Can Cats Tell Time? What You Need To Know

Daily routines are extremely important to cats. As a result, they’ll anticipate being fed, cared over, or played with at the same time every day. When you break a routine, cats become agitated. Cats, contrary to popular belief, do not check the time on a clock.

Cats have 24-hour clocks. Cats use sunlight and darkness to detect the time of day during their 24-hour sleep-wake cycle. Cats can remember time-related patterns as well. Internal cues will be back-chained, which means that a series of events must occur in the correct order for the time to be accurate.

Cats are crepuscular creatures, meaning they are most active between the hours of sunrise and sunset. Although cats do not use the same methods as humans to determine the time of day, their internal clocks can be remarkably accurate and consistent.

Do Cats Have a Sense of Time? What’s Their Sense of Time Like?

Can Cats Tell Time?

While there aren’t many studies that have attempted to address the question of whether cats have a sense of time, I believe many of us have plenty of anecdotal evidence that our felines do have some sort of sense of time, even if we can’t concretely explain how it works or what its limits are in our daily lives with them.

Do you give your cat the same food at the same time every day? If your cat is anything like mine, you’ve probably had at least a few occasions, if not everyday occurrences, of your cat coming over to tell you it’s time to eat before the alarm goes off. Sure, cats are sometimes off by fifteen minutes, half an hour, or even an hour, but the fact that they barge in with a stream of never-ending meows indicating their food is coming shortly demonstrates they at least have a broad sense of time, in my opinion.

To be honest, I believe humans would be terrible at telling time if we hadn’t invented things that we can read (sun dials, clocks, watches, and so on) to help us do so. While I don’t believe humans have a good sense of time without these tools (let me know if you have! ), I believe our sense of time is greatly enhanced by many various objects in our surroundings providing us with indications as to what time it is.

The sun’s patterns, birds chirping early in the morning, and the school bus passing by at the same time every day, for example, all give us an indication of what time of day it is, whether we pay attention or even consciously clock in that these things are happening around us.

I believe that if we were placed in a fully empty, windowless room with nothing but artificial light for an extended period of time, our sense of time would all but vanish. In situations like this, I don’t think we’d be able to tell time very easily.

If we can only have a sense of time because of external environmental cues, I imagine cats and many other animals are in the same boat. Every day, birds chirp at the same hour. In order to achieve this, they obviously need to have a sense of time in some way. Cats and many other animals have a similar sense of time, which makes sense.

Do cats have a sense of time? Probably not in the same manner that we do. They do, however, have a strong sense of structure and routine, and they appear to enjoy life more when the same things occur at the same time every day. Consistency is crucial in maintaining a kitty’s general contentment and lowering stress levels. And, in my opinion, the patterns they are accustomed to are ingrained in their minds as occurring at precise times.

Can Cats Tell Time?

When your cat is used to being fed at 6 a.m., why feed him an hour later? Your cat will be aware. Because of how exact your cat’s internal clock is, if your cat ever has sensitive stomach difficulties, he or she may even vomit up bile. Healthy Pets’ Dr. Becker says it best:

Portion-fed animals fed at 6:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m., for example, will begin to anticipate the next meal in advance — often a long time in advance. Your cat might wake you up at 5:00 a.m. because he knows feeding time is approaching. Your cat’s stomach will release hydrochloric acid, gastric fluids, and bile during the next hour, all of which are required to digest his meal.

Let’s imagine you don’t feed your cat till 7:00 a.m. for some reason. Between 6:00 and 7:00 a.m., there’s a good possibility he’ll vomit some white foam and a little yellow bile. That’s because the hydrochloric acid irritates his stomach, and because there’s no food in there for the acid to breakdown, his body expels part of it to avoid additional aggravation.

Do you sound like a creature who has no concept of time? To me, no.

Again, this level of precision in telling time seems eerily similar to how I imagine our perception of time would be if we couldn’t utilize our time-telling skills at all. The human body has an internal clock, as we all know. I wouldn’t be shocked if cats and many other animals have the same ability, as well as the ability to take external cues from their surroundings.

