Have you ever noticed that, just as you are ready to sleep, your cat decides that’s a great time to run around, play, meow and just generally get the “crazies”? It may seem contrary for your cat to lounge around the house sleeping and relaxing all day only to get active at night, but your cat is actually following an instinctive urge. Cats are crepuscular, meaning that they are most active during the twilight hours of dawn and dusk, which is the prime hunting time in the wild. This is why many cats also exhibit this behavior in the early morning hours, waking you up at dawn meowing for breakfast. Practicing hunting behavior during these hours is a natural behavior for domestic cats. And because most cats are at home without much to do during the day, they have lots of extra pent-up energy to release in the evenings.
Some ways you can discourage this behavior:
- Spend time playing with your cat an hour or two before you go to bed. If you tire your cat out, he or she will be more likely to sleep through the night.
- After playtime, reward your cat with a high-protein cat treat to signal that “hunting” time is done, and sleeping time should begin.
- Provide some stimulation for your cat during the daytime hours such as a cat window perch from which to observe the outdoors, or a cat tree for climbing and exercise. There are also interactive toys and cat videos you can set up for your cat’s enjoyment when you’re gone.
- If you have a single cat, consider adopting another cat or kitten to give your cat some companionship.
- When your cat acts this way, don’t get up and play with him or feed him, which is a reward and only reinforces the behavior.
With time and patience you can usually modify your cat’s sleeping routine to more closely match yours.