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Why does your cat wake you up during the night or in the morning?

In the wild, cats snooze during the day and are active during the night. They are what is called crepuscular hunters, which means they capture most of their prey at dawn and dusk. So it is natural that even domestic cats may be more active at these times - and they might feel that you should be too. Which is why some cats want to wake you up half an hour before sunrise every morning. It's the best time of the day, sleepy-head!

After frequent and vehement protests by their humans, a majority of cats finally get the message and adapt to human lifestyles. Many cat owners will testify that their cats have adjusted to human biological timetables and sleep during the night and are more active in the day. Other cats insist on starting the day at 5 a.m. by bouncing on their human's face.

Why? Often it is the human's fault. They allow their cats to be in control. So if kitty hops on the bed and starts meowing, they drag themselves from sleep and provide some treats as a ransom that will get them a few more hours of snoozing till sunrise. Naturally, this will repeat before dawn the next day. When it comes to food, cats are quick learners and once you show them that you are willing and able to respond to an early morning wake-up call with a pre-breakfast snack they will be more than happy to keep you doing it.

On top of that cats like routine, which means that once a routine is established it will be much harder to change - but still by no means impossible. So first things first - if the cat comes to the bedroom early morning and gets militant, ignore the petulant meows, the pawing, and the wet nose in your ear. However unbelievable it may seem, pretend you are asleep. Don't try to calm the cat down or interact in any way. Most cats eventually get the hint and go away. Of course by then you're wide awake, but itís an investment for the future. Fake death often enough and your cat will give you up as a lost cause.

Unless of course, the cat has a legitimate complaint. If your cat is fed once a day in the morning by the time 4 or 5 am comes around the next day, kitty has a rumbling stomach and a powerful incentive to remind you of your duties. So put down some kibbles before your bedtime to keep pre-dawn feline hunger pangs at bay.

As mentioned earlier, some cats are more active than others and they will be more active during the night and therefore may get bored. Providing them with some toys which they can play with during the night should be enough to get them occupied. (Humans with active nocturnal cats get so used to things that go bump in the night that burglars could probably walk off with the bed they are sleeping in and not notice.)

Although cats do sleep a lot, make sure that they get a lot of activities during the day. If your cat does not get enough exercise during the day, she will get restless during the night. This is particularly true for indoor-only cats. Set play times each day. Vary toys as well because cats get bored easily.

Above all cats like routine, so any changes to the daily pattern - for example the arrival of guests, your absence on a trip, spring-cleaning the house - may throw the cat off balance. Nothing reassures a cat more than a full stomach, so even if your cat was not previously a furry alarm clock, an uneasy cat might want a pre-dawn meal as assurance that all is well. With overnight guests, cats that normally eat in the morning may feel uncomfortable with the new people in the house, so they will now prefer to eat when things are nice and quiet. An hour before dawn is usually pretty peaceful.

After you have introduced the new routine be patient, as it may take some time for an amicable routine to be established. However, if after all that, your cat still keeps coming back and waking you up, there may be some underlying medical condition, and this should be investigated.

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