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May 11, 2006

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That's a nice post about sleep. Sleep issues don't get nearly the amount of attention that they should. Many people still act like those who go without enough sleep are just 'tougher', or willing to work harder or something. And that those who make sure they get enough sleep are just wimpy, not self disciplined, not trying hard enough, etc. When the reality is that the people who aren't getting enough sleep are just hurting their health, and those that are, are trying to stay as healthy as they can.

Trisha
My blogs:
Women's Health Research News
Butterfly Gardening Blog

Good post, thanks. With helpful links. I'm going to email a link to your post to our clinic staff.

Good grief. Why let your long-term health and possibly your relationship be affected by a cat?

You don't say whether you youself are naturally a lark or an owl, but you make it sound as though you would sleep longer in the morning if allowed to.

Shut her up at night so she can't wake you. And/or if all she wants is breakfast, get one of those mechanical food bowls on a timer (see below; random example from first Google hit) which will revolve automatically at 6am and let her at the food you filled it with the previous night.

http://www.gooddeals.com/shopexd.asp_Q_id_E_39

I just parachuted in from Grand Rounds, so excuse me if there is any relevant back-history I would know if I'd read the rest of your blog.

Suffice to say I have tried many combinations of solutions over the many years I have had cat (19 years) and boyfriend (6 years.) It wouldn't make a very interesting post. Thanks for your concern.

I'm not expert on cats - the experience I've had with them is watching my husband take care of his. And what I've learned from that is that isn't so easy to 'Shut her up at night'. There's no way a mechanical food bowl would work. For example, with our one cat, I think he likes the ritual and predictability of having someone feed him: getting his bowl and putting food in it. Closing the bedroom door doesn't work, he'd just scratch and claw it. As far as I can tell its just the way some cats are and there's not a lot you can do about it.

Yes, true enough Trisha. Perhaps if I had a real big house I might not hear her yowling and scratching at the door from the only other room I have to "shut her up" in :)

Also, I agree it's not just the food...it's the attention.

What about putting the cat in one of those cages at night?

As for the S.O. - what if you wore ear plugs to bed?

This is coming rather late to the discussion, but as someone with chronic, intractable insomnia, I just wanted to say I appreciated this post.

I've had cats as bedmates for more than 20 years. My current cat likes to share my pillow, and during the colder winter months she wraps herself around my head. On the rare occasions when I am away from home overnight, it doesn't feel right. In fact I find it harder to sleep when she's not there with me.

A 19-year-old cat is the equivalent of a 90-something human. At this point it would be distressing and inhumane for her to be shut in a room or caged in a kennel during the night. Her early-morning wakefulness is probably long-standing behavior that has been reinforced by Elisa's response. Kitty meows; Elisa gets up and feeds her; kitty thinks, "Oh wow, this worked! I'll try this again tomorrow!" Animal personality and preferences also can contribute to creating a pattern that can be hard to change.

Elisa, I'm wondering if she is an exotic breed, e.g. Siamese or Himalayan. Many of the exotics can have personalities that are a little more demanding. Given her age, it's also possible she has developed some age-related cognitive dysfunction, aka senility, that might be exacerbating her behavior.

I commend you on having a 19-year-old cat. Obviously you are taking good care of her and are committed to her. I volunteer at an animal shelter, and you'd be dismayed at how many kitties get chucked to the curb because they aren't perfect or because their owner simply gets tired of their behavior.

IMHO, it would make far more sense to retrain your S.O. ;)

Hi Kitty City: Yes, I call her my amazing geriatric kitty. Or sometimes my little old lady kitty.Her sister died 3 years ago, and I actually think she prefers being the one and only.

Samantha also sleeps on my pillow...until she starts in on her morning torture :)

She is a plain old domestic short hair. We had a siamese growing up, so I know about their vocal stylings.

I (and my vet) do believe it has worsened as she ages due to something that elderly humans get too called Sundowner's Syndrome (?) They get more disoriented at night. For a while I was giving her anti-anxiety meds, which actually seemed to help, but the transdermal application in her ear was too corrosive (literally her ears went bald) and the liquid suspension made her foam at the mouth and spit it out. I could try the liquid again or a pill, but I confess that sometimes the stress of trying to force meds on her doesn't seem kind to inflict on a little old lady. At least when I give her sub-cutaneous fluids for her kidneys she doesn't mind at all.

Thanks for the kind words...my cat has been with me nearly my entire adult life, and she is a purring adorable creature for 22 hours a day. Annoying the other two...what are you gonna do!?

Wow, I'm impressed - both with your cat's longevity and with your care.

I would say your little old lady kitty has earned the right to be indulged during her golden years. ;)

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