If you have a new kitten, it may be showing an interest in life outside by staring out your window and lingering near your door. This behavior might make you wonder if your kitten would be happier living or even sleeping outdoors. Is this something that you can or even should allow? Here is everything you are going to need to know.
So, can kittens sleep outside? It is best to keep your kitten indoors to sleep whenever possible. Kittens sleeping outside face several dangers, including predators, other cats, and even interference from people. If necessary, a kitten can sleep outside if the correct steps are taken to help your kitten stay safe through the overnight hours.
For the most part, this generally is not a good idea.
But, it must be stated that there are a lot of independent factors that could influence that recommendation.
For instance, where you live, how much property you have, what your property is like, how old your kitten is, how long you’ve had them.
You get the point.
That being said, the safest approach is undoubtedly to keep them inside.
Let us now explore why before turning to the best places they can sleep inside.
Why Kittens Should Not Sleep Outside
While cats and kittens may enjoy supervised daytime strolls outside, it is not advised to have your kitten sleep outside. Kittens are small and do not have fully developed coordination or survival instincts. Their size and immaturity make them a common target for predators or territorial older cats.
Depending on where you live, the weather outside at night can be much different than the weather during the day, and your kitten may not handle the changes well.
Humans pose a threat to your kitten both in the form of accidents with their cars and because a well-meaning person may find your kitten and decide to take it to a shelter or keep it for themselves.
Young Kittens Can Be Targeted By Predators
Predators prefer to hunt easy targets that are small enough to easily kill and eat.
This means a small kitten is likely to catch the eye of any hungry creatures roaming near your home.
Owls, coyotes, hawks, raccoons, and even feral dogs do their hunting for food at night.
Even if you don’t see predators on the roam during the day, there are certainly a handful in your neighborhood at night.
Kittens are playful and curious, which means they aren’t likely to spend all night tucked away sleeping.
Owls use their great night vision to hunt from above and can easily pick up a stray kitten.
A kitten that spends all day in your house is also not likely to be wary of fast-moving raccoons or ground predators.
By keeping your kitten inside at night, you help it avoid the dangers of larger animals, which may cause it harm.
Kittens May Get In Fights With More Mature or Territorial Cats
Both male and female adult cats are quite territorial, meaning that they don’t appreciate unexpected newcomers in their space.
Many times adult cats will try to chase off any unwanted younger cats hanging around, and it isn’t by asking them nicely to leave.
Outside alone at night, your kitten could very well end up on the losing end of a fight with a much bigger cat.
Weather Changes During The Night
Depending on where you live, the weather at night could be significantly different than the weather during the day.
Many places see temperatures drop during the night, and if your kitten isn’t used to facing cold weather, it could become sick or too cold to sleep well.
Even if your temperature stays stable during the overnight hours, rain or snowstorms that come in overnight could catch your unprepared kitten off guard.
If your kitten is unable to get to shelter, they can become cold and wet, which isn’t good for their health.
Also, a loud nighttime storm could scare your kitten, and they may run off to hide and not be able to find their way home.
Learn more: Can Cats Freeze To Death? [How Much Cold Can Cats Tolerate?]
Threats From Humans
One nighttime concern you may not have thought about is other people who may come across your kitten.
Even if your kitten has a collar or other type of identification, some people may see a kitten loose at night, assume it was abandoned, and take your kitten inside their own home.
On a similar note, well-meaning citizens may also take your kitten to a shelter or rescue, and you will need to go and claim your kitten to bring it back home.
Threats From Cars
Where people are, so are vehicles.
A kitten in a road or driveway is very hard for someone behind the wheel of a car to see, especially at night.
Many kittens do not know what to do if they see a car coming their way and may freeze in the road, or in an attempt to get away, run straight in front of oncoming traffic.
Accidents with cars are almost always fatal for cats and kittens and are a true nighttime hazard.
Where Should My Kitten Sleep?
The best place for a kitten to sleep is in a safe room in your home. For some owners, this means that their kitten sleeps in bed with them or on a cat tree or bed in the same room where they sleep. Other owners may provide their kitten with a room that has things such as food and water alongside a comfortable place to sleep. Kittens can also sleep in appropriately sized crates or pens.
My daughter enjoys having her cat sleep in bed with her at night, but when her cat was a young kitten, we took slow steps towards that goal.
Kittens aren’t always the best at sleeping through the night, and we wanted to be certain that if our kitten woke up, it wouldn’t wake up everyone else or accidentally get into something harmful.
This is why for the first few weeks, the kitten spent its overnight hours in a medium-sized kennel with a soft-lined bottom next to my daughter’s bed.
Over time we gave the kitten opportunities to spend the night out of the crate but made sure it was confined to my daughter’s room.
The kitten was naturally drawn to the soft warmth of my daughter’s bed and now enjoys sleeping with her each night.
When deciding for yourself where your kitten will sleep, focus on finding a quiet space that prevents your kitten from roaming (and dismantling) your entire house while you sleep.
