Cats are predators by nature, and they usually hunt at night. Domesticated cats, despite being well-fed at home, also have the urge to hunt and will readily prey on birds and small mammals, even if they are not hungry. However, there are some cat owners who claim that their cats have an aversion to the dark. Read on for some insightful details about cats’ preferences – or not – for dark places.
Do cats like the dark?
Yes, some cats like the dark, but not all of them do. Cats all have unique personalities, and because domestic cats have adapted to their owners’ sleeping schedules, it is often difficult to know whether they like the dark.
Cats are crepuscular, meaning that they are most active at dawn and dusk. They are wide awake at dawn and may run around crazily in the darkness. However, cat experts note that some cats may dislike the dark because of a traumatic past experience, such as being abused or being attacked by bigger animals like dogs.
While cats have superior night vision, they still need some light to see clearly in the dark. Most cats can see in very low light, but some suffer from physiological problems that limit their ability to see in the dark.
Do cats like sleeping in the dark?
Yes, cats like sleeping in the dark, but only as long as they feel safe. In the wild, they would sleep during the day to conserve energy for hunting at night. House cats do not need to hunt for prey, but they have retained this instinct nevertheless.
Cats can fall asleep anywhere, be it dark or light, and they can nap in almost any space, including high up on shelves or under tables or blankets. They are happy to snooze anywhere, as long as they know there is no imminent danger. Cats also often choose sleeping areas that are high up, offer warmth, or are close to their owners. Needless to say, then, the question of light versus darkness does not seem to play a big role in where cats decide to sleep.
Why do cats like to hide in dark places?
Some people believe that cats like the dark because they like hiding in small, dark places. They tend to hide inside closets, cardboard boxes and underneath beds. However, this preference for hiding in dark places has more to do with safety and security.
Cats tend to get anxious quite easily, and loud noises can startle them. Dark spaces offer them a feeling of security and the advantage of getting out of sight at the slightest hint of danger.
Is it okay to leave your cat in the dark?
Yes, it is okay to leave your cat in the dark. Whether you leave the light on or off, it is all the same to your cat. Cats can see even in near-darkness, so switching off the light will not hurt her. However, this may vary among cats because, as mentioned earlier, some cats may have negative past experiences associated with being in the dark.
Also, while cats have superior night vision, they still need some level of light to be able to see in the dark. As mentioned above, some cats have physiological problems which lead to poor night vision.
Do cats need a light on at night?
No, cats do not need a light on at night. Although they need some level of light to see in total darkness, they do not need as much light as humans do. Cats have very sensitive eyes and usually need only one-sixth of the amount of light that humans need.
Signs that your cat is afraid of the dark
1. Your cat whimpers when the lights are turned off.
Cats are usually active and comfortable despite the darkness. You can tell that your cat is afraid of the dark if she cries when you turn off the lights. She may also stumble around if she is struggling to see.
2. Your cat’s heart rate increases.
Cats normally have an average heart rate of 120 to 140 beats per minute. A frightened cat’s heartbeat can increase up to 180 beats per minute.
3. Your cat has moist paw pads.
Scared cats can sweat profusely, just like humans. They have sweat glands in their paw pads, and when frightened they will leave behind wet paw prints on the floor.
A cat that is scared of the dark may run away or hide in a secluded space in your home. She may also hiss, growl, bite, scratch, puff her fur and tail, arch her back or flatten her ears. Your cat may also refuse to use the litter box, and there may be changes in her eating habits. A scared cat may also vocalize more than usual.
Cats are crepuscular creatures, meaning they are most active at dawn and dusk. They are generally quite happy in the dark, although this may vary from one cat to another. Some cats are afraid of the dark because of past negative experiences, such as being chased or attacked at night by dogs or other larger animals. There are also some cats that have physiological problems that prevent them from seeing well at night, which will make them more insecure in darkness.
Image: istockphoto.com / Galina2012