Sunday, 17 October 2021
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Sleep-deprived mom needs help with wide-awake cat

Dear Cathy,

I am a cat lover and have had several cats over the years. I have a three-year-old Russian Blue that I adopted from a shelter. She is very sweet and smart. The problem is, she sleeps all day and is up all night. I wouldn’t mind it if she would just play, but she cries for me, and I end up getting out of bed.

I have taken her to the vet who has prescribed pills to calm her down at night. It didn’t work. I got Feliway (pheromones) to plug-in, but no luck. I tried Melatonin treats, but she didn’t like them. I tried “calming” treats, which she likes. That helped some. I also got catnip and catnip toys and bouncy balls for us to play with before bedtime. That has helped some, but the minute I go to bed, she cries for me.

I love her, but I am worn out and sleep-deprived. I am keeping her, no matter what, but any advice on this would be appreciated. — Linda, St. Cloud, FL

Dear Linda,

We can learn a lot from how cats train their humans. If your feline cries and you get up, she will cry the next night again because the training worked on you. The trick with cats is always to outlast them. It’s not easy.

Cats are nocturnal, and so it’s perfectly natural for them to sleep 16 hours a day and then be up all night. You are on the right track with trying to play with her before bedtime. You should feed her before bedtime too. All animals tend to nap after they eat and play.

Also, do what you can to keep her awake when you are around. When we are tired, we often let our cats sleep in our laps, only to have then wide awake at bedtime.

As for you, put on a white noise machine in your room to block her mews. Buy yourself some earplugs at the drugstore or put on headphones with soft music, so you can ignore her and get some sleep. It may take six to eight weeks to get a positive result, but she should eventually realize her cries are not making mom get up anymore.

She may resort to getting in bed with you and “pawing” you awake. Ignore her and turn over. Cats are results-oriented creatures, so if her behaviors don’t engage you, she will eventually find something else to do. Better yet, she may curl up beside you when she realizes it’s the only way to be she can be close to you between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Be strong.

Dear Cathy,

I inherited a 115-pound, 7-year-old Great Dane from my daughter. At my daughter’s house, she was kept in a very large metal cage most of the day because of work and school. No issues were ever reported. At my house, she tears up anything inside her cage, even if we are gone for a short time. We no longer put anything in the cage, but she tries to work the two latches open. When we return, both she and the cage floor are covered in drool.

We give her a treat before we leave, but she never played with toys, and I am afraid that if I give her one of those supermarket large bones, she might tear it apart and maybe even choke on it. Any suggestions? — John, Weston, FL

Dear John,

I agree with you on the large bones. Dogs need to be supervised with those kinds of treats. But you can try a hard rubber Kong toy that is filled with treats and will engage her longer. You can also give her some melatonin (Dr. Linda Aronson of in Berlin, Mass. recommended 1 mg three times a day in one of my previous columns) to reduce her anxiety.

Your inherited dog, however, may be suffering from some separation anxiety at being away from your daughter, and because she is cooped up in a kennel all day that would be the only place where she can express her displeasure. Or she simply may have had it with being left in the kennel all the time and desperately wants out.

If she is housetrained, then I think she would fare much better both mentally and physically being left outside the kennel, especially for your short trips, to see how she does. Because of her size and age, I think she will just want to find a better place to sleep all day.

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