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Can Cats Find a Litter Box In The Dark? (This is Why)

If you want to provide access to your cat’s litter tray at night you may be wondering if any light is needed.

Can cats find a litter box in the dark?

If your litter box is in total darkness then it will not find the litter box. But, if there is some light, even a low level of light then it will be fine. This is because cats can see better than humans in low light but they cannot see in complete darkness.

So now you know that they can, as long as it’s not totally dark. But, how can you help your cat to find the litter tray in the dark? Do cats prefer the dark? Can they see in the dark? Keep reading for these answers, and so much more…

Can cats see in the dark?

Can cats find litter box in dark?

A cat in the dark.

Cats cannot see in the dark. However, they are better equipped to deal with low light. Meaning they can physically see better than humans in low light. There are several reasons for this such as the extra layer at the back of their eye that reflects light.

Also, their eyes, like humans have cones and rods. These cells help us see and respond to different lighting. Cones are more effective in the daytime with various lights available.

However, rods are the opposite of cones. They are more sensitive and effective in low light. Cats have more rods than us humans. Meaning, this helps them see in low light much more than us.

How can you help your cat find the litter box at night?

So, I have explained that your cat needs some help using its litter at night, regarding the light. Here are a few things that you can do to help it:

01. Offer some lighting

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Using night lights will help your cat find the litter box. This does not need to be too powerful it can just be some dim night lights that are also helpful for kids (Click here to see the reviews, on Amazon #Ad). that will give your cat enough light to see the litter tray.

02. Protect the area near it

Even if you have some lighting around the litter tray you should protect the area around the tray. Meaning, you should place some paper towels or pads to catch any mess.  This will help if your cat misses the target if that makes sense?

03. Separate litter & food

Following on from above as well as protecting this area it is a good idea to simply separate the litter from their food or water bowl. So, if there is an accident and your cat misses the mark you can avoid their food or water getting contaminated.

Do cats need access to the litter box at night?

Cats do need access to a litter box at night. However, if they are outdoor cats they can replace that need with access to the outdoors, for example using a cat flap (Click here to see if they can be fitted on a secure uPVC door).

Cats are not like humans, they cannot be expected to go before bed and hold it until the morning. And, from a medical standpoint, it’s not advisable for them, to avoid UTIs. If they need to go they will go.

As a young adult, I remember going to bed for hours on end without the thought of getting up for a pee. But, as life progresses this is not as easy. I often find myself busting for a pee in the middle of the night. Cats are like older humans, they need to just go when they get the urge.

Does my cat know where the litter box is?

As long as a cat is shown the litter box once it will know where it is. And, they are good at using it instinctually. This stems from their wild ancestors that used to hide feces and urine in the dirt.

Believe it or not some cats can even be trained to use a human toilet. This may sound bizarre but it’s possible. However, some argue that it is not a good idea. Not just because it looks weird, but they miss the benefits of a litter tray.

The particular benefit is being able to monitor your cat’s urine or feces. This can help to identify any health issues earlier if you get a chance to glance at it in their litter tray, even though it is quite disgusting to get used to at first.

Are cats OK in the dark?

Cats are OK in the dark. But this assumes you mean dark and not complete darkness. As discussed earlier, they have the physical ability to see better in low light than us humans, but they prefer some light.

If they are outdoors in the dark they have the benefit of natural moonlight or street lights. So, they will be more than happy outdoors in the dark or at home with low light but not in a room in complete darkness.

Do cats like to be in the dark?

Cats do like the dark but they are classified as crepuscular. Meaning they are known to be more active at dusk & dawn hours of the day. These hours are not night time so they cannot be classed as nocturnal like an owl.

But, domesticated cats have really adapted to their owner’s schedule and may not be noticeably active during these hours for that reason.

Is it bad to have a cat litter box in your bedroom?

It is possible to have a cat litter box in your bedroom but it is not advisable. This is for several reasons such as:

01. Bad smell

Firstly the smell of the litter box. Who really wants their room smelling of cat poop or urine? Well, I certainly don’t. This alone is enough for me to say I would never consider it.

02. Not comfortable for your cat

Cats do like some level of privacy when they use the litter tray. And, a bedroom is not the ideal place for this. During the night you will probably be there for 6-8 straight hours and many other points during the day.

03. Makes noise in the night

Also, if your cat is fine with the privacy factor and you can get over the smell what about the noise it makes. If you are sleeping and your cat is scratching away covering its litter, or meowing before it poops, then it may annoy you or wake you up, right?

Should you move your cat’s litter box?

Moving your cat’s litter box is not ideal this is because it can confuse your cat and may unsettle its routine. Cats hate changes and it can sometimes cause anxiety for them. However, if the location change is mandatory then you have no choice.

A good to get away with this is to introduce the location changes discreetly. This may sound impossible but you can use a new litter tray in a new location and see how your cat responds first.

If it takes to the new location fine, then remove the old litter box or replace the new litter tray in the new location, if that makes sense?

Where should you put a cat’s litter box?

The best location for your cat’s litter is in a private location that is easily accessible for your cat. As well as this it should not cause big issues if it smells. So, the bedrooms are not the best choice.

It is a fine balance because if you try and hide it away too much your cat may deem it inaccessible and not even use it. And you know what happens then? Your carpet could become the new litter tray, are you with me?

What are the best rooms to put a litter box in?

The best rooms for a litter box are a utility room, bathroom or a spare closet. The utility room is good because it is not a social area. Therefore, any unexpected smell will not be an issue or embarrassment when guests visit.

The bathroom is another popular choice because it is quiet and already has similar smells, if you get my point. The only issue is you need to make sure it is accessible. Meaning, the door needs to be kept open.

And finally, the closet. If you have a spare one, or one that is hardly used, this is ideal. Again, access could be an issue. If it is, either keep the door open or consider fitting a cat flap to it.

What places are a bad idea to keep your litter box?

The worst places for litter are high-trafficked areas, such as a hallway, or in a room that requires your cat to climb stairs. So, ideally, it should be quiet and on the ground floor.

It is important to get this right. Why? Well, if your cat is unhappy using it, they may find another location, such as your back garden, or other location in your home.

Why should I avoid putting 2 litter boxes together in a multicat home?

If you place two litter boxes together in a multicat home it can be confused as one. Therefore one cat may feel uncomfortable using it. Therefore, it is better to keep them separate.

It may be a hassle if you have a small home. But, if you are struggling to find a spare location to separate these boxes, then maybe two cats, or more, is not a good idea for your home.

How do you move a cat’s litter box if you have to?

If you have to move the litter box, it’s better to take your time. Meaning, do not just move it overnight and expect good results. Instead, gradually move it.

This can be achieved by buying a second litter box. Keep the new one in the intended location, and gradually move the old one, day by day, towards the new one.

In time, maybe weeks, or several days, you will gradually edge your cat to using the new location. Technically, this can be achieved with just one litter tray, but you will need to test and see which works best for you.

How far away can a cat smell its litter box?

Theory has it that a cat can smell their litter box from a few hundred feet away. Some say a lot more, but truthfully there is no hard evidence or studies to prove this.

Cats have a strong sense of smell, and their litter is quite potent, but there is a limit to their range of smell.

Lindsey Browlingdon