Please, cat, shut up and let me sleep!
March 12, 2018 10:44 AM   Subscribe

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to get a loudmouth cat to stop howling outside the bedroom door at night? Molly has made it her mission in life to keep me from ever sleeping. She yodels outside the door -- she brings toy mousies and leaves them in front of the door, and then howls her fool head off. I am seriously at the end of my rope. She woke me up four times last night!

Letting the cats into the bedroom is not an option, they don't let us sleep at all if they are in the room with us. (We have tried. Lord, how we have tried. Finnegan waits until we are drifting off to sleep, then decides the time is right to sing us the song of his people. Molly has to make sure we are still alive my jumping on us and yelling directly into our faces every five minutes. Then they stage wild wrestling matches on our kidneys. Then it all repeats.)

I cannot sleep with earplugs in; not being able to hear anything at all triggers massive anxiety attacks for me. And I'd need some super heavy-duty earplugs to block her yowl. I already use a white noise app every night; she drowns it out. She is LOUD.

A squirt bottle doesn't work, because as soon as she hears me get up, she scampers off under the couch. Compressed air: same thing. Ignoring her doesn't work -- her meow is piercing, and she will not stop on her own. There is literally no way we can physically keep her away from the bedroom door -- we live in a small condo, and the only other room with a door is the bathroom. Shutting her in there is not ideal, at the very least because that's where the litter box is, and Finn needs access to it. Plus, she'd just get out when one of us got up to pee anyway, and I think her meow is loud enough that we'd hear her in there.

We are planning a vet visit -- I honestly don't think it's a health issue, although she does tend to be neurotic -- she really never shuts up, ever. Perhaps kitty Prozac is the way to go? But I have got to come up with a solution for the time between now and the vet visit, because if I don't get some uninterrupted sleep soon, I am going to lose what little mind I have left. (Insult to injury: my husband sleeps right through it. Never even hears her.) Help.
posted by sarcasticah to Pets & Animals (55 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
What's your routine with her before bedtime? If I don't give my cat at least 90 minute of my (mostly) undivided attention and dangly toy play before bed, he will definitely yowl the songs of his people and want to be fed at 3am. I didn't believe the hype about the Cat Dancer toy that it, like, 5 bits of cardboard stuck on a wire, but that thing is MAGIC.

Late evening playtime and feeding him at like 10pm (instead of when I'm having dinner at 7ish) means he more or less conks out when I do and gives me about 8 hours of peace.
posted by TwoStride at 11:01 AM on March 12, 2018 [9 favorites]

This won't help short-term, and I know that's what you're asking for, but it might be worth trying to shift your cats' sleep/wake schedules. Short version:

- if you free-feed, taper them off that, get them on a regular meal cycle
- plan for a big play session before you go to bed, followed by a nice meal for both cats
- by giving them a chance to 'hunt' (that is, play) you let Molly burn off her energy so she doesn't try and convince you that mousehunting needs to happen at 3am; by giving them a meal they get a reward from the 'hunt'; once they've hunted and eaten they'll groom themselves and sleep for a good 6-8 hour stretch, at least
- it may take a week or two for this shift to work, and in the meantime you do have to suffer through any nighttime noisefests, because you CANNOT interact with them, positively or negatively, no matter how piercing the miaow. It sucks. But it (almost always) works, if you can just hold on and refuse to let them break you. Negative reinforcement (like squirt bottles or yelling) actually makes it worse, because you're engaging and they're getting attention -- doesn't matter if it's positive, it's still attention. Just grit your teeth and chant 'do not engage, do not engage, do not engage.' If you know you'll lose it and if your husband sleeps through it... can you maybe stay with someone else for a while, or at a hotel, until the schedule shift kicks in?

Unless Molly has other issues -- and tbh these sound like pretty typical "HEY I'M A CAT" issues -- the Prozac is probably unnecessary and unhelpful. I've had cats on Prozac for other behavioural issues and while it helped with those it did nothing for nighttime annoyances, because that's not a biochemical issue, that's a cats-are-crepuscular issue.
posted by halation at 11:06 AM on March 12, 2018 [4 favorites]

One option: put the vacuum outside your bedroom door and run the cord to an outlet near your bed. Turn the unplugged vacuum on and then plug it in when the shenanigans start (just for a sec) cats supposedly don’t react well to negative conditioning but this has worked for one person I know
posted by genmonster at 11:11 AM on March 12, 2018 [16 favorites]

The way to get a cat to stop doing attention seeking behavior is to stop responding to it. The cat's reinforcement schedule for this behavior is miniscule - as soon as you've gotten out of bed and opened the door, you've reinforced the yowling behavior, even if you subsequently spray the cat with water. I'm sorry to say it but I believe your best solution is to completely ignore the cat's yowling for as long as it takes. And it will probably take a while.

