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August 5th, 2021 | 0 min read

How to Help Your Cat Get Better Sleep

Written by
Sharilyn Vera
How to Help Your Cat Get Better Sleep

If your feline friend is having trouble sleeping at night, chances are you feel like a new cat owner. You’re probably exhausted from getting up to lull your cat to sleep like a newborn at random times of the night. This is not an unusual phenomena. After all, cats are crepuscular, meaning their bodies are naturally wired to hunt and exert energy in the evening and early morning. Whatever the case, PrettyLitter is here to offer some easy solutions.

Acclimating a somewhat nocturnal animal to a sound nighttime sleep routine is undoubtedly a challenge. Luckily, there are a variety of common resources you can use to improve both your cat’s sleep and yours.

Use Edible Catnip as a Sedative

Catnip is a rather elusive, seemingly catch-all solution for regulating a cat’s mood and behavior. But does catnip help cats sleep? 

In short, yes, but it is important to distinguish the effects of sniffing catnip as opposed to consuming it. 

  • When a cat inhales catnip, it acts as a stimulant, making them much more playful, amiable, and even hyperactive. This will certainly not do any favors for your sleep schedule. 
  • When eaten, catnip has a natural sedative effect. This calming effect happens because eating catnip releases the ​​active sedative ingredient, nepetalactone, from the catnip plant. And while catnip affects different cats differently, this ingredient is very likely to make your cat purr, drool, and become drowsy.

Nevertheless, use catnip in moderation. Oftentimes, cats can become desensitized to the effects of nepetalactone. For this reason, catnip acts most effectively when used about once every two or three weeks. In addition, be patient when using this substance with your younger cats. Kittens typically do not develop sensitivity to catnip until they’re a bit older.

Try a Lullabye

Cat-specific music has been in development at universities and labs for nearly a decade, and it’s all grounded in the frequencies ranges and tempos cats use to communicate amongst one another. 

Most recently, researchers at Louisiana State University composed music that stimulates a cat’s emotional and developmental centers. For example, the music features purring and suckling sounds, which cats experience when nursing and in their developmental stages. When combined with frequencies, tempos, and rhythms, this makes for a calming cat lullaby.

Because there has been so much extensive research, cat-friendly music has become incredibly accessible. There are a myriad of songs to help cats sleep that are right at your fingertips thanks to the internet. 

Some popular options are:

  • David Teie’s well-known album Music for Cats features over an hour of cello-based songs.
  • A popular YouTube channel called Relax My Cat contains dozens of audio loops of cat music, ranging from half an hour to a full eight hours.
  • A variety of free Spotify playlists exist for the sole purpose of calming your cat. Try out Blu Dot Music’s “RELAXING CAT MUSIC” playlist.

When putting on some species-specific tunes for the night, be sure to keep in mind that cats have extremely sensitive hearing. Some quiet music goes a long way! Have you tried giving your cat a cat massage? Combine the two for the ultimate treat.  

During the Day, Play!

It’s no secret that cats need extensive play-time to live a happy life. This also applies to their ability to get a good night’s sleep. 

If your cat doesn’t get enough social time and exercise during the day, they’ll exert that energy at night when you’re trying to get some peace and quiet. If you can’t be at home with your cat during the day, set up some interactive toys and spaces they can use to entertain themselves. One essential is a cat tower, which they can climb on, perch on, and scratch. Some other popular options include:

  • Colorful balls
  • Balls that dispense treats
  • Moving toys

Better yet, consider adopting a second cat to keep them company and enrich their playtime.

Regardless of whether or not you’re available to play with your cat during the day, an hour and a half before bedtime is an ideal play-time. Playing with your cat in the evening is an effective way to tire them out before lights out time. Doing this consistently will create a routine that corrects a cat’s natural tendency to be active at night. In addition to fulfilling your cat’s social needs, this will get them used to sleeping at night and saving their energy for daytime hours.


Ignore Your Cat, but Never Punish

As tempting as it is to dote on your cat 24/7, nighttime may not be the best time to give them attention and affection. 

Specifically, you’ll need to ignore your cat if they are loud, disruptive, or active when you are trying to sleep. If your cat walks across your bed, it’s best to ignore them to ensure they don’t gain anything from the interaction. Ignoring them will ensure that they don’t misinterpret your attention as a reward for their behavior. As difficult as it is to ignore an adorable cat, this will ultimately benefit their behavioral patterns and sleep schedule.

On the other hand, be sure not to punish your cat for their behavior. Cats don’t respond well to negative reinforcement and scolding, as this will actually worsen their behavior. For this reason as well, ignoring them tends to be the most effective solution.

