Damn you Loud Morning Kitties!!!
April 7, 2015 9:48 AM   Subscribe

These damn cats won't let me sleep in the morning. Need tips / tricks to make them leave me alone! 3am is NOT waking up time :0/

We used to have one cat, now we have two. The problem is that Kitty #1, Binky, tends to think it's breakfast time around 3.30am. This has been persistent since the time change and she does not appear to be mellowing. This is NOT breakfast time. I used to be able to shut Binky out of the bedroom and she would sit quietly outside, waiting for us to get up and feed her.

NOW we also have Crocket. Crocket would gladly let us sleep until it is time for breakfast, but as soon as Binky starts meowing for food, Crocket starts meowing for food.

We've tried shutting them out but whereas Binky used to wait quietly, Crocket is tearing up the carpet, head butting the doors, putting his paw under the door and rattling it until we get up. We've tried locking Binky out and leaving Crocket in the bedroom with us, but then he goes crazy trying to get OUTSIDE the door.

What can I do to stop this? The spray gun is NOT an effective tool with Crocket.

I've read something somewhere about hooking up a vacuum cleaner and turning this on when the cats are meowing at the door..... I'd kind of rather not try this at 3.30am, but I'm prepared to go down this route if I absolutely HAVE to.

Does anyone else have any tips for a happier morning ritual with Cats? How can I shut them up for another hour or so until it really IS breakfast time? Anyone have any fail safe methods I should consider? Please help.... I'm exhausted. My partner could sleep through a Rock Concert so this is really only affecting MY quality of life :(
posted by JenThePro to Pets & Animals (27 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Is leaving dry food out all night an option? No more "breakfast time" if they can eat when they want.
posted by puritycontrol at 9:54 AM on April 7, 2015 [3 favorites]

My sister had this problem and she solved it by moving feeding time to evenings before bed.
posted by dacoit at 9:55 AM on April 7, 2015 [9 favorites]

This is the reason why feeding time for your cats should never be first thing in the morning. Feed them before you go to bed at night and see if that helps. If you feel they need to eat more than once a day, give them their less favourite food as the last thing you do before you go out the door in the morning so they associate food with you having been up for awhile and leaving, not with you getting up in the morning.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:56 AM on April 7, 2015 [7 favorites]

Loud, annoying kitties get 3:30AM treats at our house. It's not a great habit, but it makes them go away for a few hours.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:57 AM on April 7, 2015

We have a gravity feeder which helps with the late night snack attacks. The problem is that our cats are just assholes and like us to be up between 3 and 5 am. Only one of them does this and while they want food, they'll do it even if we feed them. Or not. Like I said. Assholes.

We shut the door and he goes away for a while, then comes back and gripes outside the door. We have learned to ignore him, and have an air purifier/white noise generator that helps.

Still, if he's a determined little bastard (as it sounds like) then the vaccum cleaner in the "on" position connected to a remote power switch (you can get these at hardware stores/DIY places) should work after a while. When he yells, just wake up enough to fumble for the remote, hit the button, let the vac spool up and turn it off after a bit.

If he's like my cats, he'll just acclimate to it after a while, and then you get the fun of coming up with a new tactic. Still, I'd try this. Cat-terrorizing by vacuum cleaner is a time-honored tradition for cat owners.
posted by Thistledown at 10:00 AM on April 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Feed them at night. Problem solved.
posted by oceanjesse at 10:01 AM on April 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Break them of this by never, ever feeding them until after you've gotten dressed in the morning. You'll have a miserable couple of weeks, but they will get used to it. The bed is Sacred Human Space; don't ever pet them or pay any attention to them on the bed until they're broken of this habit. Lock them out of the bedroom during the day so they get used to it being off limits. Only the living room (or where ever) is Happy Petting Place. The kitchen is Happy Eating Place.

