I little background:
My darling cat Smokie is about 12 years old. For at least the past 4-5 years we have had the same bedtime routine: the cats come into the bedroom, where they have food, water, clean litter and me to snuggle, I close the door, they sleep all night on the bed. I do this because at my last few places I have lacked either central heat or central cooling, and needed to keep the door closed to keep the warm/cold air in at night lest utilities bankrupt me. (a situation which will continue at least through this summer)
However, in the past 3-4 months (since about April) Smokie starts screaming and pawing at the door at about 3am. Honestly, he’s very loud. I have a water pistol and zap him (causing even louder yowls of outrage). He tries again at 4am, 5am, 6am, 7am and 8 am. I have, on occasion, had to refill the water pistol three or four times in one night. (I keep a bottle of water by the bed).
At about 8 am or 9 am he will give up and go to sleep peacefully for the next few hours.
Bear in mind I am absolutely religious about squirting him each and everytime he paws and yowls, and I NEVER reward the behavior by letting him out. I have also tried “wearing him out” with a good game of string before bed, and just straight up ignoring the yowls (its pretty hard to sleep!). I understand that you can’t train a cat or any other animal without consistency. A few years ago I trained Smokie to Sit on command, and he knows a variety of other rules and verbal commands, so he is certainly trainable.
Basically, I’m at a loss. 4 months is a long time with no change in behaviour, and I think I’ve been a concistent enforcer.