Did you know that I am unique? Yes, I know that I am beautiful and my humans love me, but did you know that I (and my fellow felines) have some of the most unique eyes in the animal world?
We don’t have circular pupils like humans, but because we have large corneas and pupils (about 50% larger than a human’s), more light gets into our eyes – which means that we can see much better in low light and that makes us very unique. However, although some people think that we can see in the dark, that’s not quite true.
Given that our eyesight allows us to see better at night, it is natural for us to be more active at dusk and dawn, just when our prey is likely to be active. We are crepuscular – so, even if we are indoors, you will probably find us having a mad dash around the house as this when our ancestors would be hunting in the wild. It’s all in the genes!
So, what do cats do at night?
We’re not actually nocturnal, as some people think, and although some of my feline friends spend their nights outside, we are not hunting all the time. We do most of our hunting at dawn or dusk, when small mammals and birds are more active, but we are not always successful and only catch about 50% of our prey – those mice and small creatures can be very quick!
Night time is lovely and quiet! During the day there’s a lot of noise around the house and outside, so we may have lots of catnaps during the day and use our energy at night time for exploring. It’s safer to go outside at night when there are fewer people and less traffic around – it also gives more opportunity to discover new territory, leave our scent and stake our claim to it.
We’re looking for male company
A female cat becomes mature at the tender age of 4 months and is able to breed from then, unless they are spayed. Female cats can come into season regularly, every 2-3 weeks from Spring into Autumn, so may roam outside during the night and call for a mate.
We’re looking for female company
Male cats become sexually active from around 6 months old and can be very active looking for a female mate, sometimes travelling long distances from home at night time in his search.
We like to hide at night
If there are other pets in the house, a cat might just like to go outside and find a safe place to sleep overnight. This can sometimes happen if our humans haven’t taken the time to introduce us slowly, have not given us our own resources, or if there’s another cat in the house and we just don’t get on.
Of course, cats need a cosy, safe place somewhere indoors where they can hide away - using FELIWAY Optimum plugged into the room where your cat sleeps can help them feel calm and serene.
We like to bring gifts
When a cat has kittens in the wild, they would go out hunting for food for their litter. Most pet cats are neutered, so they don’t have kittens to feed, but their hunting instincts are the same, so they will still hunt and bring home ‘gifts’ to their family – you!
As well as dead mice, reptiles, bugs and sometimes even rabbits or squirrels, I have heard of cats bringing home leaves, socks, food from a neighbour’s leftover BBQ, and some even bring flowers!
We’re not busy all night though – and we do usually try to find somewhere that’s safe and warm where we can snuggle down for a sleep. Some favourite places that my feline friends use are:
- On the bonnet of a car that has just arrived home. These provide welcoming warm spots for a while when it’s cold.
- People’s outside porches can be very useful to get out of a sudden downpour of rain. Some people leave small windows open on their porch which gives us easy access.
- Under a bush is a good place to have a catnap, particularly when it’s dry. All the leaves give good protection and it’s also a good vantage point for spotting mice scuttling around.
Some humans get concerned about their cat when they go out at night – that makes sense because it can be dangerous out there, with road traffic, cat fights and other predators (depending on where in the world you live).
So, how can you encourage your cat to stay indoors at night?
How to keep your cats safe at night
If your cat has the freedom to go outside during the day, there are a few things you can do to keep them indoors at night. This is how my humans encourage me to stay in at night:
- They have installed a cat flap. My humans have set the cat flap so that when I come in at the end of the day, it does not allow me to go back outside. I always come indoors for my food around 5.00pm and if I then have a quick catnap, I am unable to go back outdoors as the catflap is locked.
- Sometimes I have to search around the house for my food and that can be good fun too – it’s a game that keeps me occupied for a while and encourages me to use my super-duper sniffing senses. I can sniff food out from a long distance.
- Early evening is playtime, which I always enjoy! My human is very clever and plays with me when I feel naturally active – like I said, cats are very active around dusk and this fits in very well with my playtime. She’s even got me a toy mouse on the end of a fishing rod – it’s not quite the real thing but I do enjoy chasing it around and pouncing on it. I always get a treat when I catch it too, which is very satisfying.
- I’ve got lots of shelves and high perches to explore around the house, as well as hiding places. It’s great fun sitting up high on a shelf where I can look down on that pesky dog – I suppose he’s not that bad though… my human spent a lot of time training us to get along.
- I love it when the postman has delivered a parcel – that means that I have a box to play with and that keeps me busy for a long time!
- Once we’ve had playtime, I will sit and groom myself – just to make sure I stay beautiful. My human will also give me a hand and this is a great way to bond.
- My human sometimes spends time in the evening training me – yes, cats can be trained! She’s trying to get me used to the cat carrier – I expect it’s time for my annual visit to the vet in the car.
When I have a very busy evening indoors, I don’t really feel like going outside in the dark – I am very content climbing into my own bed to sleep, or sometimes my human will allow me to sleep at the bottom of her bed where I feel really cosy and comfortable.