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How Does My Cat Know When I Wake Up? Morning Habits Explained

Written by: Christian Adams

Last Updated on March 7, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

cat waking up his owner

How Does My Cat Know When I Wake Up? Morning Habits Explained

Cats are naturally reclusive creatures that like to keep to themselves. But once they find owners worth loving, they can’t get enough of them. If you’re lucky enough to have a cuddly cat, they’ll likely curl up with you in bed for some quality sleep. If you don’t, they’ll still be by your bedside when you wake up, eager to get the day going.

This begs the question: How does my cat know when I wake up? The answer to this question isn’t as clear-cut as it seems. For starters, we’re not sure whether cats understand sleep as we do. Your cat knows when you wake up because of one thing: routine.


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The 4 Ways How Your Cat Knows When You Wake Up

1. Your Cat Understands Your Routine

Cats are creatures of routine and have internal alarm clocks telling them when it’s time for their usual frivolities. After a couple of weeks with your cat, they’ll start recognizing your daily patterns and even mimic your routine. You’re likely your cat’s favorite person, so they’ll naturally be eager for you to wake up.

cat sleeping with owner
Photo Credit: masik0553, Shutterstock

2. Your Cat Can Sense When You’re About to Wake Up

There’s a lot more to sleep than just closing your eyes and drifting off. The human sleep cycle consists of four stages, each triggering a different body response.1 Our breathing patterns, heartbeats, and body movements vary depending on the sleeping stage.

Cats are well-conversant with these stages, having watched us closely while we sleep. Your cat will notice different breathing patterns and specific body movements when you’re about to wake up. This is their signal to start meowing so you can feed and give them much-deserved attention.

3. Your Cat Is Famished

Most of us wake up hungry, having gone hours without a meal. Your cat feels just as hungry in the morning, hence the early-morning excitement. Don’t be too startled if you wake up to your cat staring at you point blank. They’re not trying to kill you but only want food in their bowl.

cat sleeping on bed
Photo Credit: Adam Kuylenstierna, Unsplash

4. Morning Is When Your Cat Is Most Active

Cats are crepuscular, meaning they’re mostly active at dawn and dusk. As such, they can’t wait for their favorite playmate (you) to wake up. Cats will patiently wait and watch for any subtle movement of activity. Your waking up breaks the monotony of the night and ushers in a new and exciting day.


The 8 Signs Your Cat Is Trying to Wake You Up

The communication barrier between us humans and our feline friends means we can’t tell for sure whether they’re trying to wake us up. Here are a few telltale signs that your cat is trying to do just that.

1. Loud Meowing

This is one of the most obvious signs that your cat is trying to wake you up. The loud meowing is your cat’s way of telling you to get up. It’s one of the major drawbacks of having a cat, but on the bright side, it keeps you from oversleeping.

2. Pawing Your Face

Cats can sometimes be more direct with waking you up. Gentle pawing on your face is your cat’s way of saying it’s time to get up. The pawing may be annoying, but it doesn’t hurt. Gently push your cat aside if you’re not ready to get up and start the day.

cat owner talking to his pet
Photo Credit: Kadres, Pixabay

3. Kneading Your Legs or Stomach

Cats sometimes show their affection by kneading your legs or stomach. It takes them back to when they kneaded their mothers’ tummy while nursing. What better way for your cat to wake you up than with a little kneading to tell you, “I love you”? Avoid yelling at or pushing your cat violently when kneading your legs or stomach early in the morning. They’re only showing love.

4. Scratching the Bed Covers

Once your cat is done curling up in bed with you, they’ll turn to the covers. They will scratch and pull at your duvet or bed sheets. This indicates that bedtime is over and it’s time to play. This scratching is a way to sharpen their claws, but it might end up running your precious bed covers.

5. Knocking Items Down

This is one of the most annoying ways a cat chooses to wake you up. Cats do this deliberately to get your attention or, in this case, wake you up. Your cat will knock over anything that sits high up. Sometimes it’s a candle, your remote control, or your smartphone. It’s easy to get frustrated, but remember this behavior is instinctual and out of your control.

cat walking through the door
Image Credit: Svetlana Rey, Shutterstock

6. Gently Biting at Your Toes

Your cat will gently nip your toes in the morning to wake you up. This isn’t a full bite but a gentle nibble, just enough to get your attention. Resist the urge to kick your cat off the bed violently. After all, they can’t help it.

7. Bringing Random Items to Your Bed

As mentioned earlier, cats are crepuscular, meaning they’re most active very early in the morning and late in the evening. When their hunting instincts kick in, they’ll be eager to present to you their “prey.” So, if your cat brings stuffed toys and other random items to you in the morning, they’re looking for praise or a reward for their hunting achievements.

8. Play Fighting With Electrical Chords

Cats play with electrical cords or the corners of their beds, knowing it’ll wake their owner up. This is a sneaky strategy to get you out of bed because you’ll get up to check whatever’s fumbling with the wires. You can try to ignore it, but the constant fumbling will force you to get out of bed and stop the racket.

Ashera cat on bed
Image Credit: Pierre Aden, Shutterstock

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How to Stop Your Cat From Waking You Up in the Morning

Cats don’t understand weekends, so while it’s okay for yours to wake you up a few minutes before your alarm goes off during the weekdays, it’s not during the weekends. If you’re tired of your cat waking you up early, you can try the following.

Get an Automatic Feeder

Sometimes your cat only wakes you up because they’re hungry. Use an automatic cat feeder to ensure your cat remains well-fed through the night while you snooze away. That way, it can let you sleep in peace so you can wake up when you please.

cat eating from an automatic feeder
Image Credit: Kylbabka, Shutterstock

Tire Your Cat Before Bed Time

Your cat might wake you up early in the morning because you starved them of attention. Ensure you play with your cat enough to tire them before sleeping. That way, they won’t have the energy or time to wake you up early in the morning to play.

Buy Toys and Stuffed Animals

Toys and animals help keep your cat entertained throughout the night while you sleep. They’ll be too tired to wake you up. Plus, the mental stimulation from playing with the toys will be enough for the cat to leave you alone.

Finding a toy that your cat enjoys, is genuinely drawn to, and is excited to play with can be a challenge. That's why having a few options is always a good idea until you get an idea of what gets them moving. We love the Hepper Catnip Stick and Whale Kicker for different reasons. For cats who need a little encouragement in playing, the stick is packed full of organic catnip enticing enough to lure in the laziest of felines. The Whale is a great option for cats who love to hunt, pounce, and kick! Both are extremely durable, and can be cleaned and reintroduced for play days yet to come. Find out which is best suited to you below. 

Hepper Catnip Stick Hepper_Plush Whale
Hepper Catnip Stick Hepper Whale Plush
Contains Catnip
Contains Catnip :
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All-Natural :
Washable :
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Final Thoughts

Cats can get a good idea of when you wake up by learning your routine and observing your sleeping pattern. And while our circadian rhythms may not match, they’re always eager to help us wake up and prepare for the coming day. But you don’t have to wake up earlier than you want to because of your cat. Establish boundaries so you can sleep to your heart’s content.

Featured Image Credit: Billion Photos, Shutterstock

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