Baloo Waking Up
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Dear Princess,

I did some reading on the topic since it bothered me greatly that you were being woken up from sleep. It is more thorough than required but that's how I am. I feel the Basic Intervention section should be enough but your prince has more tricks up his sleeve in the Advanced Intervention section.

This may be an equal parts training for my princess and Baloo. Someone's always doing the training whether it is Baloo training my princess or the other way around. To avoid having a frustrated cat (and princess) let's make sure Baloo has a strong yet loving mama.

Basic Intervention

  • Make your bed strictly off limits at all times. Cats are territorial and it is frustrating and hard for them to know when it is OK to be on the bed and when it isn't. Plus they can carry all sorts of infections (parasitic, fungal, bacterial, protozoal)
  • Make your bedroom strictly off limits at night. It's very hard and frustrating for both of you if the temptation is that big
  • Now create a better nighttime spot for your cat so they don't invade yours. They like high-up, safe, quiet, somewhat hidden comfortable spaces. Preferably surrounding by their toys, litter box, food, and bedding. A multi-level kitty condo is great since it's high up and cats like to observe from the wide view it provides. Make sure the shelves are big enough for the cat to sprawl out on. And get one with low sided walls. The enclosed feeling which makes them feel safer combined with the ability to watch over their kingdom works really well.
  • Cats also need multiple spaces to sleep. Place some blankets at a few somewhat hidden spots in the house (behind or under furniture) where you want the cat to rest. Cat beds are not necessarily better than these blankets. Also since the cats are fastidiously clean, clean their blankets every few weeks if you want them to keep using it rather than your freshly laundered bedsheets
  • BE FIRM AND PATIENT. Give no attention for a cuddle or food requests at night (or any behavior you don't want to encourage). Even negative attention is a reward for a bored cat. If you waiver and sometimes give in the unpredictability is very frustrating for the cat. Ignoring them no matter how hard it is will eventually lead to a happier cat. It may take 2-3 weeks to break a behavior. Use earplugs, white noise or even medicine if required to help you sleep.
  • Establish a predictable bedtime schedule. A ritual helps both your and cat's body know its time to wind down. Shower, read or do other activities at the same time to mark its night time
  • Prevent bedroom door scratching by placing aluminum foil or Scat Mat outside your door. You may have to startle the cat with a loud noise if they just won't stop.
  • If you only do the above but don't enrich their day, you will get a frustrated cat not an obedient one. So use laser lights, colorful strings, toy mice, battery operated toys, whatever gets the cat worked up for a rousing 15 min play session before bedtime. Go wild! Most cats have a great time rolling around inside a large, open paper bag or a box sprinkled with catnip. "Cat Dancer" toy is extremely appealing too. Cats hunt in bursts of 10-15 min. So that length session is all it takes to tire them out.
  • A few play sessions spread out in addition to the night one work better than just one night session.
  • If biting is a problem give them catnip toys, scratch posts, something else to chew on and cover yourself with socks and blankets completely.
  • Anytime during the day and especially in the evening if the cat is napping, wake him up gently just like he wakes you up at 5 in the morning. Insist on playing.
  • Do not feed the cat right after you wake up. This prompts them to wake you up earlier and earlier.
  • Do not free feed the cat. That screws with their circadium rhythm and really makes it hard for them to adapt to your sleep schedule. And make sure the biggest meal of the day is before the bedtime to encourage a food coma.

Advanced Interventions

  • If the cat is waking you up early in the mornings an automatic feeder may help them. Also, they will hang out with the feeder rather than near your bed.
  • Provide daytime entertainment for your cat. Play sessions, Pet DVDs at their eye level, feeding puzzles, battery operated toys, bird feeder placed outside the window with a window perch all work well. Rotate toys to keep Baloo from getting bored
  • If your cat is finicky for fresh water, indulge them with a self-filling water dispenser.
  • Darken their sleeping room to total darkness. A faint light is too attractive for their night vision
  • Neutering them may help their health, they will live longer and also not be prone to aggression that has no outlet in the house.
  • Get a second cat. This is the ultimate mental enrichment toy
  • Make sure your cat's waking you up is not a medical issue. Be particularly suspicious if this is a new behavior, especially in an older cat.

Conclusion

It seems, my princess, this is very easily solvable. Bedroom off limits at night, a cat tree, rousing play session and big meal at night should be enough.

Always thinking of you,
Your Prince.