Why Does My Cat Wake Up At 4 A.M.?

Why don't cats have a snooze button 😴💤

cat waking up
The Dodo
The Dodo

It’s 4 a.m. and your cat is sprinting back and forth again.


Can you ever just get a good night’s sleep without your maniac cat waking you up for playtime?

While it seems like your cat just gets a kick out of making your mornings as hectic as possible, he isn’t alone in this seemingly endless fight against you sleeping in.

Turns out, cats waking up in the early morning hours is a behavior problem that many cat parents face.

But — *yawn* — whyyyyyyyyyyy?

Why do cats wake up so early?

“This often happens because their internal clock has gotten off-kilter,” Dr. Marci K. Koski, a certified feline behavior and training consultant at Feline Behavior Solutions in Vancouver, Washington, told The Dodo.

According to Dr. Koski, cats are naturally most active at dawn and dusk, making them "crepuscular" (as opposed to nocturnal, which many people mistakenly think).

“This is when their prey are most active, too!” Dr. Koski said.

And while cats can adapt to a domestic schedule (aka yours), they sometimes slip back into what nature intended.

What this means is that when your cat wakes up at dawn, she’s probably expecting to eat — and hunger could be what’s triggering her to wake up.

“I recommend that cats are fed multiple small meals throughout the day (at least three meals per day), and cats really shouldn't go more than eight hours between meals,” Dr. Koski said.

How to get your cat to sleep in

If your cat always wakes you up early, try to really tire her out before bedtime — try a big play session followed by a meal just before you turn in. According to Dr. Koski, this will help her fall into the hunt-eat-groom-sleep sequence, which will help her sleep better at night.

“If necessary, you can also purchase an automatic feeder to provide food for your cat in the early morning, and then gradually adjust the feeder to provide food later and later so that their internal clock readjusts,” Dr. Koski recommends.

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