It is a rare thing for cats to actually attack their owners, unless of course you own a lion, tiger, leopard, cougar or mountain lion. If you have recently acquired a feral feline, you could have attacking issues because the cat has grown up in the wild without the knowledge that humans can be friends.
I will assume for the sake of this article that the precious cat in your life is a typical domestic cat that truly isn’t in some kind of weird attack mode when the sun goes down. There are ways to get your cat to be calmer during the hours that you need to sleep.
Why Does My Cat Attack Me at Night?
Cats are natural hunters, and they are really good at their jobs. The slightest movement can send them into a frenzy of desire to chase and take down whatever it is that they think is prey. On top of this, cats usually hunt at night.
When you are lying down, all comfy and cozy in your bed, and you move your foot or leg into another position, your cat will see the movement but won’t see that it is actually you under the blanket. Most people play with cats by moving an object covered by a blanket just to watch them pounce on it. That might have been cute and funny when the pet was a kitten, but not as an adult with large teeth and sharp claws! It’s best not to start and encourage this behavior when the cat is a kitten, but if you created this behavior, there are ways to teach an adult cat to stop.
Spray First, Talk Later
It is a well-known fact that cats hate water. If you have ever attempted to bathe a cat, you know what I’m talking about… Fur is flying all over, the claws are flailing and the teeth are chomping on whatever they can catch.
One of the fastest ways to stop a cat from exhibiting unwanted behavior is with water. No, you don’t need to give the cat a swirly in the toilet bowl, so stay where you are and keep reading.
Fill a new spray bottle with water. You can pick them up at any dollar store, so please don’t reuse a bottle that once held any kind of cleaner — it has the potential to harm your cat, so spend the buck and get a new spray bottle.
When you go to bed at night, put the spray bottle on your night table. If the cat tries to attack you at night while you are sleeping, grab your trusty spray bottle and spritz him in the face. Follow the spray with a firm no or loud clapping. Don’t give the cat any other attention after the reprimand. Every time the cat repeats the attacking behavior, spray and tell him no. Eventually, this should cause the cat to think twice about attacking you under your blankets.
The Unbreakable Feline
Believe it or not, there are kitties who really couldn’t care less if you spray them with water. These tend to be harder to break from their nighttime predator habits. The easiest way is to lock the cat out of your bedroom, but of course that leaves the rest of the house open for dastardly feline antics.
Tightly roll up a ball of yarn so that it will be difficult for the cat to unravel it. Insert a pet treat in the middle, or soak the inner end of the yarn with tuna oil. This will maintain the kitty’s attention and eliminate your nocturnal battle wounds.
If these tricks don’t work, your cat might be suffering from… um, vampirism, maybe? In this case, I’d suggest that you wear a necklace made of garlic and sleep with the light on! Just remember that your friends at Pets Adviser are pulling for you, and we wish you the very best.
- Mary Burch, certified animal behaviorist: Why does my (mostly) sweet cat attack me?
- Vicky Halls, cat behavior expert: Our 1-year-old cat comes into our bedroom every night…
- Dr. Justine Lee, DMV, DACVECC: Why does my cat attack my ankles?