How to Hit the Snooze!
by Elijah Jones
B-R-R-R-I-I-I-N-G! (OR IS IT MORE LIKE M-E-E-E-O-O-W!?)
Carrie Logan works 9-5, Monday through Friday. Saturday mornings is the one day of the week she can and chooses to sleep in a bit. But her 7-year old feline, OLIVER, has different ideas. Oliver doesn’t tolerate Carrie’s efforts at sleeping late, and he’s even devised a few tricks to make her get out of bed!
On a typical weekday, Carrie gets up at 5:45AM, to get to work on time. And that’s just fine with Oliver. He either waits by the window or quietly in the bed for Carrie to begin her day. But, oh! On Saturday mornings, it’s a different story. Off from work on Saturday, Carrie likes to sleep in a little longer. But if she’s not up by the usual 5:45, Oliver will have no part of it. Just after 6:00AM, he pounces onto the bed, landing like a rock, followed by a loud…M-E-E-O-W! Carrie instructs Oliver to be quiet, as she rolls over, trying to get back to sleep. Oliver leaves her alone, but only for a few minutes. He finds some other way to amuse himself for a few minutes and later, tries the same routine again all over again, only adding another trick. Next time, along with the pounce and the meow, he scampers across Carrie’s legs, insisting she get up!
Finally, Carrie gives up, flings off the bed covers and gives Oliver, now sitting on the bed, her patented “bad kitty” look. And oh, Oliver knows that look well! He immediately runs from the bedroom and hides somewhere else in the house. Now wide awake, Carrie has no choice but to get out of bed, while talking loudly to Oliver, telling him what a bad kitty he’s been. But she may as well be talking to herself, since Oliver is still in hiding, waiting for Carrie to cool off. He knows, by the time she gets that first sip-or-two of morning coffee, she’ll have settled down and be back to her normal self.
What wakes YOU up in the mornings? Is it the sound of your trusty alarm clock ringing or beeping? Or might it be a loud or, if you’re lucky, a soft meow, a firm paw-pat on the head, followed by some furry feet prancing across your legs? Most cat owners, like Carrie, can vouch for this. There’s a pretty good chance your morning wake-up call may not be from the sound of your I-phone or clock radio’s alarm, but from your cat. Some cat owners will tell you, their cats are as likely to wake them in the morning, as those alarm clocks.
When you or Carrie break from your usual sleeping routines, don’t think for a minute your cat doesn’t notice. We humans have built-in body clocks, right? Well, your cat does, too. And don’t go thinking your cat’s internal clock is always set to your own. Your cat’s time-to-get-up instinct comes to him or her, naturally.
Don’t forget, your domestic kitty’s ancestors began their journey through evolution living in the wild, thousands of years ago. Oh, sure, your cat may be only a few years old, but all cats retain some of the instincts handed down from those bigger cats that roamed the earth, eons ago. Your cat’s ancestor’s body clocks let them know the best times to sleep, to hunt for food and even when it was time to pursue a love interest, wink wink. (Hey, cats gotta love, too!) Those ancient traits have been passed on, and still exist in the bloodline of today’s domestic cats. Your cat is only being true to its ancestry.
As you’ve probably noticed, your cats like to sleep a lot during the day. Cats are known for taking daytime naps, especially while you’re away all day at work. Cats are usually much more active during the hours around dusk, near sunset and dawn, at sunrise. (Bad news for Carrie.) Cats get that habit from their wild ancestors. Those sunrise hours are, instinctively, when they do their hunting and playing.
So you can see why your kitty is there so early, urging you to get out of bed, often before your alarm clock goesoff. In your kitty’s mind, you’ve been asleep long enough! (You hear that, Carrie?)
Of course, there were no such things as alarm clocks back in the age of the big saber-tooth cats, they didn’t need them. Neither does your modern tabby, or whatever breed of cat lives with you. Oh, we know, most people, especially those who work 9-5, like Carrie, depend on an alarm clock to remind them it’s time to begin their days. But come on, your alarm clock can never offer that special way of telling you it’s time to get out of bed, the way your cat does. Unless you have an alarm clock that MEOWS you awake in the morning. Now that we think about it, do cat-owners even need alarm clocks?
You’ve probably had one of those mornings where you slept through the alarm and, oh no! Now you’re going to be late for work. Hey, don’t panic. There’s a plenty good chance your cat can save the day. In fact, your cat may have a tendency to wake you up a few minutes before the alarm clock wakes you up with that B-R-I-I-I-I-N-G you may not be looking forward to hearing. Your kitty has a much sweeter way of letting you know when it’s time, to rise and shine. Whether you planned to get up a little later than usual or, you were sleeping in because of a holiday or, like Carrie, because it’s the weekend, your cat doesn’t care about any of that.
Cats are crepuscular animals who are most active at dusk and dawn. And, as you know, they love to play. Some cats favorite time of the day is early morning, when we may be getting those last few Z-Z-Z-Z-Z’s before waking up. Your cats don’t just want to play first thing in the morning though. They want to be fed, too. Their plans for breakfast don’t change just because you wanted that extra hour-or-two of sleep. You may have planned to have your eggs, bacon, toast and coffee later that morning, but your kitty’s ready for her morning bowl of Meow Mix. Your cat’s telling you, “Hey, sleepy-head, what gives? It’s time, to rise, shine, and dine!”
As you slept, your kitty has missed having you up with her. Plus she has some rewards in mind, for herself. First thing in the morning, your cat is ready for that first-of-the-day social-interaction with you, the human she loves enough to live with. By waking you up so early, your cat is letting you know she’s ready to start her day with you, not just for breakfast, but she wants that little morning playtime with you, too.
Want to trick your cat into thinking it’s not time to get up? Try covering a usually sunny window so not as much sunshine comes into the room where your cat sleeps. That early morning sunlight triggers your cats natural instinct to get up and to get you up. Also, if your cat is used to being fed early in the morning, you can bet she’s going to be extra vigilant at making sure you get up early in the morning, too.
So remember, your cat may only be a few years old, Carrie’s Oliver is only seven. But those thousands of years of evolution are there. That’s right, a little bit of the wild still lives inside that sweet little domesticated kitty of yours and, you know what? It’s one of the things that makes being a cat owner so much fun!
***For more tips on Hitting the Snooze, please see Rita Reimers’ Cat Behavior Videos, available exclusively inside The VIP Cat Club!