Kitty Prison or just another room for kitty to sleep in?
April 13, 2016 11:42 AM   Subscribe

I'm posting ANOTHER question about cats. This time - is it cruel to put one of my cats away at night so that I can actually sleep once in a while?

OK - I've posted SO many questions about cats, this one is probably the most pertinent to this new question.

Crocket (the Little Devil) is a real character. I mean, I've never laughed so much, had so much love from but also so much grief from a cat. He is absolutely, without question, the most amazing specimen of kitty in the world, I absolutely adore him - but he does have problems.

He's actually now started to eat clothes in addition to everything plastic - but I digress.

We cannot keep him calm at night, sometimes he will happily sleep on the bed until the alarm goes off, sometimes he'll come to bed, sleep until 12am and then start rattling the doors for food. Sometimes, he doesn't sleep on the bed and waits until my other cat Binky starts meowing for food. It's unpredictable, which is SOOO Crocket.

Anyway, we've tried everything to be able to sleep through the night. Lots of play with him before bed time, giving him extra food at bed time, shutting the door at night (He rips the carpet up and literally rattles the doors until we get up - you cannot sleep through this, even with ear plugs), we've tried the Vacuum trick, the squirt bottle, the air canister (which is so far the best deterrent but they are expensive), seriously - if it's been recommended on the green, we've tried it.

He's perfectly healthy (Recent Vet Visit) he has another cat for company and he is very well loved.

SO - is it or would it be cruel to lock him up in the laundry room at night? It would be for a maximum of about 7 hours, there is a litter box already in there. It is a room bigger than most bathrooms and has a lovely big window, the water heater is in there so it's nice and warm. We've made a bed for him there too but I don't think he uses it much.

I just feel MEAN even thinking about this, but then I think, he has the run of the house all day, and I really would like to be able to sleep through the night (which is already really hard for me)

I've read LOTS of conflicting things on the internet ranging from "OMG THIS IS CRUELTY TO CATS" and "CATS ARE NOCTURNAL! YOU CAN'T LOCK THEM UP", to "It's fine, cats sleep mostly anyway."

I'm very torn but trust me, I'm at my wits end. We've already been putting him in this room when he gets unbearably noisy at 2am and won't leave us alone, so he's no stranger to the room and he doesn't seem to be scarred by spending a couple of hours in there on his own

It should also be noted he spends a good deal of time in there during the day by his own volition, watching people come and go out of the window...

I don't know, I'm just a softy and don't want to do wrong by my little guy.... help!

Is it ok to lock him up at night or is it just the worst? I need your guidance folks
posted by JenThePro to Pets & Animals (28 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
We sometimes have to do this with one of ours. Nice warm room with a window, water dish, litterbox, soft place to sleep? Do it.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:47 AM on April 13, 2016 [4 favorites]

We do this. You have to sleep.
posted by bongo_x at 11:48 AM on April 13, 2016 [3 favorites]

My cat did this for years. Spray bottles, thrown pillows, shutting her out of my bedroom, nothing worked. I eventually learned to sleep through the worst of it. Then she got older and it...just stopped.

Maybe try putting him in the laundry room for a few nights, but play with him some in there before bed so he doesn't feel like he's being punished? Then see if he'll stay quiet in your room at night. If not, back to the laundry room for a few nights. He may start to get the picture. Or maybe you'll have to wait until he's older and doesn't view 2am as prime 'make a racetrack in the bedroom' time.
posted by ananci at 11:50 AM on April 13, 2016 [2 favorites]

Lock him up. He'll be fine.

We do this with our cat, who is the best cat ever, but I am an insomniac and mildly allergic to him.

We've got a routine down, and he knows that when we start turning off lights it's his bedtime too, and often puts himself to bed before we get around to it.

