Train Your Cat to Stay Quiet in the Morning

Alert cat on bed
If your cat meows to wake you up, ignore her. Even occasionally giving into her morning demands can reinforce this annoying behavior.

Our cat wakes us early every morning by meowing and yowling outside of our closed bedroom door until we get up and serve her wet food for breakfast. We leave a bowl of dry food out for her, but it doesn’t seem to tide her over. We’ve tried ignoring her but she just doesn’t stop! Is it possible to change her morning routine so we can get some sleep?

Your kitty’s clock is clearly not synchronized with yours. She may be waking early in response to internal cues, like hunger, or external cues, like sunlight. But it is also possible that your cat’s tactics are a learned behavior driven by desire for a tasty meal, companionship and attention. Whatever the cause, the behavior has become a habit and is unlikely to stop unless you implement some changes.

Your first step should be to talk with your veterinarian. Your cat’s behavior may be caused by an underlying medical issue. Some conditions, like thyroid disease, can cause excessive vocalizations, restless behavior and changes in sleep and eating patterns. It’s important to rule those out before making any other alterations to her routine.

Once your cat has a clean bill of health, though, there are several ways to address her early rising.

Breakfast is Served — But Not By You

It sounds as though your cat is willing to eat dry food but is waking you because she's finished what you've left out and is ready for more. In that case, a good place to start would be by giving her a last meal of wet food before everyone goes to bed at night. You should also check to be sure she's getting enough to eat during the day — if she's eating the dry food you leave out at night and waking you early for another meal, she may simply need more to eat.

Since it sounds like your cat is willing to eat dry food, another good option may be an automatic feeder. This would enable her to wake early and have her breakfast but not rouse you. Start by familiarizing your cat with the device by feeding her normal meals from the dish. Once she's comfortable eating from the dish, set the automatic timer and give her a chance to get used to the tone or sounds. She will quickly come to associate the feeder’s noise with mealtime.

Once she is used to the automatic feeder, set it to go off in the morning just before the time she normally starts crying at your door. If you would like to have her wake later, you can try to reset her internal clock by moving the feeder’s timer back a few minutes each day until you reach a more ideal feeding time.

Another option is to leave one or two food puzzles filled with dry food or treats for her at night. Both strategies offer the possibility of meals being delivered independently, which should mean that everyone gets a little more sleep.


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