What Do House Cats Do At Night? 

Cats are known for their nighttime awareness and that can wreak havoc in a home where everyone is getting ready for bed. Some cat owners keep their cats in while others let their cats out to roam. Either way, pet owners wonder about their feline’s activities. 

Our boy Coco 10
Our boy Coco 10

What do house cats do at night? Their exact activities depend on whether they are inside or out during the night. However, the premise of all a cat’s nighttime exploits is either hunting or mating. 

Indoor Cats

Cats that stay inside most of the time could have an exorbitant amount of energy at night. Those whose family is gone all day may have pent-up anxiety or want to play. They could start jumping on things, vocalizing, and refusing to let you sleep. 

Some cats will run across their human trying to sleep, jump on dressers and knock things off in an attempt to entertain themselves. They may lick you or jump on a window sill to imagine what they could do in the outside world. 

Indoor cats may also get hungry at night. This is why they wake you up at 2 a.m. There is a logical reason for this and their other antics. 

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The Pattern of Cat Sleep

Cats are what scientists call crepuscular. That means their sleep patterns are spread throughout the day with their most active times later at night and earlier in the morning. Cats may go wild from 10 p.m. until 2 a.m. and then take a nap to wake up at 5 a.m. Naturally, they keep you up during these times as well. 

The reason for this unusual sleep pattern is that wild cats hunt when their prey is most active. Things like mice and other rodents are active in the beginning nighttime hours and early morning hours. 

This is a reason why your cat expects to be fed during those times. That is their natural rhythm. 

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Outside Cats

Cats that live outside or are put out at night fulfill the instinct of their ancestors. They hunt, explore and look to mate. 

Hunting is at the top of the list, according to University of Georgia researchers. The scientists attached small cameras on 55 cats to record their activities as they roamed Atlanta streets.

The video shows that 44 percent hunted wildlife with most being small mammals, reptiles, and small things like slugs and spiders. Most of those 85 percent happened during the warm season of March through November. 

Younger cats were better hunters than older cats and caught more prey on each hunt.

Exploration was next on the cat’s nighttime activity roster. Scientists said many of the cats’ activities were dangerous. The video showed that 85 percent of the cats participate in at least one risky behavior. 

Dangerous behavior includes crossing roads, approaching strange cats, eating and drinking what they find, exploring storm drains, and going into crawlspaces. 

The takeaway is that cat owners should keep their pets inside at night to avoid them getting trapped somewhere, getting into a fight, or being hit by a car. 

Read: Are Bengal Cats Active?

Fights

One thing cats will do at night if left outside is fight. Felines prowl their yard looking for invaders. They are territorial and will defend their space. If left to explore, a cat will expand his territory beyond his yard by marking it. 

Outside cats will also fight over food or a mate. Some domesticated cats may forego some of that activity if they are well fed at home, spayed, or neutered. Male cats are more prone to fighting over food or mating than females. 

Fighting also is a dangerous situation because of disease transmissions like rabies or feline leukemia. 

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Mating

Cats will make a lot of noise at night. This could be to ward off invaders into their territory or to mate. You will know when they are mating because it sounds like a catfight with some cat screeching included. 

What To Do About Your Cat’s Activities?

You may not like having a cat with such nighttime energy. There are things you can do to get your cat to settle down. 

The two things that seem to work the best are playing with your cat once you get home until time for bed and feeding him right before bedtime. Food is a type of tranquilizer and will make him calmer. 

An automatic smart feeder may also help if your cat gets the overnight munchies. At least you won’t need to get up. 

Read: Is My Bengal Cat Depressed?

FAQs

Do cats want to be inside or outside at night?

It depends on the cat. Cats that have a space in the house and feel secure with you will opt to stay inside. Others want to wander. Cats that haven’t been spayed or neutered are among those who cry to go out. Some with strong hunting instincts may feel frustrated if they are kept inside. 

Where do cats go at night?

Inside cats may open cabinets and explore them or go room-to-room trying to find something to do. 

Cats that go outside tend to explore new areas beyond their yard. They may start with just the yard but, over time, expand their reach as their confidence and curiosity grow. 

How far can a cat roam?

It depends on the cat and their curiosity and confidence. Most cats will wander between 43 and 215 yards from home. 

Can a cat get lost roaming at night?

Most cats have a superior mapping mind so they know where home is. They can also find a home using scents and sounds. 

How does a cat know what to explore?

Cats have great memories and may have seen something he’s interested in during the day. 

How do cats claim territory beyond their yard?

Cats love to claim new grounds. They notice how fellow cats guard their yards during the day. An absent cat means the feline will apply a new claim to the yard. Most cats won’t go into a yard guarded by another cat or dog.

Cats leave their scent over the other cat’s scent to claim territory. This can be rubbing up against poles, rolling on the ground, urinating, or pooping.