Man reinforcing his cat with cuddles when she is calm.
Man reinforcing his cat with cuddles when she is calm. Photography by ArtOfPhotos / Shutterstock.

Thinking, “My Cat Wakes Me Up at the Same Time Every Day”? 5 Reasons Why

Ever thought, "Why does my cat wake me up at the same time?" If you've said, "My cat wakes me up at the same time every day," you're not alone. Here's why.


Last week I showed you how cats land on their feet after a fall and asked whether you had any strange cat science questions. One brave soul, Wajiha, spoke up and said, “I want to know how cats can figure out it’s 6 a.m. and know it’s time to wake you up. Are they smarter than we think? Can they read clocks?” So, if you’ve ever thought, “Hmm, my cat wakes me up at the same time every single day,” you’re not alone.

Wajiha may have been asking the question about cats reading clocks sarcastically, but there are real, rational reasons why your cat is such a reliable alarm clock — here are five reasons your cat wakes you up at the same time, every single day.

A cat and a clock.
Thinking, “My cat wakes me up at the same time every day”? We’ve got answers.  Photography by Gelpi / Shutterstock.

1. Your cat wakes you up because he is a creature of routine …

One of the most unsurprising answers to, “My cat wakes me up at the same time every day — why?” After sharing a home with you for even a few days, your feline friend will get to know your schedule at least as well as you do. If you wake up at a certain time to get ready for work, your cat will figure that out — not because she can read a clock, but because she can read you.

2. … And “routine” means seven days a week

It takes a while for a cat to grasp the concept of weekends, so get accustomed to being rousted out of bed at the same time or within an hour of your typical workday wake-up time. The good news is that as your cat settles in, she’ll start to understand that you sleep later on your days off and will adapt to that schedule. These regularly occurring late-sleep days become another routine.

3. Your cat can tell when you’re waking up

Here’s some interesting science behind “my cat wakes me up every day” … Humans’ sleep cycle consists of five stages, ranging in depth from barely napping to so deeply asleep it would be hard to rouse you even in an emergency. Through each stage of sleep, your respiration, heartbeat and activity levels change, and you go through four or five of these cycles a night. Once you’re at a light enough stage of sleep to respond to your cat’s kind attentions, she’ll be right over to help you start your day.

4. Your cat feels hungry in the morning, too

I don’t know about you, but when I get up in the morning I’m ravenous. The same is true of your cat, especially if you feed her just after you get out of bed. If your cat is hungry and you’re starting to wake up, kitty will be happy to help motivate you to get going.

5. Your cat is most active when you’re about to wake up

Another scientific reason behind “my cat wakes me up — why?” Cats are crepuscular creatures, which is a fancy way of saying that they’re most active at dawn and dusk. Cat vision is best adapted for the light levels of these “in between” times, so that’s when they do their hunting, playing and socializing.

Keep in mind that a cat who helps you to wake up when you’re getting ready to wake up is not the same as a cat who wakes you up at 4 a.m. begging for attention or food. If you’re dealing with cat meowing at night, Catster behaviorist Marilyn Krieger has some tips for you about how to retrain her.

Tell us: Do you have a cat who helps you wake up? If you work nights or odd shifts, how does your cat deal with that?

This piece was originally published in 2013.

Thumbnail: Photography by ArtOfPhotos / Shutterstock.

About the author

Punk-rock cat mom, science nerd, animal shelter volunteer, and all-around geek with a passion for bad puns, intelligent conversation, and role-play adventure games. She gratefully and gracefully accepts her status as chief cat slave for her family of feline bloggers, who have been writing their cat advice column, Paws and Effect, since 2003. JaneA dreams of making a great living out of her love for cats.

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34 thoughts on “Thinking, “My Cat Wakes Me Up at the Same Time Every Day”? 5 Reasons Why”

  1. Hi an older gentleman was telling me how smart his cat is and was telling me about her something that stuck with me was he said she wakes him up in the middle of the night when he has to pee and since then I actually think one of my cats does the same if I’m holding it and not wanting to get up just wondering if this is happening to other people? He very rarely does it with me as I’m always up in the middle of the night but my sister visited recently and she’s notorious for holding it and he cried until she got up in the middle of the night… thoughts

  2. my rescue cat has been with me for about 8 years. Big fluff orange cat–Curry– Curry wakes us every morning at 6;00 am
    He will jump into bed beside me all hrs of the night and i give him a rub, and stop– Curry will then attack any visible part of me
    leg, elbow,arm,fingers. Why does he attack me like that? I do not over stimulate him by petting long. The other night my feet were hanging over the bed and suddenly i was attacked with a vicious set of teeth. I was not moving, He is well fed, has water has run of our home and is the only animal with two adults, he is not a "sit on your lap guy" I buy him toys & even purchased an automatic lazer light $$$$ which he played for about 1 hr. now is bored with it. He will go outside in backyard for short time
    100 times per 8 hours (we are his door people) Curry trained us well. Biting me only, especially at night has got to stop.I do not have to move for him to attack me.

