How to Calm Down Cats at Night
We love our cats. Our furry friends are low maintenance, but they provide us with comfort and unconditional love. However, when night-time rolls around, all that running around the house, loud meowing, and scratching can interrupt our plans for a good night’s sleep and leave us feeling frustrated. You probably know that cats are nocturnal creatures, programmed to hunt at night in the wild. So, with your domestic cat, this natural instinct to hunt at night still exists, and it’s the reason why your cat sleeps for 12 to 16 hours throughout the day. By sleeping during the day, your cat is energized to hunt and run around at night when you need to sleep. So, if your cat’s excessive meowing keeps you up every night, you need to find a way to help your cat to adjust to your sleep patterns or simply keep them engaged more during the daytime.
Night-time vocalizations usually mean that some of your cat’s basic needs aren’t being met, so your cat is probably hungry, thirsty, or is just feeling lonely. However, some cats are naturally anxious and tend to be stressed all the time, which leaves owners wondering what to do and how to calm cats down at night.
If you took your cat to the vet and you’ve already ruled out any health issues but you still can’t get a good night’s sleep, you’re probably thinking what can you give a cat to calm them down? Luckily, there are many effective ways and various natural remedies that can help calm down your cat. Keep reading to find out what could be the problem and how to calm cats down at night, so that you can finally get a restful night’s sleep.
Keep your cat busy while you’re at work
It’s simple as that – the more entertained your cat is during the day while you’re at work, the less likely they’ll want to play at night. So, make sure your cat has plenty of interactive toys, cat trees that provide stimulation, paper bags, or toys laced with catnip to keep them active and entertained during daylight hours. Cats also enjoy watching the birds, so if you install a bird feeding station near your windows you will give your cat something interesting to do during the day when you’re not around. Another great idea to visually stimulate your cat when you’re away, is to turn on the TV at low volume. Many cats cry at night because they’re bored or lonely, so try to keep your furry friend entertained while you’re away during the day, so that they’ll be more tired at night.
Spend time and play with your cat in the evening
Feeling extremely tired and worn out when you get home from work is completely normal, but if your cat is acting crazy every night, try to spend some time with them in the evening. Play with your cat before you go to bed, because encouraging plenty of action and movement is definitely the best way to tire your cat out, so that you can get some sleep later. You can use different toys and chase your furry friend around the house to keep them stimulated mentally. Without proper stimulation, such as interactive playtime or places to stretch their muscles and scratch, all cats can become anxious, stressed, and even aggressive towards their humans or other pets in the home.
Feed your cat before bedtime
After you’ve had a fun play session with your cat in the evening, it’s time to feed them. Feeding your cat after playtime will give them the satisfactory feeling that they would feel naturally if they’ve caught something in the wild. After eating, your furry friend will be prepared for a good grooming session and then they will go to sleep. Timing the beginning of their sleep cycle to match your bedtime will significantly reduce the chances of your cat waking you up. Investing in an automatic feeder is also a great idea, so if your cat gets hungry in the night, they will simply wait for the feeder to dispense a limited amount of food and eat, so they won’t come to wake you up.
Keep your cat out of the bedroom during the night
We know that it’s a wonderful feeling to lie down and cuddle with your cat on your bed, but if all they do is meowing and waking you up at night, the best thing to do is to shut the bedroom door during night time. It’s best to keep your cat out of the bedroom and provide them a warm and cozy bed in another room. That way, your cat can’t jump on your feet in the middle of the night while you’re sleeping and scare you off. If your cat still wants to enter the bedroom and starts crying or scratching at the door, discourage them by putting something they don’t like in front of the door.
Leave your cat’s favourite toys out for them to play with during the night
Since they’re nocturnal animals, most cats will wake a few times during the night, and when they wake up they’ll be prepared to start their usual pattern of hunting something, running around, eating, grooming, and sleeping again. And if your cat is unable to find anything interesting to play with, then they will probably come looking for you. Therefore, don’t forget to close your bedroom door and leave all of your cat’s favourite toys out, so they can play when they wake up at night.
