There are a number of reasons you might want to shut your cat in a room overnight, especially if your cat tends to disturb you and you need some decent sleep for work or other commitments. Cats can also wake up children or get into trouble during night hours, so it’s reasonable to wonder if you can shut your cat in somewhere.
Is It Cruel to Lock a Cat In a Room at Night?
You can safely shut your cat in a room overnight and it isn’t cruel, provided you make the space safe and comfortable for your kitty in advance. You shouldn’t ever shut your cat somewhere for extended periods, or if doing so really stresses them out, so you’ll need to pay attention to your cat’s mood before you do this.
Why You Might Want to Lock Your Cat In A Room
There are several possible reasons for shutting a cat in a room overnight. The biggest one, as mentioned, is so that you can sleep undisturbed.
You may also find that a cat that is very nervous, keeping them in one room is a good idea.
It will help them feel safe because they will have small areas that they can quickly establish.
This can even help cats deal with separation anxiety because the cat will feel safe and slowly establish its independence from you.
However, it must be done with care and sensitivity to avoid traumatizing the cat further.
Other reasons to shut a cat in might be to keep them away from danger. If, for example, you have a guest with pets your cat won’t get along with or children staying in the house who aren’t used to handling pets, you may not want your cat around.
Equally, you might feel your cat will be less stressed if they are shut-in.
A cat that is ill or disabled may benefit from being shut into one room. They are less likely to hurt themselves if they have a small, easy-to-navigate room that they can stay in.
You will also have to worry less about them getting lost or disorientated or hurt in the general hustle and bustle of a normal household.
So, if any of those – or other reasons apply – you might want to shut your cat in one room, either overnight or even for longer periods (though you will need to be checking on them frequently if they are going to stay in a room for long).
How Can I Prepare The Room?
You need to make sure the room is comfortable for your cat in advance. That means there should be clean drinking water, food (unless you have set mealtimes for your cat), a clean litter tray, a soft bed, and everything else your cat may need.
The room should also have some light in it. Cats like the dark, but they can’t see in pitch blackness any more than humans can and can become unsettled if you leave them in complete darkness.
A nightlight or dim lamp is often sufficient to keep your cat happy, but you should make sure there is at least some light in the room.
In terms of a bed, if your cat has a favorite blanket, box, basket, cat carrier, or other sleeping arrangement, see if it can be transferred to the room. If your cat usually sleeps near you, try adding a favorite jumper or something else that smells of you, so the cat feels safe.
You can also purchase a cat bed specifically for that room. Eventually, your cat will learn it is their bed, and that’s where they sleep.
You can also make some hiding spots that may appeal to your cat as a means of making the room more fun to explore. If they find somewhere they particularly like, they are more likely to settle in the room willingly. Try draping a blanket over a desk or chair to create a new hiding spot, or add some cardboard boxes.
Water and Food
Your cat should always have access to clean water. It’s best to put this on a tray so that if your kitty spills it, it won’t soak into the carpet. Food can go next to it if you are also providing food, but the litter tray should go on the other side of the room, as cats do not like these things to be near each other.
TheSprucePets points out that cats often disturb us at night because they want attention and they are keen to play. They are very active during the night and often think you should be up and ready for fun. That means you should put some toys in the cat’s room!
If the room is close to your bedroom, try and choose toys that don’t involve tearing around madly at night. You might want a toy that fixes to the wall and can be batted at or a scratching post. Shelves going up the wall for your cat to jump on can also provide quieter entertainment.
You should also look to take out things that your cat might hurt itself on. Ornaments and other breakables should be removed. Heavy things they might push off shelves ought to go. Plants may be in danger of being eaten or chewed, so take these out too.
Make this your kitty’s space as much as possible, and take out anything that could present a danger. If you can’t move something, block off access to it.
How Can I Make Sure My Cat Is Happy In There?
You don’t want being shut in a room to feel like a punishment, so encourage your cat to spend time in there and make it a positive experience with treats, petting, and play before bed. Some cats will respond well to cues that it is bedtime.
If you turn off the lights (bar their lamp) and close the door at roughly the same time every night, most cats will take this as a sign to settle down or do their own thing. Consistency is essential, so try and stick to a rough routine, at least most of the time. This will help your cat know what to expect.
A pheromone spray may also help to get your cat to settle down. These can be sprayed around and help cats to feel more relaxed and secure. For a disabled or anxious cat, this could be particularly important.
You should try these things over a period of time to give your cat a chance to adjust to the room and the new routine. Do not give up straight away, but gently and firmly encourage your cat to go into the room each night.
Sometimes, an extra snack or a handful of treats before bed can make them more willing to go in and help them to associate the room with good things.
However, you may find that some cats simply will not stay in a room overnight. If your cat is persistently unhappy and will not settle or relax but cries constantly, you may have to give up on keeping it shut-in.
It’s not cruel for most cats, but some cats simply do not like being alone.
If that’s the case, you’ll have to try other tricks to get a better night’s sleep and give up on containing your cat!
Monitor Your Cat
If, after a few nights of locking your feline friend in a different room, you notice behavioral problems, stop locking them up. Some cat owners have experienced behavioral problems such as their cat crying all the time, scratching at the door, or becoming skittish, etc.
It doesn’t mean that you can’t keep the cat out of your bedroom. However, you may want to consider leaving her in the living room instead of a small space like the bathroom.
Try turning on the tv or radio to help keep the kitty stay calm until they learn how to be alone during the night.
As mentioned, cats are more active at night. If you have one cat, letting them roam should be fine. However, two or more cats can be disruptive to your sleep, especially, when they start chasing each other throughout the house and knocking over things.
Most cats can be encouraged into settling in a room at night, and some will even enjoy having a safe space of their own that they can retreat to whenever they want. Ensuring the room is accessible at all times is a good idea.