Cats Gone Night Crazy? Coping with the PM Feline Freak-Out

So we bring cat in from the wild and expect it to act all sophisticated and keep a decent sleep schedule like a normal person. Next thing you know, cat needs to be checked into a padded room at the stroke of midnight. If your cat transforms from love angel to whack devil about the time you want to go to bed, don’t start Googling feline funny farms. Probably the one who needs a metaphoric lobotomy in the situation is you, the human.

Yes, it’s quite a problem that our little furries with the sharp claws happen to be nocturnal by nature. In recent decades, as cats have made the big move from the barn to the bedroom, lots of people have discovered their sleep disturbed in one way or another by the nightly “kitty crazies.”

My own worst story was waking up one early hour to feel my adorable and wild-ish Maine Coon chomping deeply into the connecting tissue of my small right toe. Now if you’ve never awoken to the bite of an animal, well, it’s like being chased by a swarm of bees or confronting a mama Grizzly or having to escape from a fire – it’s one of those things that’s always best when it happens to someone else.

I awoke howling and Brody let go of my toe, fortunately. He had bitten through the blankets into my foot, or my “toe mice,” as I named them that night. For how could I blame my poor, nutty kitty, still in the bloom of his young bad-ass cathood, when it was all the fault of those terrible tempting toe mice? Also, I blamed Hank my partner, of course, who encouraged Brody with games in bed, having him attack his hand under the covers and such. Tsk, tsk. The next day, I looked at my wound and saw that I was lucky to still have ten toes attached! The cat had completely sunk its fangs into the hinge uniting little piggy with the rest of the family, leaving a long gash where the two still, by the grace of Brody, met.

Hank just reminds me now of another Brody night game that was much fun (for Brody). We used to have a bed that was perfect for foot stalking. Brody would “hide” under the edge of the bed, growing more and more excited about the movement above him, until he couldn’t stand it anymore. He would burst out and commit these strafing runs at the top edge of the mattress with his claws, making several fast hits in a row as he ran by at floor level. A real fighter plane-style attack to see what he could score. If any part of one’s body happened to take a hit, one would immediately feel the sting of his pin-sharp claws leaving new holes in the skin.

Yes, adorable stuff this wacky attack on his people, and who would exchange its sheer originality for the peace of mind of a few less of those completely unexpected burning puncture wounds? And you thought bed was a place to relax, silly human. Cats at night are like anything troubling, irritating, and sleep-depriving – always better to try to laugh about it at the time and not just later.

As for any more helpful advice, plenty of Web sites will tell you that you need to expel more of the cat’s energy during the day. Wake them up in the evening a few hours before you go to bed, play and stimulate them, and then give them some high protein snack, and they are more likely to sleep at night, they say. I don’t know if this works. If cats are really bugging you at night, they may be trying to tell you something – anything from needing more attention to having a health concern, so give it some thought. Keep a journal. Figure out what bug is up their butt.

I know, for example, that Brody will not let us sleep if there’s not enough food in his bowl. And that he likes to wake me up in the morning now, even on the weekend, probably because he wants to keep me on what he thinks is my schedule. Is that great, or what?

Brody has mellowed a bit with age – not too much, mind you. He still goes nuts at night sometimes, but he sleeps at our feet all the time, and hasn’t done any major toe mice damage in many years. That isn’t to say that our extremities are safe from the fabulous little hunter that presides within his tiger-striped coat. We all live with certain risks, yes, and that makes life exciting, don’t you think?


The Cat Site is one of those that suggests changing your cat’s sleep cycle by playing with them and feeding them a few hours before your bed time. Check it out here.

Categories: Brody, cats, humor, humour, play, sleep | 21 Comments

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21 thoughts on “Cats Gone Night Crazy? Coping with the PM Feline Freak-Out

  1. fivecats

    Have you noticed most cat advice books/columns don’t work? My cats like to get in a little nap time before coming to bed.

  2. Dear fivecats,
    Yes, it’s difficult for columnists to stay on top of the very latest cat developments, as cats like to stay ahead of the experts, ruining each new wave of advice with their deeply-ingrained sense of perversity. As for the napping, well, it’s good to get a little rest before a long night of rest, to keep one’s sleep stamina in tip top form. Thanks for the comment!

  3. Alison, I read you bloggy. It nise. I have blog set Stuttgart, Ger. There I start selfdefence Klass for cat. My believe is cat desend from dinosawer. Cat shrink of size but my klass desine bring out cat inner dinosawer. Rise to top. Rival dog of powar. Now I have 5 cat stewdent of klass they Progres good. If you cat have attak from dog I half good stratigie for selfdefence. By way, it good you cat half shapr claw. Bad for toe good for attak skil.

  4. Joseph, you madman, your original concept and spelling intrigue me. I’m certainly willing to entertain the possibility that cats evolved from dinosawers – the resemblance is clear the way cats sometimes rear up on their hind legs to fight each other, like mini-Godzillas. I’m not sure if Godzilla was a dinosawer, but he was definately a large reptilian monster – close enough in my book. Do let us know how things work out with your klass experiment in drawing out cats’ inner T-Rex. I appreciate your stated goal: Rival dog of power. Yes, in some weird way, Joseph, we seem to be talking the same language, you and me. Thanks for the comment!

