We have had our two cats, Maddy and Wally which were adopted from the RSPCA, for a little over six months now and they have well and truly settled into a routine of coming inside just as the sun is setting. We do this because we have a cat curfew in our area that states that all cats must be kept indoors between sunset and sunrise.
It hasn’t always been easy to get the cats inside at night though. Initially we would spend time most evenings trying to coax the cats inside after dark. Wally was probably the worst because he just loves being outside and really rebelled against the idea of being locked in at night. That said they have both had their moments when they seem to change from wanting to be near us to running away from us once the sun goes down. It’s like they turn feral once the sun has set and nothing we do will make them want to come in!
Most times, when they were out after dark, we had to trick them into thinking that we didn’t really care so that they would let us near them. Then there was lots of wriggling and squirming when they realised that they were being taken inside! We were a bit worried that we would have to spend the years ahead struggling to get the cats to come inside at night!
Regardless of whether there is an official cat curfew in our area we wanted to have our cats inside at night. This is because, when we had cats in the past they were allowed outside at night and would want to be let inside or outside at all times of day and night. It was frustrating having to let the cats in or out during the night! We also wanted them inside so that they (and the local wildlife) would be safe at night.
So when we adopted Wally and Maddy we were determined to make the night curfew work.
I have heard people say that you can stop feeding your cat in the morning so that it is hungry by night time. We didn’t really want to starve the cats during the day so we decided to try the next best thing – which is to withhold wet food!
Our two cats just love their wet food; they come running when they know it is on offer. So we decided to only feed wet food to our cats at night. They have access to dry food during the day but they don’t get any wet food until after sunset.
It took them a while to make the connection between sunset and getting wet food but now that they have they are so easy to call inside at night. These days as soon as they see me getting the wet food out they are quick to run inside and wait patiently in the laundry.
If you want this technique to work it is important to keep to a strict routine and cut out all wet food during the day. Like us, you will probably find that your cats are not too happy about it at first but they will quickly adjust and be much easier to control.
If your cat is not in love with their wet food you could substitute it for another food that they can’t resist. Basically just keep their favourite food for sunset and soon they will be lining up to get in the door when the sun goes down!