Do Cats Need Access to a Litter Box at Night?
Whether you prefer to have your cats in your room with you at night, or you simply just want to know things for the future, there may come a time when you wonder if your cat actually needs full access to its litter box during the night hours. After all, some people consider cats to be nocturnal creatures, while at other times, cats seem to trap themselves in rooms for hours on end without an issue. The answer to the question of whether or not your cat needs access to its litter at night is going to be highly dependent on your own cat and its tolerances, so before you make any changes to your life and routine (as well as your cat’s), you will want to make the changes gradual.
In short, when cats have adapted to a schedule, they can often go around eight hours without needing to use the litter box. What this means is that once your cats have adapted to the fact that your bedtime and the time that you sleep is the time that you are inactive and that it will be time for your cat to rest too, then your cat isn’t going to have an inherent need to have a litter box in your room. It will simply be the time where your cat is adjusting to your routine that it will need to have at least some access to the litter box. In fact, if your cat is already used to this routine, you may find that there is little to no use of litter boxes during the night, as your cat recognizes that this is the time to settle down.
Cats Are Creatures of Routine
While it may seem as if your cat acts on a whim most of the time, cats actually prefer a life with rigid structure and routine to it. Cats seem to prefer being able to predict when things will happen rather than just going with the flow of life. What this means is that cats have a tendency to thrive off having a regular routine. Cats that have bonded to their people will naturally synchronize their own routines alongside yours. They will learn what times you go to bed and when you get up, when you leave for work and when you typically cook meals. Because of this, over time your cat will adapt to the fact that night is often going to be the time when people sleep, so it will be time for the cat to sleep as well.
Much like people, cats aren’t going to need to use the litter box when they are sleeping. If your cats have already adapted to your routine and are used to sleeping in your room with you but you are worried about having a litter box always available for them, then you won’t have to worry about it nearly as much. A cat will happily sleep in the same room as you and will get up when you do, so it won’t even need to think about using the litter box.
With all of this being said, if your cat is still new to the house and you are thinking about locking it in your room overnight so that it can get used to you, this may not be the best idea. When a cat is new to the house, whether it is fresh from the adoption agency or whether you have moved and are establishing a new routine, if your cat doesn’t have a routine set in place, then you are going to want to err on the side of caution and make sure that the cat has access to its litter box at night, at least until you are certain that your cat has a routine set up.
You Know Your Cats Best
Another key aspect to this is that everyone’s cats are different and you are going to know your cats and their lifestyle best. If you know for a fact that at least one of the cats you own frequents the litter box more than the others, then it may mean that that certain cat has a more sensitive bladder than other cats and may not fare well if you left it in a room without access to a litter box, even if it had its own routine schedule set up. Likewise, if you have known that your cat can sleep in the same place for upwards of eight hours while you are sleeping, then you can likely assume that your cat will also be able to make it through other nights without an issue as well, meaning that you can cut off access to a litter box during these times.
As the owner of the cats, you are going to know them best and you will have a better idea of which cat can handle what kind of situations. When introducing this solution to any cat, though, you are going to need to give it some time and you are going to need to be gradual. If you try to make this change suddenly and without warning, you may end up waking up to a nasty surprise in the morning alongside an angrier cat. You will want to begin by offering a small litter tray for the cat to use in the case of an emergency. This tray can be as simple as a turkey pan from the dollar store, filled with the litter that you usually use. For most people, this will be more than enough for people seeing if their cats can be perfectly fine without access to the litter box at night. If you are worried about the occasional situation where your cat seems to need to use the litter box unexpectedly, having one of these inexpensive and makeshift litter boxes can also be the key for you as well. In the end, many people are more than happy to keep their cats locked in their rooms overnight to have a feline companion while they sleep.