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Cat help needed - waking me up, begging for food

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  • Cat help needed - waking me up, begging for food

    If this question has already been addressed in another thread, please point me in the direction and disregard!

    I adopted a 2 year old cat approximately 7 weeks ago. He's male, and had been neutered a week before I adopted him - so he's been neutered for 2 months. He's very sweet and I love him a lot, but I'm encountering problems I've never had with a cat before.

    He's ALWAYS hungry - he will eat all of his food IMMEDIATELY when I put it down. He's been checked out by a vet and deemed healthy, and is gaining weight - I'm limiting his food, and because he ate it so quickly I've been splitting it into 2 feedings - one at 7 am and one at 9 pm.

    I work M-F, 9-5. Aside from that, I'm home most of the time. I spend lots of time playing with him, but things aren't working well. He wakes me up at 5 or 6 am meowing, begging for food. If I try to feed him and go back to bed, he eats immediately and continues to pester me to get me up. I don't know if he just wants me up, or if he's wanting more food. I can't lock him out of my bedroom, as he scratches at the door and meows incessantly. When he's in with me he climbs all over me and meows for hours until I get up. I'm reluctant to feed him that early when it's at 5 am as I feel like it will just reward/encourage the behavior.

    Any advice on what to do? I've considered changing his feedings to just one at night to see if that would help with the issue of him waking me up. I'm also trying to come up with ways to keep him entertained while I'm at work so that he'll sleep more at night, but I'm stumped. I've been searching the internet for relevant articles but have yet to find anything terribly helpful, suggestion-wise. Thank you!
    Dapplebay - home of original equestrian clothing and accessories.

  • #2
    If anyone has some advice I'd love to hear it too. My cat does this to my husband every morning. I sleep with a CPAP mask on for apnea and he can't really "get" to me the way he does my husband. He'll jump on him full force, nip his fingers or nose..he's really persistant. I really think it's a social thing more than a food issue seeing as my cat does what yours does. Our cat will still have food in his bowl from the previous night and still pester and wake up my husband to feed him. Even after he gets up and feeds him the cat comes back and wants us up.

    If I had to venture a guess they just like the fact that when we are both up the routine of the day starts, he gets attention and loves in addition to food. After we're up and he gets his food, lovies etc, he finds a spot and goes to sleep!
    Last edited by darkmoonlady; Mar. 9, 2012, 08:00 PM. Reason: Added more information.


    • #3
      What are you feeding him?

      You can freeze a portion of wet food and put that out, in addition to his nightly meal, and see if that will help.

      You've GOT to stop feeding him when he wakes you up, though, as you're just reenforcing the behavior.

      I have a couple cats that will wake us up at night occasionally. If they wake us up ENOUGH, the spray bottle comes out, and they get chased down the stairs with sprays. Works for a few days, at least.


      • #4
        He's got you trained. Don't feed him when he wakes you up! Spray bottle sounds like a good idea. He will probably become more persistent at first, while you're breaking him of it. Do. Not. Give. In. It will make him more persistent the next time. Be prepared to be awake at 5 am for a while.

        You could get him a friend to keep him entertained while your gone. I'm a rescue enabler.


        • #5
          Lock him out. Eventually he'll stop scratching the door. Cats are NOT allowed in my bedroom as it's still got wall to wall carpet and they'll ruin it, and they can scratch and meow at the door all they want. I'll get up when I get up, and it's NOT going to be at 5am. Plus they get fed AFTER the dogs get their first out.
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          • #6
            This isn't going to help much, but you should get a laugh out of it. Minus the end bit this is exactly what a friend's cat did to me while I was looking after her!


            • #7
              My fat cats that are on a diet used to do that to me. They now get canned food mixed with tons of water (into a soup-like consistency) that fills them up and keeps them happy all night long. Kinda like people who are dieting and drink lots of water with meals to keep them full.


              • Original Poster

                Ahhh thank you, all excellent suggestions! To clarify, I don't generally feed him when he wakes me up - he still waits until 7:00 for breakfast. I did try feeding him at 6 once to see if it truly was hunger, and I don't believe it was, because he was right back at it by 6:20 once his breakfast was done.

                SPRAY BOTTLE! Why didn't I think of that!? I already have one for him, which I used in introducing him to my rabbit - he was very good with her, but when he got a little rough he'd get a spray and it had him trained within days. It's on my nightstand now and will be ready for tomorrow morning.

                Thank you for your suggestions, and if anyone else has them, I'd be happy to hear - I need all the help I can get with this guy! A second cat is out of the question right now, as I think it would be both more than I can handle mentally and financially! Down the road, though, I'm sure I'll add on.

                And Selene, too funny - I've seen that before and at 5:00 this morning I couldn't stop thinking about it!
                Dapplebay - home of original equestrian clothing and accessories.


