Do Cats Have A Concept of Time?
22 June, 2016
Cute long-haired white kitten waiting at the door and looking up

As most cat owners know, our felines are very independent and seem to be fine when we leave them alone for some time.  But do they notice if we are gone for more than a few hours at a time?  And, in turn, do our cats have a concept of time?  The answer is, yes, cats do understand time but as a learned trait (we knew our felines were smart!)

Cats understand schedules and routine

Our cats seem to know when we are coming home since most of the time they are waiting by the door.  Cats are great with schedules that have clear recognizable cues.  They usually will know when we leave for the day and when we arrive home.  Cats also have incredible hearing, so they hear us walking up to the door and are ready for our arrival (if they aren’t too busy sleeping!)

Most cats know when we are ready to wake up

If you get up at the same time every day, our cats can become our alarm clocks.  Our kitties know our established routine and will wake you up before your alarm.  Or they just could be hungry and their stomachs are telling them it’s time for breakfast, so wake up!  If you have an established wake up time, your cats will be even more attuned to it and might just meow to let you know.

As always, if the meowing is excessive, it can be indicative of a medical condition which is why it’s always favorable to have pet insurance. 

Our cats’ real concept of the exact time is less than perfect

Cats are not able to discern the exact measurements of time which is why “Daylight Savings Time” throws them off.  The change of breakfast time doesn’t register with them and our kitties will want breakfast at the same time.  But, again, their perception becomes in tune with the real time once our new routine is solidified (but let’s be honest- a lot of us are thrown by daylight savings!).

Our felines do notice when we are gone for a while so better to keep them occupied

Our felines are good at waiting (or duration of time) when they have plenty to keep them busy. Just as time passes more quickly for us when we are busy, our cats can keep out of trouble if they have plenty of diversions to keep them stimulated.  If we don’t keep them occupied, then time goes by more slowly and they might just get a bit unruly.

If you only have one cat, than they are more dependent on you so therefore your cat’s concept of time passing is much longer and they seem to miss you even more.  This also could be indicative of separation anxiety if they meow too much or seem depressed when you are away.  If this is the case, it is a good idea to consult a behaviorist which is covered under certain pet insurance plans.

If they have a play buddy, than they will keep each other occupied.

Our cats are smart furry kids that know how to add all our cues and routine to figure out what time it is while we just look at the clock.  Since cats do learn from us and our routine, they are happier and better behaved when you keep to a schedule.

If you have a dog, take a look at our article:  Do Dogs Understand Time?

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