How to Get a Kitten to Sleep Through the Night

Dr. Ragen T.S. McGowan, PhD
By Dr. Ragen T.S. McGowan, PhD
Updated: 5/17/20242-4 minutes
How to get a kitten to sleep through the night How to get a kitten to sleep through the night

Your new kitten's first night at home will be one of the biggest challenges she's ever faced. Not to worry, here are a few tips and tricks on how to get a kitten to sleep through her first night.   

Welcoming a new kitten home can be nerve-wracking at first—for both owners and felines alike. While you’re busy setting up the litterbox, deciding where to keep the cat food and researching local veterinary practices, your kitten has a whole different set of concerns she's focusing on.  

Suddenly, there are new people to meet and unfamiliar sights and smells everywhere. Her new home looks nothing like the one she lived in not so long ago and there's no sight of her mother or littermates. In short, everything is different and a little scary.  

Then, just as she's starting to get settled, nighttime arrives, and she's left to sleep all alone in this new, strange house. While this can be challenging for her, there are plenty of things you can do on your first night with your kitten to help your little ball of fur settle in quickly. 

Sleeping Arrangements for a Kitten's First Night Home

Do Kittens Sleep Through the Night?

The answer is – not always. Cats are nocturnal animals, so it's common for them to wake up throughout the night. While it's true that kittens love snoozing and can sleep up to 18 to 20 hours a day, it doesn't always happen when their human family members are asleep.  

Cats are generally active at dawn and dusk. When you add to the unfamiliar environment a new kitten has to adjust to in the first few nights, you can assume you'll be in for a few longer nights than usual. 

That said, sleep is essential for your kitten's development, which is why it's important to let them have this peaceful time off during kittenhood to make sure they grow up healthy and happy.  

How to Get a Kitten to Sleep at Night

Play and Exercise  

As if you needed any more excuse to play with your kitten, it turns out an exhausted kitten is more likely to sleep through the night. Schedule a play session close to her last nap of the day so she can expend all that extra energy before going to bed.  

Change Mealtime

Switching up your kitten's mealtime so she gets a late meal can help, as kittens will often go to sleep to allow their digestive systems to go to work. Be mindful of the calorie count if you plan on introducing an extra or larger meal to her diet.  

Introduce Familiar Objects

Having something that smells familiar can be a huge step towards getting a kitten to sleep at night. Shelters are often more than happy to let you have her favorite blanket when you adopt a kitten so she can keep a piece of her old home close as she’s getting adjusted to her new life.  

Be sure to offer your kitten time and patience and soon enough, your new ball of fur will be calmly dozing off by herself. If your new kitten is keeping you awake with a barrage of meows in the middle of the night, here are some reasons why cats meow and how to address this behavior. 

Where Should My Kitten Sleep? 

The trick to getting her to sleep involves making sure the sleeping arrangements for your new kitten match her needs. Kittens gravitate towards warmth and coziness when they want to sleep. This means the best place for a kitten to sleep is a secure spot away from any drafts and warm enough for her to stay comfortable throughout the night.  

It's also a good idea to have your kitten close to you for the first few nights. Find a cozy area next to your bed. Kittens feel safer in higher places, so an elevated cat bed might be beneficial.  

Setting Up a Kitten Bed 

Choose a comfy kitten bed with high sides so she can keep her favorite toys close by. Don't forget to add soft blankets for a great night's sleep while making sure her litter tray, water and food bowls are not too far away should your kitten need them during the night.  

If you want to score extra points with your new feline friend, place a scratching post nearby. That way, your kitten will be able to stretch and scratch to her heart's content as soon as she's ready to start the new day. What could be better than that? 

Should I Leave the Light On or Off? 

Cats can see in low light, so even with the lights off, your kitten can navigate with ease. That said, it can take a bit of time before she gets accustomed to her new environment, so it's always a good idea to have a low light on to make things easier at the beginning, especially on your kitten’s first night in her new home.  

Should You Let Your Kitten Sleep in Your Bed?

What's better than snuggling up with your warm, furry friend as you both settle in for a night of restful sleep? Nothing, of course, but you may want to wait a while before sharing your bed with your new kitten. It takes time for kittens to be litter trained, so if you're going to keep your sheets clean, investing in a new kitten bed is advisable. 

Further, if your kitten is really young, she may have difficulty navigating her way out of your bed without hurting herself. Your kitten might even prefer to have her own space to sprawl as she pleases.  

Many owners allow their cats to sleep in their beds, but it's essential to give your kitten her own space to spend the night. 

Get more training tips from our experts on our Pet Expertise page. 

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