The adage that “cats should be put out at night” is a concept from the past. Back in the day, many years ago, the adage was often followed because:
- Domestic cats are crepuscular meaning instinctively most active at dawn and dusk.
- Cat owners believed that their cats were nocturnal which is not entirely true.
- Cat owners wanted some peace and quiet and not to be disturbed by their cat at night so that they could get a good night’s sleep.
- There was less road traffic. There was less danger from vehicles
- People were less switched on to cat welfare or less sensitive to the dangers. The developed world has become more knowledgeable and interested in cat and dog welfare and animal welfare in general over the past 100 years.
- There was less concern about cats preying on wildlife many years ago.
- The internet has educated millions on cat behavior and welfare.
The mantra or adage had a purpose similar to today’s locking a cat out of the bedroom at night.
But things have changed. Cat caregivers know a lot more as mentioned and today’s advice is to keep cats inside at night to protect wildlife as it is at night when cats are at their most prolific in killing wild species.
In some jurisdictions in Australia there are nightime curfews which insist cats are kept in at night to protect native species.
However, cat caregivers need to be able to accept that their cat might be active in the early hours when they want to be left alone. The classic cartoon image or video is a cat using imaginative ways to wake up their caregiver at four in the morning.
If my sleep is broken, one reason will be my cat jumping on my bed to check up on me and probably lie on me to get warm. One hundred years ago I would have “put him out at night” with no cat flap. Today, I accept it and more: I try and please him.
The conclusion is that the old saying that cats should be put out at night no longer applies, it is defunk, passé to use a French/English term meaning out of date, no longer in use.
It is often no longer safe to do it because of road traffic, cat snatchers or poisoners.
The modern domestic cat is often ‘diurnal’ meaning active during the day and night which is a modification of their instinctive behavior due to living with humans for about 10,000 years.
Adage: a proverb or short statement expressing a general truth.
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