I recently dealt with several months of hungry cat 4:00am wake-ups thanks to my cat Pudge (pictured at left, helping with an art project). Pudge started waking me up earlier and earlier each morning, demanding food by screaming all around the house, jumping on me while I was sleeping, and knocking items off my bedside table. I bought an automatic feeder and set it to feed Angry Cat at various random times throughout the night; this didn’t help. I tried switching him from wet food to dry food before bed; this didn’t help and gave him diarrhea. My husband and I got to the point where we were alternating getting up at 4am, to sit in the darkened living room and squirt Pudge with a water bottle whenever he started screaming. We were as sleep deprived as when my son was a newborn.
If your cat is becoming a nighttime food bully, you are not alone. (I feel like I should start a support group!) What worked for us: feeding Pudge’s dinner as late as possible before going to bed, and completely ignoring his early morning demands for food.
Esteemed (and hilarious) vet blogger Dr. Andy Roark tackles the issue of hungry cat wake-ups on his blog, and has some additional tips for those suffering through 4:00am hungry howls.