On The Prowl: The Risks of Leaving Your Cat Out All Night

A white and brown cat standing on the floor

It goes without saying that cats are safer indoors, but every neighborhood has cats that live both indoors and outside.

Outdoor cats certainly enjoy more freedoms than their indoor counterparts, but that freedom comes at a cost, especially for those being let out overnight.

What Are Outdoor Cats Doing All Night?

Cats are crepuscular, meaning they are most active during the dawn and dusk hours. Cats will naturally want to spend the evening outdoors, leaving their owners wondering what it is they’re doing out there all night.

Researchers at the University of Georgia found out the answer to this question by placing tiny cameras on 55 cats in the Atlanta area and painstakingly studying the many hours of footage that was captured. What they found was probably not too surprising, many of the cats were hunting, and almost all of them engaged in behaviors that were considered dangerous by the researchers.

The top dangerous behaviors were as follows.

  • Crossing roads
  • Encountering strange cats 
  • Eating and drinking substances away from the home 
  • Exploring storm drain systems
  • Entering crawl spaces where they could become trapped 

Danger Lurks at Every Turn!

There’s no doubt that leaving outdoor cats out overnight puts them at risk. Coyotes are present in nearly every American city and town, and cats are a favorite meal. Being hit by cars, attacked by other animals, ingesting antifreeze or other toxic substances, or being trapped inside a shed, barn, or crawlspace are only some of the dangers inherent in being out overnight.

Outdoor cats are also exposed to parasites and communicable diseases such as feline HIV and feline leukemia.

Finding Safe Alternatives

At Rocklin Ranch Veterinary Hospital, we always recommend pet cats be kept indoors for their own safety, but we recognize that not every cat owner will follow this advice. Whenever possible, keep your cat indoors during the night. They may not like this at first, but with time they will get used to their new schedule. Provide fun toys, food puzzles, and other activities to keep them busy while you sleep.

Wellness care for outdoor cats is extremely important. Protecting them from parasites and disease, and evaluating their overall health is paramount. For more information about your sweet kitty, or to set up an appointment, please don’t hesitate to contact our team.