Where Do Cats Sleep Outside at Night?

Where Do Cats Sleep Outside at Night

Maybe you are concerned about the safety of the feral cats in your neighborhood. Or perhaps you let your cat go outside. Now you are curious about where cats sleep outside at night.

Where do cats sleep outside at night?

Cats sleep outside in places that are warm, safe and secluded. Unlike people, cats do not usually sleep at night. Felines are crepuscular creatures which means that they are most active during the hours between early evening and dawn.

As predators, cats take advantage of the night to hunt. This instinct is not lost even in some pets that live exclusively indoors. But it should be noted that when kept as pets, cats can and do learn how to adjust their sleeping patterns based on the schedule of their humans.

Where do feral and stray cats sleep?

If you allow your cat to go out, he will probably sleep at your home most of the time. But what about feral and stray cats in your neighborhood? Where do they sleep? The cats in your neighborhood take advantage of every opportunity available to them, from food sources to sleeping areas.

Whether a cat is kept as a pet or stays outdoors as a feral cat, there are a few things that he requires in a sleeping spot.

1. Warmth

Cats descended from desert-dwelling wild cats. And although they have lived with humans for thousands of years, the domestic cat has not changed much. Up to this day, cats seek warmth. As such, feral cats find sleeping areas that can provide them with this need. In winter, it is not unusual for some cats to go under the hood of cars and sleep there.

2. Safety

Although cats are capable predators, their small size makes them the perfect prey for other larger animals. As such, cats prefer to stay and sleep perched in high places. Staying in high places allows them to keep track of the movements within the vicinity, whether such movements come from predators or other cats attempting to encroach their territory.

3. Seclusion

Cats seek sleeping areas that can provide them with privacy and silence while they slumber. While your pet cat probably has several sleeping spots at your home, the neighborhood feral cats have to make do with what is readily available to them. You can probably find the neighborhood cats sleeping in vacant lots, derelict cats, crawl spaces, and even the porches of some homes. When choice becomes a luxury, necessity becomes the primary driving force.

What do cats do at night?

If cats do not sleep at night, why do they do?

Night time is when some of the animals that cats like to hunt come out. As such, the number one thing that most cats do when the sun sets is to hunt. 

Small mammals, reptiles, spiders, and even slugs are among the creatures that felines hunt the most. Although cats are relatively small, they are capable hunters. In fact, numerous studies indicate that cats are one of the leading reasons why the population of some animals is rapidly declining.

Apart from hunting, cats go about during the night to defend their territories. It is also not unusual for feral and stray cats to fight one another. This behavior is largely driven by competition for two things: food and sexual partners.

What dangers do cats face outdoors at night?

Although people usually associate the night with peace and rest, cats face numerous dangers while they lurk on the streets. It certainly does not help that cats can engage in risky behavior.

Among the dangers that face cats are road accidents, eating or drinking potentially unsafe substances, and entering areas where they can get trapped.

If you are still deciding whether to allow your pet cat to go outside, especially during the night, you need to be aware of these risks.

How to help your cat make the transition to living indoors exclusively

Now that you are aware of the dangers cats face when they roam outside, you are probably thinking that it is better to keep your pet exclusively indoors. 

Certainly, you can do that. But you should expect some resistance from your cat, initially at least. Your cat may become restless or even suffer from stress. Be firm with your resolve and do not cave into your cat’s demand to be let outside. 

Definitely, this is a significant change, not only for your cat but also for you. You may need to make a few changes in your home as well as your habits as you try to help your cat make the adjustment. Just keep at it and soon after, your cat will embrace the idea of living indoors exclusively.

To make the transition easier for both of you, here are some helpful tips you can follow.

1. Engage your cat’s mind and body

One of the reasons why your cat likes to go out is because he needs to hunt. Although food may be readily available when he gets home, that does not replace his instinct to hunt.

You can compensate for that by engaging his mind and body through play. Set aside a few minutes each day to play with your cat. This will help him cope better with the drastic change that he is undergoing and eliminate unwanted behaviors.

2. Provide opportunities for climbing and scratching

Going outdoors provides your cats with several opportunities to exercise. Although you cannot replicate an outdoor setting, you can provide him with opportunities to climb and entertain with perches and climbing trees.

3. Consider building a catio

If you have extra outdoor space on your property, you can make a compromise for your cat who may still want to venture outside by building him a catio.

Essentially, a catio is an enclosure that bridges your home to the yard. This affords your pet the opportunity to investigate the outside world without the risks associated with roaming freely to anywhere he wishes to go.

4. Establish a new routine

Although your cat may resist the idea of never setting foot in the outside world, he can learn to adjust. To facilitate that, create a new routine for him.

The outside world can be inhospitable to cats

On average, a feral cat will live up to two years. That is a stark contrast to the lifespan of a house cat. A lot of that has to do with the dangers that cats face outside, especially at night. 

Although there are benefits to letting your cat go outside, you should weigh those against the dangers.

Image: istockphoto.com / Steevy84