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Please help - my cat won't stop meowing at night

(27 Posts)
weebairn Fri 18-Apr-14 06:08:26

I've had two cats for around 5 years. They have always been a bit loud and annoying and demanding, but also lovely and affectionate and funny. The last few weeks one of them has been absolutely unbearable at night - meowing until we get up and try and calm him down by giving him some biscuits,or a stroke, or whatever we can think of at 4am. This was working in that we had to do it once a night and then he'd shut up till morning, but last night we got up 4 or 5 times.

We live in a flat so there is nowhere I can put them where I can't hear them.

I have tried letting them in the bedroom with us but my cat will just jab at me throughout the night and wake me up.

I have tried feeding them more before bed. I don't think it is about food as there is always some left in the bowl

Litter tray is clean etc

They've always been indoor cats (which I feel a bit bad about, but I live in a flat and there isn't anywhere they could go)

I think it is probably about attention (they have been worse since I've had my daughter) but we do go to bed earlier now as toddler gets up at 5-6 am, we can't stay up late stroking them like we used to.

I have an 18 month old and sleep is very precious. I worry about them waking her up too. She is actually sleeping at the moment after a couple of months of teething/illness/bad sleep and it's unbearable getting woken up when your child is actually sleeping.

Please please help. We are on the verge of getting rid of them sad

ItsSpringBaby Fri 18-Apr-14 07:15:10

Ok, well I'm no expert but have two male cats who are now 13/14 years old, two children (4 & 8) and live in a 2-bed flat.

I've experienced many episodes of this, cats are really not easy to keep in such a confined space - I definitely wouldn't do it again! Has he been neutered? Mine were done early, but with the eldest it was done because he was extremely aggressive and attacked me on a few different occasions. Made a huge difference in his behaviour, he's became a sloppy docile old thing.

Crying during the night from my experience has been due to the following:

Illness - a few times when mine had urine infections. But could potentially be a number of things. The end solution for the urine infection was to buy them a plug-in water fountain. Seems to have eradicated that problem entirely.

Not liking their food - Mine can become extremely fussy and change their preferences at the drop of a hat. If one of them in particular doesn't like what he's been given he will cry for hours.

The birth of a child - One of the cats did not cope well at all when my kids were born. He still seems to have issues with them, but is very neurotic in general.

Cat litter tray being dirty - Same again with Mr neurotic, he will cry if the tray isn't clean enough for his liking. Sometimes it will need to be done again, just for him.

Feeling unhappy - Wanting something or boredom. To come in my room when the door is shut, wanting to be stroked, wanting to jump onto the windowsill when the curtains are closed etc. Not a huge lot you can do about this at 4am, but buying this stuff (Feliway): has made a massive difference! I cannot recommend it enough really. You can really tell the difference in their behaviour when it starts running out. You could also try buying them a selection of toys to play with. One of mine is extremely active and used to enjoy playing 'fetch'. Once I stopped having the time to do this, toys were a good substitute.

Not sure how helpful that was, hopefully some others will come along with a few good tips and it won't come to re-homing. In my case things did get better in the end. I did have many nightmare moments!

weebairn Fri 18-Apr-14 07:28:23

Thank you...

The cats are both male - one is 5 and the other is 4. I've had both since they were very young, 6 weeks old. Both were neutered as kittens. We got the second one cause the first one seemed lonely, but it's the second one who's the problem!

It's a big flat - more floor space than most 2 bed houses - and during the day they have a full run of it. But no outside sad

He is very clean and we try really hard to keep the litter clean -we have two trays -

I have been googling and everyone seems to be saying you need to just let them meow and they'll learn to stop - I am a bit worried he will wake up the toddler. She is finally sleeping through, maybe we should risk it with a couple of nights of ear plugs for me and DP… would it even work?

I think basically he wants us to stay up stroking / playing with him late , then he's ok… but we are too tired with the early toddler mornings. I am feeling a bit hopeless about it (and sleep deprived. and pregnant and hormonal!!) I always said I would never be one of those people who got rid of their cats as soon as they had a baby!!

weebairn Fri 18-Apr-14 07:29:39

Thanks for that diffuser link - worth a try!! What is it??

sashh Fri 18-Apr-14 07:31:19

Well you have taught him that if he cries you will get up and feed him / give him attention. And he has seen you get up for the small person so why shouldn't you do the same for him?

The only thing I can suggest is earplugs and ignore him.

weebairn Fri 18-Apr-14 07:36:55

I keep thinking that sashh. We may have to try it. I am just a bit worried about him waking up the toddler. I don't leave kids to cry but jesus christ cats is a different matter. And he's not a kitten.

yegodsandlittlefishes Fri 18-Apr-14 07:50:48

Our cat does this, but I just put her outside for longer daytime hours and then she sleeps for longer.

