As cat owners, we are responsible for our pets, and that duty doesn’t end when we go to bed. Many cat owners are horrified at the thought of leaving their new kitten unattended at night. However, cats have much better eyesight in limited light than we do, so you don’t need to leave a light on for your cat.
In fact, turning off all the lights in the house can help encourage your cat to sleep instead of getting into mischief. That said, leaving a dim night light on — or even keeping a curtain slightly open so the moonlight shines through — is a good idea for safety reasons, for both you and your cat.
Can Cats See in the Dark?
If you’re unfamiliar with cats, it can be easy to assume that their ability to see in limited light means they can see when it’s completely dark. They’re also commonly believed to be nocturnal due to their habit of sleeping during the day and running around at night.
Cats are actually crepuscular. This means they’re most active during dawn and dusk, when it’s dark but there’s still light to see by. The dim light is important. Although cats can see much better in limited lighting than we can, they can’t see at all in pitch blackness.
Do Cats Need Light at Night?
Leaving a light on for your cat isn’t strictly necessary. Too-bright light can interfere with your cat’s sleeping habits. If you’ve ever stayed up later than usual and left the lights on, you’ll notice that your cat is more likely to go to bed late too.
There is an exception to this, though. Since cats can’t see well in pitch blackness, if turning out all the lights plunges your home into impenetrable darkness, your cat is more likely to be concerned. Timid cats, kittens, or older cats that have had bad experiences with the dark might even be fearful of absolute darkness.
While you don’t need to leave a light on for your cat, having a small night light can provide more than enough light to settle their nerves without keeping them awake. It also serves another purpose.
Most of us have had to get up in the middle of the night for some reason. Shuffling across the room to the light switch can lead to a few accidents. You might not only trip on one of your kitten’s toys but also accidentally stand on your cat.
A small night light that you plug into a wall socket should provide enough light to see by. You can purchase LED options that are motion sensitive or come on automatically at night. While these dim lights won’t enable you to see perfectly clearly, you’ll be better able to make out the shape or movement of your kitten. The dim light will also be more than enough for your cat’s better eyesight.
Should I Leave a Light On for My Kitten?
You might be fine leaving your adult cat to their own devices at nighttime, but your new kitten might be another matter. With how much mischief they can get into, letting them wander in the dark seems like a recipe for disaster.
But like adult cats, kittens will sleep better at night when the lights are off. They might play for a little longer after you turn off all the lights, but they’ll soon curl up to go to sleep.
If you do want to leave a light on for your kitten, stick with dim night lights. Your kitten, like their adult counterparts, will be able to see in the limited lighting if they do get up to use the litter tray or to play.
Should You Leave a Light On When You Introduce a New Cat to Your Home?
Introducing a new pet to your home is always an interesting challenge, especially if you’ve never owned one before. Part of welcoming your newest family member is helping them adjust to your routine. Most cats and kittens will quickly acclimatize to their new living situation. This includes learning when you go to sleep and even mimicking the habit themselves, even if they get up at some point to change their sleeping spot.
You can leave a light on for the first night if you want, especially if your cat hasn’t done much exploring and you’re worried about them navigating in the dark. A dim night light or a cracked-open curtain will be more than sufficient and will help your new cat learn that when the lights go out, it’s time to sleep.
How to Keep Your Cat Safe at Night
Even if you do leave a nightlight on for your kitten and they’re happy to sleep through the night, they might still wake up to play or use the litter tray. While they’re up, they might explore a bit too.
To keep your cat safe — even if they can see in limited lighting — make sure any breakables are secure. While unattended, your cat will probably make the most of their freedom by exploring places where they’re not allowed, like the kitchen countertop. Don’t leave food out overnight, and put away any knives or other items that your cat could accidentally knock onto the floor.
Part of the reason that cats make excellent hunters is their excellent vision in limited lighting. They can’t see in pitch darkness, but they are more than capable of finding their way around the house at night without much lighting available.
While you don’t need to leave a light on for your cat, a dim night light can ensure that both your cat’s midnight adventures and your own nighttime wanderings through the house don’t end in injury.
Featured Image Credit: mariavp, Pixabay