While my grandmother was alive her cat would sleep on her pillow next to her head and since we adopted him he has tried to carry this habit over into our house. At first it was adorable, but it has become incredibly annoying as he will sit and paw our faces while we sleep. He has very sharp claws and it wakes you up and leaves scratches. We know he doesn't mean to, but clearly he wants something. I usually go and put some biscuits down in his bowl and then he's happy. He's purring very loudly too.

We were putting him outside at night, but he has had some health problems recently, namely diabetes, constipation, and weakened back legs (this has got better). He has also been fighting with a neighbourhood cat, which left him with puncture wounds and he had to have antibiotics. This was probably because he was unable to defend himself due to his weakened state. For the time being, putting him outside is not an option. We have also tried shutting him in the kitchen but he will sit and scratch for hours, also waking us up. I can sleep any time, anywhere, and get by on very little sleep but my partner is not - she often has 5am starts and gets very broken sleep.

Has anyone had a similar experience? Is there anything we can do to deter him from jumping on our pillows? We don't mind him sleeping in the room or at the bottom of the bed.


2 Answers 2


You're going to struggle I'm afraid, especially given his age as he will be quite set in his ways.

Feeding him when he wakes you up might solve the immediate problem but in the long term you will be doing more harm to your goal then good - you're essentially teaching him that if he is hungry in the night then all he has to do is come and paw you awake and you will feed him. Much better to head off this reason by providing him with food and water just before you go to bed.

I actually have similar problems with my two and the only "solution" I've found is to shut them in another room that has food, water, litter tray and toys. They do scratch/bang at the door sometimes but it's not for long in my case probably because I have done so nearly every day since I got them as kittens so it's "normal" to them that they spend the night in "their" room. For your cat he has 14 years of experience telling him otherwise, if you can make the kitchen or another suitable room sufficiently supplied and interesting for him you might be able to get him used to the notion but it's not an overnight fix (no pun intended) and you'd have to persist with it for some time.

Otherwise you might just have to accept that this is going to be his "thing" and mitigate where you can such as with providing food/water/toys elsewhere pre-bed and getting his claws clipped regularly (clipped NOT removed!) to reduce the potential for scratches.


I would go to your local hardware store and buy a couple folds of clear vinyl carpeting. This is the clear plastic commonly used as a mat at computer desks, so that chairs can easily wheel around without getting caught on regular carpeting. See pic below. It is smooth on one side, and on the other side has little soft "spikes", more like knobs because they're rounded, not actually spiky, to keep the mat in place on top of carpeting. If you lay this face down on top of your bed during all times when you're NOT in bed, it will deter your cat from jumping up onto the bed. It will not hurt your cat, it'll just be uncomfortable on the pads of its feet. Your cat will associate this feeling with jumping up onto your bed.

At night, you can also use the plastic carpeting by rolling it out, right side down, from the walkway of your door to your bed, so the cat has to walk on it to get to your bed. If you are okay with the cat in your room, this may not be the option for you at night time. If that's the case, I'd encourage you to buy a treat your kitty likes a lot (like dried chicken or salmon, place a nice fluffy warm kitty bed, near yours, where kitty can hear you breathing and/or snoring, (can still smell you possibly) and put a t-shirt or pillow case that smells like you (for cuddly comfort) in the cat bed and place him in the cat bed at night. Getting a round bed with high sides will make him feel more snuggled and safe.

Anytime the cat gets in the bed on its own, day or night, give him a treat. When you go to bed at night, place kitty in the bed, and treat again. If the cat wakes you up, jumping on your bed, place him in the cat bed, and treat him as you put him in, and again if he settles in to lay down, to encourage this as a pleasant behavior. Being consistent will help this become more of a happy routine, and eventually over time you can slow down with the treats, and with regular positive outcomes, you can eventually skip the treat/reward part all together. Keep in mind the longer you continue to treat the behavior, the less likely you are to him reverting back to jumping on the bed.

My mom used to have issues with neighborhood cats jumping on her porch furniture and scratching them up, either accidentally or by kneading the pillows and cushions, or by sharpening their claws. She got a cat bed, put it out, and placed the vinyl carpeting on all the chairs' cushions and eventually it stopped and she no longer has to lay out the plastic.

The kind that comes in a roll, made to bend, as pictured, is much softer that the pre-fitted hard plastic rollers, which are more expensive anyways. Good luck!

plastic runner by the foot, soft and flexible, better view of nubs]1

office Depot ad for vinyl carpeting

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