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Pop your cat out for the night

Owners everywhere will be familiar with the sight and sound of their feline friends clawing at the door or meowing loudly as a cue to be released outside.

Cats are crepuscular creatures, which means they like to go roaming during the twilight hours when the birds and rodents on which they often pray, are most active. There’s a theory too that suggests our four-legged friends, who originate from the hot countries of the Middle East, evolved to rest during the heat-filled day and become active at night when it was cooler.

So it must be better to do what the cat ‘tells’ you to and open the door, rather than having them tear the house up instead? Unfortunately it’s not that straight forward. There are benefits to letting your cat out to exercise, hunt and take to nature’s litter tray at night but there are also pitfalls. Potential danger comes in the form of stray dogs, traffic and feral cats, as well as irate neighbours who don’t particularly want animals dirtying their gardens.

Lots of us share contrasting surroundings, so it’s best to assess your individual environment before deciding whether to set your feline free under the cover of darkness. If you’re out in the wilderness, a long way from roads and it’s your furry friend’s job to keep the number of mice and rats down, you might not worry too much about the risk of letting them come and go as they please. However, if you’re in an urban area and your cat likes to explore, it might be wise to train them to come home at dusk by rewarding them with food.

A cat’s pupils open very widely in dim light and retract to a tiny dot in bright illumination to protect sensitive retinas, so they’re pretty well equipped for getting around at night. Ultimately though it’s your eyes and judgment that can help ensure they lead long and happy lives.

24 February 2015

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