Feed Strategically

Much like a human infant, the times and frequency with which you feed your cat can drastically affect their mood and whether or not they can stay asleep at convenient times. Setting the right feeding routine can mean the difference between a good night of sleep and a long night of scratching and meowing.

After evening playtime is the perfect time to give your cat their last meal for the night. With their energy spent and their belly full, your cat will fall asleep much more easily. Throughout the day, they should eat a total of three meals with no more than six or eight hours between feedings. This human-like schedule prevents them from grazing freely, which can lead to indigestion and inconsistent energy use. Sticking to this schedule will get them used to playing and eating in a way that is conducive to night-time sleep.

In a similar vein, it’s always wise to research the ingredients in your cat’s food to ensure their meals are high quality. Keep in mind the right diet for a cat is dependent on their age and lifestyle. Without a balanced and healthy diet, your cat will be susceptible to anxiety and stress that prevents them from sleeping well.

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Get a Check-Up

If several solutions have proven ineffective at keeping your cat sound asleep, it may be time to visit the vet. You can only Google “how to help cats sleep at night” so many times before it’s time to seek a medical opinion. Checking for underlying conditions could illuminate the reasons for your cat’s insomnia and point you to more specific alternatives, such as behavioral therapy or pharmaceuticals.

Sleep disturbances can occur because of these conditions or others:

  • Anxiety
  • Dementia
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Diabetes

It might be time to visit the vet if your cat’s sleeping patterns begin to change or worsen, or if you own an older cat. Geriatric cats tend to encounter sleep-related issues more often. In any case, it’s a good idea to check for these conditions. When in doubt, ask the experts.

Look for External Stressors

If your cat is struggling with sleep out of the blue, it’s just important to analyze your cat’s environment as it is to try the tips and tricks above. Cats are sensitive to lifestyle changes that humans may not realize affects them. 

For example, a new family member, a move, or even a change in a house or person’s scent can cause your cat stress. Your cat might also be sensitive to outside stimuli such as large parties or thunderstorms. 

In these instances, it’ll help to designate a private space for “hiding spot” for your cat to relax. In any case, identifying and addressing potential stressors will lead to the right solution for your unique cat. This will help them settle into a healthier sleep routine.

PrettyLitter is Here to Help

Ultimately, these solutions highlight the importance of providing your cat with a comfortable environment to fulfill their needs and accommodate their sensitive personality. An integral facet of any cat’s environment, of course, is their litter box, and getting the right one can enhance their experience living, breathing, and sleeping in your home.

PrettyLitter provides the most sophisticated and accessible health monitoring litter on the market. Both you and your cat will appreciate the odor-trapping, moisture-eliminating silica gel cat litter. Cats are even more sensitive to smell than humans, and PrettyLitter will leave your home smelling fresh and clean.

The technology behind PrettyLitter will also help you to monitor your cat’s health. PrettyLitter changes color to help indicate potential health issues. In this way, PrettyLitter serves as a critical tool to improve their sleep and overall well-being.

Ready to start planning your fall festivities with your feline friend? Take a visit to PrettyLitter for some tips on making this Halloween one to remember including DIY Halloween Treats and Halloween Cat Toys

Sources: 

Alexander Animal Hospital. The Effects of Catnip on Your Cat. https://www.alexanderanimalhospital.com/the-effects-of-catnip-on-your-cat/

Cnet. The right music can soothe your savage beast, err, cat. https://www.cnet.com/news/the-right-music-can-soothe-your-savage-beast-er-cat/

PBS. ​​Cats Don’t Like Human Music- play them this instead. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/nation/cats-dont-like-human-music-play-instead

Cat’s Best. Cats and Music: what you should know. https://www.catsbest.eu/music-for-cats/ 

Jackson Blog. Train Your Cat to Let You Sleep. https://www.jacksongalaxy.com/blog/train-your-cat-to-let-you-sleep/

Pet MD. 5 Signs Your Cat is Stressed (and how to relieve it) https://www.petmd.com/cat/centers/nutrition/signs-your-cat-is-stressed

Pet MD. Treating the Cat that Won’t Sleep at Night. https://www.petmd.com/cat/behavior/treating-cat-wont-sleep-night

Web MD. Nighttime Activity in Cats. https://pets.webmd.com/cats/guide/nighttime-activity-cats#1

Tuxedo Cat. How to Make a Cat Sleep Instantly: 10 Steps. https://www.tuxedo-cat.co.uk/how-to-make-a-cat-sleep-instantly/

Written by
Sharilyn Vera

Sharilyn is a proud cat owner, long time storyteller and researcher. Her work spans beloved podcasts, television shows, media outlets, and independent documentaries. She likes to strike a balance between education and comedy, which you can hopefully tell when you read her articles!