Are Cats Nocturnal Animals?

For many cat parents, their favorite feline’s seemingly nocturnal lifestyle can be fascinating. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about cats’ activities at night, and how to manage their evening escapades with greater ease.

Nocturnal, Diurnal, and Crepuscular, Oh My!

Opposites in nature: day and night, light and darkness, sun and moon.

Nocturnal animals are typically awake and more active at night, while diurnal animals are like most humans—meaning that they are awake and more active during the day. Cats are crepuscular, which means that they are naturally more active during the twilight hours of dusk and dawn.

Why We Think That Cats Are Nocturnal

Most cats sleep around 18 hours per day, spread out across “cat naps” throughout the day. However, our kitties are unique individuals, and can have very different sleeping habits.

Cat hunting mouse at home and playing indoors.

Cats are often thought to be nocturnal animals because mice and other prey that piques their hunting interest tend to be more active at night. Our feline friends also have certain advantages when it comes to their ability to see at night, including the ability to detect movement and sense shapes and objects better than humans can in low light conditions.

You may think that your cat is more active at night, especially if you are away during the day for work or other activities. While they may engage in play while you are gone, it’s equally possible that they are sleeping more from a lack of adequate physical and mental stimulation. When you get home and are winding down from your day, your cat may seem more excitable (they’re happy you’re home!) because they’re ready to play and interact with you.

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