Do you get up in the middle of the night and routinely stub your toe on a piece of furniture because you aren’t able to see your way to the toilet? Do you envy your cat for not having to contend with the same issue and are surprised to find them waiting for you outside the bathroom in the dark?
Or are you perhaps wondering if cats can really see in the dark, or if they need some light to keep them company during the night?
Should you leave a nightlight on for your cat, or will they be just fine in the pitch darkness?
Should I Leave a Light on for My Cat at Night?
Cats can see in the dark as long as there is at least a bit of a light source. You don’t have to leave a light on for them, as what penetrates in from the outside should be enough.
Leaving a bright light on for your cat will most likely disrupt their sleep. Like humans, they sleep much better at night when there is darkness around them.
However, there is something to be said about leaving a tiny light on in a part of the house. It could be a comfort light in the hallway that will help them get to their litter box more easily, and that will also prevent you tripping on your cat in the middle of the night.
Remember that cats can’t see in complete darkness, so there needs to be some sort of light source, whether from outside, or from a tiny, low light you leave on for them.
Since your home is probably already full of all kinds of light sources (from your TV, modem, perhaps your boiler, oven or AC), as long as you are certain you won’t step on your kitty when you get out of bed, the night light may not even be necessary.
Should I Leave a Light on for my Kitten at Night?
You can leave a low light on for your kitten to make them feel safer and to help them get accustomed to their new home.
Kittens aren’t yet as familiar with their surroundings as adult cats are, so they may have a harder time getting around, especially in a new home. They will also probably feel safer the better they are able to see, so getting them a low comfort light can be a good choice. Make sure it doesn’t interfere with their sleep though, so place it well away from their likely bed.
Are Cats Afraid of the Dark?
Most cats are not afraid of the dark. However, if they have experienced some sort of trauma in the dark, they may feel uncomfortable in it.
Darkness is not what cats are afraid of: it’s the fact that they had a negative experience that they now associate with it. Perhaps they were chased or captured, attacked or stepped on. If your cat grew up in a loving environment with their mother and siblings, this is highly unlikely.
Cats that used to be strays can feel uncomfortable in the dark, as this used to be the time when they needed to be on high alert. Don’t forget that complete darkness is completely unnatural. If your cat was trapped in a dark cupboard for example, they may now be a bit skittish when it gets dark. Leaving a light on for them can thus help make them feel much more comfortable.
Do Cats Prefer Lights On or Off?
Cats prefer lights off during the night, as this is what is natural to them. Darkness also boosts their melatonin production.
While cats are crepuscular and are most active at dawn and dusk, they will be active during the day and night too. And while they are perfectly capable of sleeping when it’s light out, they do prefer darkness during the night.
Their pineal gland secretes melatonin that helps them sleep better. It also helps regulate their circadian rhythm, and it is triggered by the sun going down.
Some cats will of course like to sleep with the lights on, so don’t be surprised if yours truly doesn’t mind it if you work at night. Others will seek out the darkest spot in the house at night, which is perfectly normal too.
Do Cats Need the Light Off to Sleep?
Cats technically don’t need the light off to sleep, as they are perfectly capable of sleeping in the middle of the day too. Lights off will help them secrete more melatonin though.
Think of it this way: people who work the night shift often have trouble getting enough sleep, as daytime sleep is not of the same quality as nighttime rest. The same principle applies to cats: while they can sleep when there is plenty of light around, they will get the best quality rest in a safe environment during the night.
One of the things cats hate is being woken up in the middle of the night by a sudden intrusion of very bright light. If you need to get up to go to the bathroom, it’s best to already have a light on that will help you get there, but won’t disturb your cat.
Do Cats Need Light at Night?
Cats need a little bit of light at night to be able to see, as they can’t see in complete darkness. A low source of light will be just fine.
Cats see infinitely better in the dark than humans do, and only need the smallest possible light source to bounce off the objects around them. Their whiskers also help a lot, as they act as sensors.
This light can be a streetlamp down the street, or it can be a night light you leave on for them.
Do Cats Need Light to Use the Litter Box?
Cats need a little bit of light to use the litter box, as they can’t see in the complete darkness. You can leave a comfort light on for them.
As long as there is some light near their litter box, cats will be able to navigate it without a hitch. However, if it’s enveloped in complete darkness, they will have a harder time getting to it. This does not mean they will miss their mark, just that it will take them longer to do their business.
A light source near the litter box can make it that much easier for them.
Can Cats and Kittens Actually See In the Dark?
Yes, both cats and kittens can see in the dark, as long as there is a low light source around. They can’t see in pitch black.
When you think about it, it can never get completely dark in nature. The light of the moon and stars is enough for wild cats and other predators to see by. Just like them, our domestic cats can see in the dark, as long as there is minimal light available. What we may consider pitch black will be just fine for them.
Their hearing and whiskers also help them find their way around a space in the dark.
Can I Leave My Cat in the Dark?
You shouldn’t leave your cat alone in the dark. At least open the curtains and let some light from the street in, or leave a nightlight on for them.
If you are away from home in the evening, leave some source of light for your cat. It will help them navigate your home better and make them feel more comfortable. It will also prevent you from tripping over them or any toys when you get in the door.
You can leave the light on in one room, providing plenty of darkness for them to sleep if they want to, but also ensuring they don’t feel unsafe or uncomfortable while you are away.
Are Cats Okay in Pitch Black?
Cats can’t see in pitch black, as they need a little bit of light to navigate by. Don’t leave your cat in a completely dark room without any light. They probably won’t get hurt, but it certainly won’t be a pleasant experience.
While cats see in the dark much better than humans do, they don’t actually have superpowers. They don’t see in complete darkness, so always make sure there is some source of light for them, albeit a low one.
Should I Leave the TV on For My Cat?
If you usually leave the TV on while you are at home and not actually watching it, it can be calming for your cat. However, if they have the tendency to attack it, you may want to turn it off before you leave.
Cats like routine. If the TV is something they are used to, leaving it on when you are away will make them feel comfortable. On the other hand, if you rarely watch TV, they may feel weird when left alone with it.
You also need to choose the channel wisely, as you don’t want them to feel threatened by an animal program or loud noises. Anything involving mice, birds or other cats should be avoided.
Sasha for example is a bona fide TV watcher. She’s seen all of Downton Abbey and House of Cards, and she never misses a Liverpool game. Unless of course I am away from home in which case it’s probably Selling Sunset or Dream Home Makeover.
Wrapping It Up
While cats don’t need a lot of light at night, leaving minimal comfort light on for them may help. You can of course just leave the shutters or blinds slightly open too.