When I first brought my current cat home from the shelter, I felt like an inexperienced cat parent all over again. I’ve had many cats in my life but you can’t help but feel anxious for your cat, especially if it’s still new to the family.
He was still a kitten at that time hence I was fussing over all the minor details. Too much in fact.
It can be quite a dilemma for a kitten owner when it comes to bedtime.
Is it safe to leave the kitten alone downstairs at night or is that just a very bad idea?
You can leave your kitten downstairs at night as long as it is cat friendly. Kittens are still very playful and can get into a lot of unforeseen trouble. Kittens that are still very young or require round-the-clock should not be left alone for too long.
In this article, we will be looking at when is the best time to leave your tiny feline friend downstairs and what you need to do before that.
What Are The Different Kitten Stages?
In order to have a better idea of how independent your kitten is at this point, it would be good to know the different phases of a kitten.
Neonatal (0-2 Weeks)
This is the very first phase of a new kitten and it can be a newborn to about 2 weeks old. These kittens are very helpless as they can’t see or hear properly.
They need constant care and feeding 24 hours a day. Most kittens sleep a lot during this period.
Cats these young are not able to regulate their body temperature and use the litter box.
Socialization Period (2-8 Weeks)
For the next 5 to 6 weeks, you can start to see your kitten physically. The cat will start to move more, able to see and hear, get more curious about their surroundings, start sleeping like an adult cat, etc.
Around the 4th-5th week, cat owners can slowly start to feed their kittens solid food instead of milk formula.
The Little Monster Emerges (8-14 Weeks)
Once your cat reaches 8 weeks of age, be prepared for your world to get turned upside down.
Kittens of this age group are already able to walk, run jump and walk with confidence. And to make matters worse, they have an unlimited supply of energy to cause trouble at home.
They will start getting into places that they are not supposed to and trying to bite foreign objects that are a big no-no.
The kitten will start to exhibit its own personality traits and independence.
Young Adult (6-18 Months)
This will be the final phase of a kitten’s life before it becomes a full-fledged adult at 12 months. Bigger cat breeds like the Maine Coon or Ragdoll can take up to 5 years to fully mature.
Kittens of this age can also start to reproduce so it is a good time to get them fixed.
Why Is My Kitten Such A Terror At Night?
Although your kitten can be a little trouble maker throughout the whole day, you will find that they tend to be more active during the early mornings and nights.
Many cat owners seem to think that cats are nocturnal animals that sleep during the day and are awake at night like a fox.
But cats are actually considered to be crepuscular in nature. This means that they are active during dawn and dusk.
This sleeping pattern allows cats to be wide awake and energetic when potential prey are awake too such as mice and birds.
Although your little ferocious feline is a top predator, there are bigger animals that prey on cats too.
Hunting when it is slightly dark makes it harder to be spotted.
It also helps that your cat can see and move very well in low-light settings.
Where Should A Kitten Sleep At Night?
There isn’t any hard or fast rule as to where your kitten should sleep at night. However, there are a few things to note if you have a very young kitten.
As mentioned earlier, newborn kittens need constant care and attention. This will last all the way until they are about 3-4 months of age.
During this period, it would be best to let your kitten sleep in a room or area that you can easily access.
I personally would prefer if your kitten slept in the same room as you during this period. It’s easier to feed the little one at night and to clearly hear your kitten crying when it wants something.
Can My Kitten Sleep Alone Downstairs At Night?
Some cat owners prefer to let their kittens sleep alone at night because they can be very disruptive when during waking hours.
Your kitten can be meowing loudly in the early morning which can wake you up if you’re a light sleeper and disrupt your sleep cycle.
My cat has a habit of meowing loudly for attention at 3 am in the morning and that really messes up my sleep at night.
Before you even let your kitten sleep alone downstairs, here are the important things that you need to do first.
Kitten Proof Your Home
If you have never had a kitten before, you will be surprised at how much mischief it can get into too.
You will need to make sure that your home is as cat-proof as possible.
Get on all fours and start thinking like a cat. Anything dangerous that your cat can ingest or knock over, please put it away.
Make sure that you close all windows and doors as well.
It doesn’t take a big gap for your kitten to squeeze through and escape from the house.
Create A Safe Area Or Room
Are you comfortable allowing your kitten to roam freely downstairs or do you prefer to isolate your cat to a room?
If your kitten is still new to the house and has yet to settle in, I think it’s a better idea to keep it confined to a room or an enclosed playpen.
I actually bought a huge 2 story cage for my cat when he first arrived. I didn’t have an available room to put him in at night and I didn’t feel comfortable letting him have the run of the house.
Make sure you have all your kitten’s necessities downstairs.
This includes items such as:
- Litter tray
- Food bowl
- Water bowl
- Separate kitten bed
- Cat tree
- Toys for cats
Another important factor that many cat owners tend to overlook is the temperature at night.
Although your kitten can start to regulate its body temperature at 5 weeks of age, that won’t be enough if the weather is cold.
Hypothermia is the leading cause of death for many kittens that don’t make it 🙁
If possible, try to set the temperature between 80-85F at night. Or 26-30 degrees celsius. This is a good temperature range to prevent your cat from feeling too hot or too cold.
Leave Your Scent
Cats love to smell things and leave their smell on things. That is basically how they mark their territory or communicate with us and other cats.
If your kitten is new to sleeping alone, leave something that smells of you with your kitten or on the cat bed.
Cats are known to look to their owners for support and comfort. Having your smell around will make it seem that it’s not alone.
I’ve always dreaded taking my cat to the vet because he becomes this untameable beast in the carrier. There was once when he got so angry till he started throwing himself at the carrier door and scratching at the grills till his paws bled.
Was never going to let that happen again so the next time before we left for the vet, I placed a used t-shirt in his carrier.
To my surprise, he was a lot calmer and settled.
Not to the extent of being cooperative but no more crazy cat outbursts.
Keep The Other Pets Away
If you have other pets at home especially dogs or cats, you need to be sure that they can’t have access to your kitten at night.
This is very important if they have not been socialized properly.
The last thing you want happening is another one of your pets injuring your poor defenseless kitten.
It would be better to always socialize all your pets before leaving them alone with each other. This can take weeks or months but it will make your life a whole lot easier.
How To Get My Kitten To Sleep At Night?
Trying to get your kitten to sleep for as long as possible at night can be very challenging. They are just so full of energy and curiosity that sleeping is not on their to-do list.
The best way to get your kitten sleeping soundly at night is to give it a really good play session before your bedtime.
Don’t expect to just get it over and done within a few minutes.
When my cat was small, the thing that tired him out the most was chasing after a feather tied to a rope. He could do it for a solid hour before slowing down.
But at least I knew that both of us are going to have a good night’s sleep.
Kittens are always hungry and tend to go hungry later in the night so giving your cat some food before bedtime can help ease the hunger and loud ‘hangry’ meows.
You can also get an automatic feeder to release some food for your kitten during the night if it needs to eat at some weird hour.
I know some cat owners suggest ignoring your kitten if it cries a lot at night.
I don’t really think that there’s a good thing to do especially if your cat is still young. Young cats tend to be more needy and require more attention.
It won’t hurt to see what is bothering your cat for peace of mind.
What Age Can You Leave A Kitten Overnight?
You will definitely have cat owner anxiety if you plan to leave your kitten all alone for so many hours.
I didn’t start leaving my cat at home alone overnight until he was about 2 years old. I had to be sure he was comfortable being by himself, with my dog and didn’t have to eat 3x a night.
Waiting till your cat is at least one year old and independent is a good idea.
Otherwise, have someone stay with your cat or at least check in at night while you are away.