Why Won’t Our Cat Sleep Through the Night?

What to do when an adult cat suddenly wants late-night attention.

Q: We have a cat who will be 3 years old in August. Her name is Raven and she has decided not to sleep at night. She exercises through the day because we have a 6-month-old kitten named Edgar Allen Poe (Eddie). Why would she decide now not to sleep?

Raven is closer with my husband than she is with me. During the night she will sometimes nip at his elbow or try to get in his face. Her routine has not changed otherwise.

I told my husband that she seems to really like him and maybe he should try to stroke her longer when she sleeps beside him before he drifts off to sleep or if she wakes him in the middle of the night. Sometimes Eddie will come and lick me on my cheek at night and all I do is pat and caress him for a while and he goes back to sleep.

What do you think is Raven’s problem?

Crystal Sweigart

A: Cats are nocturnal animals, although they usually adapt to our schedule and will sleep through the night. Kittens, however, are more nocturnal than mature cats. I wonder if Eddie the kitten, when he’s up in the middle of the night, engages Raven in play before he goes back to sleep. Raven, now awake, may prefer to pester your husband for attention because she seems pretty bonded to him.

I suggest that before you go to bed, play with both cats for a longer time than you usually do to satisfy their need for late-night attention and perhaps exhaust them a little bit. In the worst case scenario, if Raven’s nocturnal activity prevents you from getting a good night’s sleep, you might have to ban her from the bedroom at night.

Arnold Plotnick, DVM

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