If your cat is allowed to come and go as it pleases, chances are you've put more than one meal outdoors for your cat. Unfortunately, no matter where you live, there's a chance that doing so after dark could be putting your pet at risk. Here's why you should never feed your cat outdoors after dark.
Lures Nocturnal Creatures
Dusk signals the end of the day for people, but it's just the start for nocturnal creatures. Animals that normally are hard to find during the daylight hours are out in spades during the night, including raccoons. While your neighborhood might seem to be devoid of animal life outside of your pets during the day, that may not be the case at night.
Unfortunately, nighttime creatures are often predators. While a raccoon may not have much that it could do against a full-grown human, the average raccoon is often much larger than a cat. This means that if your cat is spotted by a hungry or desperate raccoon, they might consider your cat to be an easy target.
Leaving cat food out at night means that your cat will be out there, eating that food and being vulnerable while they're doing it. A cat that's busy eating may not pay full attention to its surroundings, and the raccoon may smell the food or hear the sound of eating and be attracted to it.
Raccoons and other wild animals carry a number of diseases, including rabies. Rabies can be a life-threatening disease if your cat hasn't been vaccinated against it. If your cat has never gotten this vaccination, at the very least, you should contact your veterinarian and change that.
Unfortunately, rabies isn't the only thing that wild animals carry. All kinds of diseases and ailments like mange and tapeworms can be spread by raccoons. This is not only a danger for your cat because they could catch it from the raccoon directly, but they could potentially be exposed to dangerous things if they eat out of a bowl that a raccoon has previously been eating out of.
Ideally, your cat should never go outdoors in order to maintain its health and keep it as safe as possible. However, if you really want your cat to get out there to roam and stretch its legs, make sure to keep them indoors at night and stop putting out food in the evenings. Any bit of food that's left over from the daytime should be thrown out to avoid having raccoons notice and decide that your home is a good place to scrounge for food, potentially putting your cat at risk.