Cats are great. They're awesome cuddlers and are cute as heck. But sometimes they're also jerks. Like when they step all over your face in the middle of the night. So, you close your bedroom door and they meow and scratch until you let them back in. Here's how to get them to stop so you can get some sleep.
Image from Mohamed Aymen Bettaieb.
The first thing you need to do is find out if there are any underlying medical issues that could explain why your cat is meowing at night. Chicago veterinarian Ken Schwartz gives some examples:
Thyroid disease, hypertension, kidney disease, urinary pain and cognitive dysfunction are all issues that can lead to nighttime vocalisation. In addition, decreases in vision or hearing may make your cat more anxious and not want to be left alone or in the dark. This could lead to vocalising and trying to get into the bedroom.
After your vet has ruled out any potential health issues, you have a few other strategies you can try:
- Make them comfortable. If you think your cat might be lonely or bored while you're asleep, make sure they're comfortable before you go to bed. Schwartz suggests turning on a light or your TV so they aren't sitting in the dark. You can also create a cosy space for them to relax in at night and fill up their water dish as well as put out a few of their favourite toys (just don't leave any out that make noise when played with).
- Give them attention before bedtime. Play with your cat, focusing on active games where they chase or jump, to tire them out before you go to sleep. You can also fit in some cuddling and petting so they get plenty of attention and love before they're on their own for the night.
- Add deterrents outside the door. Schwartz suggests putting sticky tape, aluminium foil, or a tray of rocks in front of your bedroom door so that scratching it is a turnoff for your cat. Of course, if you tend to get up a lot in the night, you'll have to remember not to step in the rocks or foil.
- Put the cat in another space. If none of these techniques work, and you have an extra room, set your cat up in there at night. Make sure they have everything they need (litterbox, water, comfy bed, toys).
Whatever you do, don't give in when they meow or scratch at your bedroom door. This will just teach them that making a racket works. Every cat is different, so you may have to try a few of these strategies before you find one that works.