If we sleep in, and don't let him out early enough, he meows randomly; seems to be mostly upset that he can't explore the apt, or get pets before 7am, but a few head pats and showing him we didn't disappear in the night takes care of things as soon as we open the door.
posted by larthegreat at 11:50 AM on April 13, 2016 [4 favorites]

That sounds nicer than the place where I board my cats when I go out of town, and they manage to cope. They also coped with being locked in a room all day every day for a week and a half while the bathroom was being renovated.
posted by JanetLand at 11:54 AM on April 13, 2016

as long as kitty has all the necessities (including warm soft places to sleep and hide) its not cruel. kitty will be miffed but kitty will get over it.

we once put our cats in the garage for the night because we were having a party and I was sure they'd manage to escape otherwise. so we put food/water, litter box and soft sleepy stuff out in the garage and they were completely fine :)
posted by supermedusa at 11:55 AM on April 13, 2016 [3 favorites]

Crocket will yowl for a few minutes, then shrug (or the cat equivalent) and get some sleep. He'll be fine.

Oh, and he'll probably meow to be let out as soon as he hears you moving around in the morning.
posted by Etrigan at 11:59 AM on April 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

If it's cruel, I've been committing animal cruelty for like 16 years now. We lock up our bunch in the basement at night and they are absolutely loving and sweet during the day, so they must not hold it against us too much.

I always say, if I wanted to be woken up every two-to-three hours, I'd have another baby. Ain't no cat (or dog; we crate him and he looooooves it) keeping me awake at night. I need that sleep.

Crocket will be fine once he gets over the indignity. We sweeten the deal by giving them their special kitty treats at bedtime.
posted by cooker girl at 12:07 PM on April 13, 2016 [5 favorites]

He'll be a bit peeved, but it's not actually cruel at all - cats get peeved for stupid reasons. He might rattle the laundry room door, though - you can stuff towels under the door to prevent that.
posted by SMPA at 12:13 PM on April 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

My aunt-the-cat-vet told me, "Look, a bathroom is essentially a cat amusement park. They don't need a lot of SPACE to entertain themselves," when we were facing a similar issue. Put a cat tree in the laundry room if you're worried it's not entertaining enough, and then don't worry about it.

(Cats are actually crepuscular, active at dawn and dusk, it's not a crisis for them to be restricted at night. As long as they can get their weird out dashing around the house at nightfall because GHOSTS.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:20 PM on April 13, 2016 [6 favorites]

Not cruel. We shut our cats up at night and always have done, with no ill-effects. They have litter trays, water and supper. Once or twice the odd cat has actually put themselves to bed, which is rather sweet. They adapt very quickly and know when the humans start shutting off lights and closing doors, it's time to scoot off to SUPPER!!!!
posted by Martha My Dear Prudence at 12:29 PM on April 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

This seems totally fine to me. I do the same thing if we have guests sleeping in the living room. Probably don't turn on the washer/dryer while he's shut in there to avoid startling him with scary spin cycle noises he can't escape.
posted by carolr at 12:30 PM on April 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

7 hours? He'll just sleep in there. It's fine!

Make sure he has a couple of toys to play with if you feel super guilty, but honestly, it's fine. Also, cats aren't nocturnal, they're crepuscular, most active at sunrise and sunset. At night, they snore with the rest of us.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:30 PM on April 13, 2016 [4 favorites]

It is perfectly OK. We keep our cats in the basement at night and they have no problem with it (and when we forget to close the basement door they'll go down to check out their extra domain). Don't worry about it.
posted by languagehat at 12:31 PM on April 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

I don't let my cats into the bedroom at night, no discussion. I guess that's putting us away as opposed to the cats, but it's the same effect, and it's fine. The rooms with their litter and food and water are always available to them and they're grand.

