Somewhere in his life, my cat determined he really loves to play fetch. Usually this is not a problem - he brings me a toy, I throw it, he brings it back, I throw it again, repeat as necessary (sometimes for a while!).

Problem is, he now brings me toys in the middle of the night and wakes me up with them. He tucks them under me, and bugs me with them. Normally I would just toss them off my bed and have that be that, but my cat just thinks that I am starting a game of fetch with him, and brings them back and bothers me all over again.

Is there something I can do to teach him that fetch at 3am isn't something I want to do?

  • I pushed my one cat away with my forearm slightly but firmly. Once he whined, I stopped. So he got the idea "I'd like you here, but not that close." He still sleeps with his backside against me. It took a while, but I taught him to bug me only if he really needed something, like food.
    – aschultz
    Commented Jan 21, 2020 at 2:38

6 Answers 6


A trick I did was to grab and hold my cats close if they disturbed me during the night. They didn't like it, but it was not painful. In order to avoid it, they leave me alone when sleeping.


Is there anything that you would want to do at 3am when you've just been woken up by your cat?

To stop this behavior, I would suggest closing your bedroom door at night. Get your cat used to the fact that your bedroom is a no-go zone at night. Once he's used to it, you can try start leaving the door open again.

If you don't wish to completely isolate your cat from the bedroom at night, you could try confiscating the usual "fetch" toys before you go to bed.


The best approach is play with your cat each night in the evening before bedtime. Teach him that you will play fetch with him at that time of night. Plus if you give him a bit of exercise, he'll be happy and tired and less likely to wake you up in the middle of the night.

If he brings you a toy at 3am, bury it under your pillow rather then throw it off the bed. He needs to learn that he won't get an interactive response from you at 3am. It may take a while, but if you are consistent about not responding to his overtures, he will stop pestering you.


One of mine will sometimes poke at me at odd hours for attention. I generally just roll over and turn my back on her. If that doesn't work I'll growl or hiss at her, or simply tell her firmly "Hazel, No!" which she does understand as "he's annoyed by something I'm doing".

It may help that they're middle-aged cats now, and know what human habits are. When they were young I did have to explain that they must not Hop On Pop, and that included treating me as a steeplechase obsticle.

(Sitting on Pop is mostly acceptable, if they're willing to settle in. I just wish I could convince them to kneed my back rather than my belly. And they're both quide good at the stuffed-animal routine; many nights I'll have one curled up on each side.)

  • This is mostly what I've done (adding a blanket over most of my head to keep the paw-smacking at bay). It works sometimes, but not as well as I'd like.
    – user53
    Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 0:42
  • Try just confiscating the toy. No toy, no fetch game.
    – keshlam
    Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 0:54

I had similar problems with Pounce de Leon when she was young. If she was running around on the bed at night, or making lots of noises and ruckus I would verbally reproach her (she didn't understand what I said but the tone I used). Fortunately for me she was quick at learning and after a few months adopted the habit my other cat (Callie) had of not bothering us before we woke in the morning.

Not all cats will be so quick to learn though, some of my other cats would wake me up for playtime by batting me on the head with their paws. Worse, the one cat that came to me not declawed, would do that which did not feel nice. Since I have the odd habit of often putting my head under the pillow this sometimes did help. Those cats came to me much later and they were already in their teens and not keen to learn new habits.

Good luck.

  • 1
    This is more of a personal anecdote than an answer. Can you give more specifics on what you did?
    – user53
    Commented Mar 28, 2014 at 2:08
  • 1
    if she was on the bed running around I removed her from the bed- if she was making noise I'd tell her to stop it (she could tell from the tone of voice that I was unhappy with making noise)
    – Dan S
    Commented Mar 31, 2014 at 18:08

My cat is basically a wild beast and always wants to play and jump around on the bed while we are sleeping. I try to get her energy out during the day by playing with her with a string around the house. I've noticed that there are some toys she will play with by herself, and some that she wants me to play with her with. I try to make sure she has the best "by herself" toys out at bedtime, and I also loop a string on our laundry basket for her to play with when she gets bored at night.

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