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Why Does My Kitten Want to Play at Night? Vet-Approved Reasons & Tips

Written by: Ashley Bates

Last Updated on April 4, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

Cute Young gray british Tabby Cat Kitten Lying and jumping Down Playing and Biting Mouse and String Toy

Why Does My Kitten Want to Play at Night? Vet-Approved Reasons & Tips


Dr. Lauren Demos (DVM) Photo


Dr. Lauren Demos (DVM)


The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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When we get a kitten, there are so many “firsts” to experience. Some of them are so cute you could scream, and others can be a little taxing to deal with. If your rambunctious kitten keeps you up at night with their incessant noises, you might want to understand a little more about the behavior and if you can expect it to stop.

Nighttime play is very common, especially amongst youthful cats. Their cycles are much different from ours, and nighttime is part of a cat’s waking hours. We’ll explain more about why your little kitten is so rambunctious at night and how to handle it.

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The 3 Reasons Your Kitten May Prefer Nighttime Play

Understanding cats’ sleep cycles can help you pinpoint exactly why your kitten might be supercharged at night.

1. Cats Are Crepuscular

Many people think it’s possible that cats are nocturnal. After all, they are up all night, clambering around in your home—creating a ruckus at all hours. However, this is a common misconception.

In the wee hours of the morning or when the sun first starts to set in the evening, this is when cats are the most active, and their instincts usually kick in, driving their predatory responses. After all, the cat’s natural prey is also most active at these times, making more sense of why your cat’s circadian rhythm is the way it is.

woman hugging a cute kitten
Image Credit: Anna Krivitskaya, Shutterstock

2. Boredom

Think about it. Your kitten is in a home where they want to burn off some energy. But everybody in the house is sleeping, including the family dog. What else will they do except create their own madness?

3. A Mouse in the House!

Maybe you have a mouse or other small, exciting critter running around your house, and you don’t even know it. But your kitten’s ultra-sharp senses can detect it. If that’s the case, you might hear them banging into cabinets or skidding across the floor at night trying to chase it.

Don’t be afraid; they’re just trying to rid you of a pest problem—by maybe being a bit of a pest themselves.

Little cat chasing mouse
Image Credit: foto_monteiro, Shutterstock

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How to Handle Nighttime Play

If you are concerned or losing sleep over your kitten knocking over everything in the house at night, you might wonder how you’re supposed to handle it. Every cat will be different. Some of them will be easily maintained, while others can be hard to calm down.

Here are some suggestions that will work for various cats, but don’t be surprised if you have to try a few methods before you find one that works.

Change Feeding Schedule

Most cats and kittens fall asleep soundly after their tummies are full. Changing their eating schedule throughout the day might help them sleep longer into the night. For example, you can switch your feeding times or invest in an automatic feeder.

Automatic feeders have personalization features where you can set the time it will dispense the food. This can be incredibly useful if you are looking to spread your kitten’s meals throughout the day.

Even though the investment might be a bit more costly than a normal cat bowl up front, it can have some benefits if needed.

Kitten eating food from bowl
Image Credit: Gladskikh Tatiana, Shutterstock

Provide Entertainment

One good way to keep your cat occupied at night is to just give them a little quieter entertainment. Give them some plushies, pom poms, and other silent toys that they can play with at night if they’re going to be awake anyway.

Tucker Your Cat Out

If you really want your cat to be calmer, maybe they just need a little more exercise. You could always do your part by playing some interactive games to really get them worn out before bedtime. That way, when you go in your room with the door shut to get some shut-eye, they can do the same instead of turning your house into a WWE arena.

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What to Avoid

While you might not be able to avoid this behavior at night completely, there are steps you can take to minimize the ruckus.


Try not to get your cat wound up right before bedtime. You will leave them wanting and then they will have to create mischief all their own. So when you hear rattles and bangs, know that you probably did something to instigate it.

british shorthair kitten playing with puzzle toy
Image Credit: lowpower225, Shutterstock


If your cat gets quite frisky on catnip, you should eliminate it before bedtime. It can be a fun thing to do when everybody is awake and active, but it can be quite different when your cat is roaming around like a zombie in the night.

For some cats, it’s best to keep the catnip-infused toys out of their reach when the lights go down—and that’s okay!

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Now you understand a little bit more about your cat’s daytime and nighttime cycles; you can accommodate them a little better when you want to go to sleep, and they’re wide awake. Keep in mind that your kitten is growing, so they are very active at these instinctual times, ready to hunt!

You can change a few things in your routine to keep your kitty less peppy overnight. However, you might not be able to temper the behaviors completely.

Featured Image Credit: TarasBeletskiy, Shutterstock

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