Being in cat rescue for over 30 years, wild cats will never cease to amaze me with their survival instincts. Cats are fiercely independent, wise, and creative in their efforts to survive on the streets. My heart sinks when I see a stray cat. I want to rescue it. However, a very wise man once told me,
“You can’t rescue them all.”
We now have six rescue cats who sleep inside at night. My heart goes out to all the fur babies who must sleep outside in all kinds of temperatures and conditions. I along with all cat lovers, must remember that cats are highly resourceful animals.
Cats are known to be creatures of habit and they have their own sleeping patterns that they follow. While indoor cats usually sleep in comfortable beds or cozy corners of the house, outdoor cats have to find their own sleeping spots.
Cats prefer to sleep in seclusion, so they often seek out abandoned buildings, feral colonies, or other hidden places where they can rest undisturbed.
Where Do Cats Sleep Outside At Night?
Here are common places to find an outdoor cat sleeping:
In Or Around Dumpsters
Under Cars And Car Wheels
Under Car Hoods
In Vacant Garages, Homes, Sheds, Buildings
In A Neighbor’s Yard
On Porches, Steps
Inside A Neighbor’s House
In Any Crawl Spaces
Not Everyone Is A Fan Of Cats
Not every person loves and adores cats.
While some people ignore strays, others aim to injure, wound, or kill any cats entering their yards. Yet, other people feed and protect strays that show up at their door. Life is tough for many people and equally as rugged for outside cats.
Never think that, because the day has turned to night, your cat is protected more by the darkness and blanket of stars. There are many dangers on bright sunny days, but these dangers explode into a host of new risks for your cat when night time comes.
When your cat starts to wander the neighborhood at night, and they do not come when you call them, your cat is probably meeting up with danger at that very minute and is awaiting the threat to pass.
The possibility is very high that your domestic cat has become trapped or injured. I am sorry if this sounds a bit rash, but this is a harsh reality for a cat that is allowed to wander at night.
It is better if your pet cat remains inside and has an enclosed porch or window to look out upon the outside world. Never think that you are holding your feline friend hostage. You are keeping them safe and sound.
You are the boss, not your cat.
These Three Groups of Cats Sleep Outside
1. Feral Cats
A feral cat is born in the wild and has little to no human interaction. These cats are not social and are wary of any human being. These feral cats generally sleep with and socialize with other feral cats. They find food and find shelter themselves and find places to sleep outside.
Do Feral Cats Hibernate?
No, feral cats do not hibernate. Most feral cats are able to adapt to cold weather by seeking shelter and finding food sources.
Some feral cats may grow a thicker coat of fur to help insulate themselves in the colder months, but they do not go into a state of hibernation like some other animals do.
2. Stray Cats
A stray cat is not a feral cat. A stray may have been domesticated at one time but has been left out on the street to fend for itself.
For the most part, stray cats are social and seek food and water from humans.
Stray cats also must sleep outside and are resourceful in finding sleeping spots. However, a stray is not as creative as a feral cat.
3. Domesticated cats not allowed inside the home
In cases such as these, you need to question if you really want to be a cat owner.
Adopting a cat is a lifetime commitment. Domestic cats are not disposable commodities or are abandoned when you tire of them. Too many people feel no guilt about abandoning a cat.
Also, understand that outside is a dangerous environment for any cat, day or night. However, the night presents more challenges that your cat cannot fight or hope to win.
Neighbourhood cats, may find a good sleeping spot in a neighbor’s yard or under a porch.
If your cat tries to mingle or sleep with other cats, a stray or feral cat, this could lead to an all-out catfight in which the stray or feral is likely to win, cat’s paws down.
If you insist on letting your cat roam day and night, but you want to know where your cat goes or sleeps, you can purchase a GPS collar for your wandering cat.
Where Do Stray Cats Sleep In Winter?
Stray and feral cats do struggle through the cold winter months. These cats whose lives are spent on the street have extra furry coats, and this helps to keep them warm.
Related: Do cats get cold easily? What are the signs that a cat is too cold?
Even though winter proves a challenge for many cats, they usually get through the cold days and nights. The tips of the ears and paw pads remain a high risk for frost-bite. However, it is unlikely that cats shiver relentlessly.
Those who have stray cats that come to your home, especially during the winter, can do a lot to help these cats get through the cold winter.
We have had a few strays during our thirty-plus years of cat guardianship. We never neglected to care for these stray cats.
Cats in the wild do not need a lot of room to keep warm. One dangerous place that cats choose to sleep in the winter is under car hoods, as car engines give off the right amount of heat for a while.
