Sleep-deprived mom needs help with wide-awake cat


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Sleep-deprived mom needs help with wide-awake cat

Updated Dec 21, 2021

Dear Cathy,

I am a cat lover and have had several cats over the years. I have a three-year-old Russian Blue that I adopted from a shelter. She is very sweet and smart. The problem is, she sleeps all day and is up all night. I wouldn’t mind it if she would just play, but she cries for me, and I end up getting out of bed. 

I have taken her to the vet who has prescribed pills to calm her down at night. It didn’t work. I got Feliway (pheromones) to plug-in, but no luck. I tried Melatonin treats, but she didn’t like them. I tried “calming” treats, which she likes. That helped some. I also got catnip and catnip toys and bouncy balls for us to play with before bedtime. That has helped some, but the minute I go to bed, she cries for me. 

I love her, but I am worn out and sleep-deprived.  I am keeping her, no matter what, but any advice on this would be appreciated.

– Linda, St Cloud, Florida

Dear Linda,

We can learn a lot from how cats train their humans. If your feline cries and you get up, she will cry the next night again because the training worked on you. The trick with cats is always to outlast them. It’s not easy.

Cats are nocturnal, and so it’s perfectly natural for them to sleep 16 hours a day and then be up all night. You are on the right track with trying to play with her before bedtime. You should feed her before bedtime too. All animals tend to nap after they eat and play.

Also, do what you can to keep her awake when you are around. When we are tired, we often let our cats sleep in our laps, only to have them wide awake at bedtime. 

As for you, put on a white noise machine in your room to block her mews. Buy yourself some earplugs at the drugstore or put on headphones with soft music, so you can ignore her and get some sleep. It may take six to eight weeks to get a positive result, but she should eventually realize her cries are not making Mom get up anymore.  

She may resort to getting in bed with you and “pawing” you awake. Ignore her and turn over. Cats are results-oriented creatures, so if her behaviors don’t engage you, she will eventually find something else to do. Better yet, she may curl up beside you when she realizes it’s the only way she can be close to you between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Be strong.

Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, children’s author, syndicated pet columnist, and pet expert with more than 30 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal

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Cathy Rosenthal, CHES, CFE
Animal Welfare Communications Specialist

Cathy brings more than 25 years' experience in the animal welfare field. She is a sought-after speaker, Certified Humane Education Specialist, a syndicated pet advice columnist, an author, a publisher, and of course - a loving pet parent.

Read more about Cathy here or check out her Non-Profit's page to see more ways she can help you and your organization.

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