Are Cats Nocturnal?

Does your cat wake you up on a regular basis as he races through the house at 11:00 pm or 5:00 am? With all of his nightly activity, it seems like your cat might be nocturnal. But is that true? Here’s what you should know about your cat’s sleep and activity patterns.

Cats Aren’t Quite Nocturnal

While cats do tend to be active during some of the nighttime hours, they aren’t quite nocturnal. Cats are actually crepuscular. Crepuscular animals are active during the dawn and dusk hours – this is why your cat wakes you up at 5:00 am so often. In the wild, cats would hunt at both dawn and dusk, settling down to catch up on some sleep during the midnight hours before waking up again for their dawn hunts.

Your cat’s nighttime activity is due to his natural instinct to hunt. Even though you feed your cat so he doesn’t rely on catching prey to survive, his body is still hard-wired to be up and active at dawn and dusk.

Cats Can Learn to Accommodate Your Schedule

Unfortunately, your cat’s crepuscular schedule doesn’t work out too well when you’re trying to sleep through the night. The good news is that your cat can learn to accommodate your schedule, and can change his nighttime behavior. This takes time, but is an adjustment that your cat may naturally make the longer he lives with you. If you play and interact with your cat during the day, this can help him to restructure his sleep schedule. Many cats can learn to sleep through the night.

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How to Cope With Your Cat’s Night time Activity

Is your cat’s nighttime activity driving you crazy? There are a number of ways that you can encourage him to reduce his nighttime activity so that you can get a full night’s sleep. Spend plenty of time playing with your cat during the day. After each session, provide your cat with a bit of his food. This simulates the cat’s natural pattern of hunting, feasting, and then going to sleep. Try to perform multiple play sessions during the day, and do the last play session right before you go to bed.

It’s also important to make sure that your cat has access to food throughout the night. After eating, most cats will take a bath and then go to sleep. If your cat is a free grazer, then leaving food out at night may satisfy this need. However, if your cat is known to gorge on any food supplied, then consider getting an automatic feeder which can dispense small amounts of food throughout the night.

With time and a few adjustments, your cat’s sleep schedule can work with yours.