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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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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