Kitty needs a night light
August 18, 2017 8:10 AM   Subscribe

My 16-year-old cat is having some vision issues and needs light in order to use the litterbox at night. I'm currently leaving the dining room light on with a dimmer, but I don't think this is a long-term solution. I also don't understand electricity and am concerned about fire. Snowflakey problems inside.

So FencingCat (sorry no picture) is an elderly kitty and has started only using the litterbox at night if I leave a light on for her. I feel like I'm wasting a lot of electricity leaving the dining room light (which has three bulbs) on for her (it has a dimmer though, so it's not super bright). I bought some LED nightlights that plug directly into the socket, but the light sockets are too far away from the litterbox to work. I'd be fine putting a small lamp in the general area (there's a table and I can use a long cord), but I'm having trouble finding one that is more of a night light. I'm also concerned about fire. I'm usually gone for a week at Christmas. I have people who come in to feed her and check on her, but they don't stay overnight. Battery-operated lights are fine, but they need to last for a week - a lot of them are only good for twenty hours. I've done a lot of searching on Amazon, but I haven't found anything that seems right to me. And maybe there's something I'm not thinking of.

She is getting proper veterinary care, so I don't need medical advice.
posted by FencingGal to Pets & Animals (17 answers total)
 
I wonder if it might be worth trying some kind of motion sensor light, if she's able to get to the general area of the litterbox on her own but just needs a little extra help finding it once she's there? Maybe you could squeeze a week of battery life that way, if it only had to be on for a few minutes at a time.

Alternatively, while you work this out, you might look at switching her to Cat Attract litter, and/or placing a scented air freshener near the box, so she can have a scent cue for location as well. My recently-blind cat is sort of a work in progress as far as "always finding his way to the litterbox" but the Cat Attract seems to up the chances that he will sniff his way where he's supposed to be.
posted by Stacey at 8:18 AM on August 18, 2017 [1 favorite]


Your lamp with a long cord needs to be on a timer. It can come on at 6pm and go off at 6am. Get a low wattage bulb. It should work like a charm.
posted by Medieval Maven at 8:27 AM on August 18, 2017 [1 favorite]


the light sockets are too far away from the litterbox to work.

It's not clear from your question whether you have actually tried your LED night lights in these sockets. Cats' eyes are extraordinarily sensitive, unless that's been impacted by your cat's medical issues. Give it a try if you haven't already.

Nothing in your question sounds like any kind of fire hazard. Does your cat chew on electrical cords?
posted by JimN2TAW at 8:38 AM on August 18, 2017 [2 favorites]


The most reliable solution would be to get a 3 watt LED that's designed to replace a 25 watt incandescent bulb and put that in the lamp and put it by the litter box. There shouldn't be any fire hazard from that and it's relatively little power used, especially if you put it on a timer.

You could also get a strand of fairy lights that plug into the wall and run them to the litter box.

Motion sensing battery based lights, as mentioned by Stacey, could be an option.
posted by Candleman at 8:39 AM on August 18, 2017


Nothing in your question sounds like any kind of fire hazard. Does your cat chew on electrical cords?

She does not. My concern is with leaving a light on for a week. I don't know if that's a fire hazard or not, but I'm guessing now that it isn't.

I wonder if it might be worth trying some kind of motion sensor light.

Will these work with a cat? Has anyone tried it?

'Thanks so much for everyone's thoughts on this.
posted by FencingGal at 8:44 AM on August 18, 2017


I just got this battery-operated motion sensor light for a bathroom that doesn't have a plug. It's cheap, bright enough, and because it doesn't go on in daylight or when there's no motion, it has already lasted longer than a week.
posted by ourobouros at 8:48 AM on August 18, 2017 [1 favorite]


Will these work with a cat? Has anyone tried it?

They should work with a cat but if her discomfort with the dark is enough that she won't get close enough to trigger it, it may not work for her.
posted by Candleman at 8:57 AM on August 18, 2017


> Will these work with a cat? Has anyone tried it?

YES, they absolutely do. We have them on our otherwise very dark stairs and can always tell when a cat has gone down to retrieve a toy because the lights go on. Also, I've got one just under the edge of the bed (so I don't kill myself when I get up at o'dark thirty) and the cats set them off when they're sitting next to the bed getting ready to jump up. We've gotten some excellent cat shadow plays out of this.
posted by rtha at 9:17 AM on August 18, 2017 [6 favorites]


Don't bother with motion sensing lights, just get the kind of nightlight that has a sensor so it automatically turns on when it's dark and off when it senses light. No triggering of the gizmo needed.

I grew up with these kind in the house in almost every outlet (we're a clumsy family) and they work great. (You can also plug them into the end of an extension cord and put light anywhere you want.)
posted by phunniemee at 9:21 AM on August 18, 2017


We have a motion sensor light fixed above the door frame to our laundry room where the litter boxes are. It picks up their movement right before they enter the doorway so they don't have to walk all of the way to the litter box without seeing it.
posted by Katie8709 at 9:37 AM on August 18, 2017 [1 favorite]


I bought a nightlight that only comes on when the room is dark, and mine is actually a bit too bright (in our relatively small apartment)-- you may want to test a few out to make sure they won't disturb your sleep.

I have my lamps set with a smart outlet that I can turn off and on with my smartphone (and they can also be pre-set with a timer). I found that this works more reliably than the older-style light control timers with the dials, and even the digital ones. Is that an option for you?
posted by sm1tten at 10:09 AM on August 18, 2017


Is there a reason not to plug in an actual night light?

My concern is with leaving a light on for a week. I don't know if that's a fire hazard or not, but I'm guessing now that it isn't.

No, it's fine. I never turn the bedroom light off. It's on for about 30 weeks straight at a time.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:14 AM on August 18, 2017 [1 favorite]


I'd just put LED bulbs in the dining room light.
posted by Sequence at 11:50 AM on August 18, 2017 [1 favorite]


We recently got one of these motion-activated toilet lights. Our litterbox is located next to the toilet, so the light works great for the cat. If yours isn't close like that, you could just hang the light on a hook or something above the box and it'd probably work just fine.

I like being able to choose the color of the light — we keep it set to red so it doesn't mess up night vision.
posted by Lexica at 12:00 PM on August 18, 2017


I got these LED motion sensor activated, daylight-sensing, battery charged lights and used 3M hanging strips to mount them in the hallway and bathroom low to the floor. The only annoying thing is that every few weeks I need to replace the rechargeable batteries.
posted by amanda at 1:49 PM on August 18, 2017


I have the exact lights Amanda links to along the baseboards my hallway, and the cats do trigger them. I have to recharge the batteries about once a month with the traffic we get.

I also have a similar table lamp to what orobourus linked which also is triggered by cats but might be awkward to place in your situation, I have to recharge those batteries about every size weeks.

Neither type ever gets hot to the touch.
posted by buildmyworld at 2:46 PM on August 18, 2017


We bought this night light (WisHome LED Night Light with Automatic Dusk to Dawn Sensor) for one of our cats, who only likes to use a cat bed in my office if there's some light. The bed is on the opposite side of the room from the outlet but it's bright enough to see where the furniture is.
posted by cp311 at 1:20 AM on August 19, 2017


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