Some communities with a heart for felines, build an outdoor cat shelter in spots where feral outdoor cats tend to live, while many animal shelters provide places for outdoor cats to stay.
Related: Some cat breeds are better equipped than others to cope with cold weather. Read more!
t is difficult to trap a cat because most cats tend to not like cages and avoid them. Most times, these crafty cats, whose domain is outside, do well independently. However, they do appreciate a bit of help.
During cold weather, stray cats are not apt to wander so much. When they find a warm shelter, they stay put to conserve their energy for night-time hunting. A stray appreciates extra food and warm water during the winter.
Do not just set out only dry food, because it is harder to digest. Set out moist food with the dry food.
Spray the bottoms of plastic containers with insulation foam to help insulate the feeding dishes and keep food from freezing.
our efforts to help strays through the cold winter months are appreciated by many stray cats.
Most strays that came to our door to seek refuge were taken to the vet for check-ups, vaccinations, and spaying or neutering. Most of the strays we encountered became loving and appreciative of in-door living.
We were careful about who we allowed to adopt our rescues, and we even kept a few along the way.
What Can You Do To Help Stray Cats Through the Winter?
- We taped boxes together and placed blankets inside, then insulated the boxes with blankets on the outside of the boxes. Strays took up residence and had a warm place to sleep. We never put food or water inside the boxes but set up a place for them to eat in peace.
Related: A pad specifically for pets, that is heated in the microwave provides hours of warmth in an outside cat shelter.
- You can purchase an insulated, outside shelter if your budget allows it.
- Put some blankets inside and add some homemade heated pads. Make these with fabric and fill them with rice. You can heat the pads in the microwave oven and place them in the shelter under blankets.
- Anytime a stray comes to your door, please feed them and provide fresh water. The water dish below has a warmer to keep it from freezing.
- As soon as the cat finished eating, we picked up the dishes for the next meal. Hypothermia is highly likely for a stray with no help through the coldest winter months. Hypothermia can lead to death.
A cat’s body temperature can drop slightly when they sleep, but it should still remain within the normal range (between 100.5 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit) even if they are sleeping outside in winter.
However, if a cat’s body temperature drops significantly below the normal range (below 100 degrees Fahrenheit), this could indicate hypothermia and they should be taken to a vet immediately.
It’s important to note that cats are susceptible to hypothermia and should be kept warm and protected from the cold.
What Do Cats Do At Night When Outside?
When cats wander the neighborhood at night, the list of things that cats can do is endless. Some of these activities are as simple as stopping to smell the roses or climbing trees. Other activities could include jumping through a broken basement window and becoming trapped.
Cats are natural hunters. Cats love to pursue their prey and play with it for a while before possibly killing it and having a snack.
Never think that, because your pet cat sits high on the royal ladder, it should not want to hunt. Living a good life never takes away a cat’s desire to hunt.
A house cat can spend hours watching and waiting for and who knows what could come along. They enjoy sitting at a window and watching what is happening in the neighborhood.
However, if your cat is allowed to roam the neighborhood at night, know that it is grossly unsafe and that their natural curiosity can get them into trouble, injured, or killed.
At home and inside, during the night, you know that your cat hunts, watches, plays, catnaps, eats, and may cuddle at your feet or on your pillow.
However, when your cat is outside at night, it is a game-changer.
Researchers studying the night time activity of cats find that the majority of cats hunt wildlife that they could easily tackle, such as,
Bugs And Spiders
Cats fight day or night, and there are two reasons why this happens.
When cats wander at night, they are looking for food or a mate if they are not spayed or neutered, which can cause cats to fight.
Your cat is simply curious about what they find when wandering. Cats spend their life smelling and sniffing objects before going to the next thing on their journey.
Outdoor kitties have to be careful about where they sleep to ensure their good health. They need to avoid areas where infectious diseases may be present and make sure they have enough food and water to stay healthy. In rural areas, cats may have to roam freely to find a good sleeping spot, while in urban areas, they may have to deal with other pets and people.
Act on the Side of Caution – Keep Your Cat Inside the House At Night
Most cats stay active during the early evening and may sleep during the day. Adult cats usually sleep for 12-16 hours a day, but their sleeping habits may vary depending on their age, health, and environment. While pet cats may have a designated sleeping spot, outdoor cats have to be resourceful and find a spot that suits their needs.
I cannot stress enough the importance to make your outdoor cat an indoor cat.
You never have to worry about where cats sleep outside at night and if they are safe when they are tucked up safely indoors.
Related: How to keep your cat cool when the weather is hot.
Related: How to keep your cat cool when the weather is hot.