This is how my wife and I got our cat to stop meowing at us when her food bowl was empty. Now the behavior we reinforce is her looking at us and then running into the room where the food is.
posted by dbx at 11:12 AM on March 12, 2018 [8 favorites]

Agreed with dbx and halation. I really feel for you on this. My cat cries at the door, but only once he hears me wake up. He hears my breathing change. It's ridiculous. I'm not even out of bed and he hears it and starts meowing. Negative reinforcement (spray bottle, compressed air) doesn't really work with cats at the best of times, and unfortunately negative attention is still attention. If you were going to keep on with compressed air, you would have to set it up to be on a motion sensor so it happens whether you're around or not. Personally though I suspect it would just teach her to back off by a foot and cry there so she was out of the way of the sensor. I would try to tire her out. I know someone that bought a dog crate and put a litter box in there so that the cat wouldn't bother them at night, but I doubt that's really ideal for you either.
posted by Bistyfrass at 11:20 AM on March 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

Some ideas:

1. You will have to ignore it, as other posters have said. I have found that ignoring mine means that they'll eventually stop.
2. Put sheets of aluminum foil outside your bedroom door. A lot of cats don't like stepping on it, so that may keep her away.
3. Give her a food ball right before bedtime in hopes of distracting her.
4. White noise machine to drown it out.

I like the vacuum idea, but I don't know if that's going to help.
posted by Slinga at 11:21 AM on March 12, 2018

Building on TwoStride and halation's answers . . . Cats need 15 minutes of play time every day. That's their exercise since it takes weeks to months of patience to train a cat to walk on a leash. Play time is you or Mr. sarcasticah playing with them with a feather on a stick, string on a stick, ball-string-stick, feather-string-stick, or laser pointer. You+cat play time doesn't have to be 15 minutes straight; it could be 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes after work. Halation's suggested play-then-feed routine is similar to a wild cat's routine. You'll be pleasantly surprised at their disposition towards you; they might become more affectionate because the play time is fostering a bond. A bond is desirable because they're members of your house+family and not furry lumps on the floor! Don't fall for the excuse that they get a lot of play time with solo play toys.

What's your feeding routine? Do you feed them as soon as you wake? Stop doing that. If you feed them in the morning, make it the last thing you or Mr. sarcasticah (whoever leaves later) do before departing for work.
posted by dlwr300 at 11:25 AM on March 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

The vacuum technique absolutely worked for me, even though it made me feel like a total jerk.
posted by unknowncommand at 11:26 AM on March 12, 2018 [2 favorites]

Have you tried something like a motion-detector spray? I can’t personally vouch for it but I’ve heard it’s worked for others.
posted by Paper rabies at 11:27 AM on March 12, 2018 [2 favorites]

I use a white noise app with earbuds. My dumb cat is eight years old and she has never stopped making a ruckus at night no matter what I do. Changing your own behavior is the quickest and easiest solution.
posted by something something at 11:29 AM on March 12, 2018

Ignoring her really does not make her stop. I've tried. She'll just keep yowling. She is stubborn as hell. The late feeding is worth a try, and we'll try playing with her more before bed.
posted by sarcasticah at 11:30 AM on March 12, 2018

Just to clarify: by ignore her as long as it takes, I have in mind something like 2 weeks straight. If that's what you've already tried, then I'm sorry and I'm out of advice.
posted by dbx at 11:38 AM on March 12, 2018 [2 favorites]

Yeah, I was going to post the "ignore her until the behaviour is extinguished" advice too. It will take a while. Two weeks is probably the earliest you can hope for. I did train my cats out of this behaviour, and I'm not even sure it took two whole weeks, but I also know other people with very stubborn cats who took about two weeks. If you respond to her at all after she yowls, you're just teaching her that it takes _____ minutes of yowling before you come out and give her attention (positive or negative).
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:42 AM on March 12, 2018 [2 favorites]

I think if I try to ignore her for two weeks straight, I will go berserk from lack of sleep.
posted by sarcasticah at 11:43 AM on March 12, 2018

If sleeping elsewhere for a few nights is out, would you consider a sleeping aid to get you through the two weeks?
posted by TwoStride at 11:45 AM on March 12, 2018

