Cats make fantastic pets, and pet owners across the globe simply adore their pets. But, cats love to do things their way, and that includes their own bedtime routine. If you think your cat’s going to tiptoe around the house all night for your sake, you’ve got another thing coming.
Whether it’s 4 am zoomies, blanket kneading, knocking glasses off counters, meowing and yowling, or another form of feline madness at midnight keeping you up, you may be at your wit’s end.
Some pet owners are left feeling like they have little choice but to confine their pets to a room at night if they want to get a few decent hours of sleep. Some pet parents even limit their cats to a room at night if they want their pets to be safe, as there are breakables around the house and other unsupervised dangers.
So, can you confine a cat to a room at night? You might be able to keep a cat in a room at night, so long as you properly prepare the room so your cat has everything they need and will be comfortable and safe. You will also have to put a few practices in place to prepare your cat at night, such as positive reinforcement.
So, without further ado, let’s delve deeper into the matter of what it takes to get your pet on board to spend nights alone confined to a room without their human around.
Is It Wrong To Lock Your Cat Up In A Room At Night?
So, we’ve explained that it’s possible to confine your cat to a room at night, but do we recommend doing so? No. Doing so can result in a rift in trust between you and your cat and cause your pet unnecessary stress. It may even prove to be counterintuitive to your goal of getting some sleep, as stressed cats tend to yowl and scratch at doors.
Of course, if you haven’t caught a wink of sleep in days or you’ve got guests who are allergic to cats and are staying the night, you may have no choice, but you should still be informed of the risks and how to negate them.
As mentioned earlier, when you consider the well-being of your cat and put their safety first, there is little chance of animal abuse. Unfortunately, many pet parents lock up their cats when they go out for work or before bed, thinking that it is best for their furry friends.
There are a couple of setbacks you might face when you attempt to lock up your cat in a room at night, especially the emotional and psychological issues that can arise from such treatment. Here are just a few of those roadblocks that you will likely face with your feline:
Need For Freedom
Animals, big or small, need their freedom, and cats are highly sensitive beasts that take even the slightest change in their routine to heart. Felines are creatures of habit, so if you suddenly start to lock your cat up at night, you will be stressing them out. It’ll be nothing short of torture for your pet.
Yowling, Scratching, Climbing
There’s even a possibility that you could be endangering your pet’s life by locking them away. Cats don’t take things forced upon them lying down, so your kitty will certainly cry out and scratch and claw at the door for long hours till late at night to get you to set them free.
Your cat will likely try to climb over every surface and stick their head inside every hole to escape their prison, likely injuring themselves and ruining your property. Don’t blame your poor cat for such behavior; wouldn’t you freak out if someone locked you in a room and abandoned you for hours without warning?
You might have heard that stress is a killer. It’s a phrase generally used to describe the human condition. But, it is equally applicable to animals, even cats. Your cat might be put off its food, suffer weight loss, exhibit unusually aggressive behavior, and fall sick when under a lot of stress.
Much like stress causes problems with humans, so does stress affect cats. Stress causes the existing health issues in your cat to get worse, such as high rise syndrome, diabetes, urinary tract infections, and even cancer.
There’s every likelihood that your cat will display behavioral concerns such as avoiding the litter box, avoidance of human company, depression, and a withdrawn attitude.
Broken Bond Of Trust
One of the most important things that pet parents are recommended to do is take care of their cat’s bond of trust. Your cat relies on you and your presence to feel comfortable and reassured. But, once you start to lock up your pet in a room at night, your cat will not trust you anymore.
The more your cat loses trust, the less they will be at ease.
Are There Valid Reasons For Confining Your Cat At Night?
Pet owners don’t particularly love the concept of confining their pets to a particular area, even for a limited amount of time. That’s probably why you will find most cats and dogs roaming freely in their homes.
But, there are many occasions when pet guardians don’t have a choice other than to restrict their pet’s movement to a selected area. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons for curbing a cat’s activity at night.
- Safety – If your cat likes to play with electrical cords or wires or stick their head into nooks and crannies, or loves to pick fights with other pets in the house, then it’s safer for your kitty cat to be in a cat-proof room when unsupervised.
- However, the better solution is to bind up wires with wire protectors and electrical tape to keep them off of your cat’s radar and to clean up any chewable items that are unsafe for your cat.
- Even if your cat gets into fights with other pets at night, the better solution is to talk with a vet or behavioral expert and get to the root of the issue rather than making the problem worse by stressing your cat out further.
- Recovery – If your cat has recently been neutered or spayed or has lately been in surgery or ill, then your cat will need to be in a secure and isolated area where there is no chance of any injury. If this is the case, you may want to confine them to your own room for supervision and so that they can be comforted by your presence.
- Adjustment Phase – If you’ve recently adopted a new pet or moved into a new house, your pet will need time to get accustomed to their new home. Being in a particular room or being caged will not serve to cause your kitty more stress if you’ve introduced your pet to a new environment. In a new environment, the cage or room will serve as your cat’s safe zone that they are familiar with.
- Zoomies – There’s a name for when your kitty goes out of their mind after dark, and it’s called the zoomies. Many pet parents that care for multiple pets find it difficult to sleep through the night. Most cats become very active during the late hours of the night when their energy levels are out of control. Many pet guardians can only find relief from the zoomies when they confine their cats to a specific spot.
