Can I re-train my cats?

In an effort to get some uninterrupted sleep, I’m going to attempt to change my cats’ feeding schedule. Just to give you a little background information my cats have a big cat feeder full of kibble that’s available to them 24/7. But each day they get some moist cat food (currently Friskies in the little pouch, seafood flavor only and no pate’, they like the chunks with gravy). I know this is pretty much just a treat and they’re getting their real nutrition from the dry stuff but I feel guilty depriving them their daily dose of fishy goodness. They do seem to enjoy it so.

Previously I would feed them when I got up in the morning. 6:00 is when my alarm usually rang and the cats would be all waiting for me in the kitchen the minute I exit the bedroom.

But now, the daughter is out of high school and I don’t have to be up so early. Unfortunately Elvin, the youngest of the three cats, feels the need to let me know when he’s ready for his fishy goodness by slipping a paw under the bedroom door and attempting to open it. The result is a sound much like an insessant knocking at the door while it rattles against the door frame. He alternates that with scratching on the tile under the door. Since he’s got soft paws on that’s quite loud and really annoying.

The Elvin alarm goes off anywhere from an hour to 10 minutes before my 6:00 alarm. I exit the bedroom. All the cats congregate in the kitchen. I pick up Elvin and lock him in the computer room and go back to bed.

Elvin has come to understand that he’s probably going to be locked up so when I come out he usually hauls ass into the living room. I enter the kitchen and start getting the cat food out of the drawer. This fools him every time and he comes back in the kitchen expecting his fishy goodness. It is here when I grab the little sleep wrecker and toss him in to the computer room.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: put Elvin in the computer room when you go to bed and problem solved. But, I’ve tried that. Elvin (the little dear) will launch a full on bodily assault against the door of the computer room and creating such a racket that I’m compelled to let him out. After which he thanks me by waking me up early.

So, beginning with last night I’m feeding the cats their little Friskies treat before bed. Maybe that will satisfy them for the night and they’ll stop waking me up?

The Elvin alarm went off at 3:30 am so my first day of the experiment was somewhat less than satisfactory.

Is this just a pipe dream? Am I doomed to live the next 18 or so years being awakened every single night by this beast?

Oh, one more thing…I did devise a very clever padding to go under the door. It had the effect of wedging the door shut and also barring him from scritching on the tile under the door. It worked OK for the first couple of weeks but since we’re less than diligent keeping the soft paws on his claws he eventually shredded it and I was back where I started. Maybe I should build another and be more diligent about capping his claws?

Really, I just want to sleep through the night, is that so much to ask?

This sounds *very *familiar, except my cats cry instead of pawing at the door. Same time frame though. However, while somedays it starts 10 minutes before the alarm goes off, and while they were good through the winter (I’ve had them less than a year so this is the first summer.), once daylight savings time hit, they thought that I should get up once it got light, say at 5:20-5:30. It’s light out, so it’s breakfast time, right? Yeah, I LOVE that.

I’ll be looking forward to the responses you get because I haven’t figured out a solution. If it’s really early, I throw something light (say a Chapstick tube) at the door which makes a noise and scares them off. Usually they’re quiet after that. That’s the best solution I’ve figured out so far.

Good luck.

I had the same situation a few months back. Cats were fed in the morning, but due to a schedule adjustment, I starting being able to sleep in a bit.

The cats would have none of that. So, I started filling their bowls before bed.

It’s worked out fine. The only change I’ve had to make since was pushing the feeding time up about an hour, so they weren’t munching while I was trying to sleep. You see, once Boo decides he’s finished eating, he must then spend 10 minutes vainly trying to cover up the remaning food by scratching at the floor. It gets rather noisy, so rather than have to get out of bed to swat him away from his mission, we just started feeding him a bit earlier.

Other than that, no problems. Good luck!

Had the same summer holiday problem!

I tried feeding mine before I went to bed. You know what, it doesn’t matter when I feed them, breakfast is breakfast.