Last but not least, Matt Soniak of PetMD brings up something that I found fascinating. Cats can discern between intervals of 5, 8, 10, and 20 seconds, according to one of the few studies that has truly investigated cats in connection to time:

Researchers trained cats to eat from one of two bowls depending on how long they were held in a cage before being released to eat in one trial, and the cats were able to distinguish the difference between holding periods of 5, 8, 10, and 20 seconds. Cats may have “an internal clock that is responsible for measuring the duration of events,” according to Vitale Shreve and Udell.

Super cool, and it makes me think that a cat’s sense of time is similar to ours without the capacity to tell time with tools. When it comes to time-telling devices…

Can Cats Tell Time? Can They Read Time Off Clocks?

If you’ve ever wondered whether cats can tell what time it is by reading and interpreting the numbers on the tools we humans have created to tell exact time, such as a digital clock or the hands of a traditional clock, I believe the answer is clear: No, cats cannot tell time by reading it off a clock.

One reader writes to the Telegraph with the following question:

Is it possible for cats to tell the time? We have a digital radio alarm clock in our bedroom, and every morning at 6 a.m., our cat paws at my husband’s face, waking him up.

Could he tell the time from where he sleeps because he can see the display?

Dr.Pete Wedderburn reacts in a way that I believe is spot on:

Cats have a highly accurate internal clock, and they simply “know” when it’s time for things to start happening. They’re also good at detecting other time-related cues, such as bird singing and daylight.

Change the time on the clock to see if it makes a difference; cats can’t read clocks. It is not going to happen.

Obviously, the question “Can cats tell time?” does not imply that cats can physically read time from a clock. – and you meant “Can they roughly gauge lapses in time and have a sense of when things happen during the day?” The answer to that question, as the preceding section should have made obvious, is yes. That leads to the final intriguing topic concerning cats and their relationship with time, which is…

What Would a Cat’s Conception of Time Be Like?

Can Cats Tell Time?

When you inquire about a cat’s sense of time, you are inquiring about what cats think about time in general, as well as their understanding of time. It’s possible that this isn’t what you meant to ask in your query. “What is a cat’s view of time?” you might have meant. ” or “How do cats perceive the passage of time?” ” instead, but let’s go philosophical here for a bit and consider what cats might be thinking or how they perceive our dear old friend time.

Many people, I believe, often wonder what their pets are thinking. Personally, I believe cats and other animals lack distinct thinking, even regarding things they care much about, such as (obviously) food. Animals, I believe, are more or less controlled by their emotions and feelings about things. If you try to envision what it would be like to never have a language-based idea in your head but still have your emotions, moods, and sentiments intact, you’ll probably get a sense of what it’s like to be in the mind of a cat.

What I imagine a cat’s idea of time to be like is a nagging feeling, a strong want to accomplish something specific that arises at a specific time of day. As if it were a habit. So, if you think about a habit you have, such as making yourself a cup of coffee and drinking it as soon as you wake up every day, you do it because a habitual cue, such as opening your eyes and hopping out of bed, triggers your morning routine, you have your coffee, and you get that lovely reward of feeling more awake, and that’s it.

While cats can’t think about time in a tangible way because they don’t have higher level thoughts or language like we do, I believe their concept of time in a day is more akin to a series of habits triggered by certain events – for example, when the alarm goes off in the morning, they leap out of bed knowing you’re about to get up. As the sun sets, they begin to feel an itch to eat since they know their mealtime is approaching.

What do they think of brief bursts of time? I’m sure it’s a lot like that. If a bird in front of them detects their movement, I’m sure it’d be useful to know how long they should stay stationary before moving quietly again without being observed. I wouldn’t be shocked if they always waited a particular period of time, similar to how we check the stove every time we leave the house, even if it’s not essential, just to be careful.

Again, I don’t believe animals, particularly cats, have a concrete explanation or understanding of time, but if they do, it’s likely to do with how time affects their habits and their ability to better achieve what they desire (good food, a safe place to sleep and rest, a nice clean place to use the restroom). After all, even in the wild, they’ll need to know what time of day a bird or mouse is likely to be at a given location if they want to catch their grub. We schedule-obsessed humans aren’t the only ones that value time. It is critical for all creatures. And, because they don’t have 24-hour Mini Marts or always-stocked refrigerators, it’s even more important that they get their timing right.

Do Cats Have a Concept of Time?

