TEARS Animal Rescue often assists cats that are injured or lost due to night time wandering. We recommend that cats are kept indoors at night to keep them safe.
Domestic cats face a wide range of risks when wandering at night. All too often, veterinarians see cats that have incurred an injury or an infection due to roaming during the night. Naturally, cats are more active during the night but they can be trained to be active in the day and sleep at night. Keep your cat safe from harm by training them to come inside in the evening before you go to bed. Not only will you have peace of mind that your beloved pet is at home but your cat will be safer as a result.
Risks Cats Face By Roaming At Night
Cats that are left to wander freely at night are at increased risk of sustaining an injury. At the TEARS Welfare Clinic, the vast majority of cat hospitalisations result from injuries sustained during the night. Most cases coming in from the communities are cats that have been attacked by dogs or other cats and motor vehicle accidents. Cats are at risk from Feline AIDS and Leukemia because of fighting or mating which happens at night.
The risk of motor vehicle accidents increases at night. There is less visibility for drivers and even on quiet roads, your cat might be caught off guard when a car approaches suddenly.
In South Africa, many of us live very close to wildlife meaning that our domesticated cats do too. In the Western Cape, cats are at high risk from snakes, caracals, baboons, genets and more.
Other risks to cats outdoors include pet theft, animal cruelty, poisoning and getting lost. All of these risks are minimised by training your cat to sleep at home during the night.
Tips for Training Your Cat to Be Inside At Night and Indoors
If your cat is used to being active at night, you can take steps to encourage your cat to come indoors in the evening.
Give them activities to exercise their prey drive where they can pounce, stalk, hide, chase, climb and jump. Small toys like catnip mice and feather toys move like prey items and can entice your cat to play. Create perches near windows and high up so your cat can survey their environment. Give your cat a scratching post so they can claw to their heart’s content.
Create a routine with your cat that encourages them to come inside for dinner or a nighttime treat. Train them to a specific sound that signals treat time and spend some time in the evening doing what your cat enjoys. Perhaps your cat enjoys some cuddles, playtime or grooming. By creating a routine that encourages them to stay home in the evenings, as well as toys and activities to keep them happy while they adjust, you’ll soon be on your way to having your cat inside at night.
If your cat is used to going to the bathroom outside, you’ll need to leave a litter tray for them at night while they are indoors.
Keeping Your Cat Safe Outside
In order to maximise safety, your cat should be sterilised, vaccinated and chipped. Should something happen to your cat while outdoors, taking these precautions will help your cat get home if he or she wanders and gets lost or injured.
For more tips on how to get your cat to stay home at night or for more advice, talk to your veterinarian or behaviourist.