You could try getting a big (dog) crate if you have space somewhere, and use it to isolate him. You would need to make sure everyone ignores him when he cries in there. Use it the way you would put him outside if you could. Have food and water and a litter tray in there. You could then try to retrain him with clear signals that he has to leave you to sleep at night.
Then have a time of day when he does get a little attention every day.

Fluffycloudland77 Fri 18-Apr-14 07:59:35

Is he happy being an indoor cat though?

weebairn Fri 18-Apr-14 08:06:23

I don't know sad He goes through phases where he seems very happy and then he kicks off for a while. I wish I could identify what he's unhappy about. He's always been an indoor cat.

I feel guilty about it a lot.

The other cat is very content (he used to be more upset, before we got the second cat).

I absolutely love my flat and it's brilliant for young kids, I have another baby coming in the autumn and the flat is brilliant spacious and safe for my toddler to run around in. Me and DP can both walk to work, and he comes home for his lunch break when I'm on mat leave (the luxury!!) Don't want to move for another year at least sad

Am I just a selfish person for having cats in a flat?? sad

weebairn Fri 18-Apr-14 08:15:44

I think he just wants more of me, but somehow it's a bigger deal in the evening not the day. When I'm on night shifts DP says he is unbearable too, just sits at the front door yowling for the first few hours after I've gone. Feel really hopeless about it all.

Hamnvik Fri 18-Apr-14 08:36:00

You have pretty much described my boy cat, he is driving us mad! I have no advice really, we have tried ignoring (it woke the baby) tried a water spray, cuddles, picking him up and bringing him to bed nothing has worked so far.
I have considered the fact that he maybe doesn't want to be a house cat but we live in the middle of the city I wouldn't want to let him out here plus he has had seizures in the past and I would hate to think of that happening out of the house.
The main thing that seems to upset him is the fact that DSs door is shut, he hates not being able to go in places!
It is a nightmare isn't it!

cozietoesie Fri 18-Apr-14 08:47:02

Don't feel hopeless.

He sounds a bit bored and feeling neglected. Added to you being knackered, it's a bad combination and cats are ever wont to get you when you're down: they see the vulnerability and pounce. (He's likely had a lightbulb moment or two - 'Hey, that works! S/he got up to give me attention!) So I'm with sashh on this one.

I think you need to get him into a routine again (presumably their old one went to pieces when the baby came) and that will also involve more stimulating activity during the day because with the baby, you won't be able to give them so much attention.

Have a read of this. Maybe introduce some foraging toys to try to tire them out and make their day fuller for them?

Then at night, if he starts complaining, go to him, say a firm NO, and go back to bed - with earplugs if necessary. I think you'll likely be OK with the little one. Remember that you're conditioned to get up at the slightest hint of a cry and the baby is not. It's worth a try anyway and you might even consider relegation to - say - the kitchen for bad yowling behaviour so that he sees there's a consequence to his actions.

I'd also consider taking away any toys at night time so that they learn that night is for sleeping but that they have something fun to get up to in the morning. I'm just thinking (a little wildly, perhaps) of ways to clearly distinguish night and day for them. If life is one long play and eating session then everything will become confused. Routine is all to cats.

Oh - and don't forget to look after yourself as well in all this. When did you last have a nice deep perfumed bath?

(Sorry for the tome. I'm stuck upstairs aching after ill-advisedly digging the whole garden yesterday.)

ItsSpringBaby Fri 18-Apr-14 08:52:55

The link is Feliway a plug in which emits a "relaxation pheromone" - it's supposed to mimic what occurs naturally and make them more calm. You can buy it from quite a few places, and it's worth a try. Really did make a difference in my case and I've read lots of others recommend it too. It's not a 100% cure, but it has reduced/stopped all the crying pacing in the middle of the night.

I personally don't think they're upset about not going out - they don't know any different!

With my two, the youngest has always been the bigger problem too. He has a habit of weeing on carpets, pooing directly outside of his tray etc. All his problems got worse after the birth of my first, and like yours sometimes he's fine and other times it's frustrating trying to figure out what the problem is. Over the years I've just got used to him being how he is, but it has been hard work. I really think some cats have a personality where they need lots and lots of attention, playing with, cuddling and whatnot, whereas others are really independent and just get on with things.

timtam23 Fri 18-Apr-14 22:06:29

I think it is probably because you are pregnant (congratulations by the way!) I think the cats are very sensitive to hormones and they can totally change their behaviour during an owner's pregnancy - sometimes from very early on.

