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Cats Life at Home

While You Were Sleeping

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Three years ago, I bought a Foxelli trail cam so I could view what types of wildlife were on our property. I was surprised. I had no idea of the variety of animals in our backyard.

When I needed to bring the camera in to change batteries, I wanted to test it to ensure I had everything set correctly. I saw my cat, Angel, and wondered what she did while we were sleeping. She was the perfect cat when we were awake, but I put her to the test that night with my trail cam. I couldn’t believe what I saw when I watched the videos.

No one wants their cats to scratch the furniture. I have every size and type of scratching posts with different materials available. Angel had one place on the couch in the den that she started scratching when we adopted her. Since that end of the couch was not where people walked, I put a scratching post in front of that corner and she has used it ever since . . . or so I thought!

Cat Scratch Fever

Putting out the camera in the den that night, I thought it would be boring videos of her looking out the window between catnaps. In the morning, I immediately started looking at the footage. After a couple of walking around videos (it was all in night vision), Angel suddenly laid down in front of the couch, and started scratching and rabbit kicking  up and down the whole length of the couch – pulling herself with her claws.

She was in feline heaven. Mommy would never know. At one point, she was even scratching and kicking the bottom of the couch while her head was resting on the base of the cat scratching post. There was nothing I could do but laugh. She was really kicking and scratching with vigor. But her secret was out. So what do your cats do when they think no one is watching?

24/7 Live-Streaming Kittens

Robin A.F. Olson, President and Founder of Kitten Associates, uses Nest cams to watch the kittens she fosters. It’s a 24/7 live stream to her phone so she can tune in anytime or watch back footage from earlier. “I’ve seen all sorts of things helpful in diagnostics. I’ve witnessed such things as which cat had been vomiting overnight so I could get her to the vet,” Olson says, “as well as seeing how a kitten got injured during a rough playtime with his brother.”

Watching the kittens playing is Olson’s favorite part of her Nest cam. “It’s fun to change up the location of the camera so you can get really close up or even a fun overview to see their crazy antics. You can even do a time-lapse,” she says, “which always ends up being eye-popping since it condenses the activity down to two minutes. You don’t realize how much they run around until you see that!”

Newman Knows He’s Being Watched

I asked my fellow trail cam enthusiast friend, Ann Shapiro, if she would want in on some of this action with her cat, Newman. Her response was a definite yes. Shapiro used the Browning Trail Cameras Dark Ops Extreme 16MP Game Camera. Newman would now be the subject of nightly surveillance.

Night One: “Last night he followed us to bed at 10p.m. Between 10:30p.m.-10:45p.m., he walked past the cam into the main part of the house four times. Between 12:30a.m.-12:45a.m., he walked around three times,” Shapiro says, “and between 4:43a.m.-5:00a.m., he came and went five times. But, you should add that to the four different times that he just sat and looked at the trail cam.” What? Newman knows about the camera?

Night Two: “The videos from last night have him coming and going at 10:30p.m., 12:30a.m., and 4:00a.m. All three times heading up to his food bowl . . . and staring at the video camera.”  

Night Three: “Newman loves staring at the trail cam.  It’s weird how he will sit there and just look at it. Last night he was on during four different time periods. At 10:15p.m.-10:30p.m., he was walking and sitting five times. Between 2:00a.m.-2:30a.m., he appeared ten times,” Shapiro says, “grooming and sitting. He was on camera six times between 3:00a.m.-3:30a.m.  Then he slept until 5:15a.m., when he woke up and went to the back of the house. He seems to have sort of a set pattern – around 10:30p.m., 2:30a.m., 3:30a.m., and 5:30a.m.”

So, if you ever wonder what your cat does every night while you are sleeping (or what they do when you aren’t watching them), set up a trail cam or webcam. Only the camera knows for sure. Once you watch it, you will know, too.

This article was reviewed/edited by board-certified veterinary behaviorist Dr. Kenneth Martin and/or veterinary technician specialist in behavior Debbie Martin, LVT.

Sandra Toney has been writing about cats for over 25 years and is an award-winning member of Cat Writers Association and Dog Writers Association of America. She has written for many print and online magazines about cat health and behavior as well as authoring eight books. She lives in northern Indiana with her cat, Angel.

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