An automatic pet feeder might also help. I have this one and you can program it to dispense food up to 8 times per day. It completely eliminated my cat's incessant begging for food (which she did for a while because she had been starving before I got her). Getting small amounts of kibble dispensed a couple of times a night might take Molly away from the door; my cat runs everytime she hears it go.
posted by brookeb at 11:47 AM on March 12, 2018 [6 favorites]

This happened with our Gracie, and we honestly just had to put up with it for about 3 weeks. She would cry and scratch and really drive us nuts, but we put on the fan for white noise and my partner put in earplugs (I'm like you, I can't stand them) and we played with her at night and fed her just before going to bed, and she did eventually just stop. She still tries it early in the morning once in a while, but we just don't move from bed, and she eventually gets bored with it.
posted by xingcat at 11:48 AM on March 12, 2018 [2 favorites]

We got one of ours a heated cat bed, and it's helped him to stay nice and cozy (in a room far from our bedroom door), and less wanting to maraud overnight in our cold house.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:48 AM on March 12, 2018 [8 favorites]

Also some electronic toys that you can set up before going to bed might keep her away.
posted by brookeb at 11:48 AM on March 12, 2018

Have her thyroid checked?

Every time a cat went neurotic, that was (sadly) the cause. It's easily managed and there are permanent solutions (some kind of radiation therapy, I think?) Otherwise, I think the vacuum cleaner is the solution, but definitely vet and bloodwork first!
posted by jbenben at 11:50 AM on March 12, 2018 [2 favorites]

A heated cat bed? YES!!! Better than a vacuum, I bet!!
posted by jbenben at 11:51 AM on March 12, 2018 [2 favorites]

We had exactly the same issue - I even posted a question on the topic. here... in case you need more ideas .

We ended up just making the laundry room the "sleeping room" for our cats. They really, really were fine with it. They even 'put themselves' to sleep some nights and were safely tucked away before we had to put them away. This is obviously not an option for you, but I would urge you to at least try putting them in the bathroom - it's a small space but cats don't really mind that as long as there is water, a litter box and a nice soft place to sleep. I URGE you to at least try this because you seem to be at your wits end and it's your sanity before the cats, no?

I was also VERY ear plug averse, but I've had to adapt to using them now. We tried the vacuum thing (didn't work and was honestly more disturbing for us).

We have successfully trained the problem cat to be quiet now. He sleeps on the bed between my legs all night every night now, but it took a LOT of time and patience from me. I had to repeat, repeat, repeat. If he EVER played up, I had to ignore him. ANY acknowledgement would set us back.

It is hard but it IS possible to change cats behavior. Just be staunch and patient and never ever give into them, even once, or you won't stand a chance.
posted by JenThePro at 12:00 PM on March 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

> We ended up just making the laundry room the "sleeping room" for our cats.

I think this is the best/only solution if you have an area that can be so used. Our cats woke us up every morning no matter what we tried, including ignoring; now we keep them in the cellar at night—they have a whole different area to conquer and explore (they don't get to go there during the day, so it's ever-fresh), and we get to sleep until we wake. Win-win: everybody's happy!
posted by languagehat at 12:03 PM on March 12, 2018 [2 favorites]

You can try resetting their sleep schedule.

You do this by NOT letting them sleep during the day. Obviously, you may have to wait for the weekend when you’re home all day, but the principal is simple. If you’re awake, the cat is awake. Are you awake? Do you know where the cat is? Is the the cat sleeping? Wake it!

All day: Where’s the cat? Is the the cat sleeping? Wake it!

This should only take a day or two. The cat will be exhausted at bedtime, and the effect should last.
posted by slipthought at 12:05 PM on March 12, 2018 [4 favorites]

I know you said the compressed air didn't work, but it sounds like it was when you were squirting the air? We got a motion detector air can similar to this and it worked a charm keeping our stubborn boy cat from marking in a particular corner by the door (we'd seriously tried everything else. This took something like 2 days). Having it aimed a few feet away from your door might dissuade her from trying to sing you awake.
posted by goggie at 12:14 PM on March 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

Nthing heated cat beds. We use this microwavable heating pad under a towel, tucked into a plush cat house for each of the cats and both cats glue themselves to it for most of the night.

When Sora was younger and waking me up to play, a good play session right before bed, until he flopped over exhausted, worked.
posted by telophase at 12:27 PM on March 12, 2018 [3 favorites]

Playing with her pretty intensely and then mealtime closer to your bedtime should help, and if you don't want to do a whole meal you can do some high value treats instead, if she has anything she especially goes nuts for. Try to get her to make big jumps interspersed between lots of scrambling and furniture climbing. Big jumps tucker cats out more efficiently.

