Cats enjoy the same activities during the day (stalking prey, eating food, sleeping, and roaming the area) that they do at nighttime.
The main difference is that your cat’s activities are more likely to be disturbed by wildlife and have to seek cover. While the daylight introduces the threat of local cats and dogs, there is now the risk of raccoons, foxes, opossums, etc. in rural areas during the night.
In this article, we will look closely at the most common activities that cats engage in during the night and the associated risks. We will also explore how far cats roam from home at night and if keeping your cat outside is a good or bad thing.
What Do Cats Do at Night Time Outside?
Let’s detail the most common activities of cats at night:
1) Visit Other Houses
In the Daily Telegraph, Vet Pete Wedderburn answers the question of why your neighbor’s cat keeps visiting you. Well, you will not be surprised to discover that your crafty cats do the same thing to your neighbors when you are asleep or away from home.
Cats regularly spend the night with your neighbors when there is the chance of tasty food and a comfortable (safe) resting area available. Your cat may have been attracted to a property by light, sounds, cooking smells, friendly people, etc. Cats are inquisitive animals.
If you have ever asked the question, “Where does my cat go at night?” it is safe to assume that your kindly neighbor (or neighbors) are providing your cat with regular meals. Cats, in their clever way, communicate with other cats about mealtime opportunities. There is a good chance that your cat has figured out through trial and error that they can get fresh food and water at any hour.
- Is your cat sleeping indoors at another house and being let out in the morning? It is possible. Neighbors will often befriend cats and shelter them. Your cat’s perceived grand adventure could be a night of sleep on a neighbor’s sofa.
2) Eating and Drinking
If you have prepared food, it will likely be gone by the time you wake up. This aspect of night living is no different than the daylight hours. If your cat regularly stays outdoors, it is fair to assume that a meal or a snack is always near the front or back door of your home in case your cat feels a bit peckish.
The problem is that it may not be your cat that has eaten the meal. The food that you prepare for your cat may have been consumed by a predator (local cat, dog, fox, etc.) Be careful where you place food as you could be attracting other animals to your property. You do not want to wake up to a nasty surprise, especially if you have a cat flap fitted.
When the night is peaceful, your cat will spend a quiet night asleep in a safe spot. Most outdoor cats pick out a couple of secure areas. The bushes around your home, a back-porch swing, etc. If all is well, your cat will likely spend a good portion of the night catching up on sleep.
For as rough as the night can be at times, there is also the knowledge that a mature male cat has respect in the neighborhood. The Alpha cat is usually off-limits. If your cat has the standing of Alpha, his sleep will be a nightly occurrence without outside interference.
Not all Alpha cats need to be aggressive to secure a position of status and standing in their area. Some cats are respected by other animals and will be left alone. This is true if your cat has been a staple of your neighborhood for years.
4) Stalking Prey and Avoiding Predators
If your cat enjoys chasing bugs, mice, and tiny critters during the day, this will continue at night. However, hiding from predators (non-cats) can also play a significant role. The primary risk of keeping your cat outdoors is the threat of altercation with another animal.
If your cat spots a raccoon, it may stay hidden away in one place for hours. Potentially fearful and wanting to avoid confrontation, your cat will remain on guard and will forgo an entire night’s sleep. This may be why your cat returns home and sleeps during the day.
- If your cat has an outdoor “safety spot” where sleep and relaxation take place, this area can be blocked by predators. Have you ever gone outside in the dark of night and called for your cat yet received no response? It could be because your cat is afraid to return to the property due to fear of being attacked. This leads to a sleeplessness night for your cat as it will need to remain alert.
5) Risky Behavior
Fighting with wildlife, climbing tall trees, and sleeping under parked cars are among the possibilities. Without a human owner around to scare away wildlife or to stop a cat from doing something dangerous, the nighttime hours carry a significantly higher risk.
Many domestic cats are killed during the overnight hours because they take on predators rather than hiding away. If your pet was once a feral cat that lived off the land, the instinct of self-preservation is likely still ingrained. Rather than leaving the raccoon alone and attempting to coexist in the same area, your cat may engage a predator aggressively. This can result in injury, disease or death.
How Far Do Cats Roam at Night?
How far does my cat roam? ABC News documented how far cats (fitted with GPS tracking devices) wandered from their family home. While most cats did not venture more than 20 doors away, others were found to travel up to 2 kilometers.
It is highly likely that much of your cat’s activity will take place near your home. If your cat’s entire existence is defined by what happens at your home and a couple of houses down, then most of its adventures are highly likely to take place in this area.
What your cat is doing will usually be more important than where your cat has gone. Unless your cat has been physically taken by another person, there is a strong chance they can hear your voice when you call out to them, especially when road traffic is at a minimum.
Many altercations with predators happen mere feet away from home. This is why both owners and non-owners alike are familiar with the sounds of a yowling or screaming cat in the middle of the night.
Is it Safe to Keep Your Cat Outdoors at Night?
A well-lit and busy neighborhood away from wooded areas can be much safer. An area away from wildlife or a forest-type setting is beneficial to your cat’s safety. Although vehicles (moving and parked) can create a new danger, a busy area is less likely to be frequented by wildlife.
If you reside in the country and your home is in a wooded area, there is a far higher chance that unwelcome intruders will invade your property at night. The same aspects that can make country living quiet and peaceful can also be why wildlife lives in that vicinity.
You should keep your cat indoors during the overnight hours as the dangers are real. However, not everyone can keep a cat inside. Do everything within reason to safeguard the area. If you have a screened-in porch, you should make sure that it is secure. Placing your cat in that environment is better than allowing your pet to roam free, jump your fence, and venture off into wooded areas.