(An aside: a lot of people are horrified when I tell them I don't let my little fluffballs have the run of the house around the clock and, gasp, don't let them sleep on the bed. You know what? We put up with the little bastards fucking up our furniture, mewing at us insistently for no reason four hours out of the day, jumping up on the kitchen counters and throwing spoons on the floor, beating the shit out of each other in front of the TV when we're trying to watch, etc. etc. etc.; they can stand being barred from a certain room for 7 or so hours at a time. They don't appear to be any the worse for wear. Of course, they do start mewing and banging on the door with their stupid little paws at 7:45 AM sharp every single morning, wanting wet food, but that's a different story.)
posted by holborne at 12:54 PM on April 13, 2016 [6 favorites]

Are you secretly my Bear? He cannot endure refusing our kitties anything. Including interrupting his sleep, and like you he has a hard time with sleep.

Speaking as the hardhearted person, yes, put him in the laundry room, with some toys to bat around of course, water, a bed, and some food, and a litter box and with anything he could potentially eat, such as clothes or plastic, removed.

I've had kitties all my life and I will tell you, sometimes you gotta set some limits or you quickly become their Slave in All Things. *large thought bubble containing image of Slave Bear appears over my head. *
posted by bearwife at 1:10 PM on April 13, 2016 [6 favorites]

My main concern would be that it sounds like Binky would still have full run of the house.

Every twosome I've had would freak out about that scenario. When I had cats who weren't best friends, they were convinced the other one was getting preferential treatment. With my current pair, they will cry if one of them gets stuck in the bathroom without the other.
posted by politikitty at 1:30 PM on April 13, 2016 [2 favorites]

Here's a step before you close him off. Take this carpet protector and flip upside down in front of your door.
They hate walking on the little spikes.

Another thing is before you close him in there, give him a few nights of waking you up and THEN you put him in there for the night. You may train him pretty fast.
posted by ReluctantViking at 2:06 PM on April 13, 2016 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: My main concern would be that it sounds like Binky would still have full run of the house.

Binky is the complete opposite to Crocket thankfully. She's an angel from heaven who will sleep all night and even if the door is closed, she'll wait patiently until we open it! So she'll be OK even if he is locked up. To be honest, she probably won't even notice

Another thing is before you close him in there, give him a few nights of waking you up and THEN you put him in there for the night. You may train him pretty fast.

Nope. Tried this. It works for a day, 2 days max... then he starts pushing his luck again. He's very intelligent, too intelligent for his own good really. But I LOVED the carpet protector suggestion.... I will get some of that!
posted by JenThePro at 2:56 PM on April 13, 2016

We have to shut our cats out of the living room and the bedroom at night -- living room because the guinea pig cage is in there, and we don't want the kitties in there unsupervised, and the bedroom because they will NOT let us sleep. Finnegan waits until I drift off, and thus the petting stops, and then serenades us with the Song of his People. Molly feels compelled the make sure we aren't dead by stomping on us and yelling into our ears. Thus, they spend the night confined to the hall and kitchen. They have kitty beds in the hall, and of course have access to their food and water and litter box, and they have the stairway and window to amuse themselves, and an obscene amount of toys. They don't mind. In fact, they've pretty well trained themselves to go snuggle up in a kitty bed together as soon as they see me shut my laptop and turn off the light before heading to bed.
posted by sarcasticah at 3:38 PM on April 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

Not cruel at all. My kitties love sleeping in the bathroom even though they know that I'll be turning the light on a million times in the night when I use the loo. The water heater sounds divine, ours is outside and unknown to my cats. They would be miffed if they read this post and saw that other humans provide such luxurious services.

As long as they can get their weird out dashing around the house at nightfall because GHOSTS.

Quoted for truth. Ghost patrol is a very important pre-bed activity.
posted by kitten magic at 3:54 PM on April 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

Your cat is pretty much my cat. Mine likes to lick and chew hair, though. It's been over ten years and he has NOT mellowed with age, FWIW. I now tie a pillowcase around my head, tightly enough that it stays on all night, but sometimes he licks that too. Or tries to literally gnaw on my skull. (He's large.)