There will still be an extinction burst.

I would say that, as mentioned above, about two weeks is how long it'll take to really instill in her that no effort she makes will get a reaction from you when your door is closed, and during those two weeks it'll be... pretty bad. I know you said you'll go "berserk" but is there any way you could carve out sleeping time for yourself during the day temporarily? Listening to music or podcasts on headphones while doing relaxing or productive things in your room at night is a lot easier if you know you can take a solid three hour nap mid-morning. Really cementing this good behavior in your cat is so worth the hassle, like, I think you already understand how much nicer it will be, but you have to put in place ways for yourself to be able to stick to the plan.
posted by Mizu at 12:30 PM on March 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

We do have one of those motion-sensor compressed air cans! I forgot about it, since it was still packed away from our recent move. I'll put that outside the bedroom door tonight, and hopefully that will deter the little beast. (It doesn't help that I've also just changed jobs, and now have to be awake much earlier than I'm used to. And I'm prone to insomnia anyway.)
posted by sarcasticah at 12:38 PM on March 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

Our cat loves to carry her stuffed mice around and yowl at night.

What worked for us was to take the toys away at bedtime. On the occasions we forget to hide the mice she starts yowling again, but stops when they're gone.

I should add that her bed is in a different room (her safe space) as well.
posted by SteveInMaine at 12:51 PM on March 12, 2018

Dedicated, vigorous play nearing bedtime. Are you using your phone's speakers for white noise? My yowling cat prompted the purchase of this white noise machine. Different frequencies of white noise mask different noises - say, the low, rumbling of trucks versus the high pitched cries of a baby. The machine covered the yowls enough to make ignoring him bearable until he learned to stop yowling.
posted by missmary6 at 12:52 PM on March 12, 2018

The only negative conditioning that's worked for me was the good old "can of pennies." As in, if the cat started doing something bad, I'd grab it and shake, making a sound that's apparently anathema to cats.

Although, it's possible that a really persistent cat might decide you're providing a rhythm section for her vocal routine. ymmv.
posted by mikeh at 12:54 PM on March 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

Our cats used to do this. It was doubly fun when we had a baby, their favourite game was to sit at the baby's bedroom door and yowl til they woke him up. Good times.

Our solution? Put them in the bathroom/laundry. It wasn't as cruel as it sounds, we put a nice comfy bed up high on the laundry shelf, with access and they loved being up there because they could see everything below. They would even take themselves to bed during the day when life with a baby got too much. I feel for you but there are ways through it.
posted by Jubey at 12:58 PM on March 12, 2018 [2 favorites]

(It doesn't help that I've also just changed jobs, and now have to be awake much earlier than I'm used to. And I'm prone to insomnia anyway.)

While you're trying to retrain the cats, is it possible for you to go up to bed earlier so you can get some extra sleep? Maybe your partner could handle the evening play/feed while you're already in bed. If you can get into a deeper sleep before the cats start practicing their night moves, you'll feel more rested.
posted by gladly at 1:16 PM on March 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

What is their feeding schedule like? If you feed them first thing when you get up in the morning, I would shift to waiting at least 30 minutes after you get up to feed them. Ideally, wait an hour. That way, they won't immediately associate humans getting up with being fed.

Play time in the evening does sound like a good idea. This cat dancer charmer toy is one of my cat's favorites. He also loves this mouse on a string toy.

My cat also enjoys puzzle toys, which are great because they can be done when the humans aren't around. You can get a treat ball like this or more involved toys like this activity center. I can personally vouch for both of these. I have a couple other of the Trixie activity center puzzle toys, so that I can periodically switch them out so my kitty doesn't get too bored with them. You can use dry food instead of treats if your cat likes the dry food enough, if you're concerned about over feeding treats.

Of course, ymmv with all of this. My kitty loves opening drawers and exploring under cabinets and stuff like that, so he's pretty motivated to play with puzzle type toys even without the food reward. What I like to do is fill up the puzzle toys right before bed or right before I go to work so he can play with them when I'm not around.
posted by litera scripta manet at 1:26 PM on March 12, 2018 [2 favorites]

The mousie gifts and the howling make me think she's advertising for a mate -- and may well have you, or more probably your SO if they're male, at the head of her list. If it is your SO she has in mind, she might be pretty resistant to efforts on your part to discourage her, so I'd get your SO to give it a try.

