when it's been waking you up at night.
It can be very frustrating seeing your cat sleeping all day, especially when it's been waking you up at night.  © Unsplash/Aleksandar Cvetanovic

How to stop a cat from waking me up

The reality is that cats wake up their humans due to a vast variety of different reasons, each of which need to be addressed to permanently solve this issue. Of course, you can try to isolate your cat in a separate area of the house, but this won't guarantee you a long and deep sleep.

Here's how to stop cats from waking you up at 4AM in the morning

Address your cat's hunger: A common reason for your cat to be waking you up is hunger. As a result, move back your cat's dinner time until just before you sleep. Give it a ton of food, make sure it has drunk plenty of water, and get it full and happy before you go to bed.

Keep your cat entertained: Make sure that you have plenty of cat toys for it to engage with during the night (kept in a separate and accessible room, of course). Things like cat trees, things to sniff like cat grass, and various chasable items are always a great way for them to expend that nighttime energy.

Get your cat away from your bed: If you can, prepare a separate space for your cat to spend its night hours. If it is particularly persistent, you may still be able to hear your kitty calling, but it will be significantly quieter.

Make things warmer and snugger: Keep the temperature nice and warm in your house and have plenty of rugs and blankets for your cat to snooze in or on. You want to make the space seem comforting and the mood to remain sleepy. Ultimately, you want as little stimulation as possible.

Ignore your kitty: Critically, if your cat is behaving badly at night, your best bet is to simply ignore it. You don't want to provide positive reinforcement, so it is best to struggle through a few weeks of being woken up all the time, until your cat learns that nothing is going to come from this behavior.

On persistence: The most important thing about getting your cat to change its behavior, especially if you are trying to stop it from waking you up early, is to be consistent with your rules. Create a schedule, make sure you stick to it, and always respond the same way to your cat's behavior. If you do this, you will engrain these new behaviors into your cat's head and reduce the naughtiness.

How to stop cats from meowing at the door in the morning

Cats like to hunt at nighttime, and will meow at the door to be let out.
Cats like to hunt at nighttime, and will meow at the door to be let out.  © Unsplash/Gayatri Malhotra

One of the most common things people do to avoid having their cat meow at the door in the morning is to simply let them outside at night, or isolate them in a different area of the house. While both of these options will work, they aren't particularly great strategies if you want them to be sustainable.

Part of the answer is, of course, to keep your cat away from your door, but that's not the whole story. What you need to do is separate your cat far enough away that even when it starts slapping things, you won't be able to hear it. On top of that, you need to make sure that this separated space is calm, warm, cozy, safe, and has everything that your cat could need.

You need to make this part of your nightly routine: Fill up your cat's water (and maybe its food too), prepare its bed, move its litter tray into the room, have a good long play so that it gets tired, and make sure that it has been placed in the area before you sleep.

But isn't this kind-of mean? Don't worry too much, as long as you have provided everything that it could need (litter tray, food, water, etc.), it will eventually acclimatize to this system and routine. Your cat will be fine! If you are worried, though, remember to check with your veterinarian.

Cats wake up early, but don't despair!

As we broke down in our piece on cat sleep schedules, cats don't operate on the same hours we do. They sleep in phases and are rarely in the kind of deep sleep we humans are used to. While this does occasionally cause some problems, it's not something to despair over.

Remember to keep your cat well exercised, fed at predictable and convenient times, and kept well away from your bedroom if it keeps waking you up. Always remember: Sleep is important for humans, too!

Cover photo: Unsplash/Kote Puerto

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