Making sure that the sleeping space is soft and warm also helps to encourage your cat to sleep and relax in a specific spot.
Kittens sleep best when they feel safe and protected; that’s why they may also prefer a sleeping spot that feels confined and secure, such as in a cat bed with a raised edge or an open-top box with blankets inside.
Read more: Where Should My Kitten Sleep At Night? [The Right Approach]
When Kittens May Be Able To Sleep Outside
While sleeping outside at night isn’t the best idea, kittens can enjoy supervised naps outside during the day when the weather is dry, and temperatures stay above freezing without being unbearably hot.
The most important thing about having a young kitten outside is having a person with them at all times.
As their owner, you have a strong sense of your kitten’s safety and can act quickly if a problem arises while they are outside.
If you would like to give your kitten a chance to play and sleep outdoors, it is always best to be nearby to watch over them.
Pet kittens will sleep best outside when temperatures are warm (65 – 80 degrees Fahrenheit) and dry.
A kitten that is outside in very cold temperatures is at risk for hypothermia, a condition where their body is too cold to function properly, and a wet kitten is simply not comfortable enough to get good sleep.
Even a kitten kept inside will seek out the warmest spot possible for a midday nap.
How To Transition A Kitten To Sleeping Outside
While sleeping inside a home is the ideal place for a kitten, there may be times that you need to transition a kitten to sleeping outdoors.
In order to make this change, you need to consider how your kitten will access shelter in bad weather, how they will escape predators, and where you hope they will choose to sleep when outside.
Explore Outdoors With Your Kitten
The first step to transitioning a kitten to sleeping outside is to spend plenty of time outside exploring with your kitten.
Take your kitten outside in the area where they will be living and sleeping and spend time with them there.
Let them explore while you keep track of areas they are interested in or any hazards you may need to remove before leaving your kitten out alone.
Survey The Area For Shelter From Predators and Weather
While you are starting to spend more time outside with your kitten, survey the area it will be at night.
You need to make sure that this area has shelter from precipitation, wind, and extreme temperatures.
It also needs to have somewhere that your kitten can go where large land predators or predators in the sky cannot reach them.
A place where you can put food and water for your kitten is a good idea as well.
Introduce Your Kitten To Sleeping Alone Outdoors Slowly
For a kitten’s first few nights outside, it is wise to have them in a crate or other protective cage, be provided a few soft blankets, and begin the night with a small meal of a favorite food or treat.
Allowing your kitten to be outside but still confined and protected gives your kitten a chance to get used to the sights and sounds of nighttime without facing many of the dangers discussed earlier.
Remember to check in on your kitten often and spend time with them during the day, exploring and reassuring them of your care and presence.
When you are ready to let your kitten have its first full nighttime experience, make sure your kitten can easily get in and out of an area of shelter and leave out a small amount of food and some water for the night.
I keep the food amount small because anything your kitten doesn’t eat could draw in other unwanted animals looking for a meal.
Check-in with your kitten early in the morning to make sure it didn’t wander off during the night.
Check-In With Your Kitten Each Morning
If you cannot find your kitten after it has been out for the night, check it’s favorite daytime exploring places, touch base with neighbors, or give your local shelter a call in case someone took your kitten in.
By having proper ID on your kitten through a break-away collar, a special collar designed to break off if your kitten gets caught in something dangerous, or a microchip, you are more likely to get a wandering kitten back.
One Person’s Experience With Transitioning Kittens To Sleeping Outdoors
Occasionally we get in a newly weaned barn kitten from a neighboring farm. The first few days and nights, we kennel the kitten in our barn with soft towels, a small litter box to encourage them to use the restroom, and some food and water.
During this time, the kitten is only free when one of us can directly supervise its playing.
This transition time allows our kitten to learn the daily routine of the farm, meet the other barn cats, and realize that the barn is a safe place to live outdoors.
After a few days, if the kitten is eating and drinking well, we will leave it to roam freely during the daylight hours and only kennel it at night.
Last, after 1.5-2 weeks, we will leave the door to the kitten pen open overnight, which allows the kitten to decide where it would like to sleep outside now that it knows where home is.
Transitioning a kitten to sleep outdoors takes time, and some special considerations but can usually be done successfully if it is needed.
It is generally best that kittens do not sleep outside.
And if they do, you are going to want to ensure that some pretty strict criteria are met.
Besides, there is a lot to consider in the environment that could pose a threat to your kitten.
So my advice. When possible, keep your kitten safe by finding it a warm, quiet space to sleep indoors.
Do you have other questions related to your kitten’s sleep and time alone? My following guides may be of interest:
- Can You Leave A Kitten Alone Overnight? [& If So, When & Where?]
- Why Is My Kitten Sleeping So Much? [How You Should Respond]
- How Long Can You Leave A Kitten Alone? [And How To Do So]
- Should I Leave A Light On For My Kitten At Night?
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.