Otis will be 13 years old this month. I've had him since he was three months old. He has never had any health issues of any kind.
In the last three years he and Marshall (same age, unrelated) have been meowing outside my bedroom door. Early on it would start around 6:45AM when my alarm would go off. They'd meow until I got up to feed them which would be about half an hour later after hitting snooze a few times so it wasn't so bad.
In the last year and a half I've been living with my boyfriend and due to his allergies, the cats can't sleep in our bedroom. Before, when I lived on my own, I'd let them sleep with me every once and a while.
Lately, Otis had been getting up around 5AM and meowing/meowling outside our bedroom door. He would never go back to sleep after waking and could easily sit outside and meow for the next three hours straight, never taking a break.
I've tried spraying him with water but he just takes it and continues to purr then runs to his food dish to wait for food. I used to give in and feed them because it was the only way I could get back to sleep but I've stopped doing this because I don't want Otis to associate me with his meowing and then me getting up.
Sometimes he will "beat up" Marshall outside our bedroom door. Marshall would growl at him and often Otis would pounce right on him so that their bodies are literally wrestling against the door. It could go on for quite some time as Otis can be relentless, even if Marshall is able to escape I can hear the wrestling match carry on down the hall. The minute I'd get up to break up the fight, Marshall would take cover somewhere and Otis would just run right to his food bowl.
I've tried leaving heaps of food in their dish before bed but it's just eaten within a couple of hours anyway.
I bought a food timer that I set to open at 5:AM but Otis is smart enough to know what's in there and actually figured out how to get the tray out even while the timed flaps are locked shut. I don't know how he does it but if he wasn't meowing outside our door, he's slamming the dishes against the wall, down the hardwood floor. I once found them up against the coat rack by the front door? So then, I bought a rubber mat that prevented the dishes from sliding around and would secure them on carpet between two dining room chairs. So, even if Otis was trying to break into them, I couldn't hear the banging of them against the wall or being pushed down the hallway.
Otis now rises at 4:00AM like clockwork. Sometimes it's actually bang on at 4:11AM for days on end. And he'll sit, outside our door and meow non-stop. It feels like torture for me. It feels like I'm becoming sleep deprived. It would be one thing if he'd meow a couple of times, give up, and go back to sleep but he doesn't stop. It's incessant and it can easily go on for several hours.
I've tried a pheromone collar which worked one night and even then he might have been silent because he was despondent over something foreign being around his neck. The next night he was back to meowing outside our door at an ungodly hour.
Three days ago I took Otis to the vet as I'd read that meowling in the middle of the night can be attributed to thyroid problems, or other health issues but his check came back normal. He had temperature, bloodwork, and urinanalysis and all were clear. Not even subtle abnormalities. His teeth are also fine.
The vet prescribed him 5mg of Valium which he broke in half. I am to give Otis half a pill every night before bed. Last night was day two. On the first night he was meowling at 2:30AM (two hours earlier than normal!!) however, luckily this stopped for a couple of hours but he was still up at his usual 4AM time meowing outside our door. Last night, same thing. Nothing's changed.
I wonder if perhaps if I give him the dose at 9:30/10:00PM when I usually go to bed that by 4:00AM - 6 hours later - the Valium might be worn off by then. So, tonight I will try to go to bed but set my alarm at midnight to give him the pill then. I called the vet as well to ask if perhaps I can give him a full tab instead of half.
Outside of this I am reaching out to anyone who is experiencing/has experienced this in their cat. I am at the stage of complete helplessness and can't imagine having to go through this every single morning for the next however many years of his life. I even consider popping the Valium myself!! And I'm not a prescription pill taker!!
I know that it may have to do with jealousy, or feeling like he wants my affection but I go out of my way to lavish him with attention before we all go to bed. We all do. On the weeks when my boyfriends kids are here the cats will cuddle with us on the sofa while we watch our shows. It's only really during the night time when Otis is without human contact. I just can't let him sleep in our bed because then my boyfriend's allergies are awful.
Is there anything I can try that I've missed? Please. I am desperate.