It is not uncommon to hear cat owners talk about their cats causing a ruckus at night. Cats have different sleep patterns than humans, so it is natural for cats to be awake during certain hours of the night. However, if this behavior has grown excessive and is even keeping you awake, there could be an issue.
So, why do cats stay up at night? There are natural, normal reasons, but there are also reasons that need to be attended to, such as health concerns. If you want to learn why your cat may be staying up all night, keep reading below.
Why Do Cats Stay Up at Night?
It is natural for cats to be awake during some portions of the night. Many people mistakenly believe that this is because cats are nocturnal or active at night. But in truth, cats are not nocturnal. Instead, they are crepuscular.
Crepuscular animals are most active around dawn and dusk. Your cat will have a natural instinct to hunt or roam around the early hours of the morning or the beginning hours of the night. So, around this time, your cat is at its most energized.
Other Reasons Your Cat May be Staying Up at Night
Beyond instincts, there may be other reasons your cat stays up for prolonged periods. For example, if you often leave your cat home alone, it may grow bored and look for extra attention during the night. Likewise, it may sleep more often when you are not around, which will lead it to be more awake during the night.
Another reason your cat may be so active at night is hunger. Since cats tend to do most of their hunting around dawn and dusk (due to being crepuscular), they may grow hungrier around this time. If there is no food to eat, your pet may become agitated.
If your cat is a senior, that could also cause its restless nights. Many things change about our pets as they age, and sleeping patterns can be one of them.
Health Conditions that May Cause Your Cat to Stay Up
However, before writing off your cat’s behavior as a natural thing, it is a good idea to rule out the possibility of any medical conditions. Some health concerns may contribute to a sleepless night for your cat, so check for any other symptoms that may indicate an illness.
Pain could be a reason that your cat is staying up so late. Cats in pain may harm themselves, meow or yowl excessively, have a hunched or stiff posture, improperly groom themselves, or display aggression. Another common sign of pain is an alteration to the daily routine, which may influence your cat’s sleeping patterns.
A cat with anxiety issues may also stay up all throughout the night. Signs of anxiety include a higher breathing rate, increased tail swishing, pupil dilation, and aggression. Similarly, a chronic illness could also be the root of the issue.
Hyperthyroidism may be behind your cat’s restlessness. Other symptoms of hyperthyroidism include poor grooming, weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive drinking and urinating, and aggression. Hyperactivity is another possible symptom, which could be why your cat will not rest at night.
If you suspect your cat may be suffering from an injury or illness that prevents it from sleeping, reach out to your vet as soon as possible. If you are unsure whether a medical problem could be the cause, you should still speak to your vet. Ruling out the possibility is the safest and most effective way to determine the source of your cat’s behavior.
How to Handle a Cat that Is Staying Up All Night
After ruling out a medical issue, try to determine if your cat is staying up at night due to loneliness or hunger. If either of those possibilities are the case, you can take steps to solve those issues individually. For instance, you could get an automatic feeder, so your cat is fed a little every night, solving the hunger issue.
Daytime adjustments can reduce nighttime activity as well. Playing with your cat regularly throughout the day is a great way to help it burn off some energy and sleep more throughout the night. Of course, while there are plenty of adjustments that you can make to help the situation, there are also some that you ought to avoid.
What Should You Avoid Doing?
When trying to change your cat’s behavior, there are two main things you should avoid doing: giving in to your cat and punishing your cat.
If your cat is making a ruckus at night because it wants attention, provide attention throughout the day, but do not indulge in its activities at night. If you do, it will only learn that it receives the desired outcome when causing trouble at night. As tempting as it may be to give in to encourage your cat to stop pestering you, the best thing you can do is be patient and guide it toward more desirable behaviors.
Likewise, you should not punish your cat. Some nighttime activity is perfectly natural for your cat, and if you punish them, you will only cause stress. The added anxiety may even make your kitty more active at night.
Although it is not entirely unnatural for a cat to stay up at night, there are times when it may be concerning. If the nighttime activity is caused by a medical issue, reach out to your vet immediately. Otherwise, the best thing you can do is identify the cause of the behavior and take steps to change it to something more desirable.
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