Are cats scared of the dark? This question doesn’t really seem to cross our minds very frequently. The reason behind that is that we know our pets to be fierce.
They act all tough and bossy most of the time. But when you really think about it, where does that saying scaredy cat come from?
I wonder if they’re only brave enough around us. Sure, it’s likely that they have more confidence when they feel our presence, but what about in the dark?
We think of felines as our fur babies and we know children are afraid of the dark most of the time. Are cats scared of the dark and do their fears resemble ours at all?
The downside to having an animal is that you can’t quite put a finger on all of their behaviors. This is especially a hard task for first-time cat parents.
They’re usually weird, so it would be difficult to decipher the “normal” behavior from the strange one. However, we still care about them and want to do what’s best in their interest.
Even though they may not show it sometimes, cats can fear a lot of things. There are some pretty common and obvious signs of strange behavior.
Moreover, we mostly know how to determine what they’re feeling based on certain reactions. However, you won’t really see those reactions in a pitch-black room.
How can you know if cats are scared of the dark unless they voice their fear? Are these fearless animals really afraid of darkness?
You feel like you have to consider a whole investigation in order to find out if cats are scared of the dark. Thankfully, there are some more obvious signs that don’t require that much effort.
So, are cats scared of the dark?
This might sound like an odd question, but we all have our fears. You shouldn’t underestimate a feline, but you also shouldn’t give them too much credit.
I say this because they can act tough around you and hide in the corner the minute the light goes off. However, they’re supposed to be nocturnal animals, so where does the issue lie?
Just like some humans are afraid of the darkness, thunder, and lots of other stuff, some things can make felines’ blood run cold as well.
Perhaps your pet isn’t afraid to fight a neighbor’s dog that’s ten times bigger than her. On the other hand, her heart might skip a beat a couple of times at night.
So, there’s no guarantee whether your new pet’s going to be scared of the dark or not. If you have a brave feline, it won’t be a problem.
On the contrary, if you have a scaredy cat, it could be something that stresses her out. In that case, I advise you to cuddle up with her and look out for some common reactions to fear.
Having a pet that’s under constant stress could be a dangerous situation. Over time, she may start to exhibit signs of depression and other medical conditions.
Unfortunately, all of this stress will eventually reflect on her physical health. Instead of getting stuck at your vet’s, make sure to address the root of the problem.
Can cats see in the dark?
As you may know, felines are nocturnal animals. But what does this term actually stand for? Does it instantly answer the question “Are cats scared of the dark?”?
It certainly doesn’t. A nocturnal animal is an animal that’s most active throughout the night. In daylight, they’re most commonly sleeping or laying around, saving their energy.
This sounds quite familiar, right? Your furkid just loves being a couch potato throughout the day and enjoys some training for the Olympics at night.
Now you understand why she always wakes you up in the middle of the night stomping all over your head or chasing a ball through the house.
The good thing is she never crashes into things while doing so. Well, most of the time. The reason behind that is that cats can see in the dark.
Actually, they have the perfect night vision. And this is all thanks to the rod cells that are more present in nocturnal animals’ eyes than in those of a human.
These rod cells act as light sensors and aid vision in low light. For instance, compared to us humans, who have 4 rods per cone cell, cats have 25 rod cells per single cone cell in each eye.
All in all, cats have perfect night vision. Therefore, they’re free to roam in the darkness of the night if they’re brave enough.
So, are cats scared of the dark if they can see well at night? Unfortunately, their eyesight isn’t a guarantee there won’t be any legs trembling.
6 signs your cat is actually scared of the dark
As I already mentioned before, some cats consider themselves to be superior to everyone and everything, and they certainly don’t lack the confidence to stride pridefully.
On the other hand, you have felines that are scared of their own shadow, like mine is. Thankfully, you can try to determine whether your pet is afraid of the dark.
You can closely monitor the behavior as it’s one of the most obvious indicators there’s something wrong. Felines, just like any other animal, heavily rely upon body language as means of communication.
All you have to do is watch if there are any changes in the behavior and if you can notice anything weird or out of the normal. Below are some of the most common fear-invoked behavior and reactions.
1. Constant meowing
If you’ve ever wondered “are cats scared of the dark” and “how do they express their feelings”, I’m sure you thought of this symptom.
Felines are really eloquent animals and they certainly know how to express their emotions. For instance, just think of how loud the alarm sounds when they’re hungry, which is all the time.
Fear is an instilled emotion that every living being has. Some of us may withhold this strong emotion, but others may not do such a good job.
Just like we scream out of horror at something that scared us, so do cats. Except, this scream sounds like a distressed cat meowing loudly.
If she’s constantly meowing and it’s not the famous “I’m hungry!” sound, then she might be scared of the dark. Cats usually don’t mind the darkness because it often signalizes peace and quaintness.
Unfortunately, perhaps your pet may find it disturbing. Maybe she associates the dark with being alone and doesn’t like it. This might be weird because felines usually like being alone, but hey. To each their own, though.
2. Wide-eyed look
Dilated pupils can mean all sorts of things. However, if you find your pet shaking and trembling in the dark with wide eyes, it’s possible she’s afraid of it.
The dilation of the pupils happens due to a rush of adrenaline. Now, you’re probably thinking “What adrenaline?”. She’s scared out of her mind, and adrenaline isn’t just a chemical of excitement.
This might not be as an obvious indicator as meowing is and there’s a perfect reason behind that. Sure, felines’ pupils dilate when they’re frightened.