Play soft and relaxing music
Playing relaxing music can actually help your cat to drift off to sleep more easily. Some studies have shown that certain types of music are very effective when it comes to decreasing stress levels and calming down cats. So, if you don’t know how to calm cats down, you can play soft classical music and create a peaceful and cozy space that will relax and calm down your furry friends at night. You can also even try some “cat specific music” that was created by scientists from the University of Wisconsin. This “cat specific music” is composed of lines based on affiliative cat vocalisations like purring or suckling sounds, and frequencies similar to the feline vocal range, which is two octaves higher than for people.
Use a pheromone diffuser or spray
You can also try some pheromone diffusers or sprays that are actually synthetic versions of the pheromones all cats use to calm themselves and their kittens. Diffusing or spraying synthetic pheromones around your home can really calm down your cat and help them relax and go to sleep, so that you can also get a good night’s sleep. It has been proven that cat calming pheromones can reduce almost any anxiety-related behaviors such as over grooming, pacing, or excessive meowing, but in order to be effective they need to be reapplied frequently.
Use calming essential oils
Essential oils are very popular and they’re often used to relieve stress. But, they’re not only good for humans, they’re amazing for cats as well. However, you should be very careful – essential oils can be dangerous for cats because they don’t metabolize things the same way as humans, and there are only a few essential oils that are considered safe for cats. Lavender, which has natural sedative properties, can have an extremely calming effect on cats and reduce fear and stress. Honeysuckle, Frankincense, Copaiba, and Helichrysum are also considered safe for cats and they have significant calming and relaxing properties. However, if you would like to use essential oils as a way to calm down your cat, ALWAYS consult your veterinarian first and NEVER apply essential oils to your cat’s fur or skin.
Rescue Remedy for Cats
Use herbs to calm down your cat
Whether your cat is naturally anxious or tends to freak out only at night, you can also use the following rescue remedy for cats which is both natural and easy to administer. When nothing else is working, try some of these herbs and flower essences to calm down your cat, so that you can get a better night’s sleep.
It has been proven that drinking a cup of chamomile tea before bed can help us relax and sleep better, but chamomile is just as effective for cats. The dried chamomile flowers are great to relieve stress and anxiety and promote relaxation in your furry friend. Some studies on animals have proven that chamomile has substances that act on the same parts of the brain and nervous system as anti anxiety drugs do, which makes this herb one of the best when it comes to promoting relaxation.
This herb is used as a natural remedy for insomnia for humans, but you should know that it has the same calming effect on cats. It is said that Valerian resembles catnip, but after the initial euphoria which can last for around 30 minutes, your cat will be much calmer and docile, and will most probably fall asleep quickly.
Bach Rescue Remedy
The benefits of Bach Rescue Remedy (which is a blend of five flower essences) in relieving stress and anxiety in people have been known for years, and this can also be used on cats who are anxious, impatient, or frightened. The instant effectiveness and the safe ingredients make Bach Rescue Remedy the best cat rescue remedy out there. Just add two drops in their drinking water and you’ll see that your cat will calm down immediately. You can also put a few drops in a spray bottle and spritz around your home.
But, how do you use these herbs to calm your cat?
As you probably know herbs come in many forms: dried flowers or leaves, essential oils, teas, or tinctures. We already mentioned that the majority of the essential oils can be extremely dangerous for cats, so it’s obvious that the dried form of herbs is safest when it comes to cats. You can put the dried flowers or leaves inside a tube collar or in a small handmade pillow, so that you can be sure that your cat won’t eat the herbs.
Try anti-anxiety treats, supplements, or cat tranquilizers
If you have a very anxious cat and none of the above mentioned methods is helping, consult your veterinarian and ask whether you can give your cat treats that are specifically designed to have calming effects, herbal supplements, or cat tranquilizers. There are special anti-anxiety cat treats that contain L-theanine, an ingredient that’s commonly found in green tea, which naturally relieves stress and anxiety. Short-term anxiety medications can also be helpful, but ALWAYS consult a professional before giving your cat any kind of supplements or medications.
Never punish your cat!
Even when your cat goes crazy at night, NEVER use punishment or negative reinforcement with them. Cats don’t make the association between their bad behavior and your negative reactions. But, they will associate their bad behavior with getting attention from you. So, reprimanding your cat when they’re meowing excessively or scratching on your rug and keeping you awake, will simply encourage them to continue that behavior because you’re giving them the attention they’re seeking. Therefore, the best thing you can do when this happens the next time, is to ignore your cat and keep them out of your bedroom at night.