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.