Mating season for cats in the (presumably north) Western Hemisphere supposedly runs from March through September.
posted by jamjam at 1:31 PM on March 12, 2018

Are your cats indoor only? If not, get them some heated cat houses and put the cats outside at night. Cats like to cat about at night. Probably an unpopular suggestion but you'll sleep well, the cats will have fun and then curl up in their porch palaces until it's time for breakfast inside.

If you can't find a motion detector spray can, a vacuum or a can of pennies, you could also line up some shoes by your bed and throw one at the door each time she yowls. I got a cat to stop waking me up in the morning with this method. I felt bad about scaring her but two days later I was sleeping great.
posted by purple_bird at 1:45 PM on March 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

We used the motion detecting spray cans and it worked pretty well for us. You may need multiple cans to do the job. We had to set up a perimeter of 2 - 3 cans leading up the stairs to our bedroom, because otherwise the cats would park juuuuuust out of the detector's range and meow. There will also be some nights where you forget the cans are there and they will scare the bejeezus out of you when you are walking to the bathroom.
posted by castlebravo at 2:07 PM on March 12, 2018

I stopped mine doing it by calling out NO in a gruff voice from my bed. I know sounds unlikely but worked after only two nights.
posted by communicator at 2:24 PM on March 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

What about leaving a radio on somewhere else in the house (away from your bedroom)? I've noticed that my cat will have some separation anxiety at night and sometimes when we go run errands (he would carry mice around the house yelling while looking for us...figured that out by setting up a camera so I could see why all of his toys wound up on my bed). He seems to be much more relaxed if we leave a radio or the TV on...he's such a social kitty he doesn't like the silence.
posted by MultiFaceted at 2:26 PM on March 12, 2018

We put our buddy on the automatic feeder and it only took a couple nights before he stopped going bananas. He doesn't wake us up at all now! Hugely recommend trying it.
posted by fairlynearlyready at 2:27 PM on March 12, 2018

What are you doing that is making your cat keep doing this?

Responding to the cat, even just to yell at it to shut up will just keep the behaviour going, ie in the cat's mind it has your attention which is what it wanted. Figure out what your cat is getting out of the behaviour then don't give it that. Or as others have suggested some sort of negative reinforcement (ie the can of pennies/vacuum cleaner) to make yowling at your door have an unpleasant association will also work.
posted by wwax at 2:41 PM on March 12, 2018

In the meanwhile, I find these sleephones (light-weight comfortable earphones that sit over the ear, not in it) playing pleasant sounds of nature to be much more helpful than white noise machines in blocking out sounds without freaking me out. (Actually, I found the bedphone brand even more comfortable but four pairs each broke in under a year so I switched to sleephones intend.)
posted by metahawk at 2:48 PM on March 12, 2018

For the cat: I had a cat that was annoying at night, and I was able to reset his sleep schedule. Like someone above said, this requires you to keep the cat awake at all times other than night time . Even if you work outside the home, this should work if you just keep the cat awake when you are home. It will take a while -- a couple weeks, depending on the cat and its age. I did this with a kitten and it only took a few days. Any time I saw him sleeping I woke him up, and in the evenings I would play with him vigorously for about an hour before bed. He would get so tired he would almost fall asleep while walking or playing, but I was diligent about keeping him awake until I went to bed. Once the cat's schedule resets, you can let them sleep on their own whenever they want and can back off on the play a bit.
posted by OrangeDisk at 2:59 PM on March 12, 2018

Oh, and I meant to add, For you: I get that earplugs make you anxious -- they make me super anxious too. I am a side sleeper, and I discovered that if I put an earplug on my "top" ear (the one pointed toward the ceiling), I could avoid that horrible, echoy, panic-inducing quiet feeling, and that, in combination with the muffling of the pillow on my other ear did a good job of reducing ambient sounds.
posted by OrangeDisk at 3:01 PM on March 12, 2018

Put some electric fans outside the bedroom door, pointed at the area where the cat is sitting when yowling/scratching. Cats don't like having fans blown on them, so they'll tend to avoid those spots.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 3:07 PM on March 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

Nthing putting cats in the bathroom at night. My mother used to put her cats in in the basement every night. They yowled at first, but then they got used to it. They had food, water, bedding and room to explore. Sometimes we heard bumps from down there when they got into things, but they were having fun and sometimes didn't even come up right away when she opened the door in the morning. Obviously a bathroom is more cramped, but it's not a kennel either. The one difficulty I foresee is when you or your partner has to use the bathroom at night. Do you have anywhere else you could comfortably put them up for the night?
posted by Crystal Fox at 3:23 PM on March 12, 2018

