Why do cats play early in the morning instead of some other (more reasonable) time?
- Cats are crepuscular creatures.
- Cats spend most of their day sleeping, which gives them plenty of energy in the early morning.
- They are creatures of habit.
- Our cats might have figured out that we’re away most of the day, and that mornings and nights are their only chance to socialize with us.
Why Do Cats Play Early in the Morning?
I never really knew pure joy until I got my cat. She makes me feel loved and cherished and is fun to play with. However, getting a cat has left me in a perpetual state of wonder. I keep asking myself the weirdest questions. Why does she like to scratch the cutest chair I own? What makes cats stare at an empty wall? More importantly, why do cats play early in the morning and not in the afternoon when I want them to?
These are just some of the stuff I was (and still keep) wondering about. However, Why do cats play early in the morning was a particularly vital question for me because I am not an early riser. I set my working hours, which means that I sometimes work late at night, and generally don’t like to get up until the early afternoon.
Yes, I know that’s bad for my health, but that’s not the point. The issue was that my cat seemed to be vehemently against my sleeping schedule. She kept trying to wake me up in the morning so that we could play. Naturally, I dug deep to find out why.
Why Do Cats Play Early in the Morning?
Not long after I got my cat from the shelter, she made her own little schedule. Every morning, at the same time, she’d try to wake me up or interact with my sleeping body in some way.
Now, I wasn’t sure why she was doing that. But, since I usually wake up because I’m hungry or have to go to the bathroom, it was kind of a given that this was the case with my cat as well. So, I’d get up, put some food in her bowl, and go back to sleep.
Well, lo and behold, not five minutes later, she’d be back on my bed, trying to rouse me. This left me wondering what her true intentions were and if she was actually hungry at all.
Oh, the Horror! My Cat Is an Early Bird
It turned out that she wasn’t hungry — she just wanted my affection and attention. This melted my heart for two minutes until I remembered that I don’t get nearly as many naps as my cat does. Therefore, we really don’t have the same energy levels in the morning.
So, that’s how I figured out that my cat is an early bird and that she loves to play in the hours I personally consider ungodly. But since she was a rescue and an adult when she became a part of my family, it crossed my mind that she might be adhering to the previous owner’s schedule. So, I did a bit of digging to find out if someone taught my cat to behave that way or if it was her instinct to do so.
What Does Crepuscular Mean?
After my extensive digging session, I found out that most cats are crepuscular creatures. That means that they are the most active in the early morning (some would say dawn) and dusk. Up until that point, I was living under the impression that cats are nocturnal, and that my lovely lady entertains herself all night and then wakes me up when she’s fed up and can’t wait any longer.
However, that’s not the case. Cats are crepuscular, not nocturnal animals. And there’s a pretty good evolutionary reason for this! Being crepuscular is a “two birds, one stone” type of a situation. By being active in the “twilight hours,” cats avoid not only predators but also the hottest parts of the day. They conserve energy for hunting (which also happens at twilight) and avoid being the prey.
This all made perfect sense to me. Wanting to play in the morning is an instinct, so there’s nothing the poor thing can do. Right? Well, not exactly.
Cats Are Creatures of Habit
Although cats indeed have a genetic disposition to be active in the early morning, that’s not always the case. Human behavior shapes and determines cat behavior. So, we, as cat owners, can change some behavioral patterns (even those that are evolutionary traits).
The myth that people can’t train cats is precisely that — a myth. Cats are creatures of habit, and if we teach them something, they’ll adopt that behavioral pattern and won’t stray from it.
Now, this is somewhat of a proverbial double-edged sword. I can teach my cat not to wake me up early in the morning. However, by getting up to feed her and play with her, I’ve already taught her that she’ll get a positive reaction from me when she wakes me up.
Even if I don’t get up to feed my cat when she wakes me up, I still react to it. I grumble, pet her for a bit, or let her play “catch the mouse” with my fingers. All of these are positive reactions (in my cat’s book). Perhaps they aren’t what she is aiming for, but they are good enough.
As I mentioned, cats are creatures of habit. So, morning play sessions that are a direct result of her waking me up are already a part of my cat’s routine, and she won’t be too happy to give them up. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible, of course. But it won’t be easy.
Cats Take Their Chances Where They Can
There’s another answer to the question Why do cats play early in the morning? that actually ties into what I wrote about earlier. Our behavior directly affects our pets. They learn our schedules and behavioral patterns. In other words, our cats know when we’re going to leave for work.
Now, this isn’t the case with me. However, many cat owners I know have told me that their cats love snuggling and playing with them in the morning. The reason behind this is that they know they won’t get a chance to do so in the afternoon (because the owners will, sadly, be elsewhere).
Why Do Cats Play Early in the Morning and What Can I Do About It?
The most important thing that we should all do as cat owners is to train our cats. If we don’t, our cats will train us. In other words, if we give in and get up to play with them in the early morning once or twice, they’ll expect us to do so every morning for the rest of their lives. And they won’t be shy about demanding it either. They’ll do their best to wake us up and get us to entertain them.
Some people might think that there’s an easy solution for this. We can just ignore our cats or chase them out of our bedrooms so that they don’t bother us, right? The answer is both Yes and No.
We don’t want to give in to our cats’ demands, but we don’t want to ignore them completely either. It might be convenient to lock them out of our bedroom and put them in the living room. However, they might decide to take their revenge and wreak havoc there.
Distraction Is the Mother of Cat Training
In the end, the best thing we can do is distract our cats. If they love to play early in the morning, then we should let them be. However, that doesn’t mean that we need to participate.
We should make sure that our cats have plenty of toys, puzzles, or even an interactive feeder within paw’s reach in the morning. If those things occupy the cat’s attention, the feline beauty won’t even consider coming into our bed and waking us up. An alternative form of entertainment outside of the bedroom is a must if we want to stop our furry alarm clocks.
A Few Parting Words
The question of Why do cats play early in the morning? has more than one answer. However, while it’s vital that we figure out exactly why our cats wake us up early, it’s even more important to stop them. Entertaining and distracting our cats without getting out of bed is the holy grail of cat ownership, and although it sounds impossible, it actually isn’t. At the end of the day, cats are fairly simple creatures that want our love and affection. Playtime can involve humans, but it doesn’t necessarily have to (at least in the early morning)!