One of the things the cat community can be divided on at times is whether or not confining a cat to a room at night is fair, or even cruel.
I can tell you without a doubt that having a “cat room” for your cats overnight is not cruel as long as you’re providing everything your cats need.
Lots of cat parents have a cat room and put their cats in that room overnight. In fact, it’s even best for the cats in some scenarios, as I will be explaining.
Is It Cruel to Shut a Cat in a Room at Night?
It’s not cruel to shut a cat in a room at night, assuming ‘at night’ means around 8 hours while you’re asleep.
I’ve not done this myself, but I’ve known plenty of cat owners who do have cat rooms and their cats happily sleep in that room overnight.
I brought up the topic with the local RSPCA here when I was helping out at a shelter a couple of years ago, too, and the rep there said it’s absolutely fine when done correctly.
So, what does keeping a cat in a room at night ‘correctly’ mean?
It means making sure your cat has everything they need to be perfectly content for the few hours that you’re shutting them in that room.
This means, at the very minimum they should have:
- Plenty of space to move around; so a decent-sized room (not a cupboard under the stairs!)
- A clean litter box that is nowhere near their food and water bowls
- Food and water; food isn’t always necessary, it depends on when you feed your cat and how much they eat during the day
- Scratching posts or cat furniture; otherwise, you might find your furniture gets damaged!
- A nice warm spot to sleep
It’s also important that there isn’t much noise and commotion going on around your home when your cat(s) are in their cat room.
This can cause them some confusion and distress wondering what’s going on while they’re effectively trapped in their room.
Why Do People Confine a Cat to One Room Overnight?
If the idea of a cat room is new to you, you might be wondering why someone would want to shut their cats in a room overnight.
(I’m guessing you’ve never had your cat waking you several times during the night 🙂 )
The most common reasons why people choose to confine their cats to a room at night include:
So everyone gets a good night’s sleep – Cats are crepuscular, which means they are most active at dawn and dusk – dawn, in particular, is the time when most of us want to be fast asleep.
To prevent damage – Some cats can be pretty destructive around the home, and if it’s happening while you’re asleep you can’t put a stop to it.
So you know they’re safe – For some owners, it’s just added peace of mind that their cats are somewhere safe overnight.
How Long Can a Cat Be Shut In a Room?
As I mentioned, even the RSPCA are fine with cat owners leaving their cats alone or confined to a room overnight.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with shutting your cat in a room overnight, which should be around 6-8 hours, as long as they have everything they need.
It does become cruel when a cat is shut in a room for longer than is absolutely necessary, however.
Cats need stimulation, both mentally and physically (even lazy cats). As a general rule of thumb, you shouldn’t leave a cat trapped in a room for more than 12 hours without seeing them.
Cats need fresh water, feeding, and some social interaction each day. They don’t do well in isolation and can easily become stressed.
There are some reasons why a cat might need to be restricted to one room, but not without you visiting and spending time with them.
Is It Ok to Lock Cats in the Bathroom at Night?
It’s no secret that cats love bathrooms, but this doesn’t mean that your bathroom is the best room to choose as their cat room overnight.
There are a few questions to ask yourself if you’re considering using your bathroom as a cat room:
- Is your bathroom large enough to allow your cat to stretch their legs, pick more than one spot to sleep, separate their food and water bowls from their litter box, etc?
- Do you really want your cat getting fur, bits of claws, and other debris all over your sink, bath, and other places in your clean bathroom?
- Are you sure no one will need to enter the bathroom during the night?
As you can probably gather from the above questions, for most people, the bathroom is not the best room to use as a cat room!
Do Cats Need Access to Litter Boxes at Night?
Cats do need access to a litter box overnight, yes.
Your cat may not routinely use their litter box overnight, but if the need arises and they can’t access their box they are likely to find somewhere else to relieve themselves!
In my experience, this means on a rug, in a corner of a room, or behind some furniture – generally, somewhere the cat thinks they can hide it.
This means you’re going to be able to smell that they’ve urinated or pooped somewhere, and might have to get down on your hands and knees and start searching.
It’s not the most desirable position to be in.
My advice; make sure your cats always have at least one (clean) litter box available to them at all times.
Hopefully, you now better understand why and how confining a cat to a room at night can be perfectly fine.
‘Cat rooms’, as they’re called, are fairly common. Different breeds and personality types are better suited to being in a room overnight, and it certainly helps if you make it a routine while they’re young.
Image credits – Photo by Justin DoCanto on Unsplash