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Will Cats Panic If Left in a Dark House? (Know Before You Leave!)

Will Cats Panic If Left in a Dark House? (Know Before You Leave!)

Are cats scared of the dark like some humans? Wondering what happens if cats are left in a dark house is like asking whether a falling tree makes noise if nobody is around. You may never know. But, in this article, we answer some pressing questions on the topic.

Keep reading to discover how to ensure your cat is comfortable at night.

Do Cats Like the Dark?

When it comes to wild cat behavior, what happens if you leave cats in a dark house may be a mystery until things go bump in the night. If you have a cat, you’ll know those night noises. 

While not completely nocturnal, cats are crepuscular animals, meaning they are most active at dawn and dusk. This means peak hunting and exploration times are in the dimmer times of the day and into the night. You may notice your cat gets more playful or excited at these times.

While humans may be scared of the dark, cats generally don’t mind it. They can see extremely well in low light levels, so they don’t fear the darkness. Don’t be surprised if you come home to find your playful feline has been finding amusement around the house during the night.

Can Cats See in the Dark?

We know cats can see in the dark and don’t seem to mind, but what makes this possible? Cats, like humans, have cells in their eyes. Photoreceptors consist of rods and cones. Cones assist the eyes with day vision and color perception. Rods help with night vision, shades of gray, and brightness. Cats have more rods in their eyes than humans, resulting in better night vision.

If you’ve ever looked at a cat’s eyes, you’ve probably noticed the “cat eye” slits. These slits can open very far to allow more light onto their retina when it is dark, and close to a thin sliver when it is bright. This allows them to require only 1/6 the amount of light that a human needs to see.

But this night vision does not mean they can see in complete darkness. In fact, they can’t. However, in partial darkness, like at dawn and dusk, their vision is exceptional. The light humans need to see well is nowhere near what cats require.

what happens if cats are left in a dark house
Cats can manage in a dark house, but providing some source of light is better for them.

Will Cats Panic If Left in a Dark House?

When thinking about leaving cats in a dark house, you’ll want to consider how dark and for how long. Cats can get around in a dark house and don’t seem to have feelings one way or another about it. Natural light coming in windows can be plenty for them throughout the normal course of a day.

If you have black-out drapes pulled closed in all rooms, however, it may be disconcerting to your cat after more than 24 hours. This could upset their circadian rhythms of eating and sleeping, just like it would humans.

While cats don’t necessarily panic if the lights go out, if they have experienced trauma, injuries in the dark, or were trapped in a dark room, this could cause issues. Fear can manifest in various ways, from your cat suddenly wanting to cuddle more than usual to unfortunate incidents involving their litter box. Not only this, but if they are in an area with no light whatsoever for too long, it can leave them with unresolved psychological trauma. So if it’s possible, try leaving a lamp on until morning. Cats need a night light, too.

Is It Dangerous to Leave Cats in a Dark House Overnight?

If you’re like most people, you turn off your lights when you sleep overnight. Cats usually have no problem with this. If you leave your dark house empty and dark overnight, your cat will usually be just fine as well. Cats are rather independent by nature, and while they might get into some unsupervised mischief with you gone, they will most likely be fine.

If you are concerned about your cat’s well-being, a night light can help your cat feel secure and will help them see better. While cats can see in low-light situations, their eyes can’t handle complete darkness. Living in total darkness, especially a silent and empty darkness, can feel unnatural to most animals, including cats.

How Long Can You Leave a Cat Alone?

Although cats may seem content with their independent lifestyles, they are social creatures and deserve companionship. The folks at Purina have suggested that cats should not be left alone in a house for more than eight hours a day, as what happens can lead to loneliness and depression. Be sure to leave the drapes open so your feline friend can get some natural light.

But depending on your cat’s personality, you might be able to leave it for longer than eight hours. Just don’t forget to fill the food and water bowl. Overall, cats have similar needs as humans; friendship, food, and water. 

Be extra vigilant after bringing a new cat home. You’ll want to observe what happens if your cat is left in a dark house. Help your new family member acclimate before leaving it alone for too long.

Do Cats Get Depressed Without Sunlight?

Like humans, cats are sensitive to changes in light which affect their development of serotonin and melatonin. Without enough natural sunlight, cats tend to be more prone to symptoms of depression, drowsiness, and anxiety.

Cats can also get the blues if they’re not exercising enough. There’s nothing worse than sitting all day with nothing to do. So spoil your cat with plenty of light and exercise to steer them away from the feline blues.

cat exercise
Provide your cat with sunlight and exercise to help wash away any feline blues.

Do Cats Make Sounds in the Dark?

Cats can be pretty active at night, transforming into noisy little creatures. When all is quiet and still, cats have a unique superpower for creating interesting sounds, including meowing, purring, trilling, chirping, and growling.

All you have to do is listen in, and you may be lucky enough to hear cats having midnight conversations. But this isn’t always the case, as cats can also be quite stealthy and quiet, especially in the dark.

Should I Leave a Light On For My Cat?

While leaving a light on will go far in helping you not trip over your furry friend when you’re up for a late-night glass of water, it also might help your cat relax. Cats see better with some light, so leaving a low light on, especially if you’re away at night, can help your cat not feel so lonely and anxious. This can also make it easier for your cat to find food, water, toys, and its litter box.

leaving cats home alone
Help make your cat feel more comfortable when home alone. Open window blinds to allow in natural light.

Here’s What You Should Do Before You Leave

Making life more manageable and comfortable is excellent for the people and cats you love. So, if you don’t want to find out what happens if your cat is left in a dark house, do you and your cat a favor. Make them comfortable before leaving them alone by performing a few simple tasks. 

Ensure your cat has fresh water and food. Giving it access to a clean litter box and fun toys. Leave the light on by keeping a night light or two throughout the house. And open window blinds to allow some natural light inside.

Being stealthy is fun when you’re a cat in a dark house, but being comfortable is even better. 

Do you have a nightlight for your cat? 

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Petrics was born out of a love of helping animals and their owners live life to their fullest! Established in 2022, Petrics was founded by Caitlin and Tom Morton of Mortons on the Move, Discovery TV Show hosts and successful RV Travel Experts. They are a full-time RVing couple who loved traveling with their beloved rescue dogs. This Petrics team strives to share the most interesting questions answered, the most entertaining news and culture, and the most inspiring rescue stories. Additionally, our mission is to give back to animal welfare organizations so they can continue their good work in saving the constant stream of animals in need. In fact, 5% of all profits from Petrics are donated to animal-saving initiatives!

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