I have learnt to ignore them. They have stopped climbing on me at 5:30, sitting on my chest and hitting my nose til I move, knocking glasses of the bedside table, chewing my ear…

It was tough I tell you, but they now sleep in with me until 8. Bless…

Hope you work it out!

My cats get shut in a separate room at bedtime for the very same reason. They would wake us up at an obscene hour by standing outside our door and yowling like they were being murdered. My grouchy SO has steadfastly refused to let them sleep with us, and though I hate to admit it, that’s probably for the best - especially on weekends.

I really shouldn’t blame this problem in all the cats. It’s really just Elvin. The other cats are much more cooperative and won’t bother me.

They have food. They always have food. 24/7 kibble in the kitty feeder which holds about a week’s worth of dry cat food that they munch on whenever they feel the need.

taxi78cab I’ll keep you posted. This is only day two of the new bedtime feeding. We’ll see.

Any bets on when the inevitable “I hate cats, you should just get rid of them” contingent shows up?

My dearest darling Bern does almost the same thing. Rather than scritching at the door, however, she performs a full frontal “Meow? MEOW! Rweor! MEOW!” which includes jumping on my bed and pawing at my arm until I am lucid. This is generally done 30 minutes before my alarm goes off. If I don’t hop out of bed in an acceptable amount of time, she will do the mad cat dash around the house (ba-thump ba-thump bang MEOW! thump thud), come back into my room and begin her woe is me opera again.

(She’s 16, for heaven’s sake. Either she’s mental or really healthy)

I’ve tried changing it to the night, but all that does is somewhat abate the morning antics. She waits until the alarm goes off.

Good luck on your endeavor!

My boys, bless their little hearts, don’t bother me on weekdays. Weekends, however are a different story. I don’t feed them wet food (mostly because I don’t like the smell), and their bowl of dry is never empty … yet if I’m not up by nine on a weekend, Khan will sit on my chest and lick my nose until I get up. I’ll go into the kitchen, where I’ll find Sirius sitting beside the full food bowl and mewing up at me like he hasn’t eaten in days.

I take out the bag of food, shake it over the bowl, and put it back. This satisfies them. Don’t ask me why.

Alternately, I continuously shove them off the bed until noon. :slight_smile:

Am I the luckiest cat owner here?! My girls never try to awaken us.
I give them wet foot periodicly as a special treat. They don’t get it on any schedule, so they don’t expect it.

My question is, how do the know, when they are at the other end of the house, that I’ve taken the can out of the cupboard, before its even open? Only the cans of cat food bring them. If its a can of tomato sauce, no kitties. I’d get it if they showed up once it was opened, but just the sound of that particular can??

That would be “wet food” not foot. I don’t torture them by dipping their little paws in the dishwater… but…no, no I don’t do that!

I feed my cats twice a day rather than leaving food out all the time, mainly because one of them is a glutton who, I’m pretty sure, would eat until he exploded. On weekends when I’m not working I sleep in later and they get fed later. They know that I won’t feed them until I get up so they pretty much just leave me alone until then. Ignoring them is really the only way I know to get the message across. And I mean ignoring them completely, no acknowledgement that they’re even there until I get up. Most of them caught on pretty quickly. The glutton took a while, a long while actually, and he still likes to test me every now and then. (I put him in his own room at night, let him out when I get up.) It’s a test of wills really. Just stay the course (and purchase about eleventy tons of patience).

You may just need to keep the new schedule long enough. Is there a way you can just completely ignore Elvin? Ear plugs, maybe. That way, he won’t have the partial association of make noise->velvetjones comes out->FOOD! to fall back on.

Additionally, you could try something a bit stronger in the way of negative reinforcement. Elvin doesn’t like being locked in the computer room, but not enough to keep from bugging you. How does he feel about a squirt gun to the face, or possibly even a dunk in the tub?

Now if anyone could teach Sasha to stop attacking my feet at 4am. Keeping a squirt gun by my bed just trained her to strike quickly and run away.