- However, there’s a better solution to this too! Play with your cats for 15 minutes at least twice a day to help them expend all that pent-up energy. If you confine a particularly energetic cat to a small space at night, you’re bound to have issues with yowling, scratching, and even breaking things.
- Temporary Confinement – Many cats tend to have the best hiding spots, and if you are scheduled for a consultation with the vet, you will often find your cat has gone MIA. So, some parents revert to confining their pets to a room an hour and a half before the visit to the vet to make sure they know where to find them.
Can Cats Be Confined In A Room For Long?
Confining a pet to a room at night is necessary for some pet owners. But, there are two things that you should never attempt with any of your cats.
- Never confine your cat to a room at night as a form of punishment for unwanted behavior.
- Never leave your cat trapped in a room for long hours.
While it is understandable that many pet parents might only put their cat into a room after sundown, if you suddenly place your pet into a room and leave them there for an extended period, you will inevitably be making your cat feel like they’re being punished or abandoned.
Vets across the board do not recommend leaving a cat confined to a room for more than 24 hours at a stretch. But, your cat should be okay if you leave them in a room for the night with a clean litter box, a fresh bowl of water, and a full supper before you close the room door.
Even after you have made sure that your cat has every necessity as well as a few of their favorite toys to make them completely comfortable, you should not leave your cat in a room for too long. So, if you are locking your cat up for the night in a specific spot, then the first thing you ought to do the moment you open your eyes is let your cat out of their room.
How To Make A Confined Cat Comfortable
Many animal behavioral experts, as well as vets, recommend that if you plan on keeping a pet confined to a particular space, you should give them plenty of training and time to get used to the idea of being at ease in that given area.
Rather than putting your pet through unnecessary trauma and stress, if you start by allowing your pet to get familiarized with the room, you will help in making your pet feel relaxed.
You may also want to try confining them for short periods of time in advance at the same time of day for a few weeks in advance to help them get used to the idea, gradually increasing the time they spend in the room.
Rather than locking up your kitty the whole night in a separate room on the very first attempt, you can start by confining them for an hour or two and then increasing the number of hours over a while.
Moreover, it will also make your feline feel a whole lot better if when you let your cat out of their room you give them your undivided time and attention. Set aside playtime or bonding time with your pet once you let your kitty cat out.
A great way to get your cat on board with this idea is to give them a treat or fun toy to keep them occupied every time you put them in the room. This will give them a positive association with being left in the room.
As mentioned earlier, making sure that your feline has everything they need in that specific spot where you intend for them to spend the night will also make your cat feel more at ease. But, when it comes to cats, you have a reasonably long list of what constitutes a necessity for your feline friend.
A clean litter box, a fresh bowl of water, a full supper, a warm place to sleep, and plenty of interactive toys complete the list of essentials. It’ll support your cause greatly if you remember to put your cat’s favorite things in the same room, too, such as soft blankets, toys, or plush animals. Try spraying these items with calming pheromones, like this awesome Feliway spray, for extra measure.
Some pet parents take indoor security cameras such as a nanny cam in the room where they plan to keep their cat for the night. It might sound a bit extreme, but there are pet owners who find it unnerving to confine their pets into a room alone for the night, even if it is a necessity.
If your pet does start to meow in the middle of the night, you can simply view in the camera whether your cat is calling for your help or merely announcing their displeasure about their current situation.
Should You Let Your Cat Roam Freely At Night?
All pets need time to get adjusted to new environments. If you’ve just adopted a cat or shifted to a new place, perhaps it’s a good idea to keep your pet confined to a specific spot for a few days.
It helps to have a small, safe, and secure site until they are acclimatized with their new environment. The small space will make your pet feel protected, and the area will also serve as their territory.
But, once your pet is used to your presence, your family members as well as its new home, there is no reason to confine your pet. In most cases, cats are relatively mild-tempered.
They love to climb tabletops and explore new territories. But, most cats aren’t destructive by nature. Cats like to settle in or hunker down with their humans. So, it’s a safe bet to let your cat roam freely in the house after sundown.
And, if you have cat flaps that give your cat access to go outside at night time, or even create a passage for other wild animals such as squirrels or raccoons to enter your house, then it is better to find a way to lock or block these flaps than to keep your cat confined to a room.
Having a beautiful, intelligent, and affectionate pet like a cat in your life is truly a privilege. There’s no denying that these fantastic creatures bring tons of joy and laughter into the lives of their humans. But, becoming a pet parent is not just about fun and frolic.
Becoming a pet parent entails a lot of responsibility. You need to be aware that every decision you make will invariably affect your pet’s life and health. So, if you feel that you need to confine your pet to a room for the night, it should be for the safety and protection of your pet more than for your comfort.
As a pet parent, you should never revert to restricting your pet’s movement to a specific space as a form of punishment. If you use negative reinforcement to control your pet’s unwanted behavior, you will never manage to bond with your pet. Nor will you ever manage to create a modicum of trust between yourself and your pet.
Confining a pet to a room at night isn’t always abuse, particularly when you have taken care to provide your pet with all that they need to be content in a particular spot, especially things like their litter box, food, water, and toys.
If you have your pet’s best interest at heart, then confinement isn’t abuse in any way. But, it will help you and your pet to get used to the idea of staying in a room from dusk till dawn if you give your pet some time, be patient, and let them get accustomed to the concept of spending time on their own in a room without you around.