Our 16 year old cat wakes us up every night!

by Mandy


We have a 16 year old cat, Pumpkin, and for the last 6 months or so she has been waking us up in the middle of the night anywhere between the hours of 1a.m.-5a.m. to let her outside. She has both the beginnings of kidney disease and we give her meds for a hyperthyroid. Although she does not not show any signs of being ill, she runs around like a kitten, and still eats and drinks regularly. She has always been a mostly outdoor cat but because of her age and due to another not so nice cat in our neighborhood we try to keep her inside when we are going to be out for long periods of time (work all day etc.). She suffered a pretty severe bite like injury at the base of her tail that turned into an abscess two years ago from a fight she got into with another cat.
So, that brings us to what we have tried to do to curb this behavior. We have tried to leave her out from the time we get home till the time we go to bed. But she still wakes us up. We have tried to give her lots of attention before bed, but she still wakes us up. I finally got my boyfriend to put her in the basement, with food, water, and her litter-box lives down there. It worked great, we let her out of the basement and outside when we got up in the morning, but that only lasted for about a week. She would start again in the early mornings to meow and bang on the door and would wake us both up. My boyfriend, who goes to bed considerably later than I do, stopped putting her in the basement. He feels that she is going to die soon, and putting her in the basement is mean. So, I left the responsibility of getting up with her to him. But unfortunately, we live in New England and now its getting too cold to let her outside for even few hours in the early morning.
I believe that putting her in the basement isn't cruel, she has everything she needs a couch that she chooses to sleep on during the day along with our wood burning stove. And I think that if we stick to it she will eventually stop banging on the door. Am I right? I also found an advertisement for a synthetic feline hormone spray. Would spraying this on that couch help? My only other thought is that she may be in some sort of pain? And if so, is there anything we can give her?
Please any information that would get help her to have a peaceful night and us would be greatly appreciated.

Answer by Kate
There are a lot of issues here that could be causing the change of behaviour. Firstly cats meowing at nighttime is not unusual as this is when they are most active naturally. However due to the age of your cat and that the behaviour is relatively new I may suggest that it is an age issue. Cats like humans can suffer from dementia and meowing at night etc is just one symptom (I have a page about that here http://www.our-happy-cat.com/senior-cat.html)

I would say that putting her in the basement is absolutely fine, especially if she has somewhere comfortable and warm to sleep. Make sure also that she has toys and water and her litter tray down there with her. This may be the only way to get a good nights sleep and is preferable from letting her out on a cold night.

As for the sprays I have never used them. They are supposed to help calm cats down, it may be worth giving it a go but as with any of these things I don't think there are any guarantees.

Best wishes Kate

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