No more sleepless nights with a new cat
So, you have a new addition to the family. Except this one has a tail, some rather fearsome looking claws and purrs! It’s all very exciting, until you realise that you’re sleeping a little less than you used to… and your cat is to blame! Don’t worry, we’re here to help you settle in your new feline friend and find the best way to help your cat or kitten get the sleep they need.
Here are some hacks from the professionals and those who have been there, done that and come out the other side well-rested.
Dos and don’ts of settling in a new cat
Do make sure you cat-proof your home
Cat-proofing your home will help you sleep a little easier and keep your kitten safe if they decide to go exploring at night. Check your rooms for potential hazards such as fireplaces, poisonous plants or toxic foods and make them as safe as possible for your cat. Watch out for small spaces too, kittens can find their way into the tightest spots.
Do pick a room for them to spend the night in
Designating a room for your kitten can help them gradually adjust to their new surroundings, aid their toilet training and decreases the risk of accidents elsewhere in the house. It can also help you sleep without being pounced on in the middle of the night.
Do make sure you give them everything they need
Wherever you might decide to let them sleep, make sure you have everything they might need set up ready for their first night. You might want to provide them with:
- A litter tray
- Food and water bowls
- A scratching post
- Safe (and silent!) toys
This can really help them settle in their new surroundings and make them feel safe and secure during the night.
“When I first got my cats, I wish I’d have known just how much they like to scratch the carpet during the night. I think they must wake up at random points and the first thing they seem to want to do is scratch! I’ve now got lots of different scratching posts dotted around upstairs and always make sure I do a little anti-scratch spray around the house before bed.” – Lauren with Lulu and Poppy
My tuxedo cat Smartie is now at the grand age of 18 years old. I wished I had known to introduce her to interactive toys earlier on when she was a young kitten. She would have had good mental stimulation to preoccupy her, and burn all that energy, instead of zooming up and down the stairs and sneaking into my room to bite my toes at 3am! – Harri with Smartie
Don’t let them sleep in your bed
It might be tempting to let your new cat sleep on your bed with you, especially if they’re crying at night. It takes time for kittens to be litter trained so not only could this end up being messy, they could even end up getting hurt when trying to negotiate a way out of your bed and around your room as you sleep.
Don’t use their bed space as punishment
Whether you’ve given them a specific room or a designated corner, you want your cat to have a positive association with their bed so that it’s easier for them to settle at night so whatever happens, don’t use their sleeping area as punishment.
Don't put lights on
Don’t leave the main light on for them at night as this might end up causing some confusion for your cat as they get accustomed to the different times of the day. Cats can see in very low light so even with the lights off they’ll be able to move around as they would normally. If you’d like to provide them with some comfort and give yourself peace of mind, you could buy a soft night light.
Will crate training help my cat’s bedtime routine?
Crates come in handy for cats who need time to adjust to their new home, need a little help with litter box training or need a safe space at night to stay out of trouble while the house sleeps. Here are some dos and don’ts for using a crate for your kitten at bedtime.
Do buy the right sized crate
Crates come in all different shapes and sizes, but even if your cat is small, think big when it comes to choosing a crate for them. You’ll need one with enough space for their litter box, food and water bowls, a bed and some of their favourite toys. Opting for a collapsible crate can also make it easier to store when your cat’s not using it.
Do take things slow and steady
At first, leave the crate door open while feeding your cat in the crate or offering them a treat if they decide to explore it by themselves. Gradually, begin closing the door and walking away while your cat is eating or playing with a toy. From here, slowly increase the time they spend in it until you’re happy leaving them overnight.
Don’t use a carrier overnight
Carriers are designed for transporting animals and even the largest carrier can be dark and stuffy inside, which is fine for short periods of time but doesn't make for a comfortable sleep for a cat. If you need to confine your cat, make sure you use a bigger crate.
Don’t keep using a crate if they’re unhappy
Some cats will never be happy in a crate and might end up constantly vocalising their dislike to the confinement. While crating can be helpful for cats of all ages, if it causes your cat too much stress then it’s not worth it and you’ll need to find an alternative space where they feel safe and comfortable.
Learning to settle themselves at night is one of many developments that contribute to a kitten’s growth – for the most part this journey will happen safely, but sometimes mistakes along the way can result in unfortunate mishaps. See our "Kitten insurance" page to discover how cat insurance can help to cover the cost of veterinary treatment, helping to provide security for your new feline friend against unforeseen events.