About 2 months ago I agreed to foster a feline leukemia positive cat because I love cats, own none (feline leukemia is highly contagious between cats so I was the perfect candidate for fostering since he would be the only cat), and the shelter desperately needed the room they kept him segregated in to house a new litter of kittens.

I know the woman is hoping I decide to keep him at the end of this month and I want to so much but he annoys me to the point of actual crying because I don't want to hit him. He wakes me up at least every 2 hours by nudging my face with his head, which has caused bloody noses but more importantly is preventing me from getting a solid night's sleep.

He also kneads my face leaving scratches all over my face. (Yes I have clipped his nails but within a day or two they are sharp again and now too short to clip much from). He does these things when I'm awake too and at those times I can move him off of me (even though he comes right back. He's relentless.) He has other quirks that I can handle but the lack of sleep is severely impacting me. I don't want to send him back to live in a room all alone again (and I'm sure he's such an aggressive snuggler as a result of the isolation) but I don't know what else to do.

I have grown to love him and I have always loved cats in general and always felt very passionately about saving older cats and/or sick cats but the pure rage I am beginning to feel towards him is upsetting. Does anyone have any advice on what to do?

  • Out of curiosity, how does he react at feeding time? Does he purr or growl while eating? Get super excited at feed time? Does he eat it all at once or munch on free feed throughout the day? Or litttle to no reaction? I'm curious if this somehow goes hand and hand with feedings or if he was once starved?
    – Christy B.
    Commented Jun 12, 2017 at 6:52
  • He swarms my feet when i out his food out but then grazes throughout the day. When i sit with him near his food he will eat more than usual but i haven't noticed purring and definitely no growling.
    – Laura L.
    Commented Jul 9, 2017 at 4:05
  • My cst does the same thing. I just pull the covers over my head until she know she can't get to me, she just leaves and get one of her toys
    – Kath
    Commented Feb 17, 2020 at 1:49

4 Answers 4


First, remember that you did a good thing by agreeing to foster this cat for a few months. Right now you feel very stressed out, so when these problems occur you feel guilty because you've grown to love him, but you're thinking of giving him up. That makes it more difficult to deal with the problems that arise. I recommend that you keep telling yourself that this is just a foster situation, but while you have the cat, you're going to do everything you can to make him ready for a new home. I suspect these problems can be solved, and maybe that new home will be with you, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Yes I have clipped his nails but within a day or two they are sharp again and now too short to clip much from

The outer layer of the claw, called the sheath, is shed periodically. When that happens, it reveals a fresh, sharp claw. I recommend you check for fresh claws daily, and trim any that have appeared. It's much easier than trimming the whole lot each time. Most days there will be no fresh claws to deal with.

Also, you don't need to clip the nails short; you only need to remove the sharp tip. And you only need to trim the front paws.

Finally, you can get soft plastic nailcaps attached to each claw. They last about 4-6 weeks. One brand is called Soft Paws. I haven't tried them.

Once the claws are dealt with, your face can remain scratch-free. Now let's deal with the cat waking you up at night. The solution I use is: when a cat wakes me at night, I pull him close and hold him. He'll immediately try to get free (and I let him go), because he wants to play, not be held. He should quickly learn that you are not fun to play with when you are asleep.

Make sure he has plenty of toys to play with. I suggest you find another cat with feline leukemia to keep him company. This should not be difficult, and I'm sure the shelter would help you find one.

If all else fails, there is the option of keeping him in another room at night.

I know the woman is hoping I decide to keep him at the end of this month

You don't have to make a decision now, if you're not ready. I am sure they will be happy if you are simply willing to foster him a bit longer. For now, you can focus on getting this cat ready for a permanent home by dealing with these behaviour issues. Good luck!

And if you decide not to keep him, please don't feel guilty. You did a good thing by providing a temporary home.

  • I have tried pulling him in close and he bites me in the arm or hand so i gave up on that. I will be moving in to an apartment with a bedroom door so i may try closing him out at night but we'll see. I also heard that the nail caps are uncomfortable because it does not allow for the cat to retract their claws but if that's the only thi g that will work it's worth a shot. I do love him and want to make our relationship less tense.
    – Laura L.
    Commented Jul 9, 2017 at 4:13

Shut Him Out at Night

While these behaviors may be correctable, it could take a lot of work and time that it doesn't sound like you are able to commit right now. The best course of action would be to stabilize your relationship with your cat by shutting him out. By the sounds of it sleep related problems are your only real issues with it. If you do end up keeping the cat long term, then it may be worth slowly integrating allowing it to sleep with you.

  • In my current studio apartment it's not really an option but i will be moving soon and i think i will give this a try. Thanks!
    – Laura L.
    Commented Jul 9, 2017 at 4:09

I'd say have your boundaries.

You should show the cat you accept him by letting him give you love when you are awake and maybe praise him. and putting him in his crate and tell him ''No'' when he does that at sleeping time. Then head back to your bed and pretend to sleep. Of course the lights should be off then he'll have a hint to know when it's not acceptable to bother you.

If you can't take it, you have to train him. It's simple. And we know how you feel about punishing your cat. No one likes that but if you're at your point, the cat needs a home(meaning your home). Besides, it doesn't have to be a punishment, it's just ''this happens when that happens'' and of course he is better off with you than in the shelter, so putting him in the crate for about half an hour or, if he doesn't get it then, an hour, will probably make him understand you better.

If you see your cat has already got the idea, you shouldn't exaggerate, but if he keeps coming back then half an hour should do. By the way, cats always have their boundaries between each other, so it doesn't hurt to make them understand that humans also have some.

I hope you got my message...if it's not clear you are free to ask.

  • I don't have a crate but may attempt closing him out of the room at night once i move. I never really thought of it as not being a punishment so that definitely helps my perspective. Thank you :)
    – Laura L.
    Commented Jul 9, 2017 at 4:17

I find my cat likes to kneed my face, clawing me. No matter how many times I say I love you too and pet him or I yell no and move his paws it doesn’t work. I get out my old trusty water spray bottle!! Best part is at this point all I have to do is shake it and my cat baby runs away. Most humane I think. Then I love him when I am awake.

  • 1
    Welcome to pets.SE! Maybe you want to give more information about the steps you and your cat did in reaching this point (how did it react first time with the bottle? Did you adapt something over time until it was only shaking the bottle anymore?). Your answer would improve by this, to come from an anecdote to a informing help :) Commented May 29, 2023 at 5:04

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