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Are Kittens Scared of the Dark?

Could kittens be scared of the dark? Fear of the dark is a common phobia among children and adults alike. It raises anxiety levels and in, extreme cases, leads to depression.

It’s easy for cat owners with night phobia to believe their kittens are as afraid of the absence of light as they are. Is it feasible for kittens to be troubled by the dark in the same way humans are?

Kittens are not scared of the dark as their eyes are designed to operate efficiently in darkness. Kittens are more likely to be afraid of new environments than they are of the dark. If a kitten is removed from its mother at a very young age, it could exhibit signs of being scared of the dark.

Kittens are crepuscular or nocturnal

Because we are awake during the day and sleep at night, our kittens fall into this diurnal pattern. In reality, cats are crepuscular and sometimes nocturnal.

Are Kittens Scared of the Dark?
This is what Fred and Oscar usually get up to at night-time!

If we weren’t around though, cats would sleep through most of the day, would hunt at dusk and dawn, and intermittently wake and sleep at other times of day and night.

The life of a kitten in the 21st Century is a lot different than in the distant past. Nowadays we look after our pets a lot more than we used to.

They are integrated into our families and for many of us, leaving a cat outside at night time would be considered the same as leaving a small child out at night!

A cat is designed to be active at night. So kittens are perfectly happy in the dark and show no fear of it as a rule.

Can kittens see in the dark?

Cats (and kittens) can see a lot better than we can when it comes to night-time. What scares us humans about the night-time is that we can’t see. It’s the absence of light.

Kittens have more rod cells in their eyes than humans, up to 8 times the amount. Rod cells are photoreceptor cells in the retina which work better in lower light.

Having more of them means better night vision. Therefore, as a kitten has many more rode cells, it can see better at night time than us.

Are Kittens Scared of the Dark?
Mona, who’s a bit bigger than a kitten now despite here being only 14 months old. This was about a second before she pounced on me!

Signs that a Kitten is scared at night

Kittens should not be scared of the dark but in certain situations, they can seem to be.

If a kitten is cowering under a bed or in a confined space at night, meowing pitifully and generally doesn’t seem happy, it may be scared of something.

Other household pets could be to blame or just a general feeling of loneliness.

As it grows older it should develop confidence but if you feel it doesn’t settle seek some advice from your vet to avoid your scared kitten becoming a scared adult.

How to help a kitten feel secure in the dark

Make sure your house is not pitch black at night. Even a kitten can struggle to see anything if there is no chink of light at all.

Leave a dim light on or invest in a few plug in night lights. This allow your kitten’s night vision to work perfectly.

If at all possible, have more than one cat to prevent your kitten from feeling lonely when you’re not up and about to keep to company.

What do kittens do at night-time?

Lots and lots of things, generally speaking. Well, at least Fred and Oscar do in our house! Of course, when cats were wild, things were different. When they were really young, kittens would stay close to their mother.

As the kittens developed they would be encouraged to hunt and the best time for this was at night. The cat has evolved into a creature where hunting at night-time is the perfect environment for them.

Their ability to see in the dark better than many and this combined with their agility makes them a formidable hunting machine.

It’s the same set of skills that makes them a pain in the backside when I’m still trying to get some sleep at 3 am on a Wednesday morning! Of course, I’m joking – I wouldn’t have them any other way.

Kittens these days spend a lot of the night sleeping as there is no need for them to go out and hunt. Although, if they were let out I can assure you they would default to this very basic of instincts.

Their lives are vastly different now though as they spend most of their day entertaining us (or vice versa) and don’t sleep during the day as much as they would naturally.

Well, kittens need a lot of sleep and if they’re not going to get it during the day, they’ll try and catch-up when they can – i.e. when we’re sleeping (and not bothering them).

What can prevent a kitten from being scared?

What really scares a cat? It’s certainly not the dark, I hope we’ve established that! Generally speaking, what really scares a cat are surprises. So, any sudden movement or loud noise are bad things in your little kitten’s head.

A good socialization period (during their first 12 weeks) certainly helps with making them more comfortable with this and is even more important if you have a family with young children.

These small humans are well-known to do exactly the things that freak kittens out so the better the socialization period the better.

So, the best way to prevent a kitten from being scared is to ensure they live in a peaceful home. When you’re around them, don’t make any sudden movements or loud noises and generally respect their presence.

I don’t mean you can’t vacuum around them, and actually, you should as they need to get used to it. What I mean is this – try and prevent all the things that young children typically do!

Conclusion – could kittens be scared of the dark?

I think it’s clear from the above that no, kittens aren’t scared of the dark. In fact, they are in many ways attracted to it.

You will often find a scared kitten hiding under a bed or somewhere else that they can’t typically be found which is typically….dark.

Kittens aren’t like us, as much as sometimes we would like to think of them as being like us. So, don’t worry – your kitten most certainly won’t be afraid of the dark. It’s you that should be afraid…

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