Why Does My Cat Attack Me When I’m Sleeping?

By Phil / November 16, 2019
Why Does My Cat Attack Me When Im Sleeping

There are few things more annoying than being tucked up all nice and snuggly in bed – only to be treated as prey by your cat jumping on you while you’re sleeping and attacking you.

I’m not talking about the cute little games we play with kittens chasing our toes or pouncing on our hands making the blankets move.

Rather, full-size cats being a little too aggressive to the point where it’s becoming a real problem.

Don’t worry, I’ve been there. I was able to correct my cat’s behavior, so I’m sure you can too.

So, if you’re wondering, why does my cat attack me when I’m sleeping? – Here are some reasons why they are turning hunter in your bedroom, and what you can do about it:

Reasons Why You Cat Attacks You While You’re Sleeping

Cats Are Active at Night

Cats Are Active at Night and May Attack You

Despite it looking like cats barely know the difference between day and night as they sleep so much, they do have body clocks. Most cats are crepuscular by nature, which means they are active at dawn and dusk.

Broadly speaking, they are more nocturnal than they are diurnal. So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that your cat is awake and active while you’re sleeping.

Now, if you’re thinking about adopting a cat or new to being a kitty owner I’m not trying to scare you. Your cats aren’t going to be running the halls and jumping on your bed overnight forevermore.

For one, it’s a behavior that you can get under control as I’m going to explain in this article. Two, cats mature and chill out very quickly. For most people, this is a short-term problem while their kitten is growing up.

Being awake at night doesn’t always explain the exact cause or reason behind them attacking you, however. Here’s some further insight into this annoying behavior:

They Want Your Attention

Nocturnal or not, not every cat decides to bite their owners at bedtime or jump on them and attack them while they’re sleeping. So there is a good chance that there’s a reason behind this behavior, and it might be due to them wanting attention.

If your cat wants to play, they don’t understand you’re trying to sleep and what this means. All they know is that they can see you, and if they do something to you they’ll get a reaction. Because that’s the interaction they have with you when you’re awake.

Now, the next question is why do they want your attention? And, how can you make them wait until the morning?

That’s going to be on you to figure out. There are a few basic needs cats have that you should start with. Do they want food? To be let out? To play?

The obvious solutions to each of these are:

  • If they’re hungry, but they’ve eaten enough during the day – try feeding them later in the evening to keep the munchies at bay
  • If they need to go out at night and you’re fine with that, get a cat flap so they don’t need to wake you
  • If they have a lot of energy during the night and want to play, put some time in during the evening to wear them out more

All pretty simple solutions to the most common reasons behind kitties disturbing us while we sleep.

I do appreciate it’s easier said than done a lot of the time, however. We can’t always put in an hour’s playtime before bed, and some cats get the craving to go out even though they’re indoor cats.

They Don’t See It as Wrong

Something else to consider is that regardless of the reason behind why they’re attacking your face, toes, or whatever else in the night, is that they don’t see it as wrong.

Cat’s are very adept at learning and can be trained not to do certain things, so don’t despair. I’m going to cover a few of the ways you can make it very clear is annoys you in the following sections:

How Do I Get My Cat to Stop Attacking Me at Night?

That’s a good question.

I’m going to assume you can’t shut them out of your room, otherwise, I have a very simple solution. Close the door!

On a serious note, I have had to deal with this issue a couple of times with overzealous kittens, so I do have some firsthand experience. Here are some of the tactics I’ve used and read from other cat owners:

A Quick Spray Goes a Long Way!

One of the oldest methods in the book that still works today when training cats is to give them a little spray with water.

I know what you’re thinking. It’s not ideal to have a spray bottle of water close to hand while you’re sleeping and have to spray it while it’s dark. But if you’re under attack from a furry ball of mayhem, desperate times mean desperate measures.

Next time they attack you, give them a little spray and a firm “no” and they should run off to escape the scene. If they come back and attack you again, do the same thing. If they look like they’re coming back with their tail between their legs for some fussing, don’t give in.

You need to ignore them overnight and not give out any signals that it’s ok to interact with you for attention. In my experience, it really doesn’t take long for a cat to take the hint using a water spray. I recommend giving this a go.

Wear Them out Before Bedtime

How Do I Get My Cat to Stop Attacking Me at Night

Despite being nocturnal animals, if your cat was more tired overnight there’s less chance they’d be bothering you. There’s a couple of ways you can help them burn off some energy:

  • Play with them in the evening – this might tire you out some more too
  • Set up some interactive toys and cat furniture for them to play with

Ideally, you will do a bit of both. Cats need furniture with cat trees and scratching posts for a number of reasons:

They also need human interaction. If you’re not giving your cat enough interaction during the day, they’re going to come looking for it when they awake during the night.

Feed Them Later in the Evening

While speaking about this with a friend, she told me that she solved this issue once by feeding her cat just as she was going to bed.

She said she did this because her kitty was always bothering her for the first couple of hours after she’d go to bed. So, she figured if she put food out at the same time this would distract her cat for a while.

And it did.

This is actually a tactic I’ve read other cat owners recommending too. It takes a lot of energy to digest a meal, this goes for both cats and us. If you’ve ever felt like a snooze after a huge meal, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.

So, try feeding your cat at bedtime. Not only will this keep them occupied for a while, followed by some grooming, but it’ll also sap their energy for a while. Hopefully long enough for them to find something else to do other than jump on you!

Reinforce That Any Form of Aggression Is Not Tolerated

It’s not just as and when your cat attacks you that you make it clear it’s not on. You also need to keep their aggressive behavior in check during the day.

There’s a thin line between playing and getting aggressive, especially for kittens. If it’s gotten to the point where your cat or kitten is bothering you in the night, you need to stop all signs of aggressive playing/behavior.

That means when you’re playing with your cat and they lash out or bite you, stop playing with them and walk away. The goal is to create a harmonious and fun environment day and night, and you’ll get there by sending out all the right signals.

Is Your Cat Attacking You While You Sleep?

Is this a problem you’re currently experiencing with your cat? Maybe you’ve managed to stop your cat from being aggressive to you overnight and have some additional tips to share?

Either way, I’d love to hear from you. Please take the time to drop a comment below and help other kitty owners hiding under the covers at night! Thanks.

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