Compared with feral felines, are domestic cats more or less nocturnally active?

Compared with feral felines, are domestic cats more or less nocturnally active? This is a question asked by a person on It seems to presume that feral cats are nocturnal. I wouldn’t presume that necessarily. Feral cats will behave much like domestic cats and domestic cats are not entirely nocturnal.

Cats at night in Paris
Cats at night in Paris –Photo By Robert Doisneau. Link to his photo for sale.
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Much domestic cat activity is hunting. Domestic cats will hunt in the daytime and nighttime but particularly at dawn and dusk (crepuscular activity). If my personal experience is anything to go by, domestic cats prefer to sleep from late morning to late afternoon in their human companion’s home and are then active in the evening at dusk and then on and off throughout the night but focusing once again at dawn.

Overall, domestic cats prefer to hunt at night compared to the daytime but this does not mean that they do not hunt during the day.

Indeed, domestic cats are adaptable and flexible. Some wild cat species such as leopards are so persecuted by humans that they have learnt and adapted to hunt at night to avoid people. This is not the case for domestic cats. They prefer the hunt at dawn and dusk because that is when prey items are available to be attacked and eaten.

Clearly, full-time indoor cats will not have quite the same clearly demarcated activity habits. Nonetheless, I would expect them to be active at night, more so than some cat owners would like to tolerate. There are many examples on the Internet of cat owners locking their cat out of the bedroom at night or even locking them in bathrooms. I think this is entirely incorrect.

Domestic cat should be allowed to enter their owner’s bedroom at night and rest on their bed because it is reassuring for them and it clearly improves their lives. It also aids in bonding between cat and person. As cat guardians we have a duty to our cats to improve their lives as best we can. It doesn’t take much to adapt to having your cat on your bed at night.

Not all domestic cats are interested in hunting to the same extent. The less interested they are the less likely it is that they will be active at night and out of step with their human caretaker.

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