Felines follow a schedule based on the human clock. A cat will engage in particular behaviors and demand that its requirements be addressed at specific times. So, how do cats keep track of time?

Your cat is reacting to its surroundings rather than the time. When previously indicated, the most significant of them is a cat’s circadian rhythm, which directs the body’s reflexes as the sun rises and sets.

Humans are diurnal, which means we are awake throughout the day and sleep at night. This is a naturally occurring phenomena, according to the Journal of Physiology. Our bodies have been trained to slow down around dusk and wake up at morning.

The sun has an effect on cats as well. Cats also memorize patterns and routines in their environment. Cats can tell the time based on their senses of sight and sound. Cats’ everyday activity is influenced by their reliance on routine.

Waking in the Morning

Your cat most likely gets up at the same hour every day. It’s not unusual for a cat to wake you up at this hour, nearly on the dot. This may seem strange because cats do not have alarm clocks.

Cats are crepuscular, which means their bodies are hardwired to be wide awake at dawn. This is why your cat meows at you every morning at the same time, begging for food and attention.

This awake time, of course, fluctuates with the seasons. The sun will rise later in the fall and winter. As a result of its circadian cycle, a cat will wake up later. Usually, the cat will get active just before its owner.

Owner Schedule

Cats appear to be able to predict when you will return home. It’s not uncommon for a cat to be waiting for an owner at the entrance, implying that the cat is aware of your arrival time.

Certain indications will have been memorized by your cat prior to your arrival. You might have neighbors who arrive 15 minutes ahead of you, for example. The cat will hear them return home and realize that you will be home soon.

Other noises could assist your cat in anticipating your actions. Cats can’t count in the traditional sense, but they can remember sound patterns. A cat will anticipate your arrival if a bell or clock sounds and you return soon after.


You might notice that your cat takes a walk at the same time every day, which is due to the cat’s circadian rhythms. The cat will recognize when the sun is at its most pleasant and will go outside.

Things that are important to cats are remembered. When a butcher or a neighbor tosses out unwanted food, for example, your cat may remember. This plan will be structured around visual or aural clues, similar to how you anticipate your return. The cat will make certain that a visit to that site is made at the appropriate moment.

Your cat will also try to learn other animals’ routines so that it can stay safe while hunting or claiming territory. If it has a feline companion, it may time its wandering to coincide with and play with them.

Play and Mealtimes

Established play and mealtimes are the foundation of any feline program. Your cat will let you know if you’re late for dinner. When it’s time to eat, how do cats know? This has to do with your movements once more.

Certain routines will become second nature to a cat. When you return home, you’ll most likely do certain rituals. After a shower and a change of clothes, you can play with and feed your cat.

While you attend to your own needs, the cat will calmly wait. It demands your whole attention after this is finished. Again, this has nothing to do with the time. Rather, the cat is interpreting time based on your actions.


Grooming has little to do with the time, but rather with sleeping and eating. Grooming can consume up to half of a cat’s day. They usually do so right before and after eating and sleeping.

The cat is erasing all traces of its fragrance by cleaning itself. This indicates that it is protected from predators while sleeping. This is also why cats groom themselves after meals. They’re getting rid of food odors.

Most cats develop a schedule of eating and resting at regular intervals. As a result, grooming will take on a more systematic approach. If your cat grooms at random and frantically, it’s a sign that he’s in pain.

Elimination Schedule

When a cat uses its litter tray at the same time every day, it has formed a comfortable and trustworthy routine. A cat must pass feces in order to excrete. In order for a cat to poop on time, it must also eat on time.

Do Cats Know What Day of the Week it is?

Garfield, possibly the most recognizable kitty in mainstream culture, claimed to despise Mondays. In actuality, a cat can’t distinguish the difference between Monday and Thursday. The Gregorian calendar is analogous to the clock in how a cat understands it.

Days of the week are understood by cats in the same way that cats perceive time through routine. Assume you work a conventional 9-to-5 schedule from Monday to Friday. Your cat will ultimately learn to anticipate your arrival.

Furthermore, cats may recognize a day of the week depending on the number of visitors to a residence. For example, a cleaner who comes once a week will be expected. The routine of when this house guest arrives will be memorized by cats.

Do Cats Know When it is Nighttime?

Cats can tell when night falls because they frequently peek out the window. Indoor cats are accustomed to artificial illumination and will sense a temperature reduction.

