How does your cat wake you in the morning?

This is an important topic! It might be one of the most important aspects of the human-to-cat relationship 😉. Domestic cats are crepuscular. They are awake at 4 AM in the morning. They want their human companion to be awake at the same time. They don’t understand why they are not! They find a way to wake them. The video is a classic.

Cat wakes up owner by nipping their nose
Cat wakes up owner by nipping their nose. Screenshot.
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Many, many years ago I lived with a female cat who used to wake me up in exactly the same way. She would either nibble my nose or extend the center claw of her left paw and nick the end of my nose with it. It was an act of great precision and very impressive. It worked highly successfully. It left my nose slightly damaged!

When you think about it it’s almost logical that a domestic cat will bite their owner’s nose to wake them up. Cats use their mouth and teeth to do a lot of tasks. They don’t have fingers like humans. And the nose is prominent. It’s the first thing that they come to, sticking out of their owner’s head.

I’m sure that some cats simply tap their owner on the face with their paw and with their claws retracted. Or they might simply sit near or on their owner’s head. That would do the trick.

Domestic cat general activity in the bedroom and in and off the bed would have a similar effect normally. However, if a cat is full-time indoors, they might be inactive at 4 AM in the morning. They might have adapted to full-time indoor life and learned to sleep like their owner by altering their circadian rhythm. I would like to hear about that from visitors.

Might it be true that full-time indoor cats are less likely to disturb their human caregivers in the early hours of the morning? Being confined to the home and therefore in closer contact both physically and emotionally with their owner, they might be driven into adjusting their circadian rhythm to meet that of their owner.

The disparity between human and domestic cat circadian rhythms is one of the great impediments to complete harmony in this relationship. It is an issue which leads to many owners locking their cats out of the bedroom at night.

People might know that I disagree with that. And so does Jackson Galaxy, the well-known American cat behaviourist. Cats love the human bedroom. They love the smells. It might be the core of their home range. It’s a shame to lock a cat out of the center of their home range, their home.

RELATED 💔: Can You Love Your Cat and at the Same Time Lock Him Out of the Bedroom at Night?

It’s best to try and find a compromise. I read comments where owners have tried to lock out their cat who ends up scratching at the bedroom door all night crying. That’s worse than the original problem.

That said, I am sympathetic to the disruption of being woken up in the early hours. I’ve got used to it. I accept that my sleep will be broken. In any case, I’m an old man and therefore I wake up early anyway. My circadian rhythm has sort of adjusted to my cat’s. I have adapted to him rather than the other way around. It’s called mutual training.

If a cat owner lives alone with their cat, it seems logical to me that they should allow their cat to sleep on the bed at night. It’s a relationship as good as the relationship between a man and a woman. Men and women allow their partner to sleep in the bed at night so what’s the difference?


Separately, it might be nice to touch on tiffs between cat and human. People don’t often use the word “tiff”. For the sake of clarity, it means a minor disagreement. Do you have tiffs with your cat? I do sometimes. When I’m stressed, I might tell him off if he is doing something which irritates me. I regret it but it is instinctive in humans. It’s the sort of tiff that would happen between man and woman in a heterosexual relationship and people of the same sex in gay relationships. It’s bound to happen between people and therefore it is, I would say, equally likely to happen between human and cat. That relationship is as close and as important as the conventional one in homes where a single person lives with their cat companion.

2 thoughts on “How does your cat wake you in the morning?”

  1. Michael,
    I came up on your blog this morning when researching Jaguarundi. I have now read many of your posts and am very impressed by your knowledge, touched by your compassion for all species, and hooked on making your eloquent articles a daily read!! Thank you from Cincinnati, Ohio (USA) for your dedication to educational and uplifting content. My husband and I are lifelong cat servants who have always attracted cats needing homes. Our home was at its fullest with 8 cats: We had 3 when a pregnant kitty showed up at our back door and a month later blessed us with 4 grandcats. All 8 of those cats have since crossed the Rainbow Bridge after long and happily spoiled lives. We currently have 2 precious orange (marmalade) cats: One of whom is a TriPawd, missing one back leg. She is very active, fast, and tough! Again, thanks for your wonderful blog!! Cheers!

    • Well, thank you LDS for your kind words. They are genuinely appreciated. Truly. I lived with a three-legged cat once. He has gone over the rainbow bridge. I feel sad when I think of them all particularly the first cat I lived with. I adored her. She is still very much alive in my heart and soul. I still mourn her passing and that will never change. Good photo by the way. I like good photography.


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