Is your cat a night owl?

Animal Welfare Pet Care Pets Pet Health Animals Cats Posted Dec 1, 2020
Our cats bring us love, affection and joy throughout the day, but often these little furballs continue their high-energy streak well into the middle of the night or very early in the morning when owners are desperately craving some shut-eye.

Cats are naturally wide awake during the twilight hours. This is called crepuscular behaviour and describes an animal that is primarily active at dusk and dawn. As a result, our cat companions often never seem to align with our activity schedules. When we want to snooze, they want to play! When we’re home in the middle of the day, they’re sound asleep!

Cats can also become night owls if their owners are away during the day, as they spend the daylight hours snoozing while awaiting the return of their owners. The cat’s day therefore only really begins when their owner gets home. Because of this, the middle of the night really only feels like midday to the cat.

Black cat on top of cupboard

Night owl cat behaviour can include nibbling or pouncing on an owner’s toes in bed, walking across a sleeping owner, vocalisation during the night or high energy play sessions across the owner or the furniture.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to manage this behaviour in your night owl cat.

Sync your schedules

Encourage playtime and feeding during the daytime if possible or in the earlier evening hours, so the cat’s schedule more closely mirrors that of your own. By modifying this behaviour, you can help shift the time your feline friend is wanting to be active.

Black cat hugging thongs

Adjust feeding habits

Techniques such as feeding your cat smaller but more frequent meals or feeding their evening meals at different times may cause your cat to be less likely to wake you in the middle of the night. Hiding food around the house also allows your cat to fulfil a natural, biological behaviour that requires energy and attention. Puzzle feeders are an additional option that require a little hard work to attain food, providing both mental and physical stimulation. Have a look at the range online and in store at RSPCA World for Pets.

black cat underneath couch

Interact with your cat during the day

Providing company and attention to your cat in the early afternoon and evening can help relieve their desire for affection late at night. This will allow your cat to adjust their body clocks to anticipate playtimes. Owners may also like to purchase a variety of safe cat toys to provide daily exercise and create a positive relationship between owner and pet. Novelty is key, so it is best to have around 10 toys in total, putting a few out every day, then rotating them every few days.

Black cat playing with mouse toy

Kittens and young cats

Kittens and younger cats may be more likely to display crepuscular behaviour as they generally have higher activity levels and play interest than older cats. The good news is that young cats will likely eventually grow out of the night owl phase and start sleeping more during the night. 

Black cat underneath bed

Enrich your cat’s environment

By enriching your cat’s environment, they can become more active during the day. This also prevents boredom throughout the day that may also reduce their night time activity levels. Some tips for enriching the environment are:

  • Scratching posts: cats love keeping their nails in good condition. Cat scratching posts should be sturdy and at least 1.5x larger than your cat at stretch-length.

  • Hiding areas: this can be as simple as cardboard boxes left lying around and moved around every few days for your cat to explore. Some cats might like cat bedding and cat caves too. Cats also enjoy heights, so ensure you have a variety of elevated areas in your house they can rest on.

  • Water: Does your cat seem to have a fascination with taps and water or perhaps paws at their water bowl? Cats prefer to drink running water that is away from their food site, so check out the cat water fountain range!

  • Indoor cats: If your cat lives indoors, you may like to consider buying them an outdoor enclosure to help stimulate your cat if you are away during the day. Just be sure your cat has plenty of shade, water, hidey holes, food and litter tray access throughout the day.

  • Interaction: Owner supervised walks and having two cats that get along can also help enrich the environment of an indoor cat while increasing their stimulation and overall daily activity levels. Why not check out our tips on cat harness training?

Black cat sniffing plants

Rule out medical causes

It is important to ensure your cat isn’t experiencing any underlying medical concerns that may be causing their crepuscular activity. Pain and glandular issues such as thyroid disease may have an impact on your cat’s behavioural issues, so speak to your veterinarian about your cat’s situation to rule out any medical causes.

surprised cat

For more tips about keeping your cats safe and happy at home, visit our happy cat guide online here!

Madison Coskerie

Madison Coskerie
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