Again, it will be sheer misery for a few weeks, but it is worth it. Mine never wake me up before 7 am and generally not even then. They don't start meowing for food/attention until I get out of the shower.
posted by desjardins at 10:02 AM on April 7, 2015 [5 favorites]

I feed the cat at random times during the day, and NEVER early in the morning or late in the evening. Randomizing seems to help me prevent Jack from having the morning "I must have food now" conversation.
posted by answergrape at 10:04 AM on April 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: 1. Play with them right before bed and then feed them.
2. Automatic feeder with a timer for the morning.
3. Never, ever move when they meow in the morning.
4. Accept that cats are sometimes impossible to bend to your will.
posted by Huck500 at 10:04 AM on April 7, 2015 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: Dry food is not an option since both kitties are on wet food only... I've looked into automatic feeders both not sure if there are any good ones for wet food.

I've also put out a treat bottle, with freeze dried treats inside. This only works for Crocket though and doesn't address the Binkster waking up so early.

I've also tried feeding them really late at night, but they still always want food early in the morning :( I'll try this again though in combination with some other tips.

This is definitely a product of me starting work at 7am - the cats have always been fed early, but it used to be bearable - i.e. them waking me up 10 minutes before my alarm which wasn't such a big deal. 3.30am is still THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT!!!!!!
posted by JenThePro at 10:04 AM on April 7, 2015

Best answer: Try second dinner. Feed a half portion regular dinner. Then later do play time if you have restless kitties, followed by second dinner, which is just the other half of dinner. Our kitty gets first dinner around 5 or 6pm, and second dinner at 10pm. Our cat is a little finicky about eating wet food that has been sitting out and will pester for fresh because one of us is a sucker for the pitiful hungry elderly kitty.

You can also try not feeding until right before you leave in the morning.
posted by zennie at 10:12 AM on April 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: It took me 2 weeks of ignoring the protests before they settled down and stopped beating up on the door. 2 weeks. Do NOT open that door. Don't make noise beside the door. If you can help it, don't even turn around in bed (they can hear that too, little buggers). Just act as though they don't exist. White knuckle it.

Also double sided tape! Cats hate tape. Tape the carpet and the door. That will at least teach them to take their nonsense elsewheres.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 10:25 AM on April 7, 2015 [11 favorites]

and if you want to go nuclear, there's this
posted by St. Peepsburg at 10:28 AM on April 7, 2015 [5 favorites]

I love my little asshole kitten, who would wake me up at 4 a.m. EVERY morning for food. Feeding her right before bed worked. Except then I think she'd just nibble on it through the night, and then get some kind of second wind around 4 a.m, after which she'd tear through the house and on the bed and up the bookshelves - which was just as infuriating, if not more (think a fat little cat stomping on your belly as she jumps on the bed to attack whatever body part you moved under the blanket).

Now, I have a couple small bowls of food in the hallway outside the bedroom as well as in the kitchen, her usual eating place. I also keep my bedroom door firmly closed so she can't get in. So far, and it's been about a month, no scratching or howls to get inside the bedroom. Fingers crossed.
posted by Everydayville at 10:51 AM on April 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

I have a product very similar to these. It works well for wet food and stopped bad behavior in my cats. Now they just stalk this feeder instead of bothering me at 6am. I just wish it didn't need to be refilled every day.
posted by royalsong at 11:04 AM on April 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

The automatic pet food feeder I use for wet food is this one, which has an ice pack you can use to help keep the food fresh while the timer ticks away. I use it in instances where I need to sleep in past normal kitty feeding time so they don't bug the shit out of me.
posted by foxfirefey at 11:13 AM on April 7, 2015

We teach them that food does not come from humans, and that feeding time is not controlled by humans.

Our cats have lately been trained that the _alarm_ controls feeding time, not humans. We have an iPhone set up with an amplifier (or just an iPhone attached to a power source would work), and at feeding time, the alarm goes off. Then we get really excited about food time.

We also ramdomly treat the cat when it is being quiet (and when the cat does tricks).

We never feed otherwise. We do not give in to begging. If it's early and the cat is hungry, we might wake up and play with the cat to tire it out and/or distract it -- eventually, though, the cat gets used to not being fed too early.

We also feed as late in the morning as possible, and more in the evening.

If you do decide to feed evenings only, I'd strongly suggest tapering off the morning feeding rather than stopping abruptly. Cats can behave in inconveniently extreme ways (or worse, eating things they shouldn't) if they are suddenly super hungry.


