Do Cats Need Access To Litter Box At Night?

I’m a habitual toilet goer at night. Regardless of how much water I drink before bedtime, I need to get up at least once to relieve myself.

Even when I travel, I always make sure that there’s an ensuite bathroom rather than a shared one.

The same goes for our cats.

When the cat needs to go, the cat needs to go.

It is important that your cat has access to a litter box at night. Unlike humans, there’s no knowing how long your cat can hold it in. It might eliminate on your floor or carpet if there’s no litter box available.

Do Cats Need Acces To A Litter Box All The Time?

I had a rather interesting conversation with a fellow cat owner just the other day. The topic revolved around our cat’s litter box habits.

Apparently, this cat owner restricts the usage of the cat’s litter box to set timings during the day.

The reason was that the apartment is small and if the litter box and if left out for too long it will start to stink up the place.

That really baffled me.

I stated that cats need access to their litter boxes at all times and should not be made to go as and when we deem fit for them. There is only so long a cat can hold it in before letting it rip, litter or not.

Even for humans, you wouldn’t be a happy camper if someone was controlling your toilet schedule throughout the day.

If you allow your cat outdoor access, it might be using your garden as a giant litter box. Make sure to install a cat flap on your main door so that your cat has unrestricted access.

As convenient as it might be for your cat to relieve itself outside, there are some dangers to using the outdoors as a litter box.

Your cat can pick up contaminants and parasites from the feces of other animals that might have defecated in your garden too.

Should You Provide Litter Box Access For Your Cat At Night?

You most definitely should as there is no telling when your cat needs to use the litter tray. Unlike cat owners who sleep through the night, cats have a different body clock than ours.

Cats are considered crepuscular which means that they are active during the periods of dusk and dawn.

Why these two periods of the day?

This is more for the survival and safety of the cats.

In the wild, many of the cat’s prey will be out looking for food during this time. Therefore, cats need to be active as well to hunt them.

Outside of these hours, cats will be busy sleeping and out of sight from bigger predators who will be out hunting.

So if you are a heavy sleeper and your cat sleep in the same room that is locked at night. You might wake up stepping on your cat’s pee and poo.

Just so you know, cat urine gets stinkier the longer it is left out and the smell is hard to get rid of.

Therefore it is always a good idea to give your cat access to the litter box at night.

How Often Do Cats Need To Use Their Litter Boxes?

It is hard to put a number or frequency on this as it differs from cat to cat. Some cats pee and poo more frequently.

But on average, a cat uses its litter box about 2- 4 times a day.

Cats with underlying medical conditions like kidney diseases tend to pee more due to their higher water intake.

Kittens also tend to use their litter boxes more frequently as compared to older cats.

How Long Can A Cat Go Without Access To A Litter Box?

An adult cat that is healthy and has a proper diet can usually hold its pee or poo for about 1-2 days.

Kittens have a shorter holding period of 12-24 hours due to their constant need for nourishment.

The same goes if you have an elderly cat who tends to have weaker bladder and bowel muscles and can’t hold it in for too long.

Any longer than that and it can cause health problems due to the build-up of toxins in the cat’s body.

I don’t see why cat owners would restrict the usage of the litter box for this long. Even if you are traveling on the road, you can stop every 6 hours to let your cat relieve itself.

How To Know If A Cat Needs To Go To The Bathroom?

There are certain signs to look out for if your cat needs to use the litter box. Most kittens or adult cats will start to act restless.

They will be meowing loudly or pawing at the door wanting to be let out.

Your cat might also start digging the ground and squatting if it is very close to letting it out.

Once you start to notice such behavior from your cat, please let it go and use the litter box immediately.

Do Cats Need Light To Use The Litter Box?

You might think that your cat is unable to use its litter box in the dark but that’s incorrect. Even if it is dark, we humans can still fumble and get by in the toilet.

We already know what to do.

Although cats can’t see in pitch-black darkness, their eyes are sensitive enough to see in very low light scenarios.

In fact, cats can see up to eight times better than humans in the dark. So what might seem dark to you might be as bright as day for your cat.

This is why your cats’ pupils can dilate so drastically according to the light levels in the room.

Even if it is too dark, your cat can still find its way to the litter box by using its whiskers and its acute sense of smell to get around.

Where To Place Your Cat’s Litter Box?

If you are a new cat owner, the best place that you can place your cat’s litter box is at a spot that is easily accessible.

Do not place it in an area that cannot be accessed at all times. Cats also value their privacy, so placing the litter tray in a quiet corner is a good idea.

No one can relieve themselves in comfort with the whole world watching.

Indoor cats should have their litter boxes placed indoors and not have to wander outside to use them.

Make sure to place your cat’s litter box in a well-ventilated area.

The continuous inhalation of cat pee can make some people dizzy due to the components of cat urine.

If you need to shift your cat’s litter pan to a new location, make sure you let your cat know first. Just carry your cat and place it in the litter box at the new location.

Your cat will know what to do from there on.

I would advise against placing the litter in places where you or your cat sleep. There are certain types of cat litter that contain dust which can set off an allergic reaction.

Furthermore, it ain’t the best thing to be smelling your cat’s waste while you sleep.

Makeshift Litter Box For Emergencies

What happens if, for some strange and valid reason, there isn’t a litter box available for your cat?

Does this mean that your cat has to hold it in till one is available?

Not quite.

There are a few easy ways that you can use to create an emergency litter box for your cat.

The first and easiest method is to use lots of newspapers. Lay out a few sheets on the floor and then put shredded or torn newspaper on top.

Make sure to spread the newspaper around a large area in case your cat misses the target or has a lot to eliminate.

If you have access to baking soda, sprinkle some to help absorb the odor. Using rice, sawdust or paper towels instead of shredded newspaper, make for better alternatives.

Do not use soil or dirt as cat litter as such materials as it can be harmful to cats.

Litter Box Best Practices

Besides ensuring that your cat has 24-hour access to a litter box, it is also good to take note of the following.

Keep The Litter Box Clean

No one likes using a dirty and smelly toilet, including our cats. Your cat’s litter box doesn’t come with a flush which means you need to scoop up and clear the waste daily.

Change out the entire cat litter once a week to ensure freshness.

Type Of Cat Litter And Litter Box

Not all cats like the same type of litter box or cat litter. There are many types available in the market making choosing the right one challenging at times.

Always make the changes gradually when it comes to your cat’s litter box or litter type.

Sufficient Litter Boxes

If you have more than one cat at home, the general rule of thumb is that every cat should have its own litter box.

Many cats don’t like sharing their litter box due to their territorial nature.


Ensuring that your cat has access to a clean litter box overnight or during the day is important. Litter box usage is different for kittens and adult cats as well.

Some cats can manage without a litter tray overnight but it is still best to give your cat access to one all day long.

In the event that your cat is showing any sign of litter box irregularities, please consult your vet for veterinary advice.

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