The response depends on:
- What you mean by cat? Do you mean adult cats? Or do you man kittens?
- The reason why you are considering caging your cat at night.
Reason for caging a cat at night
If you are thinking about caging a cat or kitten at night because they disturb you and if that is the ONLY reason you need to reevaluate whether it is a good idea to have a cat. In fact I’d go further and suggest that you are unsuited to being a cat guardian. You have to expect some disruption to your life when looking after a cat. Living with a cat changes your life.
Adult cat caged at night
This would certainly be cruel unless there is a real and pressing reason concerning the cat’s health and welfare. And if it is only done for a limited time. To cage a healthy cat at night is a essentially a bizarre thought and one that goes against the essential responsibilities of a cat guardian to provide a good and stimulating environment. Domestic cats are crepuscular. They have evolved to be active at dawn and dusk and sometimes throughout the night. It is in their DNA. To block that and confine them to a cage is certainly cruel unless for genuine health reasons.
Kitten caged at night
A cat guardian may think it wise to cage a kitten at night for the kitten’s safety. There is therefore a motivation to do it in the kitten’s interest. However, it is too restrictive and unnecessarily so. You can make your home safe for a kitten who wants to be active at night. It requires adjusting one’s lifestyle and expectations. Perhaps you will be woken up by an active kitten or kittens at night. This happens, too, with adult cats. It is part of being a cat guardian. Before people adopt a cat or kitten they need to be aware of this.
I have raised several kittens and it never occurred to me to confine them even to a room, never mind a cage. I can’t recall ever having a problem. As I said you’ll probably be woken up during the night. It’s the price of caring for a kitten but it a price worth paying for the more substantial upside of the relationship.
These are my thoughts written down without reading up about it. Please share yours. There will be complications putting an adult cat or kitten in a cage at night. There is the question of food availability and the litter tray being close. Cats are naturally active at night. Being heavily restricted in terms of natural activity and movement will probably upset the cat or kitten. They may try and get out. They may harm themselves doing so. They may become depressed or less content than they would otherwise be. It would not be good cat caretaking in my view.
For adult cats, leave them alone at night and accept it. For kittens provide a really nice bed near yours, I would suggest, and make sure there are no cables or other potentially dangerous household items that may injure them if chewed. There should be easy access to water, food and litter tray. I agree that you may be concerned about safety and the concern may disturb your sleep. It is the same as having a child. You have to accept it or don’t have a kitten or a child. You can’t have the upside without the downside.
Jackson Galaxy on being disturbed at night and adopting
His ethos is not to reward your cat if they are meowing for attention at night. In other words don’t respond to it and it will go away. It is similar to child care and responding to a crying child at night who won’t sleep. Some people say you should ignore the crying so the child learns to fall asleep without assistance. This has been found to NOT harm the child. The same applies to cats it seems to me. Personally I respond if my cat wants to interact with me at 04:00 because I am nearly awake anyway.
About adopting kittens: Jackson advises that if you have the choice of bringing home two kittens, do it. It will be better for you and them. They can entertain and comfort each other, taking some of the caretaking duties away from you.
Age of cat guardian is relevant
This is another issue: the age of the cat guardian and whether they are retired or not. If you are retired and have no work obligations it is much easier to be messing around at night with your cat because you can have a snooze during the day if you have to. Retired cat caretakers are more flexible and in this regard are potentially better cat caretakers.
Busy young cat guardians who work hard and are away from the home a lot, stressed and pressured may find it irritating to ‘own’ a young cat as it adds another layer of responsibility to an already pressured life. This comes back to adopting a cat or not. It requires a careful decision in full knowledge of what is involved and a belief that owning a cat is a lifelong commitment.
SOME MORE ON KITTENS: