Kittens can be almost as difficult as newborn human babies when it comes to letting their caregivers get a full night’s sleep! If you’re a pet parent to a young kitten or two, you’ve probably been roused at least once by a playful mew or pounce. Unfortunately, that behavior isn’t very cute at 3:00 AM after a long day. Here are a few ways to encourage kittens to let you sleep.
If It’s Not Cute at 3:00 AM, It’s Not Cute, Period
Don’t encourage nocturnal naughtiness by playing games during the day that translate into misbehavior at night. For example, if you lie in bed and wiggle your feet under the covers to amuse the kitten while you’re awake, that kitten will also pounce on your feet when they move while you’re asleep. Similarly, if you respond to loud meows by filling the food dish during the day, your kitten will expect to get the same response for waking you.
You don’t have to refuse to have any fun with your kitten. Nor should you deprive him or her of food. Just don’t reward any behavior with attention (positive OR negative) or food if that behavior might be less appealing while you’re trying to sleep. Play sessions are great for kittens, but if you make sure that you start and end all play sessions, and that you always play with a toy rather than your hands or feet for the cat to attack, you’ll stop problems before they start.
Up the Exercise
Every kitten needs at least one long play session every day. This means playing with a toy like a feather on a fishing pole until the kitten is worn out and chooses to walk away from playing. If your kitten is an only cat, you’ll need to double this amount of play, at least. In addition, the mental stimulation of petting and grooming is necessary for the kitten’s emotional and social development.
If your kitten is waking you at night, increase the amount of playtime it gets during the day. A tired kitten is a well-behaved kitten.
Develop A Routine
Cats and kittens learn fixed routines easily. Make an effort to go to bed around the same time every night, and develop a bedtime routine. At my house, I brush my teeth and change into pajamas, then fill the cat’s food dish and call her for bedtime. She eats a snack and then curls up beside my bed. I don’t know what she does all night, but she’s always right there in the same spot the next morning! If your kitten learns that all playtime ends and sleep begins when you perform a specific series of actions, it will soon accept this schedule.
Two Cats Are Better Than One
If you have a single kitten and room for a second, consider adopting another kitten. The cost of care for two kittens is higher, but they really are easier in pairs. Plus, cats live longer when they have companions of their own species. Kittens wear one another out while you’re at work, and you’ll have calmer companions during the evenings and while you sleep.