Are Cats Nocturnal?

Have you ever been woken up by your cat at 3:00 am?


A lot of people complain how their cats sleep all day and don’t let them sleep all night. Some even tell me how their cat gets a burst of energy during the night time! No matter how much you love your furry friend, it’s not really nice when she wakes you up from your sleep.


So, is your furry friend actually nocturnal like many other mammals such as racoons and bats? Or is it just a myth?


In today’s blog post I’d like to answer the question, “Are cats nocturnal?” in as much detail as possible so that you can be an expert in this subject.  


Let’s get started, shall we?

Big Cats and Small Cats: The Hunting Behaviors

The thing is that the wild, big cats are mostly nocturnal hunters.


Their eyes which are much like that of the domesticated kitty, are designed for sight in low as well as high light levels. If your domestic cat displays nocturnal behavior, it’s acting like the big cat such as the lion, tiger, etc.


Usually these cats sleep anywhere from hours a day to more than sixteen a day! Isn’t that a lot of sleeping!?


The good news is this behavior can be modified in most cats but sadly, that isn’t the case for all cats.

Are Cats Nocturnal? Or Are They Diurnal?

What we now know is that the domestic cat, i.e. the Felis silvestris catus is not nocturnal like the owl, the raccoon or the Ocelot, but is crepuscular.


What the hell does that even mean!?


Well, the crepuscular animals are those that are at their most active both at dusk as well as the dawn, as this is usually the time when their prey is available. But, the prey can learn the predator’s activity patterns, which is why anti-predator adaptations occur.


This means that the prey will change its habits in order to avoid being caught.


There are several mammals that are crepuscular. The list includes rabbits, hamsters, bobcats, ferrets, and possums. The term crepuscular is quite vague, as many of these animals will also be active in the middle of the night or even during the day.


This is what confuses some and while they ask themselves if cats are diurnal or nocturnal.


This is also the reason why house cats seem to be sleeping during most of the day and tend to awaken when the sun is going down or coming up.


However, owned cats can adapt to their owner’s schedule too.


They will prefer sleeping when they are alone and being slightly more active during feeding times, which is why you may see them seeking for your attention at times when you usually feed them or pay attention to them.


You should keep in mind that the Felis silvestris catus are descendants from the same line of other felines.


Wild cats such as the lion, tiger or linx are in fact, nocturnal. They are considered specialized hunters when compared to other animals, which is why they only need a few hours a day to hunt, and will spend the rest of the day in leisure.


Feral cats are known to be completely nocturnal.


This is due to the fact that their prey, which is usually small mammals, and sources of food usually appear after dusk.


Feral cats are more reliant on their prey to eat, which is why they have more nocturnal patterns than house cats, even if they are free-roaming. They also adopt a nocturnal behavior to avoid humans too.


Managed Cats

What most people don’t know is that almost every cat, whether it’s a household cat, a stray or an alley cat can change its activity level at wil. This means that your kitty can become less nocturnal or more diurnal as a response to its level of interaction with their environment or activities with humans.


One of the most common complaints that cat owners have is that, “My cat keeps me awake at night.


It is true that nocturnal behavior in cats can be really annoying for their humans, but sometimes, this behavior can be managed so the cat adjusts to the human lifestyle and becomes more diurnal.


If your cat displays nocturnal behavior, what must be done is a slight shifting of their schedule as well as a management of their environment.

Things to Manage Your Kitty’s Sleeping Schedule

Following are some tips that can help you manage your kitty’s sleeping schedule. Take your look:

  1. Don’t payoff disturbing behavior. If you give your cat what it wants, you’re reinforcing this nightlife behavior and verifying, “Hey, this works, I should do it more often!”
  2. Early evening exercise help provide enough activity to tire out your cat and have her sleep through the night. Devoted activity may allow you that sleep you so desperately need at night!
  3. While you’re away during daytime hours, provide some type of activity for your cat for mental and physical stimulation.

A food type toy such as a ‘Roll-a-Treat’ is a great distraction
A catnip toy like the ‘KONG Squirrel Catnip Toy’ is another good method of keeping your cat awake during the day

Consider feeding your cat with an automatic food dispenser toy. This will keep your cat on its feet and not sleeping all day. Feeding times are important. Consider feeding your cat a few times throughout the day (one being at night, before bedtime.)

  1. Never punish or strike your cat. Your cats behavior is not caused by a human emotion. This will cause a stressful relationship between cat and human and will not ultimately solve the problem.


Managing your cats nocturnal behavior by following the above guidelines may keep you both ‘in-sync’ for years to come.


Unfortunately, not every cat will respond in the same manner.


Situations differ just like each cat is different!


Final Words: Are Cats Nocturnal?

So, domestic cats really don’t really need to stay up at night and aren’t really nocturnal.


Here are a few things that’ll help keep your cat asleep at night:

  1. Provide your cat with a comfortable bed
  2. Try to entertain your cat during the day to keep it awake!
  3. Get an automatic feeder for your cat—this way your kitty won’t wake you up in the morning crying for food!


Let me know in the comments section how you feel about this article!


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