Just to update, I fed the cats last night before I went to bed, around 10:15 pm.

Elvin (the little dear) starting tap dancing on the door at 5:28 am. Funny thing is, he knows that I’m going to put him in the other room. He hauls ass into the living room as soon as I come near him. So I go into the kitchen, turn on the light and start pretending to get the cat food out. As soon as he thinks it’s really going to be breakfast he runs back in but I’ve noticed that he’s getting more and more wary. He knows exactly what’s going to happen. He’s clever but I will prevail!

Anyway, I got up, went through the “it’s time to feed you” charade and then threw him in the computer room and went back to bed.

I have, in the past been able to will myself to ignore his noise making but it’s difficult. It’s really, really annoying.

iamthewalrus(:3= Earplugs are a great idea.

dwyr of course you’re right about it being a test of wills. Maybe with ear plugs or, like you said, eleventy tons of patience I’ll be able to wear him down.

I used to have a squirt bottle that I used when he and one of the other cats would start fighting (it was more good natured tusseling but they made a lot of noise and knocked stuff over). Maybe if I just open my bedroom door, squirt him a few times and then go back to bed he’ll get the message. Scratch on the door = squirt with the squirtgun. I’m trying that tonight.

Oh? do you own a taser and a pair of shoulder-length leaver gloves? :stuck_out_tongue:

Maybe a cat repellent sprayed on and around your bedroom door would help. Ooh - I know - we’ve got one of those long bristled green plastic doormats, and our cats hate walking on it. Maybe an unpleasant mat in front of the bedroom door would discourage the little darlin’.

My kitty gets unceremoniously dumped in a carrier when she misbehaves no matter what. If she knows she has been bad, she will sometimes put herself in her carrier and wait for me to close the door.
Perhaps, once they wake you up, do something for half an hour before you feed them a treat so they don’t associate waking you up with getting fed, or deny the little devil his treat altogether. His little buddies getting his nummies while he is in the computer room might do the trick. Noisy kitty gets thrown in computer room. Nummies get distributed in the kitchen. Once noisy kitties are let out, there aren’t any nummies left.

xbuckeye That’s exactly what I was doing when he’d wake me up too early I’d put him away and go back to bed. Then when I finally did get up I’d feed the girls, Snowy and Fanny first. They mostly just like to lick up the gravy anyway. Then I let Elvin out to finish off the leftovers.

Today’s update:

Last night I fed them at 10:00. Again, right before bed. Snowy (who will be 13 this year), so far, has refused the nightly feeding. I believe she’s associating it with when I used to trick her with kitty treats at night to give her medicine. I’m sure she’s never forgiven me.

Elvin (the little darling) started with the bedroom door samba at 5:48 (or at least that’s when I woke to it and looked at the clock) a full 20 minutes later than yesterday, I suppose that’s progress.

My alarm was set for 6:15. I stayed in bed tfrom 5:48 - 6:15 trying to will myself to go back to sleep. His clawing at the door getting more and more insistent. When my alarm finally went off I got up and pretty much just ignored the kitties who were all assembled in the kitchen waiting for a breakfast that never arrived.

Am I a heartless bitch? I wished I could at least give Snowy something since she missed her treat last night.

My husband thinks I should just cut out the wet food altogether and let them eat kibble. He’s probably right.

This is kinda demoralizing! I’ve spent all week feeding my guys after I get back from the gym or after my shower if I don’t go to the gym instead of right when I get up. Yet this morning one of them - didn’t look to see who - started crying at 5:20 (even though I NEVER get up before 6). I threw my chapstick at the door (I have surprisingly good aim for being half asleep!) and the meowing stopped.

Maybe I just need to continue the negative reinforcement? Crying = something being thrown at the door…? Or maybe I just have to live with it. :sigh:

You know, our cats get nothing but high-quality kibble (and the occasional mouthful of human food when we have fish or something they will actually eat), and they seem okay with it.