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How can I get my cats to sleep through the night?

(12 Posts)
ControlGeek Thu 03-Oct-13 22:01:44

They are just over 18 months old, male and female from the same litter, both neutered. The male prefers to spend most of his time outdoors, day and night, coming in for cuddles and food on his own terms. The female is a real homebody, but a complete livewire. She is also outdoors all day while we are at work, and at night during the warmer months (her choice). With winter approaching, I'm thinking of trying to get at least the female to stay in overnight.

We spent the first winter that we had them keeping them in overnight and it was just impossible. The male gets very unhappy from about 4am, until somebody lets him out. The female will settle for a good few hours but from about 5am believes the whole world should be awake and preferably feeding/playing with her. She has honed the eyeball-headbutt manoeuvre to perfection.

Shutting them downstairs is a non-starter. They wail the house down and hammer nine kinds of hell out of the doors, keeping us (and probably our neighbours) awake in the process.

Is it worth persevering? Will they eventually settle? Or should I just accept that they are outdoor creatures with different body clocks to humans. I hate the idea of them being out in all weathers but we have no option for a catflap - not that having one would help the female settle for the whole night.

pigsDOfly Thu 03-Oct-13 22:34:59

Unfortunately, as cats are crepuscular (hunt at dawn and dusk) you are going to have to change their instincts if you are going to get them to sleep all night without waking.

My cats used sleep for a good part of the night and I kept them in at night when they were young but eventually I had to give in and leave the cat flap open so they could get out in the morning, particularly in the warmer weather. But I lived in a fairly quiet area so not much traffic.

My female cat is 19 now (the male had to be pts last year) and she is still awake for a good part of the night (eating, howling, and generally wandering around the house) but obviously doesn't go out.

If you persevere and shut them in another part of the house I would think eventually they might stop trying to attract your attention or get out. The problem is cats don't give up easily and it rather depends how long you're prepared to stick it out.

Without a cat flap though, and a means for them to get back into the house I would definitely just keep them in. Now the weather is getting colder they might not be so keen to roam around at night anyway; they might prefer to cuddle up on your bed. Just make sure you set your alarm for 4 o'clock so you get let them out before they wake the neighbours.

chocolatespiders Thu 03-Oct-13 22:43:46

I would get them a wooden shelter or box for outside so they can shelter if they Want to.

ControlGeek Fri 04-Oct-13 08:11:44

Thanks both for your replies smile

chocolate We have loads of places for them to keep dry in the garden - there is a car port, some low hanging dense conifers, and several nooks and crannies that they love to go into.

pigs I'm sorry to hear about your male. Like you I'm very lucky to live in a quiet area, we are a cul de sac so very little traffic. I'm not sure how long we could cope with sticking it out to be honest. I turn into hell on wheels with interrupted sleep and as you say, cats really don't give up or change their ways very easily. I'm not entirely comfortable with trying to get them to change what is instinctual to them anyway. I think we'll probably just carry on as we are for now, and I'll keep an eye on the forecast, keeping them in and setting my alarm for 4 on the nights when we're approaching frosty weather.

chemenger Fri 04-Oct-13 11:07:19

Our little cats (who are just over a year old) are completely unconcerned about getting wet and love to be out at night. So it's not unusual to have a cold, soaking wet, cat sitting on your head in the middle of the night in our house. Makes Nastycat's nocturnal yowling seem much more acceptable. Keeping them in just means you have a warm, dry cat running over your head instead and the sound of crashing and banging around the house as they thunder about.

MissFoodie Fri 04-Oct-13 12:10:26

my cat is almost 5 and still won't sleep more than 5 hours at a time.......



chemenger Fri 04-Oct-13 12:27:36

I think there is a brief window, around the age of 10, when they sleep quietly a lot of the time. Then senility hits and they start yowling all night because they can't remember where they are. Only a slight exaggeration.

chocolatespiders Fri 04-Oct-13 19:35:34

My cat seems to sleep all day especially if she can find some sun to bask in smile

Night time she drives me bonkers. She is 18 and I love her dearly but it is like having a newborn baby again.

ControlGeek Mon 07-Oct-13 19:57:19

Oh crikey, don't talk to me about senility - the female has a habit of falling asleep in random parts of the house, waking up hours later and wondering why I'm nowhere to be seen. Instead of coming looking for me, she just sits and howls until I go find her <crazy cat>

Right, looks like there's nothing for it, they'll have to stay in on the coldest nights, but go out at 4 when they start playing me up. They already sleep on the bed when they are in at night, they won't let me shut them out of the bedroom without putting up a fight and my stamina is nowhere near as long lived as theirs

Thanks for all the replies smile

livinginwonderland Fri 11-Oct-13 08:57:41

Our cats are 8 months and house cats. They generally sleep (or settle quietly) from 10pm - 5.30am which works well for us. DP gets up at 6am for work and I go to bed around 10pm so I think they work on our schedule (ie. if we're awake, they know they'll get fed or a given a cuddle!).

I assume it's different if they're not house cats, though. They were noisier when we first got them, but we just shut the bedroom door and they seem to amuse themselves quite well.

MaddAddam Fri 11-Oct-13 09:06:44

I would shut them out if they want to be out at night, with a sheltera little kennel or shed access or box.

Dawn and dusk are the best part of a cat's day, that's when they get to prowl around.

One of mine goes off for days, weeks, even months at a time and lives in hedges and on farms, he likes to sleep outside even when he's home, he often sleeps on a windowsill, outside, in this weather. They're quite tough animals, young cats, however cute and fluffy they look, and they have lots of fur to keep them warm.

Lottie4 Fri 11-Oct-13 14:50:07

Do you have a cat flap so they can come and go as they please? My male was a nightmare to keep in at night, so we gave up on shutting the cat flap. Perhaps, they could have their last meal just before you go to bed, at least that way they might be more likely to come into the warm and then can work out for themselves if they like the warm or cold.

My are oldies now, but settled down after about 3 years. My male often comes in at night and says "meow" - all I have to do is stroke his head and he settles down for the rest of the night. My female is starting to spend more time indoors now it's colder, she went to bed with me last night, got up for a while and went outside and then came back again.

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