For a long time after he came to us, Vincent had a bad habit. In his old home, he had lived with a very intelligent roommate, a female cat who harassed him daily until he developed a bladder infection because he was so afraid to go to the litter box and hid under the sofa all the time. To help Vincent, we decided to bring this tyrant (a beautiful gray tabby named Kisseson) home with us for a while, until she could be returned to her former owner where she had lived before she got Vincent as a roommate. Then, after a while, Vincent came home with us as well, but by that time, Kisseson did not live with us anymore; we loved her a lot and it was very hard on me when she returned to her old mistress after a few months.
In the meanwhile, alone at his old home, Vincent had gotten tremendously fat, and his vet had put him on a strict diet. That means that he only got a specified amount of special food at a certain time. As a result, he was often hungry. He started to meow very early in the morning and jumped on our bed, trilling and purring, kneading the blankets, and doing everything he could to wake us, so that he could have his breakfast. He walked across our pillows and faces, sat on our chests, and looked at us intently, and if we still did not wake up, he bumped his head into our noses until we really could not sleep anymore. It was not a nice way of being woken up, and we felt no desire to be woken that way morning after morning. What to do?
I learned from multiple books and television programs about having pets how important it is to be consistent and not to give in if the animal wants something that is not good for it or that the human does not like. I said to myself that we had to practice consequences, so we employed the following method: we delayed dinnertime until shortly before bedtime, and we also played with Vincent for an hour before we went to sleep. He loved cardboard boxes and paper bags, for example, and used them as play houses before biting them to shreds. He also liked to play with his favorite toys, fur balls (preferably black), which we threw to him and he kicked through the apartment like little footballs. Then Lars and I went to sleep and promised each other to ignore Vincent when he woke us up at four thirty the next morning.
The next morning our alarm clock woke us, and Vincent came to us for his breakfast only when we got out of bed. Finally, we could sleep peacefully at night again. Of course we continued with our new nightly ritual of a late dinner and playtime. Vincent tried to wake us up early only a few times after that, but when we did not respond (instead we consistently acted as if we did not hear or notice him), he lay back down pretty quickly and waited until we got up.
We learned from this experience and we used this method from the beginning with the triplets, and never fed them immediately after getting up, but waited for an hour or two instead. And really, they have never woken us in the early morning so far. Donna just trills softly in the early morning in winter on occasion, because she wants to get under the blankets where it is warmer.
Tip: If your cat meows and wakes you up every night or very early in the morning, you can try changing its feeding time, too, and spend half an hour before bed together—play or cuddle for a bit. You, too, should stay consistent. Do not get up at three thirty to feed them (unless the cat is old or sick). I hope you will be as successful with this method as we were.