Cats are crepuscular animals that are most active at dawn and dusk. They can also be active overnight, but what is it that they are doing, exactly?
Cats hunt and explore, looking for both meals and a mate, at night. Indoor cats may spend their nights collecting objects they admire or looking for a way to escape. Outdoor cats may get in fights with other felines or keep watch over their territory.
Indoor and outdoor cats can both be extremely active at night. Your cat could keep you up with her activities or worry you with her disappearance. Read on to learn all about what your cat is doing at night.
While you might think that your cat spends all night running around the house or the neighborhood, cats sleep for a lot of the night. They tend to be more active during sunrise and sunset, which can overlap into the evening or start in the wee hours of the morning. Outdoor cats are more likely to be awake overnight since they have to be on the lookout for both predators and prey.
Both indoor and outdoor cats will spend their waking hours hunting. Many stray cats tend to be much more active all through the night, as they have adapted to the schedule of their prey. Since mice and rats are most active overnight, alley cats will stay up to hunt them. Indoor cats may also be ‘on the hunt,’ keeping an eye out for critters– even if they never appear.
Try and Mate
Female housecats come into heat multiple times throughout the year. When they do, they are very persistent in finding a male cat to mate with them. If there are any unneutered males in the area, they will quickly be drawn to the female in heat. The females make their status known by spraying areas around their territory with their urine and howling loudly. You may hear alley cats meowing and yowling often, either because they are fighting or mating.
Look for Food Scraps
Cats spend much of their time hunting. However, it’s not always for living things. Felines are not above eating scraps, and this includes indoor and outdoor pets. Outside, kitties may search through recycling, compost, and garbage bins, looking for some food scraps from humans.’
Indoor cats may troll your countertops and kitchen table, seeing if the humans missed any bites from dinner. If your pet knows where you keep the catnip or treats, she might take the opportunity to try and pry open the cupboards or chew a hole in the bag that holds them.
Try and Escape
Indoor cats are often obsessed with trying to get outdoors. It’s in a cat’s nature to want to explore and hunt, and if they don’t have enough stimulation throughout the day, they may use the darkness to their advantage and try and find a way out of the house.’
Cats can easily pull open screen doors with their claws or push open even a slightly gapped window. If your cat manages to escape, don’t panic, but don’t close the window, either. Leave it open for her in case she jumps back in in the early morning.
Felines are highly territorial, and they can spend much of their time protecting their domain overnight. They could be defending your property from raccoons, dogs, or other cats, patrolling the boundaries overnight. They could also be fighting other pets indoors, vying for the best sleeping spot in the house. If your cat doesn’t get along with your other pets, it’s best to isolate them in the evenings.
Whether your four-legged friend is kept inside or let outside overnight, she is likely spending a few hours exploring. A detached single-family home provides many opportunities for exploring, even though the cat spends all her time there. You never know what has changed throughout the day. Outdoors, of course, the exploration options are endless. Your cat may switch up her route every night, but her explorations will almost always lead her home.
Even though you’re convinced that your kitten is up to no good at night, she may spend a lot of hours cuddling. The animals love to cuddle because they seek out warmth. Cats may cuddle with each other if you have more than one in the home, or they may cuddle up next to the dog. Your pet will cuddle up to you as well, and if she does, you know that you make her feel safe.
One of the housecat’s many quirks is that they often love to collect things. From hair elastics to pen lids, your kitty may have a favorite object that she takes to a special place whenever she finds one. When the house is quiet, and the humans are asleep during the night, your pet may go lip chap hunting under cover of darkness. If you’re constantly misplacing socks, you may blame the dryer, but it could very well be Misses Whiskers who’s collecting them all.
Watch You Sleep
Unfortunately, many kitties have a very unsettling overnight habit – watching you while you sleep. Some housecats will spend hours sitting on your bed, staring directly at you. While it may seem cute when you are awake, waking up to a wide-eyed feline can be quite terrifying. Many things can cause this mysterious behavior.
If you make sounds in your sleep, you could be disturbing your pet. If you snore, speak, or grind your teeth while you sleep, your cat might stare at you with annoyance. Perhaps your kitty thinks that glaring at you will force you to stop, or perhaps she is contemplating swatting you to wake you up.
Your Cat Is Protecting You Because She Loves You
A much nicer possibility is that your cat is watching you while you sleep because she loves you. Cat’s tend to stare at people they love. You may notice this when your cat sits on your lap or chest and stares deeply into your eyes. She may do the same thing at night. Your furry friend could also be making sure that you are safe while you sleep and will alert you if anything out of place occurs.
Your Pet Is Hungry
If you wake up to your kitten staring straight at you, the reason could be that she is hungry. Your pet may have been willing you awake with her gaze, hoping that when you wake up, you can read her mind. A hungry cat can be very persistent, so you may have to increase your pet’s food intake at dinner or lock her out of the bedroom if she continues to stare at you for food.
Your Kitty Is Nervous or Bored
Another reason your feline could be staring at you overnight is that she is scared or bored. A nervous cat will seek you out to find protection and comfort, while a bored cat may stare at you in the hope you wake up to play. You may find your cat curled up close to you if she’s scared or flicking her tail if she’s bored.
Cats can be extremely active at night. Outdoor cats especially tend to explore, hunt, fight, and search for a mate by the light of the moon. Your indoor cat can also be a bit of an insomniac, looking for collectibles, leftover dinner crumbs, or fighting with other pets in the home. However, it’s a mistake to think cats are nocturnal; they cuddle up and sleep somewhere for a lot of the night, too.
- Wikipedia: Crepuscular animal
- VCA: Estrous Cycles in Cats
- ASPCA: Aggression in Cats
- AnimalPath: Why Does My Cat Stare At Me While I Sleep?
Pam is a self-confessed cat lover and has experience of working with cats and owning cats for as long as she can remember. This website is where she gets to share her knowledge and interact with other cat lovers.