Cats prefer to nap in the middle of the day, when the sun is at its maximum. The sun’s rays keep it warm and comfy because cats’ body temperatures are lower while they sleep. Furthermore, because most feline predators and prey are nocturnal, many cats prefer to stay awake at night.

The arrival of darkness is recognized by cats. The opportunity to explore and roam is provided by the cover of night. While humans are sleeping, the house or streets become silent, giving cats the opportunity to hunt without being distracted.

Because cats are natural imitators, you may find that your cat naps at night. Many domesticated felines, particularly indoor cats, follow their owners’ routines.

Do Cats Experience Time Differently?

When describe the passage of time for a feline, the term “cat years” is frequently used. According to common belief, one cat year is equal to four human years. Please keep in mind that this is purely a speculation with no scientific backing.

With this in mind, you could believe that cats have a shorter perception of time. However, we must keep in mind that cats have no frame of reference. When it feels like spring has just ended, they don’t question how fall will arrive. Cats spend almost all of their time in the present.

As a result, cats have a unique perspective on time. They aren’t continually checking the time or the calendar. Cats don’t have to make appointments or perform time-sensitive errands. Cats, on the other hand, are more concerned with instinct and sensation.

A cat’s perception of time is shaped by whether it is hungry, tired, or cold. The cat will react if it senses something unpleasant. Cats, on the other hand, accept each moment as it comes.

Do Cats Have a Sense of Time When You Leave Them?

Every cat is unique. When separated from their humans, some cats appear to suffer from persistent separation anxiety. Others appear to be largely unconcerned. A study published in the journal PLOS One indicates changes in feline behavior based on separation time.

For intervals ranging from 30 minutes to 4 hours or longer, 14 cats were left alone in the house. When the cats were alone, they didn’t show any significant variations in behavior. When an owner returned, he or she took slightly different acts.

When the cats were reunited with their owners after being left alone for lengthier periods of time, they stretched and purred more. These are both indicators of trust and ease, implying that the cats and their humans were attached. The reunion gave the cat a sense of happiness and security.

Is it possible for cats to tell how long you’ve been gone? It appears so based on the findings of this investigation. As a result, it’s critical to understand the signs and symptoms of separation anxiety. The following are some of the most common warning signs:

Elimination that is not appropriate (often on the bed)

When you get back, you’ll be clingy.

When you’re alone, you can’t eat or drink.

Property destruction

Excessive grooming

Neighbors’ complaints about excessive yelling

Separation anxiety indicates that the cat is not firmly attached to its owner. The cat has lost faith in the owner’s ability to return and supply its requirements.

Do Cats Perceive Time Slower?

“Small animals live in a slow-motion environment,” according to Scientific American Mind. This is related to the fact that time is perceived through eyesight. The rate at which an animal’s eyes relay messages to the brain is related to its metabolic rate. The smaller the animal, the slower it perceives the passage of time.

This implies that cats perceive time differently than humans. This is inaccurate because cats perceive time differently than humans. Light is processed at a rate of Hz per second by all species. Time appears to move slower as the number of Hz increases.

Light is processed at a rate of 60 Hz by humans. Cats, on the other hand, are exposed to light at a rate of 55 Hz per second. Rodents, on the other hand, process light at a rate of 39 Hz per second. A hunting cat can be annoyed by a fast-moving mouse for this reason.

This helps to explain why cats move slowly but have razor-sharp reflexes. The eyes of a cat deliver visual data to the brain at a higher rate than our own. This aids cats’ innate behavior, especially when they are threatened.

Cats react to visual cues without thinking, most of the time. On a television screen, for example, events unfold as quickly flickering pictures. A cat might be startled by catching a glimpse of something out of the corner of its eye.

Do cats have a sense of time? Cats are not time slaves like humans, but they do have a sense of time based on a predictable schedule. Your cat will learn to identify specific times with events that are significant to it, such as dinnertime, if you stick to the schedule.


What is a cat’s sense of time like, in your opinion? How reliable do you believe their sense of time is? Do you believe we have the same sense of time? Better? Worse?

Have you ever suspected that your cats could be able to tell time from clocks or watches? What do you suppose a cat’s understanding of time would be if he or she could express it?

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