Where Do Cats Sleep Outside At Night? (Mystery Unlocked)

Do you ever ponder where your cat travels throughout the night? When your cat fails to return home by bedtime, you may wonder, “Where do cats sleep outside at night?” In contrast to humans, cats are nocturnal; hence, most cats prefer to sleep during the day and hunt at night.

Outside-sleeping cats seek settings that give warmth, protection, and seclusion from predators. Cats are crepuscular, meaning they are most active around dawn and night, unlike humans. While you sleep, your cat is finding prey and utilizing the darkness.

However, this does not mean that your cat will not seek shelter in certain locations during the night’s coldest hours. Let’s examine your cat’s sleeping habits and the risks they face when spending the night outside.

Where Do Cats Sleep Outside?

As stated previously, all cats will seek refuge that provides warmth, security, and solitude to ensure their protection. This can include abandoned buildings, garages, or any other location that gives protection from predators and the elements, comfort, and privacy. However, not all cats are outdoor felines; some have greater street savvy than inside felines.

Will Your Cat Survive the Night Outside?

Cats are bright, but some have more street smarts than others, especially if they were born and raised outside. Cats who have lived on the street can find food, shelter, and protection from other animals.

If your cat is indoor-outdoor or street-savvy, it will likely be fine to spend the night outside. However, if your feline has always been an indoor housecat, it may lack street smarts and be more vulnerable to danger.

Do Cats Love To Sleep Outside?

Most cats sleep outside during the day since they can access sunlight and fresh air. However, most cats (depending on the individual) are attracted to the outdoors at night due to their innate need to hunt. In the wild (and in captivity), felines are carnivores, which means they hunt for food. This is why your cat may appear restless at night, attempting to satisfy its natural hunting impulses.

Many indoor-only pet cats may frequently beg or whine about being released outside so they can “hunt.” And while your feline may not bring you any prey back to the house, it is vital to remember that putting them outside is perilous and exposes them to various predators.

Red with white the striped playful cat lies on a floor with a toy.
Red with white the striped playful cat lies on a floor with a toy.

What risks do cats face when they go outside at night?

Outdoor cats confront dangers other than predators at night. Outdoor cats are more susceptible to injuries, infections, parasites, and other health complications. Among the threats outdoor cats face are:

  • One of the greatest threats to cats sleeping outside is being struck by a car. During the frigid winter, outdoor cats sleep in the car’s engine. Putting them at risk of being killed when the vehicle starts up.
  • Poisoning – Unfortunately, cats can be poisoned by a variety of substances in the outdoors. Antifreeze is a common toxin found near residences, and its ingestion is frequently lethal.
  • Toxins – Cats can also be harmed by pesticides, herbicides, poisonous plants, and fertilizers, among other toxins.
  • Outdoor cats are also susceptible to being bitten or stung by insects, snakes, and other animals.
  • Cats that sleep outside are also susceptible to contracting infections from other animals with which they come into touch. Rabies is a common and often fatal disease that outdoor cats can contract.
  • Cats that spend much time outside are susceptible to assaults from dogs, coyotes, wolves, cougars, etc.

What Does Your Cat Do at Night Outside?

As stated previously, cats are nocturnal creatures, which means they are most active at night. During the night, they may search for a place to sleep, hunt for food, mark their territory, or fight with a local cat. Let’s examine some of the evening activities of felines in further detail.


Cats are hardwired with the instinct to hunt. They will spend a portion of the day attempting to capture a bird. Mice and rats, the primary prey of cats, are typically pursued at night.


When a cat roams, it explores an area outside its familiar territory. The cat may be lost, searching for food or a mate, marking its territory, or avoiding other cats. A guy can swiftly impregnate a female, resulting in unwanted offspring. If your male cat is roaming, it must be fixed immediately.


Cats like nighttime mating and will look for a mate at night. It is simpler to detect a female’s scent at night since there is less competition from other males and fewer distractions, odors, and sounds.

Finding Shelter

At night, cats frequently take refuge under a shrub, a porch, or another protective location. This will aid in their protection against the elements and predators.


Cats spend the majority of their time during the day lying in the sun or sleeping. In contrast, they are more active and engaged with their surroundings at night.

When can cats start going out at night?

It is recommended that responsible pet owners wait until their kitten is at least 6-8 months old, has been spayed or neutered, and has adequate identification, such as a microchip, before allowing it outside alone. This will safeguard the kitten’s safety and increase its likelihood of coming home if it becomes lost. Cats of a mature age may also be allowed outside but should not be left unattended for extended durations. Always ensure that your cat has the correct identification in case it becomes missing.

Cat sleeping
Cat sleeping in a windowsill

Should Your Cat Spend the Night Indoors?

The decision to allow your cat to spend the night outdoors is personal. According to the Animal Humane Society, the longevity of cats allowed to wander outside freely is ten to twelve years quicker than that of indoor cats.

Alternatively, some say that it is natural for cats to roam and that they should be permitted to do so. Bring it inside at night or install a pet door, depending on the cat. This will aid in their protection and safety. While it is true that some cats prefer being outdoors, this is not always the case. It is essential to give your cat food, drink, and a secure outside enclosure so that it can safely spend the daytime outdoors.


Depending on the cat, some will choose to spend the night outdoors while others will be fine to come inside. Leaving your cat outside at night will diminish its quality of life and shorten its lifetime by at least 5-10 years. As discussed previously, cats are nocturnal creatures who love to be active at night. Hunting, exploring their environment, mating, and seeking refuge from the elements are a few of their normal behaviors. Although some cats like spending time outdoors at night, it is not safe for all of them.

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