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Can I Leave My Cat Outside Overnight?

Would you leave your young child outside overnight?

This question sounds ridiculous, but there is a close comparison between a beloved fur baby feline and your precious child.

If you value your child’s safety, you will not think of leaving your child outside overnight because there are too many dangers. If you value the life of a little fur baby, please do not do this.

Can I Leave My Cat Outside Overnight?

Being a cat parent for over thirty years to at least 40 fur babies, I have made some decisions that cost the lives of two of my cats. I have to live with these decisions for the rest of my life.

These incidents were a tough learning experience that never should have happened. Think about the decisions you make regarding your fur baby.

  • Cats, in general, are intelligent creatures. However, sometimes they do not know what is best for them, much like a child.
  • Young children and fur babies rely on their parents to make the best decision for them.
  • Dangers can pose a risky threat to your beloved fur baby.

Know that most stray and feral cats are street-savvy. Still, life is tough for these creatures. The life expectancy for a feral or stray cat is shorter than for an inside domesticated cat.

  • Cats are highly intelligent.
  • I do not believe cats can reason too much nor know what is often best for them.
  • Cats are curious critters, and sometimes their curious tendencies make them venture into dangerous territory.
  • Sometimes danger comes to cat when least expected, day or night.

Cats are always on guard for strange noises and dangerous situations; sometimes, they run from danger.

Sometimes it is too late to run, and they become injured, or it may cost them their lives because they are caught off guard.

  • If your cat makes it a habit of being outside, give them flea treatment monthly.
  • Provide rabies vaccinations.
  • Keep a close eye on your cat, and if possible, follow them and know where they venture.

I don’t mean to be all doom and gloom, but feline parents need to understand that there are all kinds of dangers during the light of day or dark of night.

Let your cat outside in confined areas such as a fenced-in private yard or a sunny enclosed front porch, although there are no guarantees they won’t jump.

You can train your cat to do as you want it to do.

However, it takes patience, perseverance, and everyone in your home must be on board. Persistent training or no training, a cat is going to do what cats do.

You certainly do not want to live with your cat’s untimely death by another wild critter or human because you made a wrong decision.

City and Rural Areas Make No Difference

Take a look around your property at night. I discovered that when it gets dark outside, I noticed a skunk or two, a badger, and a couple of fat groundhogs that might dig under our fence or climb over it. And we live smack dab in the city!

Yep! I can see me giving Lil’ Luke a tomato juice bath after his run-in with Mr. Skunk.

I do not want our babies facing off with these critters, especially a skunk. Rabid wild animals are a big concern.

Consider some angry, nasty humans and older children waiting to harm a cat, especially a black cat.

I am not trying to be mean, but only realistic because animal cruelty exists everywhere.

One year during Halloween week, a lady dressed in black came to my door.

She wore black lipstick, had black nail polish, and long black hair. She said, “I see you have a couple of black cats? Would you mind giving me one?”

I was shocked and appalled!

I tried to remain calm and polite because I did not want her to return for revenge. You never know what strangers will do.

I told her that they were not for sale. For this reason, I never let our fur babies outside around Halloween, especially our three black cats.

Why Has My Cat Started Staying Out Overnight?

  • Who is the boss, you or your cat?
  • Who started leaving your cat outside at night?
  • Did you train your cat to unlock and open the door?

Cats are nocturnal animals; they love to run and sniff out different things, especially at night.

They are curious, which can get them into trouble, causing possible injuries, capture,  confinement somewhere, or untimely death. The outside offers unlimited places to explore.


Cats tend to become bored. A yowling cat may be trying to tell you they need more excitement in its life. Ask yourself how much exercise or play your cat gets?

Try hiding a few treats around the house at night. This helps to keep a cat on the hunt, busy and occupied.


Lifestyle changes can be stressful for a cat. New additions to the family, such as more pets or babies, can cause your cat to want to go outside.

Nighttime Offers Calmness to a Cat

  • Most cats find that it is calming to roam outside at night.
  • There are fewer cars and people out and about.
  • Cats like to hunt and find new and exciting hiding places. These places can also be dangerous.
  • Cats are hunters of small rodents.

A Routine

The more you allow your cat outside at night, the more they will expect this. Domesticated cats can adapt to living outside, given a chance.

If you do not want to risk never seeing your cat again or having it come home injured, you should not risk this routine. If your home is multi-cat, always do a head count before retiring for the night.

Can Cats Sleep Outside at Night?

Those cats that are domesticated may or may not want to sleep outside. Some domesticated cats are afraid to go outside.

If your cat does not want to venture outside day or night, you and it are better off. Allowing your cat to sleep outside at night will help it adapt to that routine, as cats are self-sufficient critters.

Need I remind you again of the dangers lurking outside? 

The choice is yours, and you have to live with the consequences.

How to Get My Cat to Come Home at Night? 

Like humans, every cat is different. What works for one may not work for the other. The following are what works for our fur baby, Lil’ Luke, and us and may work for you.

  • Make sure your cat knows his name and comes when you call him.
  • Do not let your cat outside after a set time, such as 6 pm. If your cat is outside, get it in by 6 pm. (Hubby just brought Lil’ Luke in and Luke is now safe and sound for the night, on the front porch.)
  • Have interesting toys.
  • Give your cat a lot of attention.
  • Brush your cat and pamper it with love.
  • Have favorite treats available (later). Never reward your cat for coming home!
  • Do not feed your cat before you let it out for a stroll. It comes home quicker if it is hungry.
  • Develop a nightly routine of catnip play.
  • Hide a few favorite treats around the house at night.

Q. Is it Cruel to Leave a Cat Outside Overnight?

A. Yes (my opinion), due to the dangers that can overtake your cat, but maybe not if they have,

  • A safe, comfortable place to sleep
  • Fresh cool water
  • Fresh food
  • Good health
  • Decent weather
  • The outside temperature is too hot or too cold.
  • Too many dangers outside.