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Do Cats Have an Evening Routine? Vet Approved Facts & FAQ

Written by: Catster Editorial Team

Last Updated on February 9, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

tabby cat in the blanket on bed

Do Cats Have an Evening Routine? Vet Approved Facts & FAQ


Dr. Ashley Darby Photo


Dr. Ashley Darby

Veterinarian, BVSc

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Cats are creatures of habit, and they love routine. That’s why they know when dinnertime is approaching and will let you know if it’s time for their daily treats. As such, cats do have evening routines. Left to their own devices, they will create their own routines, which may not align with yours. But it is possible to encourage cats to follow a similar routine to yours. This can mean minimal disturbances to your own routine, especially sleep.

Below, we look at the typical evening routines of cats and how you can elicit some degree of control over what your cat gets up to at night.

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Do Cats Have a Routine?

Although they have a reputation for being nocturnal, cats are actually crepuscular. This means they are more active at dawn and dusk.It also means domestic cats will become lively and playful in the evening and first thing in the morning.

Cats sleep around 12 to 18 hours a day, typically in bursts. Much of this occurs during the day, overnight your cat may nap, eat, play, and otherwise entertain themselves while you’re asleep. They might even try to get your attention if they’re not used to your evening routine or this behavior has been rewarding in the past. Have you ever got up to feed or play with your cat? This is rewarding their behavior of waking you up.

gray tabby Maine Coon kitten lying on a cat tree
Image Credit: photosbelkina, Shutterstock

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How to Start and Maintain an Evening Routine With Your Cats

The timing of a cat’s natural routine may not be ideal for your home life. Fortunately, it is possible to have some semblance of control over a cat’s routine. By following the tips and routine below, you should be able to ensure you get a good night’s sleep, as well as your cat.

1. Playtime

Cats love to play. Whether it is with officially sanctioned toys or household objects that you haven’t secured efficiently, they will throw them around and hunt them down. Hunting is a natural behavior for cats and mimicking this with play enriches their life.

If you don’t provide enough playtime, your kitty will come up with their own playtime routine as an outlet for their energy, and this may well coincide with your sleeping routine. Earlier in the evening, get the wand toy out and wear your cat out. Not only will it help you both enjoy a good night’s sleep, but it will keep your cat in tip-top physical shape.

girl playing with her cat
Image Credit: Dora Zett, Shutterstock

2. Feeding Time

After playing, and about an hour before bedtime, give your cat their final meal of the day. A satisfying meal will leave your cat feeling comfortable so they will be more likely to curl up in their bed and nap.

You don’t want to feed immediately before bedtime, because your kitty may want to use the litter tray.

3. Quiet Time

After they’ve eaten, let your cat have some quiet time. This will encourage them to wind down so they will be ready to go to bed and sleep. If you get your cat riled up before bedtime, by playing immediately before you go to bed, they will want more of the same. You’ll disappear and your cat will be left finding ways to entertain themself, which usually involves some type of loud entertainment.

nebelung cat lying by the window
Image Credit: mama_mia, Shutterstock

4. Clean the Litter Tray

Cats are very clean animals, which is why they spend a lot of time grooming and fussing themselves. It’s also why some cats refuse to use the litter tray if it hasn’t been cleaned out. A dirty litter tray can cause your cat some conflict. If they need to use the tray but feel it’s too dirty they might be unsettled.

Cleaning the litter tray should be part of your daily schedule, including making sure you’ve lifted any solids and scooped any clumped or wet litter out of the box. Not only does this mean your cat is free to use the litter tray unimpeded, but it means they will be less likely to hold it in or meow for you to clean it.

5. Provide Snug Bedding

Whatever type of bed your cat prefers, provide it. Add blankets and other snug, warm additions. Make the bed as inviting of a space as possible for your cat.

Also, consider the placement of the cat bed. Cats generally prefer quiet areas away from the hustle and bustle of the house. Some cats prefer to sleep in an elevated position or in a nook that is out of the way of any movement.

cat lying on cat bed
Image Credit: Iva Vagnerova, Shutterstock

6. Provide Quiet Toys

Cats do sleep longer than people, but typically in shifts through the course of the day and night. This means your cat may routinely wake up in the middle of the night and look for something to do. If your feline friend likes to get up and play, provide quiet toys that don’t make a lot of noise.

Avoid leaving balls with bells in them out and offer plush toys or other small, stuffed toys, for your cat to play with. You can always get the noisy toys out when you’re leaving for work.

7. Close Your Bedroom Door

Your cat may protest at first, but closing your door at night provides a very physical barrier that prevents them from being able to jump on you or chase your feet under the duvet in the morning. You will need to persist, even if your cat meows and scratches at the door, but they will get the idea eventually.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Are Cats Nocturnal?

If you have a cat that spends most of the time you’re asleep chasing stuffed mice and pushing noisy jingle balls around the house, it might seem like cats are nocturnal. In fact, they are crepuscular. This means they are at their most active in the evening and first thing in the morning.

Do Cats Know When It’s Bedtime?

Cats have different sleeping patterns and times than humans, so they don’t instinctively know when you expect them to go to sleep. However, they do learn routines, and your cat will likely learn to recognize the signs that you’re about to disappear for the evening. This is especially true if you keep the same routine most nights, and if you incorporate playtime and feeding time into this routine.

Can Cats See in the Dark?

Strictly speaking, cats cannot see in total darkness. But they have incredible nighttime vision and only need a very small amount of light to be able to see clearly. You might stumble from your room in the middle of the night, stubbing your toe in the darkness, but your cat can likely see everything that is going on around you.

Image credit: Rebecca Scerri, Shutterstock

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Cats are creatures of habit, and they not only appreciate having a regular routine but benefit from it. And, when it comes to your bedtime routine, you will also benefit from giving your cat an evening routine to stick to. A good routine will teach your cat when it is time to sleep, and it will mean that they are more likely to sleep through until the morning. They will, of course, expect to be fed when it is morning and as soon as you get out of bed. But you should be well rested by that point.

Featured Image Credit: Prystai, Shutterstock

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