However, both our and our pets’ pupils dilate when there’s a lack of light as well. So, are cats scared of the dark or is it just their eyes adjusting to the illuminated surroundings?
This can be a bit tricky. Perhaps the best way to see if dilated pupils are fear-stricken is to see if this change is accompanied by any other behaviors, such as hiding away.
3. Running away and hiding
Cats like to run away all the time, don’t they? You’re having a cuddling session with your furbaby and she decides to take off all of the sudden.
We’re used to them being rude and bold like this, but could there be another reason for this abrupt behavior? It’s in their nature to hide in the corners because they’re smaller than other animals.
However, there’s a difference between hiding to take a nap and hiding to shield herself from something. If she’s cowering away, shaking her body and wide-eyed, she may not be in for a nap.
It’s fight or flight, isn’t it? Obviously, as much as we’d like to think of our pets as brave souls, their instincts will kick in and their option will almost always be to flee from the scene.
When they sense that the danger is too much for them to deal with, they decide it’s better to keep it safe than sorry. This might look like cowardly behavior, but out in the wild, it’s the only way to stay alive and unharmed.
4. Wet paw prints
Humans perspire in dreadful situations, and felines do the same when they see something that makes them jump out of their skin.
You should be cautious of damp paw prints since a cat’s sweat glands are placed under the pads of its paws.
Cats sweat profusely when they’re afraid, much like people do. They create moist paw prints because they have sweat glands in their paw pads.
So, if you wonder “are cats scared of the dark”, you may want to take a look at her toe beans. Sure, there won’t be any pawprints on the floor that are that obvious and that you may slip on.
However, damp paws are still one of the signs your cat is scared of the dark. It’s probably not the first thing that would cross your mind.
Still, it’s something to look out for because why else would your feline have wet paws? They’re not a fan of the water so she probably didn’t go out swimming.
5. Toilet accidents
This is something we all dread. Toilet accidents aren’t something we’re not used to, unfortunately. If you think you’re blessed, just remember the good old days when your kitten was learning to use the litter box.
Well, the same thing can be happening now. If your pet seems to miss the spot and does her business outside of her own bathroom, it might be a sign of restlessness.
Usually, the emotions need to be quite strong in order for this to happen. Animals don’t really like to make a mess in their living space.
It’s one of the benefits of having a cat – they don’t like the mess which means there’s less for you to clean up. However, something like this can still take place in extreme situations.
When cats are scared of the dark, they’ll have an accident and may hide afterward. Believe it or not, they feel shame for doing it.
6. Heart beating faster
Of course, one of the inevitable reactions to fear is an increased heart rate. Felines’ brain simply sends messages to every part of their body when a danger’s present, alerting them that they need to escape the potentially fatal circumstance.
As a result, the hormones produce adrenaline, which keeps us alert and alive while we fight or escape. By keeping everything operating and circulating so that adrenaline can circulate through our blood, the cells also make a contribution.
The blood pumps through with adrenaline, as well as sugar and fat. Cats’ bronchi widen as a result of the fat and sugar, quickening their heartbeat and breathing. That explains why feeling scared causes cats’ hearts to beat more quickly.
It happens to humans as well. Sometimes it beats so fast that we think it’s going to rip through our chest. Imagine how our little feline companions feel when they get frightened.
7. Do they hiss in fear?
This is quite possible. Next to the loud meowing, felines will often hiss at something that scares them.
Just like dogs bark when they find themselves in sanger, cats will use their hissing as a warning to back off. This behavior is usually accompanied by raised back and tail.
Felines do this in order to make themselves appear bigger in the eyes of the danger. Not really sure how this would help them fight the darkness.
Therefore, this behavior can possibly be transferred to you. You first don’t know what’s happening and you try to console and pet her.
She hisses at you and you must think you’re the one she’s afraid of. The next thing that could happen is your pet cowering away from you in fear or even trying to attack you.
In those moments when they’re afraid for their life, felines will act on instinct and do exactly what their gut tells them to.
Therefore, don’t take this really personally. It’s best to let her calm down and not try to drag her out of the corner by force.
Do cats need light at night?
Most cats don’t mind the pitch-black environment when it’s time for hitting a sack. However, when cats are scared of the dark, they’ll need some additional support.
If you leave the blinds open at night, the moonlight should be enough to create a safe space for your pet to nap. But what should you do on a cloudy night?
You can always leave a night lamp on for your cat to give her comfort. It might make it hard for you to knock yourself off, but hey, it’s your pet.
Besides leaving a light on, make sure your feline has a safe place she can use to rest. When they feel scared and threatened, sleep is the last thing on their mind.
Cats like to hide, whether they’re scared or not. However, this need intensifies when they’re fueled with fear. Therefore, it’s your job to create a corner where she’ll feel safe and sound.
Use her favorite blankets or bedding, as well as those cute closed kitty houses. Don’t forget the fact that felines are weird, so you may find her in a plain cardboard box as well.
Hopefully, the next time someone asks you: “Are cats scared of the dark?”, you’ll know the answer. The truth is that each cat is unique and while some may be heroes at night, others might want to jump out of their skin.
This is normal as well because we can also get frightened from time to time. If your pet’s really in fear of darkness, she’ll show some obvious signs.
Body language is among the most important means of communication in the feline world. Therefore, make sure you watch out for any strange behavior.
If your furkid can’t stand to be alone in the pitch black environment, perhaps you should try to make her feel safer.
You can leave a night lamp on, open up your blinds, or craft out a safe place for her to nap in. Whatever you do, don’t force her to face her fears in abrupt movements.