Again, agreeing with all the suggestions to shut cats away at night with supper, water, litter trays and bedding available. We've always just done this (using the kitchen / utility) and have seriously only had one problem cat that continued to fuss, and she was ancient and grumpy and just hated being in the same room as the other cats. She ended up sleeping next to Mr MMDP at night for about seven years and was silent and still and perfectly behaved. Putting the cats to bed in a room somewhat distant from the bedroom will definitely help, if you have the space.
posted by Martha My Dear Prudence at 4:46 PM on March 12, 2018

We will never put the cats outside. They are indoor only, and besides, we live on the third floor of a condo building, right off a major thoroughfare and an interstate highway. No going outside for the cats, ever.

They have heated cat beds! They ignore them, alas. They have lots of places to sleep and hide and play. Molly is also spayed, and has never exhibited any signs of going into heat, nor is she showing any now. And we really, genuinely, honestly do not have a place to shut them away -- literally the only place to do that would be the (very small) bathroom, and shutting two very active cats in a small bathroom overnight every night? Is not going to work. Please believe that we have thought of that, and that we know it would not work. Shutting the cats into a small bathroom every night would be cruel. (Our apartment is a big open space with the living room and kitchen, a bathroom, and the bedroom. That's it. No other rooms!)

I do use my phone for white noise; I may try using my Bluetooth speaker tonight, to see if it helps. We're also not going to feed them until we go to bed, and we just had a rousing game of chase-the-string all over the living room, and I am going to put the motion-sensor compressed-air can outside the bedroom door. Once we have shoveled out from the oncoming snowstorm, we will buy Feliway, and schedule a vet visit.
posted by sarcasticah at 7:02 PM on March 12, 2018 [2 favorites]

What my parents did when their very talkative kitty kat WOULD NOT SHUT UP: They got a dog and the problem solved. Kat would still talk, but the all night concerts stopped.
posted by james33 at 4:54 AM on March 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

Switching to a nighttime feeding actually worked for my own cat too, so that may help. Although maybe try a couple hours before bed, so they get the cat equivalent of the tryptophan kicking in a little while after Thanksgiving dinner and they get sleepy.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:32 AM on March 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

It looks like you have a lot of excellent suggestions, but I do want to put in a plug for the vacuum. We did this for ... three nights? with our demon cat, and have never had another bad night since. YMMV.
posted by good day merlock at 9:50 AM on March 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

We had this issue with Baldur for a while. To eliminate the bulk of it, we had to adjust his feeding, snuggle time, and play time schedules. Now, he gets play time when we get home from work, snuggle time for at least 20 minutes before I go to bed, and gets fed 3/4 of his food just before I start my own bed routine.

It took a few weeks, and now he regularly gets us up at 6 to be fed, but it made a huge difference in our abilities to sleep.
posted by RhysPenbras at 10:16 AM on March 13, 2018

I've had success with this problem by keeping the cats two doors away from my bedroom. Don't let the cat have access to your bedroom door. If there is a hallway leading to your bedroom and it has a door, close that door with the cat on the other side. If the hallway does not have a door, consider installing one. Is your bedroom door hollow or solid? A solid door will reduce sound more effectively.
posted by conrad53 at 4:18 PM on March 13, 2018

The answers here have been very helpful: we've been having a similar problem with Jake recently as he's adopted a habit of waking up in the middle of the night and restlessly garbage-catting around, pacing / meowing / scratching at doors.

We're not fans of fear-based training for cats -- the compressed air, the vacuum. What seems to have been working for us so far has been resetting his sleep-right-through-from-evening-to-night pattern by waking him up for 30 minutes of enforced activity -- play and food -- just before our bedtime. Five six nights without incident so far.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 9:04 AM on March 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

Well, so far, the things that we have done that have worked:

1. The Ssscat motion-sensor thing in front of the door (it's actually not loud, and doesn;t scare the cats so much as deeply offend them. When it goes off, they don't run, but they do glare reproachfully at it, and avoid it)

2. I rousing session of chase-the-fleece-string-toy-thingie before bed, followed by feeding them their dinner

3. A much louder white-noise sound on an actual speaker instead of my phone.

We're still waiting to hear back from the vet as to when they can see her, but that should be happening within the next week or so. I think the Ssscat is the real solution, honestly. Here's hoping she doesn't decide that the desire to serenade us outweighs her dislike of the hissy noise...
posted by sarcasticah at 5:45 PM on March 15, 2018

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