The hours after dark can be difficult for cat owners. Felines rarely sleep through the night. Cats enjoy exploring and hunting under the cover of darkness. A free-roaming cat can be noisy or dangerous.
Cats should be caged after surgery to prevent them from hurting themselves while you’re asleep. You can cage a kitten or former stray for a night or two. This will allow the cat to become familiar with its new environment. After this, let her roam free. Cats need space to move and live.
If you have a spare room, use this to restrict your cat instead. Make this a room you rarely use. A cat will accept staying in a room overnight if she considers it to be her territory. Ensure your cat has everything she needs. This includes food, water, a litter box, and entertainment.
Table of Contents:
- 1 Are Cats Active at Night?
- 2 Where to Put a Cat at Night?
- 3 Why Would a Cat be Caged at Night?
- 4 What Makes a Good Cat Cage?
- 5 My Cat Won’t Stop Meowing in Her Cage
- 6 Alternatives to Caging a Cat at Night
- 7 Keeping a Cat Calm at Night
Are Cats Active at Night?
Cats are crepuscular, not nocturnal. This means that cats are most active at dawn and dusk. This may surprise many cat owners, but cats are often livelier at night than during the day.
Cats enjoy patrolling the house, or outdoors, at night. Most houses are much quieter at night. Many towns and cities are the same. This allows a cat the chance to explore without interruption. Many cats prefer not to be bothered by humans.
Cats are also natural hunters, which is easier by night. Reduced traffic and human footfall mean less noise. This helps cats to hear prey. A quieter environment also makes smaller animals less skittish.
Cats also nap throughout the day. This is a necessity for felines. Their movements, especially when silent, burn substantial metabolism. Cats live in a constant cycle of expending energy and napping. This unfolds throughout the day and night.
Where to Put a Cat at Night?
Where a cat spends the night depends on a number of factors:
- How noisy is the cat?
- Does the cat engage in unsafe behavior when unsupervised?
- Does the cat disturb the sleep of human family members?
- Does the cat become anxious when left alone?
- Does the cat start to fight with other pets?
If your cat does not give you any problems, let her roam at night. Your pet will enjoy the freedom. Ensure she is safe and not inconveniencing others. Apartment blocks and terraced houses can have thin walls. Your cat may be keeping neighbors up at night.
Some cats look to escape the house at night. After dark is a great time to explore the streets outside. Be mindful of this. Close and lock any windows and secure your cat flap.
You may need to make your bedroom off-limits to cats. Your cat may wake you for feeding or attention on a whim. Cats also make noise by running or playing, even by themselves. Keeping a cat out of a bedroom at night will aid eight hours of sleep.
Keeping a cat out of your room is a good start to sleeping better as cats like to sleep next to your face, and others wake you up during the night. It may not be enough, though. More steps may be required to contain your pet. Before attempting this, look into calming techniques.
Why Would a Cat be Caged at Night?
People keep cats in cages at night for several reasons:
- Litter box accidents
Caging is only recommended if an adult cat has recently had surgery. Cats need to rest and recuperate after an operation. If you are not awake to stop her, she might get hurt.
Happy, healthy, and well-adjusted adult cats should not be caged at night. Your pet may think she is being punished. This will create anxiety and escalate any existing behavioral issues.
Is it Safer for a Cat to be Caged at Night?
Caging is often described as a safety measure. Some cat owners use cages to protect cats from themselves and others. The safety implications of a cage are as follows:
- The cat will not encounter other pets
- The cat will not escape the home
- The cat will not chew wires or fall from height
- The cat will not knock over the glass and cut herself
Caging a cat for these reasons is inadvisable. Instead of restricting your cat to a cage, cat-proof your home. The only time caging should be used for safety is post-surgery.
Should I Cage My Noisy Cat at Night?
Another reason for caging cats is noise. Some cats keep their owners awake through nocturnal movement. Neighbors may also complain about a cat. Living below a feline can be noisy.
Caging a noisy cat is often counter-productive. Your cat will make her displeasure known. She will meow loudly. She will rattle the bars of the cage. She will knock things over where possible.
Instead of caging a noisy cat, investigate why she is so vocal. There could be a medical explanation. Senior cats with cognitive dysfunction, for example, become anxious and noisy after dark.
While Caging My Cat at Night Encourage Her to Use the Litter Box?
Some people cage felines as they are not using the litter box at night. This way, any accidents are contained to a small area.
This is easier for an owner to clean but cruel to the cat. Cats fear that predators will track them through their waste. They bury and hide it. Making a cat live with their own eliminations will cause anxiety. A litter box too close to food will also deter a cat form eating.
You must understand why your cat is struggling to use the litter box. Firstly, assess whether the problem only arises at night. Potential medical explanations should then be explored. A vet will confirm if your cat is living with a Urinary Tract Infection.
