How to stop early morning cat crying

by Gary
(Tokyo)

One of our 2 cats starts crying every morning around 4 or 5. During the week it's not so bad when we have to wake up around 6 anyways, but it's really irritating on the weekends. At first we thought it was about food... she is very finicky (read: spoiled) and prefers fresh wet food, even when there's still some left, so we tried feeding her before retiring.

But after enduring this for several months, we've learned it's not usually about food, but about just wanting some (way too) early morning affection.

We've tried just about everything, including the infamous squirt bottle, but nothing seems to work and we're almost near wits end. Sure wish she'd behave nicely & be quiet like her older sister. Any tips on getting a decent night's sleep? :-)

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Dec 31, 2014
Exercise
by: Hank the Burmese Dad

The solution is simple. First, play with your cat with wand or laser for five minutes then feed your cats at least an hour before lights out. If the food isn't finished put it away but don't leave it out. Second, after your cats finish eating wait 10-15 minutes and pull out the laser or wand until they stop chasing and playing and start to just sit and look. That is a sign they are feed and played and getting tired. This last part might seem harsh but it really isn't. Just before you go to sleep search out the cat that wakes early. By now he/she should be dozing off. Pick up your cats and rub him/her down holding them close until you get a purr. Then put them back where he/she came from. This all should be done at the same time daily for at least 3 weeks.

What you have done is created hunger so they will eat when feed, then once feed and ready to lounge you start a brief play time again. Then as they fall asleep you provide one last moment of caring equal to a good night kiss. That allows them to sleep peacefully even through their dreams. Your cats should sleep longer and more soundly. Also, you should not feed them until you leave for work, not while getting dressed. That way they won't expect to be feed until you are dressed and leaving the house. On weekends once you get up they will then expect to be feed even if not as early as usual.

Apr 19, 2010
You've been trained!
by: Kurt (Admin)

It sounds like you've been well trained by your cat, Gary. As someone who has been trained over and over again by these crafty little balls of fur, I'll see if I can offer one of my experiences.

As any cat parent knows, house cats are excellent human behaviorists. Thousands of people have been trained by them, including me. The BBC reported that a study done by the University of Sussex uncovered the "soliciting purr." The study suggests that cats sometimes embed a high pitched sound within their purrs, similar to that of a human baby crying, to manipulate their people. I have experienced that "urgent" purr myself.

Cats love a routine. Once that routine is established, you've been trained. Teddie had me trained for a while to play with the B-A-L-L at 3:00 AM.

It started because I responded to her horrible sounding cries for help. I ran out to the living room expecting to find her dying, only to find her staring at me with the ball in her mouth.

I laughed, we played fetch for a while, and I went back to sleep. Big mistake.

I had been instantly trained, and 3 AM was now playtime every day. If I remember right, this went on for weeks, and I was very well trained.

I trained myself (um, I mean her), out of it by using a two-step approach. First, more exercise and attention for her during my normal waking hours. This included a good long ball fetching session in the evening to get it out of her system and wear her out a bit.

Second, ignoring her cries. This part was really hard at first, but no matter how much she cried for me to come out to the living room, I resisted. Note that I paid her no attention at all. I didn't make a sound and just let her get bored with trying to get me out there.

Since it no longer got her the attention she wanted, she stopped her 3 AM crying wake up call after a number of days. I found that soon, I didn't need to play with her before going to sleep. Instead, I simply gave her more of what she needed on a regular basis.

As for the spray bottle idea, I think it works in some situations, and on some cats, but not others. You're supposed to keep your cat from knowing that it's you doing the spraying. I couldn't pull that off.

I stopped using it a long time ago and found that rewarding good behavior, and ignoring bad behavior, works the best in most situations.

I hope that helps. If anyone thinks I'm right, or wrong, or has a better idea about how to handle this, we'd love to hear it!

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