As everyone who owns a cat will know, they are animals that thrive on a daily routine, which means that you will often find them demanding their food at the same time every day, as well as coming to you for your daily playtime too.
Cat owners also know that if they deviate from their regular routine that it can actually cause major distress to the cat.
This leads a lot of people to believe that cats have an adept sense of time, but is this really the case? For those who aren’t aware of whether or not a cat has a sense of time like humans, it can be a confusing topic.
However, the answer is actually super simple.
So, if you want to find out if cats have a sense of time, as well as more information about how cats can tell what time it is, then read on, and we’ll give you all of the answers you want to know!
Do Cats Have A Sense Of Time?
Since cats seem to work around the routines of their owners, it’s pretty normal to assume that they have a sense of time that is similar to ours, however, this is actually not the case.
Instead, your feline friend will adhere strictly to the human clock of their owner, meaning that they will demand to be fed and will go about their daily activities strictly by reacting to the environment around them.
This is because cats actually have circadian rhythms.
This means that they operate on a 24-hour wake and sleep cycle, which is what allows them to tell what time of the day it is through the sunlight and the darkness, so a cat’s bodily reactions are entirely dependent on the sun rising and falling throughout the day.
Cats will also memorize any patterns that can be associated with time, from there, internal cues will then be back-chained, which ultimately means that in order for it to be the correct time, a certain sequence of things must occur in the correct order.
Cats will also use cues such as sounds and sights in order to help determine what time of day it is, which is why routine plays such an important role in influencing their behavior.
Do Cats Experience Time Differently?
Quite often you will hear people refer to the way a cat experiences time as “cat years”, explaining that our feline friends experience the passing of time in a different way than we humans do.
However, the reality is that this is simply a theory, and has no scientific basis.
Cats have no real reference to how time passes, which means that your cat exclusively lives in the moment, with no real thoughts about the time that has passed in relation to the past or the future.
When it comes to a cat’s experience of time, the reality is that the way in which they experience time depends on how hungry they are, how cold they are, or how tired they are, other than this, they don’t really know anything else.
Do Cats Know What Day It Is?
Everyone’s favorite cat, Garfield, is known for his distaste for Mondays, but can real-life cats actually tell which day of the week it is?
As fun as Garfield’s hatred for Monday is, unfortunately, cats can’t actually tell what day of the week it is at all! As far as cats are concerned, their understanding of the calendar is similar to that of the clock!
Cats will understand your routine, and if you have each weekend off, then your cat will begin to understand exactly when they can expect to see you at home!
If you have a visitor to your house that comes once a week, then your cats might have some semblance of how long a week might be, as over time, they’ll begin to expect the arrival of the visitor on the day that they’re due to visit, but this doesn’t mean they actually know what day of the week it is.
Do Cats Know When It Is Day Or Night?
Whilst they may not have a great sense of the time or what day it is, cats do have a sense of whether it is the daytime or the nighttime, and they will instinctively know when night begins to fall, thanks to the diminishing light (both from the sun, and the lights in your home once you’ve gone to sleep), as well as the drop in temperature.
Cats do prefer to sleep in the day for the most part, because their temperature lowers whilst they sleep, which means they can keep warm in the sun’s rays, and since they’re also nocturnal predators, and their prey is nocturnal too, it means that cats are naturally more active in the nighttime.
Cats are easily able to recognize when it is nighttime, as this is when they would traditionally set out to hunt and explore, and since there are less human distractions during the nighttime, you can expect your cat to be much more alert and willing to explore whilst it’s dark.
However, don’t be surprised if you do see your cat napping during the nighttime, especially if your cat remains indoors the entire time, as cats are ultimately great imitators, and will mimic their owner’s routine as closely as possible.
To summarize, no, cats have no indication of what the time of day is, or what day of the week it is either.
However, they are able to tell the difference between daytime and nighttime as they’re traditionally nocturnal predators, which means they’re naturally more active and alert once the sun has gone down.
However, cats will adhere to a routine pretty strictly, so they will know exactly when to wake you up so you can feed them!
At Love4Cats, our practice involves consistent collaboration with licensed veterinarians and reputable industry experts. However, it's important to note that the content provided on Excited Cats is not intended as veterinary advice. While we strive to enhance your understanding of feline care, the information presented on this blog should not replace professional veterinary guidance.