  5. Sorry for the late response Alison but I have been out of circulation for some weeks thanks to a French company who are very similar to an internet service provider. I have to comment about cats and their nocturnal habits. Is it not strange that cats who are known for being nimble athletic, designed from their genes to stalk prey silently behave this way. My cat had a game which started around midnight called I am the heaviest cat in the world. He would jump from a great height to the floor BooM!! and then thumpety thump his way through the house like an elephant dragging a wardrobe. I tried to exact revenge at the time with sleepy eyed attempts to hit him on the head with a rolled up pair of socks but there are only so many soft projectiles lying within arms reach at that time of night. But the cat is old and seems to have mellowed somewhat. An excellent time for revenge. “No have another biscuit Vicar ignore that racket” “No NO we don’t have burglars you see Vicar the cat is probably having an afternoon nap on the settee so that will be my husband playing I am the heaviest cat owner in the world” Bumpety bumpty bump bumpety bumpety BANG.

  6. Thanks, as always, Arnold, for your angle on the matter. I must admit, I am currently sporting a short, artistic slash on the very center of the right cheek of my face from my cat Herman Panther. The injury resulted from a less-than-successful game of “I am rocketcat launching from your pillow.” However, to show you just how impervious I have become to such midnight shenanigans, my partner Hank reports I merely uttered a simple expletive in the night and turned over. I’m only premiering my stage acting career this weekend. I suppose I should see it as a sign of good luck that I will be wearing Panther’s mark while I make mine.

  7. Pingback: Cats at Night: Bleary Humans Seek Answers Here « Self Help for Cats

  8. Thanks for sharing this information. Really is pack with new knowledge. Keep them coming.

  9. bipolarbear

    At our house, tiny Pyewacket leads The Midnight Freakout, racing around the main floor, enticing the big boys to join her. Tigger The Massive Maine Coon looks on, but rarely joins in. Harry Houdini Underfoot, however, joins in with relish.

  10. i dont think u should call ure cat a coon bipolarbear

  11. Well, maybe I think you shouldn’t call yourself bipolarbear, but I wouldn’t presume to tell you what to call yourself, your cat, or your coon. Hope you can try again on an upswing day, oh great manic-depressive forest animal.

  12. Tricia

    My maine coon also has some fun nitetime games. When she was younger I would wake up with her sitting on my chest pawing at my eyelids. One morning, instead of gentle pawing, there was excruciating pain. She had peirced my eyelid, thankfully missing the eye underneath. I sported a black eye for a week or so, she got banned from the bedroom at night. She has grown into a much calmer kitty now and sleeps at the foot of my bed instead of chasing my dreams.

  13. You could always try sleeping in swim goggles.

  14. Pingback: The Lazy Man’s Best Friend « The Lazy Man's Guide To Life and Loafing

  15. Pingback: Cat-like Reflexes, Reconsidered « The Lazy Man's Guide To Life and Loafing

  16. spin757

    I googled “cats freak out” and came upon this article – Loved it. My one cat freaks out for about 10 minutes at various times during the early-mid evening. Running around like a lunatic, making loud deep meows – LOUD. No, not in heat, they are both neutered. (I have two). My one looks on like she is insane, as we all do. But she continues on, running from room to room, yelling, bolting, carrying on.. then, it stopped. She does this approx three times a night. BUT – sleeps through the night. Sometimes sleeps later than me and my son. We wake to find her still snoozing away. I just don’t understand why she freaks out every night. Meanwhile my other one, only a year and half older, doesn’t and never did that.

  17. Carrie44

    Rlly? Wow. My cat actually turns into a love bird at night. She’s then all cute and cuddly at those times.
    Good luck with that! 🙂

  18. i just leave my cat in a big room with his litter, toys, food, a cracked window, and make sure it is cat safe. he crys for 5 minuites and then forgets that i exist and i get a nice peaceful rest so i can go to work on time so i can earn money to buy cat treats

  19. catmammajule

    As we speak Big Zeb is indulging in an early morning session of Curtain Catapult. This involves winding himself tightly into an elegant satin boudoir curtain and then unwinding, flinging oneself across the room and charging about a bit.

  20. angela

    I have cat snoball n around 4:30 -5:00am on mornings I don’t kick him off the bed the night before he will ether bite me or full on pounce and attack me even if he had just been cuddling and purring with me moments before and never does this another time I mean during the day he’s handled by kids n seemingly don’t care what do I do to make this stop he has now done this 6 times n each time gets worse

  21. Moonshine 1

    Our cat Cookie, tears around the house at night like a thing possessed ! He is really freaky & we love him dearly . He too has a penchant for feet/toes. Especially ferocious with my daughter’s feet. In a mo, I’m going to check in on my daughter as Cookie’s in her room with her ,she’s asleep & as much as we all think Cookie’s a great pet & friend ,I must check in on her to just know the cat isn’t sitting near her face & is behaving himself sleeping at the bottom of the bed . He’s a staring cat also & very mysterious ( of which all you cat owners can agree ). One last thing, he talks .He truly does. He says , meal, when he’s hungry ,generally chats away & when he’s acting nuts running around at night ,he says ,no! Gonna check on him now. Bye!

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