                • #9
                  It sounds like he's getting enough calories, but could you split his feedings up even more?

                  You can get a covered feeder with a timer in it that will open up a fresh portion of food at whatever time you set. Perhaps you could get one and set it for 6 AM, noon, 6 PM, and midnight? Smaller, more frequent meals are better for your kitty's health (easier on the pancreas, for one), and it might keep him happier.


                  • #10
                    A check for thyroid problems may be in order.
                    Patience pays.


                    • #11
                      Timed feeders - set the feeder the night before for the time you want him fed. Combine this with the spray bottle and locking him out if he bothers you and eventually he'll learn that you are not getting up to feed him and he'll get fed when the timer goes off.


                      • #12
                        Generally, thyroid problems arent common in 2 year old cats that are gaining weight. Its a possibility,but I wouldnt go spending money testing for it. I would assume he's just got you trained!!

                        I second an automatic feeder.My friend has one, and it feeds 12 small meals over 2 hours, the ONLY way to keep her irritating siamese quiet(ish).


                        • Original Poster

                          Thank you all! Going on the hunt for a timed feeder today. I fed him his dry food RIGHT before going to bed last night and I tried leaving down the slurry of wet food overnight as suggested, and there was some improvement - he waited until 6 am to start his wake-up call. I also used the squirt bottle once, when he was standing right by my bed meowing very demandingly, and he stopped and went and sat by the door quietly for the next 15 minutes. I felt bad, but he has to learn.

                          Hopefully the feeder will help with some of this. Melissa, I'd been considering having him checked for thyroid, but the fact that he is gaining weight makes me think that it's not likely. I had asked the vet about it, too, and the vet felt that he was extremely healthy and probably just going through an adjustment phase - we've no idea what his previous people were feeding him (they abandoned him when they moved) so he's been through a lot of change recently, and was on the thinner side when I got him. He's where he needs to be weight-wise now, but will clearly continue to gain if I don't limit the dry. Though I'll definitely have him checked if extreme, ongoing hunger does prove to be a problem - I think I'll give him a bit more time first, though.

                          Thank you all! I feel like we're heading down the right track now, at least.
                          Dapplebay - home of original equestrian clothing and accessories.


                          • #14
                            Cats with a hyperthyroid are often ravenous and will sometimes behave ths way. If not treated it can damage the heart and cause serious issues. If he were my cat, I would take a trip to the vet as soon as it could be arranged. If that was ruled out, then I would do behavior modification, but not before.


                            • #15
                              I have a 10 lb cat who would love nothing more in this world to be at least 20lbs!! He is a food hound! He is now 7 but as a young cat we had to lock him up at night to keep him from getting into the dogs food (his food was already kept in a drawer - he could open cupboards!)
                              Luckily this system trained him that he didn't eat until we got up (more specifically until my husband got up which is later than me!) Also if he is whiney he gets locked up, even if its for 15 minutes, then I put his food down while he is locked up so that when he comes out of timeout, there's no reason for him to get whiney again.
                              He also eats insanely quickly I have this for him: http://www.amazon.ca/Multivet-Slimca.../dp/B003Y7CHC0
                              its really for fat cats, to encourage weight loss, but it slows my guy down SIGNIFICANTLY. If I put it on the hardest setting, sometimes he even takes a break from it, it will sometimes take him close to an hour to get his whole meal out of it.


                              • #16
                                OP, good for you. Don't feel bad about spraying him. I find that many people let rescue animals get away with murder because they've been abused, starved, fill in the blank.

                                It's our job, as rescuers and adopters to help them learn to become socialized... good cat and dog citizens.



                                • #17
                                  I agree with splitting up the feedings more.

                                  I also trained my cats that they don't get fed when I first get up. As a non morning person, I'm not functional until after I've had a shower. The cats learned there was no point poking at me in the morning. I just dive back under the covers if something wakes me up before I'm ready to get up. Food happens only after I get out of the shower. Of course, it is a little creepy having cats STARING at you in the shower.


                                  • #18
                                    LOL...LOL...i love those simon's cat videos..........he has got the cat mentality purrrrrrrrrfected,eh?.......also, for the annoyingly loud animal/personthat gets to you through a closed door while trying to sleep...............get a noise box, and put it right by your head..............you know, one of those things that makes white static noise, or nature sounds,etc..............mine comes in very handy


                                    • #19
                                      I don't feed my cats in the morning. Cuts that behavior right out of the picture. They get fed when I get home from work and before I go to bed. Took about two weeks before they knocked it off.

                                      Week ends do kind of screw them up though.


                                      • #20
                                        I have a cat that does this but it's not about food, since there is dry food available 24/7. She's just bored and thinks we should get up. We have tried the spray bottle on her and it does work, but the effect wears off...she's the sort of cat that in the old days someone would take for "a long ride" in the car.