Feliway may be the thing for you, I have used the plug-ins after introducing a new stray kitten into a house of 2 elderly neurotic cats

weebairn Sat 19-Apr-14 08:41:49

Thank you all so much, this has been really helpful. I didn't even think of the pregnancy thing.

Last night was better - we shut our door and the baby's and got the monitor back out instead. I wore ear plugs. We gave him lots of attention and toys before bed. He did meow a bit at 3.30 but not like the night before, and either way with all the doors shut and ear plugs I could just ignore it. Me and DP have had a chat and are just going to be strict about not going to him at night, especially as baby is sleeping well at the moment.

Baby slept 7-7 (!!) (normally she is up at the crack of dawn!) and I slept pretty decently too and feel loads better smile

I will get some Feliway.

cozietoesie Sat 19-Apr-14 08:52:16

That's encouraging. My cats know that there are certain cozietowers rules which they disobey at their peril. One of them is 'Don't wake Mommy up before a reasonable time in the morning.' (I'm not at my best in the early mornings/mornings.)

You'll need to be utterly consistent though, if only for a while. Being cats, they'll occasionally put a paw over the line to test if it's still there so no 'Oh poor thing, I wonder if.......' when you start to feel stronger and better.

Oh - and don't worry about possible hurt feelings. Cats like routines so if you institute one and stick to it, they shouldn't mind once they realize you're serious. Just be sure to give lots of attention/love/food when you all wake up to make a nice thing for them as part of their day.

Good luck.

cozietoesie Sat 19-Apr-14 08:59:08

PS - and congratulations on the pregnancy! You could have this licked by the time the new baby arrives. smile

Fluffycloudland77 Sat 19-Apr-14 09:12:37

Buy the ear plugs off eBay, they don't last forever and they are 90% cheaper if bought in bulk.

The yellow ones from e.a.r are the best I've found. Used ear plugs make the best cat toys in this house.

catnipkitty Sat 19-Apr-14 09:21:49

If you get up to feed them you are rewarding their behaviour and they will keep doing it. Shut them away in the kitchen and get ear plugs and ignore. You may need to consider rehoming them, sorry. Young healthy cats really do need to be able to go outside and cats are naturally nocturnal.

cozietoesie Sat 19-Apr-14 09:26:02

That's as may be, catnipkitty, but all of my cats have very quickly adjusted to the human rhythm and sleep the night through, both Siamese and non-Siamese. To the point where they take themselves off to bed if, for some reason, we're having a late night.

weebairn Mon 21-Apr-14 08:39:29

Still meowing at night. I am ignoring it now, with ear plugs. Baby is sleeping through it fine, sleeping the best she ever has in fact!

I feel like a bit of bastard though. Trying to give him extra attention in the day. Have ordered Feliway so hoping it will help.

bishboschone Mon 21-Apr-14 08:42:28

sounds like he can see the sunshine and wants out...have they always been indoor cats ?.Our neighbour has an indoor cat albeit in a massive house but I'm afraid I think it's a bit cruel ..

ItsSpringBaby Mon 21-Apr-14 09:09:11

I don't agree the cats want to go out, especially not two neutered males! Both indoor and outdoor cats suffer from these kinds of behavioural problems.

They really don't know any different snow, rain or shine - their 'territory' will be inside the home.

bishboschone Mon 21-Apr-14 09:30:28

Good point .. I know my cats love outside and one often sings at 5 am if he wants to go out .

weebairn Thu 01-May-14 10:43:04

Update for this thread:

well things are much better! My cat has basically stopped meowing all night. Sometimes he does still meow at around 6 but I get up for the day at 6 so that's not a big deal, I go give him a cuddle and feed them. He's not disturbed the baby at all through all this so at least I don't have to worry about that! We have stopped feeding him at night, that was stupid anyway.

I bought some feliway a few days ago and he does seem more seltted (normally he meows like crazy when I'm on night shifts, but he's been ok for some recent ones). I am a cheap skate so I will probably let it run out and assess if he gets worse again before committing to it regularly!

He is a funny beast and likes a specific sleeping spot, which changes every few months. Recently it was in the baby's room so I wonder if being shut out of that room at night was what was upsetting him. His new sleeping spot is back in the front room so all's well smile

Crazy beasts!

Also he put my toddler to bed last night. They lay on the bed having a cuddle (she goes to sleep on the spare bed and then I move her into her cot) and she dropped off in 10 seconds flat! Yesterday putting her down took the best part of 45 minutes! So he is in my good books now wink

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