Pebbles

Cat Tips

Many cats wind up in shelters because the prior owners had unrealistic expectations about the time, effort and money involved in caring for pets. Do your homework before taking the cat adoption plunge.

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Expert Q&A

My cat is 2 years old and scratches at the bedroom door and cries every morning from 5 a.m. to 6 a.m. I end up sleeping on the couch! What can I do?

Often, when cat owners feed their pets at an early hour during the workweek, their cats want their breakfast at the expected time, even on weekends. In addition, most cats just naturally wake up at such early hours, perhaps tied to their internal clocks. Nevertheless, it sounds like you might have unwittingly trained your cat to engage in this bothersome morning behavior. Do you stumble out of bed, chastise your cat, perhaps feed it and then head for the couch? Your cat then thinks, "Attention, food. Hey, this is a good thing!" The easiest way to train a cat any kind of behavior -- good or bad -- is to provide some kind of reward, which is probably happening here. Try changing your cat's playtime and feeding schedules, moving them to later in the day. Before bed, get your cat interested in a toy mouse chase game, pole toy hunt or other aerobic, playful activity. Then provide dinner. Leave out some dry food and treats, enough to keep kitty satisfied (but be careful not to overfeed). If your cat is tired and full, it won't be so inclined to bother you at all hours. Another possible solution is to buy a timed feeder. You may not be up at 5 a.m., but mechanical feeders are always on the job, no matter the hour. The released food should keep your cat busy for a while. As a last resort, try gently spritzing your cat with water when it scratches on your bedroom door. Most cats hate the feel of water sprayed onto their fur -- the opposite of a rewarding experience.

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