The argument relating to why cats should be kept in at night can be divisive and for that reason is also hard to enforce.
It depends on where you live in the world and the associated laws and regulations regarding pet ownership and your responsibilities as a pet owner.
Our local council takes care of all pet ownership regulations and payments and offers advice if needed. Cats in my local council area must be be sterilised, micro-chipped, registered with the local council/government and wear a registration tag. The tag is issued by the local government where the cat is registered. Each household can have no more than three cats (excluding kittens).
I have my doubts about how well this is actively enforced. Most people want to do the right thing as it is in the cat’s best interest however it would be a full-time job for several rangers and this just doesn’t happen.
The rules for dogs and cats are different. Where we live dogs are not able to roam the streets freely. There are designated areas, parks, and beaches where the dogs can be off-lead.
We are still not yet a society where animals are welcomed into all eating places or other venues. Slowly laws are being relaxed in their area, particularly at the moment as more people took up pet ownership during the worst of COVID lockdowns.
Getting back to the cat debate, if your cat is already an indoor cat you are probably reading this thinking well of course all cats should be indoors at night because your own cats are inside at night.
Many people are happy for their cats to be permanently indoor cats. There is an amazing array of choices regarding structures for indoor-only cats to be able to enjoy their own little slice of paradise outdoors. What’s more, they remain safe and sound.
However many people have cats that roam from the inside to the outside quite freely during the day. It is difficult to generalize the appropriateness of this as there are so many different scenarios where people will argue that their cat is indeed okay to be outside during the day. Being able to fully enclose an outdoor area is one way that cats can roam freely indoors and outdoors.
What about at night time?
Many cat owners who allow the cat to roam freely during the day, will ensure that the cat is kept inside at night time.
Why Cats Should Be Kept In At Night
When a cat is outdoors at night, they are vulnerable to predators and other dangers.
1. Cats Are Vulnerable To Predators When Outdoors At Night
Cats are most active at night. This makes them more likely to encounter predators and wild animals such as coyotes, foxes, and owls.
Unfortunately cats are also under threat from human predators.
2. Killing Native Wildlife
In my location cats are responsible for killing native wildlife, birds, and small mammals. Mostly this can be attributed to feral cats however I think you would be hard-pressed to find a cat owner (whose cat roams freely) who hasn’t been confronted with the sight of feathers or worse in the yard and known that the cat was the culprit. Cats are natural hunters even though not all cats will show that trait.
This does not sit well with anyone however when the same cat catches a rat, that is seen as good behavior. I know, we human beings do have double standards.
Nevertheless, we cannot underestimate the damage our domestic cats are wreaking on our precious and in some cases endangered wildlife.
3. Cars And Other Vehicles Pose A Threat to Cats, Especially At Night
Cats are also more likely to be hit by cars when they are out at night. The combination of low visibility, busy roads, and fast-moving traffic can be deadly for cats.
To keep them safe, it is best to keep cats inside at night.
4. Cats Fighting With Each Other
I think that we all would have been woken at some point by the sound of cats fighting at night. It is a blood-curdling sound that is hard to immediately register when you are being pulled from a deep slumber. Usually, the offending cats are shouted at, they run away and may or may not start up again.
Does your cat roam the house at night, on the prowl? Cat behavior at night, even for indoor felines, can be loud and rambunctious as they charge around the house.
In some areas, our population has become denser and neighborhoods have become more crowded with people and pets. Cats that roam at night are more susceptible to cat fights usually over territorial matters.
This can result in some fairly hefty veterinarian charges when your cat needs antibiotics to stop any infections from a bite or worse such as having an embedded tooth removed, the toot belonging to the other cat. It is quite distressing for everyone and no one wants to see their cat hurt, so indoors is a definite winner here.
5. Cats Contract Diseases From Other Animals Or Parasites If They’re Exposed To Them Outdoors
Cats are obligate carnivores, which means that they require animal protein to survive.
In the wild, they typically eat small prey, such as rodents or birds. This diet provides them with the nutrients they need to stay healthy.
However, when cats are exposed to animals outdoors, they may be infected with fleas or ticks which can transmit a variety of diseases. They may also contract viruses or bacteria from other animals.
How To Keep The Cat Indoors At Night
The most obvious and easiest way is to use a pet door to allow for the movement of the cat from indoors to outdoors and back again.
Many cat doors such as the one below will allow the door to be locked one way or the other. For example, the pet door can be locked at a time that you consider the cat should remain inside, say 5 pm, to not allow the cat to move from inside the house to the outside. The cat can still enter from the outdoors to the indoors.
That means that once the cat is inside, he will not be able to go out again until you alter the locking settings.
Keep Your Cat In And The Others Out
Other cats coming into your home through the cat flap is a perennial problem. We had a cat belonging to neighbors that often came indoors, to eat cat food meant for our cat.
Once again the cat flap can be set to not allow the cat to enter the house. This may be problematic for you during the day, if you want your own cat to be able to enter and exit.
That is where this pet door is particularly clever. It can be programmed to recognize up to 40 different cats. This way unwanted visitors can be kept out.
The door will not allow them to enter. A bit like having bodyguards on standby at the cat door. You need the secret password to enter.
Social Play With Your Cat
When keeping your cat inside at night, ensure that your cat’s activity needs are met by playing and engaging in physical activity with your cat.
Cat teaser wands are a very handy and inexpensive item to encourage jumping and darting about. The activity using a cat teaser can also be modified for the age of the cat. The cat teaser can be used at a slower pace for an older cat and at floor level.
I believe that why cats should be kept inside at night is fairly obvious and the reasons given in this article are all valid.
However, actually putting this idea into action is not so easy and this is evidenced in the relatively small number of states and places around the world where there is some sort of enforcement.
We can however decide that this is the action that we want to take for the safety of our cats and to protect local wildlife and fauna.