Do you ever wonder where your cat goes at night? When your cat doesn’t make it home by bedtime, it may have you wondering “where do cats sleep outside?” Cats unlike humans are nocturnal, many cats prefer to sleep during the day and hunt at night.
All cats that sleep outside, seek places that provide warmth, safety, and privacy from predators. Unlike humans, cats are crepuscular, meaning they are most active at dawn and dusk. While you’re sleeping, your cat is hunting prey and taking advantage of the dark.
That said, it doesn’t mean that your cat won’t seek shelter in certain spots to help them get through the colder parts of the night. Let’s take a closer look at your cat’s sleeping habits and the dangers they face when spending the night outdoors.
Where Do Cats Sleep Outside?
As mentioned above, all cats will seek shelter that provides the warmth, safety, and privacy that will keep them safe. These can be areas such as vacant buildings, garages, or any other place that provides them protection, comfort, and seclusion from predators and the elements.
However, not all cats are outdoor kitties and some have more street smarts than indoor cats.
Will Your Cat Be Okay Outside All Night?
Cats are incredibly intelligent creatures, however, some cats have more street smarts, especially, if they were born and raised living outdoors. Cats that have spent their whole lives on the streets know how to find food, shelter, and safety from other animals.
If your cat is an indoor-outdoor cat or was previously street smart, they will likely be okay spending the night outside as long. However, if your cat has always been an indoor housecat, they may not be as street smart and are at a higher risk of being harmed.
To better understand what an outdoor cat does during the night, you must first understand the different types of cats.
Domesticated cats or pet cats are used to living in close contact with humans and typically spend most of their time indoors. While they may occasionally venture outside, domesticated cats typically return home before nightfall.
Feral cats are the offspring of “untamed or evasive” cats that lack socialization. These cats don’t trust humans and typically live in close-knit colonies. Feral cats usually will eat a number of small meals during the day, with most of their hunting done at dusk and dawn.
Stray cats are domesticated cats that have been abandoned or lost their home. Strays will typically roam around in search of a new home, but like feral cats, they will also venture out during the night to hunt.
Do Cats Like Sleeping Outside?
Most cats enjoy sleeping outside during the day, as they get access to the sun and fresh air. However, at night most cats (depending on the individual) are drawn to the outdoors because of their natural urge to hunt.
In the wild (and domestic) felines are predatory species, meaning they hunt for their food. This is the reason your cat may seem restless at night, as they are trying to satisfy their hunting instincts.
Many domesticated cats that live strictly indoors will often beg or cry to be let outside so they can “hunt.” And while your cat may not bring you any prey back home, it’s important to remember that letting them outside is dangerous and puts them at risk from a number of predators.
What Dangers Do Cats Face Outdoors At Night?
Predators aren’t the only danger outdoor cats face at night. Outdoor cats are at a higher risk of injuries, viruses, parasites, or other health problems.
Some of the dangers outdoor cats face include:
Cars – One of the biggest dangers to cats when sleeping outside is getting hit by a car. Outdoor cats often sleep in the car’s engine, especially on cold winter days. Making them vulnerable to getting killed when the car starts up.
Poisoning – Unfortunately, there are a number of things in the outdoors that can be poisonous to cats. Antifreeze is one common toxin found near homes and it’s often fatal if ingested.
Toxins – There are also other toxins such as pesticides, herbicides, poisononus plants, and fertilizers that can be harmful to cats.
Bites and Stings – Outdoor cats are also at risk of getting bitten or stung by bugs, snakes, and other creatures.
Diseases – Cats that sleep outside are also at risk of picking up diseases from other animals they come in contact with. Rabies is one common disease that outdoor cats can get and it’s often deadly.
Animals: Cats that spend a lot of time outdoors are vulnerable to attacks from dogs, coyotes, wolves, cougars, etc.
What Does Your Cat Do Outside At Night?
As mentioned above, cats are nocturnal animals, meaning they are the most active at night. During the night hours, they may be searching for a mat, looking for food, marking their territory, or fighting with a neighborhood cat.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the nighttime activities of felines.
Hunting is hardwired into the genes of cats. They will spend some time during the day trying to catch a bird. Mice and rats, which are cats’ main prey, are usually hunted at night.
Roaming is when a cat walks around an area outside its normal territory. This could be because the cat is lost, looking for food or a mate, marking its territory, or avoiding other cats.
A male can get a female pregnant very quickly, leading to unwanted litter. If your male cat is roaming, it’s important to get him neutered as soon as possible.
Cats prefer to mate at night and will go in search of a mate at night. At night there is less competition from other males, and fewer distractions, smells, and noises making it easier to pick up on a female’s scent.
At nighttime cats will often seek shelter in a bush, under a porch, or in some other protected spot. This will help them stay safe from the elements and predators.
During the daytime, cats will spend most of their time laying around in the sun or sleeping. This is in contrast to the nighttime when they are more active and engaged with their surroundings.
What Age Can Cats Stay Out At Night?
It is advised that responsible pet owners avoid letting their kitten outside alone until it is at least 6-8 months old, has been neutered or spayed, and has proper identification such as a microchip. This will ensure that the kitten is safe and has a better chance of returning home if it does get lost.
Older cats can also be allowed outside, but should not be left unsupervised for long periods of time. And, as always, make sure your cat has proper identification in case it gets lost.
Should You Keep Your Cat In At Night?
Letting your cat spend the night outside is a personal choice. According to the Animal Humane Society, the lifespan of cats that are allowed to roam freely outdoors decreases by 10-12 years when compared to indoor cats.
On the other hand, some people argue that it’s natural for a cat to roam and they should be allowed to do so. At night, depending on the cat, bring them indoors, or install a pet door. This will help protect and keep them safe.
While it’s true that some cats enjoy being outside. It’s important to ensure your cat has food, water, and an outdoor cat enclosure which will provide your cat safety while spending time outdoors during the days.
Frequently Asked Questions
Most cats prefer the safety and warmth of the indoors, especially, if that’s all they’ve ever known. Avoid leaving your cat outside in the cold winter months, and if possible install a pet door so your indoor/outdoor cat can come and go as it pleases.
Depending on the cat, some will enjoy staying outside at night while others will be content coming indoors. Keeping your cat outside at night will reduce their quality of life and reduce their lifespan by 5-10 years or more.
As mentioned previously, cats are nocturnal animals and prefer to be active during the nighttime hours. Some of their typical activities include hunting, exploring their surroundings, mating, and finding shelter from the elements.
It’s important to keep in mind that while some cats enjoy spending time outside at night, it’s not safe for all of them.
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