Skip to main content

What you need to know about crating a cat at night

Tips to make introducing your cat to a crate easier for you both

Kitten in a crate
Oleg Batrak/Shutterstock

In most cases, your cat probably roams around the house at night. They might visit you in bed, hunt for any bugs that have gotten into your home, or try to start a game of tag with your dog or other cat. But sometimes it’s necessary to restrict your cat’s movement.

Crating a cat at night can help with injury recovery, can aid in litter box training, and might even be necessary to help keep your cat safe. If you’re considering crating your cat, you’ll need to be prepared with the right type of crate and introduce it carefully to help your cat learn to accept it. Crating a cat isn’t always easy, but these tips can better your chances of success.

Orange cat walking into a black metal crate
Karen Carnahan/Shutterstock

Reasons for crating a cat

There are a number of situations where it can be helpful to crate your cat. Some are temporary, while others may be long-term solutions, such as when your cat disrupts your sleep.

To keep a new kitten safe. If your kitten is constantly exploring the house, they could potentially get into a dangerous situation while you sleep. Crating them can help prevent this and keep them safe while you’re not around to supervise them.

To aid in healing. If your cat is recovering from an injury or surgery, it might be necessary to restrict their movement so they can fully heal.

To help with litter box training. By keeping your cat in a crate with a litter box, they can’t go off and urinate elsewhere. They’ll be more likely to use the litter box than soil their bedding since they’re in such close proximity to it. Crating your cat can help them get used to the initial process of litter box training or be a tool when dealing with inappropriate urination.

To get a good night’s sleep. Some cat owners may crate their cats at night because their kitties otherwise disturb their sleep. By crating your cat, you’ll prevent them from getting into bed with you and waking you up. Keep in mind, though, that some cats don’t like being crated and will make plenty of noise to keep you up until you let them out again.

To encourage a new mother cat to accept her kittens. If you’re using a crate for this purpose, you can leave the cat in the crate for longer periods, but it’s important to use a large crate that offers your cat and the kittens enough space.

A cat stretching up to eat a treat out of a person's hand
Jaromir Chalabala/Shutterstock

Tips for successfully crate training a cat

If you feel that your cat would benefit from spending time in a crate, these tips can help make the transition easier for you both.

Introduce the crate gradually. This can increase the chances that your cat will accept it. Feed your cat treats and meals in the crate while the door is open. As your pet gets used to the crate, start closing the door briefly while they’re inside. After just a minute or two, let them out again. The goal is to teach your cat that the crate is enjoyable without making them fearful.

Make the crate a pleasant place to be. Put your cat’s bed on one side of the crate and their litter box on the other side. You’ll also want to get a non-spill water dish, as cats should have access to water at all times.

How long can a cat stay in a crate? In most cases, it’s best to leave your cat in the crate only overnight. They will be more comfortable moving around and stretching out freely in an unrestricted space during the day.

Black and white cat in a kennel

What to look for in a crate

The crate you choose can contribute to your cat’s comfort and safety. First, look for a crate that’s large enough for your cat’s litter box and food and water dishes while still affording your cat a separate sleeping area. A larger dog kennel is often ideal, giving your cat enough space while still being small enough to fit easily into your home.

An optimal crate will be made of strong metal and will have multiple latches that curious and clever paws can’t operate. Choose a crate that has a spacious door, so it’s easy to get your cat in and out. A crate with a waterproof, removable bottom that you can scrub down and wash is a must.

Orange cat meowing straight at the camera

Should all cats be crated?

While there are plenty of arguments in favor of crating cats at night, not all cats benefit from crating. Just like us, cats have their own distinctive personalities. Some cats may develop emotional problems like depression if they’re crated nightly. Other cats are largely nocturnal and may spend the night attempting to escape. Only you and your vet know what’s best for your cat, and some cats find being crated more upsetting than calming.

Crating a cat at night can be beneficial in some situations. It can be helpful while you’re litter box training a kitten or important for keeping your cat safe. Carefully introducing your cat to the crate can help them feel comfortable in the space, but there’s no guarantee that your cat will accept it.

Some cats will never be happy in a crate and may stress and fuss until you let them out again. While crating can be helpful, it’s not worth it if it causes your cat too much stress. Remember, it’s essential to prioritize your cat’s safety, and you may need to find another solution to the issue you’re facing.

Editors' Recommendations

Paige Cerulli
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Paige's work has appeared in American Veterinarian, Business Insider, Healthline, and more. When she's not writing, Paige…
Why do cats eat plastic (and when you should be concerned)?
The reasons for this behavior might be surprising
Cat in a basket with plastic bag

Cats are quirky — sometimes puzzling — creatures. Part of the fun of kitty parenthood is laughing off these funny, curious traits and perhaps looking into what each might mean. Is your cat staring at you because they're plotting against you? Why does your cat want to sleep on your chest? Does your kitty wish you would get back to the office already after several years of this work-from-home thing?

Often, these questions — and our search for answers — are all in good fun. Cats are cats, and that's why we love them. Yet, if your cat eats plastic, you might wonder, "Why does my cat eat plastic?" You'll want to get a formal answer to this question from a vet.

Read more
When can kittens eat dry food? The lowdown on what you should feed them
Tips on feeding your new kitten
A tabby kitten standing in a bowl of kibble

Caring for kittens is hard work, but it's one of the most rewarding experiences of a lifetime. Not only are you responsible for the most adorable little lives, but you get to watch them grow and thrive! Preparing to keep them fed and happy, however, is a lot more work. 

Just like human babies have different nutritional needs than adults, kittens have different dietary requirements than adult cats. With few exceptions, your new feline fur baby is considered a kitten for the first year of life. (Large cat breeds like Norwegian forest cats and Maine Coon cats mature more slowly and don't reach adulthood until they're two years old.) Have you ever asked yourself, "When can kittens eat dry food?" We'll give you the full scoop on what you should feed your kittens — and when to change their diet.
Do kittens need wet and dry food? 

Read more
What does it mean when cats purr? It’s more scientific than them just being happy
Cat purring is thought to indicate happiness, but it can have a few different meanings
Black and white cat lying on a cat bed on a sofa

Chances are, you've heard that purring is a sign that a cat is happy. And in many cases, that's true. Cats often purr during activities they enjoy, like being petted in that hard-to-reach spot or settling down for a nap in the sun. However, purring can have different meanings and causes than just indicating happiness.

Scientists are still working to understand this feline behavior fully, and new theories about the reasons behind purring continue to evolve. So, why do cats purr, and what does your cat's purr really mean? New information may be coming out every day, but the information that we already have can help you better understand your cat.

Read more