If this is not the case, there may be something about the litter box that your cat doesn’t like.
- Have you moved the litter box?
- Have you changed the litter within?
- Does another cat use the litter box?
- Have you cleaned the litter box?
Toilet-trained cats do not stop using a litter box without reason. Caging your pet at night will not resolve the problem. You must identify the cause of the behavior.
Should Kittens be Kenneled at Night?
Kittens often need protecting. Left untended, kittens can wreak havoc. What’s more, they could be inadvertently injured by other pets. This means that overnight caging may be advisable at first.
Kittens are curious and playful. If you are not going to cage your kitten, make her environment safe. Restrict a kitten to one location. Do not permit access to wires that could be chewed, or anything else dangerous.
One advantage of caging kittens at night is the size. A cage designed for a large dog, for example, will be cavernous to a kitten.
Even so, do not keep the kitten caged for long. After a day or two, let her roam free. This is the only way your kitten will settle in the home. She needs to explore when she wants to do so.
What Makes a Good Cat Cage?
There’s a difference between a cage and a crate. A crate is used to transport a cat to and from the vet. They are designed for short-term use. Keeping a cat locked in a crate overnight is unacceptable.
If you decide to cage your cat, look for a dog cage. These will be much larger in size. A cat’s cage must have room for blankets, toys, food, water, and a litter tray. Your cat must also be free to stretch and jump comfortably.
Alternatively, you could look for a cat playpen. These will contain climbing trees, hammocks, and other forms of entertainment. Even so, playpens remain a short-term solution. Cats need to roam free to be happy.
My Cat Won’t Stop Meowing in Her Cage
In your cat’s mind, she is being kept a prisoner. Meowing allows her to express her displeasure.
Your cat may also mistake her cages for a carrier. This, in turn, will be associated with the vet. Your cat may be frightened. She will spend all night wondering when the prodding and poking starts.
Try to distract your cat in her cage. Attach some feathers to the roof. This may act as a form of cat mobile. Your pet may play until she falls asleep.
Try throwing a blanket over the cage too. Just leave room for air to circulate. The absence of external stimulation may calm your cat down. If there is nothing better to do, many cats sleep.
If your cat does not settle in her cage, you may need to consider alternatives. Constant distress is not good for a cat’s heart. The meowing will also disturb your sleep.
Alternatives to Caging a Cat at Night
Some people prefer to give their cat a whole room at night. If you need to keep your cat enclosed, lock her in a room. Make this somewhere that your cat considers her territory. A laundry room or spare bedroom is ideal. The room must contain the following:
- At least 18 square feet of living space
- A clean litter tray
- Access to fresh water
- Dry food
- Toys and entertainment, such as climbing trees
- A soft, comfortable area to sleep
- A window to look out of – but not escape through
- A temperature of around 70 degrees Fahrenheit
Get the cat used to the room. Let her spend time in the room during the day. The room must not feel like a punishment or a prison.
Cats can learn to love their ‘bedroom.’ Your pet will view the room as her territory. In this instance, respect this. Leave the room as you find it, aside from scooping litter and changing food or water.
Most importantly, you need your cat to associate the room with sleep. This may take some time and training. Be consistent. Turn out the lights and use the word, “bedtime.” Your cat will eventually accept this as part of her routine.
Keeping a Cat Calm at Night
It may not be necessary to restrict your cat at night. With some lifestyle changes, she can remain calm after dark. The Journal of the American Veterinary Association discusses these.
The first step is to get your cat into a schedule. Cats love routine. If your cat knows what to expect, she’ll remain calm. Here’s an ideal day for a cat:
|DAYBREAK||Humans wake up. Food, petting, and general attention are provided.|
|EARLY MORNING||Humans provide 20 minutes of playtime before going to work or school.|
|LATE MORNING AND AFTERNOON||The cat amuses herself while her humans are at work or school.|
|EARLY EVENING||Owners return home. Cat is acknowledged and given attention.|
|EVENING||Humans provide 20 minutes of playtime and food, in that order.|
The latter two elements of this routine are critical. The later a cat eats and plays, the likelier she is to sleep. Both activities exhaust cats.
The cat should play before eating to aid digestion. Play around 20 minutes of hunting games. This will leave a cat shattered. Feed your cat after this. She will have worked up a hunger through play.
By the time your cat finishes eating, she’ll want to groom herself and take a long nap. If you’re lucky, this nap will last the entire night. To maximize this likelihood, apply the following to your home:
- White noise machine
- Calming scents (lavender or geranium)
- Covers to stimulating sights (fish tanks, windows facing busy streets)
Whether you crate her or not, consider these steps to keeping your cat calm. Eventually, bedtime will become a routine like any other.