A kitten will not sleep through the night because they have a polyphasic sleep pattern. This means they sleep in multiple segments, as opposed to one long sleep.
Even as your kitten moves into adulthood, it’s unlikely they’ll sleep for eight hours at night. Most cats will wake up once or twice during the night to check out their surroundings, eat, and use the litter box.
Although your kitten will wake up during the night, you can decrease the chances of them waking you up by following the steps in this article.
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How long do kittens sleep at night?
Kittens typically sleep for 4 – 5 hours at night. Although kittens sleep up to 20 hours per day, due to their polyphasic sleep pattern, those hours are broken up into multiple cat naps.
A kitten will sleep for 4 – 5 hours then play for an hour or two followed by another 4 – 5 hour nap, and so on and so forth.
As your kitten gets older, their naps will get longer, as will the length of time they’re awake between naps.
At what age do kittens sleep through the night?
A kitten will start to calm down and sleep more during the night around 6 months old.
As your kitten gets older, they will start to learn your routine and spend more time sleeping when lights are out and the house is quiet.
However, even as an adult, your cat typically won’t sleep through the entire night. But as they learn their routine and are less curious, they won’t be as active during the night.
They may wake up in the middle of the night to have a snack, use the litter box, and perhaps roam the house or look out a window. But they won’t be as rambunctious as a kitten can be during the night.
How to get a kitten to sleep at night
To get a kitten to sleep at night you must follow a routine that incorporates play before bedtime. As crepuscular animals, they have the urge to hunt during twilight hours. So their energy levels can ramp up as you’re heading to bed and before your alarm clock goes off.
A cat’s natural pattern is:
A cat can also form social relationships with other cats or humans, so socialization will also be an important aspect of your cat’s day.
Keep that pattern in mind when create a routine with our cat that encourages them to be more restful during the night.
Step 1 – Play
Because your kitten doesn’t have to hunt and kill to eat, playtime replaces that hunt/play/kill time in their routine.
Kittens are very active and need lots of playtime.
For the most part, if your kitten isn’t sleeping or eating, they’ll want to be playing and exploring.
If you don’t encourage playtime throughout the day, they may have a tendency to play more during the night.
If you’re out of the house during the day, be sure to dedicate time in the morning and at night to play with your kitten.
Ideally, you’ll spend at least 15 minutes in the morning playing with them, another play session when you get home, and another before you go to bed.
If you work from home, play with your kitten as much as you can.
Often, when they start to get into trouble (e.g. jumping up on the counter), they’re looking for attention and something to do. This is a great time to fit a short play session in.
It’s especially important to time a lengthy play session right before your bedtime.
Play with your kitten until they’re worn out and are no longer interested in play.
Step 2 – Feed (proper food)
A cat would naturally eat after they’ve hunted their prey, played with it, and killed it. Once you’ve completed playtime and your kitten has indicated to you they no longer want to play, you can give them food.
The type of food you give them is important.
Your kitten may be waking up during the night and playing because they’re hungry.
If you’re feeding them a high-carb diet, it’s likely not sustaining them for long.
Try switching to a high-protein, low-carb wet food.
This mimics their natural diet as small mice and birds are mostly protein and fat. A cat’s natural diet would have virtually no carbohydrates.
Step 3 – Quiet time
Make sure your kitten’s environment is conducive to sleep. If you don’t time their play and eat time right before your bedtime, bright lights and noises can ramp your kitten up again.
You may even set up a comfy bed for your kitten and bring them to it once they’re done eating.
If they’ve been sufficiently worn out during playtime, they should groom themselves and then snuggle in for a nap.
Once your kitten knows where their bed is, they’ll build a habit and find it on their own.
If possible, dedicate a room to your kitten that they can sleep in during the night.
The room should be big enough that they can run around and play when they wake up during the night, and have everything they need; food, water, litter box, toys, and a bed, with several feet between each.
If your kitten learns the habit of being alone during the night and not having access to you, they’ll be less likely to bother you during the night when they get too big for the room, and/or are allowed to roam the house at night.
Step 4 – Playtime
A play session in the morning is just as important as the one before bed.
If your kitten learns that each morning they get one-on-one time with you and a dedicated play session, they’ll feel less desperate to get your attention during the night.
Step 5 – Be consistent
Cats love routine and will learn what to expect from you. Being consistent with your cat’s routine will positively impact their behaviour.
If every night you turn off the TV around 10 pm, spend time playing with them, feed them, and then the house is quiet and they don’t see you again until the morning, they will come to expect those events each day.
However, if you only play with them sometimes before bed, your cat won’t know when their next playtime or meal will be and will act more sporadically.
Follow this routine every day and within a week you should notice a big change in your kitten sleeping through the night and not disturbing you.
Tips for dealing with a kitten during the night
These additional tips are important to help your kitten build good nighttime habits.