Shutting him away may not calm him down, no matter what you provision him with. We tried what you suggest with ours, and he threw his massive bulk against the door loudly, like yours. He'd also rip up carpet under the door, and when we bought and put down the very same carpet protector mentioned above, he'd just rip up carpet somewhere else. Once he even gnawed pieces off the bottom of a door.

Our latest countermeasure is a heated blanket. We literally just thought of this a few days ago. I plug it in on low, stretch it across the foot of the bed, and leave it on all night. So far, the lure of warmth seems for the most part to be overriding other considerations for him.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 4:38 PM on April 13, 2016

We put both of our cats in the laundry, every night, without fail, and have done for 5+ years. They have multiple soft beds, two litter boxes, a scratch pole, water bowls, a big glass door to look out of, and enough room to get out of each others way (they're not super best friends).

We originally started by bribing them into their room with half a dozen bikkies / bits of kibble at bedtime. The nightly ritual is such that nowadays, around 8pm, *they* start bugging *us* to go to bed. If, after we put them to bed, we reopen the door, they look at us with really super puzzled faces like "what are you doing? Go away".

We started doing this because we decided we wanted to keep the cats out of all bedrooms (hygiene and allergy reasons), but having a single shut door between a cat and a human is a recipe for yowling, rattling and scratching. HOWEVER, having *two* shut doors between a cat and a human seems to be perfectly acceptable (either because they can't hear us, or we can't hear them?). Nowadays they don't make a peep of noise, and we can leave our bedroom door open at night without being disturbed.

I highly, highly recommend doing this, and additionally would adopt it as a standard nightly routine (as in, every night without fail), rather than only doing it some nights, so that they can get used to it as the new normal.

It is not, in my opinion, cruel or unusual to confine cats at night, but if you want an alternative: depending on the layout of your house, you could install a door somewhere "midway", like the start of the hallway to your bedrooms, or the bottom of the stairs, and at night put your cats on the other side of that door (giving them free reign in that half of your house). I lived in a house like this for 4 years or so and it worked really well to separate the cats from the people without necessarily "confining" them.
posted by snap, crackle and pop at 5:43 PM on April 13, 2016 [3 favorites]

Agreed that it's totally fine. Just make sure it doesn't get *too* warm in there with the water heater.
posted by delight at 6:49 PM on April 13, 2016

Our cats have their own bedroom. Always have. It's the guest bedroom shop they have a full size bed to themselves at night. I wind up in there with them if my husband's snoring or something and they pretty much just sleep, anyway. They get fed in there, and all of their toys are there, so they don't think of it as "bad". They go in there at night voluntarily (and anytime if you call them to go in their room. They come running. It's really handy for if you're having work done around the house and the plumber is going to be in and out to his work truck or whatever. ) I digress, but the cat containment room makes life so much better.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 6:53 PM on April 13, 2016 [2 favorites]

We started doing this with our cat due to newborn babies and the fact that kitty used to sit outside their door and yowl at the top of her lungs just to annoy them. For the sake of sleep and peace, there really wasn't any choice. So into the laundry she went.

It wasn't as bad as it sounds, there was a shelf above the washing machine where we sent up a nice comfy bed for her. It was high so she had a good view of everything, which she loved. We put in lots of toys and her food bowls and her routine was such that we would feed her and then she would go straight to bed. Once she got used to it, she loved it to the point where if she'd had enough of the family, she would take herself off to bed for some quiet! Don't feel too bad about it, your cat will get used to it.
posted by Jubey at 6:58 PM on April 13, 2016

We have done this with ours since we got them. We used to have rabbits so it was to keep the rabbits safe, now it's just a habit. The have 2 cat trees, an old couch, an ikea chair, blankets, litter, water and a closet. They aren't in there during the day normally but will sleep in there anyway. It's their cat den.
posted by fiercekitten at 10:11 PM on April 13, 2016

Cats seem to like any old tv with a channel with animals on it on soft volume.
posted by meepmeow at 11:20 PM on April 13, 2016

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