If you want, you could get automatic feeders (that you can clean), put the moist food in there, and set them to open about 1/2 to 1 hour after you leave in the morning (after teaching the cats that there is food in there, and it will open after a while -- otherwise, the cats might go crazy trying to open the thing, possibly breaking it or making a mess).

This will further dissociate humans from feeding time, and also move feeding time to later in the day.
posted by amtho at 11:16 AM on April 7, 2015 [6 favorites]

BTW, we use the iPhone's harp glissando as the alarm sound, and the cats seem to distinguish it from other sounds very well.
posted by amtho at 11:22 AM on April 7, 2015

We've tried shutting them out but whereas Binky used to wait quietly, Crocket is tearing up the carpet, head butting the doors, putting his paw under the door and rattling it until we get up.

Our cat also tries to get us to open the bedroom door at night. We put a door draft blocker underneath the bedroom door so he couldn't put his paws underneath to rattle it and claw at the carpet. It works! It may be worth it if you want to try locking both of them out again.
posted by everybody had matching towels at 11:26 AM on April 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Is your home big enough to have two doors between you and the cats overnight? When I had a cat, her overnight space was in the living room/kitchen, behind closed doors, down the hallway from my bedroom, which also had a closed door. She could have batted the door and miaowed all she liked and I wouldn't have heard her. (Of course, this totally fell apart the nights she worked her mysterious kitty-cat magic and I decided she was so lovely and cute and snuggly she could sleep on my bed with me, but it meant I at least had the option of being in charge when I didn't want to be woken at dawn by a wet nose in the face).
posted by penguin pie at 11:52 AM on April 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

I used to shut my two kittens in the bathroom at night when I was in an apartment (where their litter box was), because they would go tearing across the bed at 3 AM. Now I shut them in a separate bedroom, but I'm with penguin pie, the solution has been two doors between them and me.
posted by lemonade at 12:29 PM on April 7, 2015

Best answer: In addition to the above suggestions, you might also try using a white noise machine, fan, and/or ear plugs when you're sleeping. It won't completely drown out their crying, but it might make things a little easier for you while you white knuckle it through their 3 am temper tantrum.

Also keep in mind that intermittent reinforcement can be your worst enemy, so once you commit to ignoring them, you must never, ever, ever give in.* No matter how much they cry and scratch, you still have to just lie in bed, don't move, and pretend like you are getting the best sleep of your life. If you hold out for a week, and then give in one day, that will teach them that if they wait long enough, you'll cave.

*Unless you hear them start hurting each other or something, obviously.
posted by litera scripta manet at 1:49 PM on April 7, 2015 [9 favorites]

We only feed the cats at night, and when The Mollycat decides to yodel outside the door in the wee hours of the morning, I stick the nozzle of a compressed-air can under the bedroom door and give a couple short blasts. Works every time, and has cut down on the number of times she's woken me up. (My husband could sleep through anything.)
posted by sarcasticah at 4:06 PM on April 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

The vacuum trick outside the door was from my question a few years back:

And it worked like a charm. :-)
posted by gregjunior at 9:02 PM on April 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: So last night, I fed them a half meal at 6pm and the other half of their meal at 9pm.
Binky STILL woke me up at 3.38 (Seriously! She's like an alarm clock she's that regular!)
I "white knuckled" it until 5.10am, which is when I wake up.

Although, I can tell you it was hard. Binky was meowing, jumping on me, head butting me, Brrrrr-ing at me, chasing Crocket up and down the stairs...... I definitely need some ear plugs but I'm going to try this tactic until it works... or else, it's VACCUUM TIME!
posted by JenThePro at 8:05 AM on April 8, 2015

Are you playing with them in the evenings? That's important too.
posted by amtho at 5:09 PM on April 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: In case anyone is still reading this - Ear Plugs have been AMAZING! I don't know why I didn't think of it sooner!
I white knuckled it on Tuesday morning
Wednesday morning the kitties tried to wake me up at 4.30 but I kept my ear plugs in and my head down.
This morning, they didn't bother me until the alarm went off!
I'm excited by Ear Plugs!! Who knew?
posted by JenThePro at 7:25 AM on April 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

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