  3. My precious boy/son Lennyboy wakes me up every 3 hours during the night like a baby to eat. So I obey him because I’m his personal slave!

  4. My cat ???? Sammy… Wakes me up seven days a week since he was was a kitten ????.. Different times. Each morning..
    I thought if I got another kitten ???? wee Suzie.. She’d calm down my older cat ???? Sammy.. As suzie wasn’t a too sleep in the morning. Sammy cries for me.. And does not stop ???? until I get up.. I get no rest in the morning.. As I have MS… And sometimes I can’t move to well.. I feed sammy with clean bowl ???? and food ????. It seems he’s just not a happy bunny in the mornings.. Why….?

  5. Pingback: 5 Tips for Controlling Cat Litter Tracking and Scattering – Info Body

  6. My two boys Kreacher and Dobby patiently wait for me to get up… starting on the top of my armoire. Staring at me. Then one after the other they jump on me and softly meow. If I haven’t risen from my slumber the meow becomes dramatic.

    I have told them this is rather silly when they were laying on my pillow before their wake up call. Yet every morning like clock work. My husband calls them the alarm. ????

  7. I have a male cat about 1 years old . he was found as a stray outside , his mom abandoned him at about 3-4 weeks old . he would howl all night long when I first got him , then he started sleeping to about 3 am .
    Now everyday at 3 am he gets under the covers bites my feet, meows in my face and will get on my high dresser and jump to my bed very hard about 2 inches from my face till I wake up and feed him , play with him and then he will go back to bed around 5 am.

  8. Pingback: Why Your Cat Wakes up at the Same Time Every Day

  9. My girl, Artemis wakes me up at 0641 every morning.
    And she will not stop meowing til we have our ritual “hug”.
    A couple days after I started my new job, she would follow me into the bathroom to get ready and climb up on the side of the bathtub. (I’ve had her for 4.5 years prior to this). I picked her up one day. Held her like I was burping a baby for about 15-30 seconds. I scratched, she purred. Moment over and went about my day.
    The 3rd day she wakes me up right before my alarm goes off, but it’s a weekend, so I turn alarm off and try to fall back asleep. She would not stop meowing at me. I pet her. Refreshed her water. She already had food. Kept laying back down and she’d get me up. Finally I got up again asking her what she wanted. She walked over the to bathroom door and stood up on it like. I opened it. She got on the tub. I hugged her. She let me sleep 3 more hours after.
    I physically have to go into the bathroom hug her before she will stop trying to get me up.
    I both love it and roll my eyes on sleep on days. But it’s pretty amazing and feels like a special bond with her.

  10. My cat Eddie is totally outrageous. Every morning about 5am I will find his teeth gently squeezing my nose and staring me square in the face. After I get up and feed him, he will then go to the kitchen sink. It’s his way of asking me to refill his water dish. Cats are so cool about the way they communicate to their owners. I love it!

  11. My cat wakes me up every morning between 6-6:30 , he wants a drink, so I have to get up, turn the faucet for him to drink. I go back to bed, he comes back a bit after 7, time for breakfast woman!! Maybe once or twice a week he wakes me up in the middle of night to pet me. I have to turn on my side, he comes cuddle next to me and knead my arm <3.

    1. my cat wakes me up EVERY morning at sunup, about six am right now.
      she wants wet food.
      I put some out right before I go t o sleep but that cat eats it all so I have have have to get up in the morning to feed that LOVELY CAT.

  12. I have a Tuxedo cat, Oreo who doesn’t wake me up in the morning but he knows when I come home. he stands at the door to be let in.

