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Q. How can I get my cat to stop waking me up at 4:00 a.m. without revoking her bedroom privileges?
A. Cats’ natural sleep cycles are at odds with the average human sleep cycle. Although cats can sleep as much as 20 hours a day, they have frequent sleep-wake cycles throughout the day that are tied to their natural hunting instinct. The most active part of the day for felines just happens to be between dusk and dawn — the complete opposite of most human schedules.
The best solution for a restful night’s sleep is to shut your cat out of your room at night. For the first few nights you may have a sad kitty meowing and clawing at the door, but eventually she should stop, as long as you ignore her behavior and don't get up and let her in to your room in the middle of the night.
But for those of us who want our furry friend at our side while we sleep, there are a few solutions that may help your cat to stay in a deeper slumber — or at the very least, make her less likely to disturb you from your sleep.
The most important step in helping your cat have a restful night’s sleep is to play with her right before bedtime, which will help exhaust her and make it more likely that she will settle in to a deep sleep. Try playing with a feather toy, tossing catnip mice or engaging in other active play that leaves your kitty exhausted. Similarly, offering your cat food puzzles containing a small amount of food in the evening will both send her to bed with a fuller tummy, which alleviates early morning hunger, and lets her burn off more energy, which can promote deep sleep.
Don't wait until bedtime to prime your cat for a good night's sleep, though. Since your cat is likely getting extensive amounts of sleep during the day, try breaking up her daytime sleeping by regularly playing with her or providing food puzzles in daylight hours. This will leave her exhausted and ready for a deeper sleep when your bedtime rolls around.
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