If you don’t have a room to dedicate to your kitten, or they have access to you during the night, try your best to ignore them if they do try to wake you up.
If your kitten gets a reaction from you during the night, that’s their reward.
By getting up and attending to them, you’re teaching them that running across your bed in the middle of the night results in your attention.
As hard as it may be, get through a few nights of not reacting to your kitten’s behaviour in the middle of the night.
If you’ve fed them before bed, and they have clean water and a clean litter box, they’ll be fine until you wake up in the morning and feed them again.
As long as they’re not in any danger, ignore them until they tire themselves out and go back to sleep.
Lots of attention
Cats love to have your attention, and if they’e not getting enough of it during the day, they may resort to trying to get it at night. Especially if they know their meowing or running around at night gets you up and paying attention to them.
Most behaviour issues in cats can be solved with more playtime, love and attention, and positive reinforcement.
If your cat gets enough of what they want from you, they’re less likely to misbehave.
Your kitten will wake up in the middle of the night since they have shorter sleep cycles. And when a kitten is awake, they typically want to play.
Since you can’t be around to play with them, be sure they have interactive toys that will create lots of movement to stimulate them.
Motion-activated toys can work if they’re quiet and won’t wake you up. But simple balls or springs can also keep your kitten busy.
Let them sleep
Kittens need ample sleep to grow and be healthy. Don’t wake your kitten up during the day in hopes it will help them sleep through the night.
A kitten needs up to 20 hours of sleep each day, so be sure to let them sleep when they need to.
How long should I play with my kitten before bed?
You should play with your kitten before bed for as long as they’re willing to play, which is usually 15 – 30 minutes. This time frame can vary based on how much activity they’ve had throughout the day and how intense the play session is.
Each kitten will also have a different energy level and sleep requirement. One of our kittens can play for 30 minutes before he gets tired while the other is showing signs of fatigue after 15 minutes of play.
Let your kitten indicate when they’ve had enough playtime. When they stop chasing the toy and flop down on the ground, they’re starting to tire out. When they completely lose interest in playing and simply watch the toy instead of moving towards it, you’ve fully worn them out.
You’ll start to learn their patterns and can plan for the appropriate amount of playtime before bed.
Why won’t my kitten sleep?
If your kitten won’t sleep, they may be dealing with a health issue that makes it difficult for them to sleep. It’s important to contact your veterinarian if your kitten seems to be lacking sleep. A kitten needs up to 20 hours of sleep in a day, so if they’re not getting it, it can impact their health.
Your kitten may not be able to sleep because they’re dealing with a health issue that’s making them uncomfortable.
Anything from an intestinal or urinary tract blockage to stress can make it hard for your kitten to sleep, even thought they’re tired.
Only a veterinarian will be able to rule out a health issue.
Why is my kitten so hyper at night?
Kittens often become more hyper at night because they’re crepuscular and their natural instincts are kicking in to hunt at dusk and dawn. In nature, a cat would hunt during twilight hours, when small prey, such as rodents, are active.
A kitten may become even more hyper at night if they haven’t burned off much energy during the day. If you’re away from home all day, they’ve likely slept most of the day while the house was quiet. If you don’t have any other pets, they also don’t have another animal or human to interact with and stimulate them.
However, you can create a routine for your cat that encourages them to engage those natural instincts at a time that’s more convenient for you.
Should I ignore my kitten crying at night?
You should ignore your kitten crying at night as long as you know they’re not in any danger and that they have access to everything they need.
If you played with your kitten before bed, and fed them, and they have access to a clean litter box and clean water, they are simply crying for attention.
If you get up, you’re teaching them that crying in the middle of the night gets your attention, and they will continue this behaviour.
The exception to this is if your kitten is very young, doesn’t have their mom, and requires you to bottle feed them. In this scenario, you likely need to feed your kitten once or twice during the night.
How do I make a kitten sleep instantly?
You cannot make a kitten sleep instantly. They have energy they must expel to become sleepy and want to lay down for a nap.
The best way to quickly get a kitten sleepy is to play with them. Get them moving and running around. If you simply wave a wand in front of them and they bat at it, they’re not going to burn much energy.
If you throw a ball or run with a wand to get a kitten running and jumping, they are going to run out of energy much quicker.
After a play session, you should give them food, as it follows their natural cycle to hunt, eat, sleep.
Although playing with your kitten can help wear them out for nighttime, it’s important to consider that kittens’ sleep schedules are much different than humans. They don’t stay awake all day to sleep for 8 hours at night.
No matter how much you wear a kitten out before bed, they’re likely to wake up in the middle of the night and follow their natural pattern of hunt, “kill”, eat, groom, sleep.
But if they get lots of playtime with you during the day, they won’t be as high-energy in the middle of the night and will be less likely to wake you up.
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