  13. I work 2nd shift – get home at midnight, feed them (I have 3) I play with them and brush them if they want it. Usually only my Norwegian Forest Cat wants to be brushed, the two tabbies want to play and get scritches. Every morning at 10:15 my orange tabby comes in and lays on my chest and taps my face with his paw until I open my eyes and say something. Then he’ll just curl up beside me and flip on his back. My NFC comes in and lays beside me also waiting for me to wake up… the grey tabby youngster only visits me on the bed at night before I go to sleep, he likes to play “hunt the mouse” which is my hand moving under the blanket, for about 10 mins and then leaves. None of them normally sleep with me or even stay in the room at night… but two of them come to me in the mornings, every morning, and begin waking me up at 10:15.

  14. Patrick T. Randolph

    Our cat Mr. Gable wakes my wife up every morning at the same time–6:00 a.m. However, when we are on school break, he lets us sleep in. How does he know? He is an intelligent lad~! =^.,.^=

  15. Patrick T. Randolph

    Our cat Mr. Gable wakes my wife up every morning at the same time–6:00 a.m. However, when we are on school break, he lets us sleep in. How doe she know? He is an intelligent lad~! =^.,.^=

  16. Patrick T. Randoplh

    Our cat Mr. Gable wakes my wife up every morning at the same time; however, when we are on school break, he lets us sleep in. How does he know? He’s an intelligent lad~! =^.,.^=

  17. Madelaine M Vella

    Every morning starting at 10 AM, I awaken to Meow Meow right in my face! I once thought she did this to signal she’s hungry but that wasn’t the case. What she wants is for me to get up and open the door to the room where her cat condo is so she can lay in the sun. Once I do that, she’s content!

  18. My Jasmine does this every morning. She dive bombs me every morning. No simple get in my lap/face. And dont let me do anything before opening her canned food for her. She is a total image of Simons Cat, I swear she moves her paw to her mouth pointing. Lol

  19. Catherine Carroll

    I have 4 cats. 2 of them sleep the night with me and cuddle. They stay in bed until I get up. The other two are my furry alarm clocks. My orange cat jumps on my chest 5 minutes before my alarm goes of and he walks across me before settling down on my chest with his butt in my face. My black cat jumps up on the bed when my last snooze alarm goes off and I really have to get up. Then he wants to be picked up and cuddled. They make no distinction between work days and weekends. I just figure it’s a nice way to wake up (well maybe except the butt in my face part!)

  20. I feed two feral cats that spend most of their time in my backyard. I didn’t plan it that way, but they still come at 3:00 pm in the afternoon. Daylight savings time seems to throw them for a loop, but they always show up at the same time every day — without benefit of a clock.

  21. My one cat sleeps on my bed and when she thinks I need to be woken up, she chins against my CPAP supply hose, which is textured. Grrrr, but I love her.

  22. Judging from your article about 5 reasons your Cat wakes you up, it must pertain to only Female Cats. Lots of “she” and “her”, but no “he” or “him” in the article.
    Tom and “Tiggy”

    1. Rollie Cornelson

      I have a “HE” and he does all the antics listed above getting me up around 7 by scratching on the sheet by my head and then wanting me to chase him thru the house ohhh did I mention “He wants more food too” They are a fun creature and we love him a bunch ever since we rescued him at the shelter. And eating is on a regular schedule of his during the day as I give him portions at breakfast, noon, 5 and bed time…and no he is not fat as they are small ping ball size portions for his tummy. I really don’t care that he wakes me up, gotta get up any way.

  23. Loving Jane A’s biog she sounds like a female version of me.
    Cat wake you up at the same time every morning because you are their person, they are not your cat. They know just how to train their people and make them perform all sorts of tricks. I am jointly owned by 4 cats at present and they have all taught me their routines and preferences. Including the one that is currently training me to turn off the laptop and rub her ears like I’m some sort of performing monkey to amuse their friends with. :-)

  24. Patricia Dellaire

    My cat wakes me every morning at 6AM. This happens 7 days a week. She bites my hand to make sure that I do wake up. She’s a year and a half old and has been doing this for a long time. We also have her mother and Precious will bring her mother too. The mother just lies on the bed watching her daughter.

    1. My cat holly wakes me up every morning between 7 am to 8am but thing is I am retired, if her cat litter is dirty she will tell me and run to her box and look at me. If I don’t wake up she puts her paw under my chin and touch me till I wake or last time she sat on my head . But I would not have it any other way I love her to bits.

      1. I have 3 Black Cats the youngest one everynight will turn his food bowl over whenever I try to go to sleep even after he has eaten. Why would he do that?

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