Can My Cat Tell Time?

If we jump an hour ahead, or fall an hour behind, can our cats tell the difference in time?

By Jeanne Adlon | Updated: April 8, 2016, 9 a.m. EST

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Q: My cat wakes me up at 6 a.m. sharp every day. Can he tell what time it is?

A: Well, he certainly knows early morning usually means breakfast! It’s not the clock on your wall but his internal clock that tells him when the sun starts to rise, it’s close to his feeding time. In my house I don’t even have to set my alarm clock. My sweet 13-year-old cat Abby starts climbing over me demanding a treat at around 4 a.m. — but I only have myself to blame.

When Abby was sick last year she would only eat treats. I kept them by my nightstand and she knew it. Now she is better, thankfully, but she still demands a sunrise treat. Even daylight savings time doesn’t make a difference. She’s there at 4 a.m. regardless and nothing dissuades her, not even if I put a pillow over my head. Fortunately, after she eats her treat we both go back to sleep.

Cats really have our routines down. They are aware of when we eat, sleep, get up, go out and come back. They like to have their needs met when we are home and sometimes it seems as if they are training us. For those who return from work around the same time everyday it’s not unusual to find the cat at the door, ready for attention.  Good hearing rather than clock watching usually accounts for that. When you come in, make sure you lavish praise and attention on him and don’t forget the treats — though you might not want to keep them by your bed. As always, I welcome your comments and stories.
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Reader Comments

Raffi    St Cloud, MN

4/26/2016 10:57:12 PM

My LionLips sleeps til 10-11 AM with me and he's great about sleeping even later- then he eats when I do- BUT when it is 4:30 PM for his second feeding you better believe this guy knows precisely that and he won't take no for an answer. No matter the time changes or otherwise he has 4:30 down and that's that.

VERONICA    YONKERS, NY

4/26/2016 11:14:05 AM

Continue with the same patterns of treating her when she wants it....

Alfred    International

4/26/2016 8:37:33 AM

I have two adorable chubby Ragdoll Cats that sleep on my bed every night, at 4 AM it's get up time as they playfully pounce on me purrrrrrrrrrrring away.

Marion    Cupertino, CA

4/5/2016 2:41:05 PM

I'm retired and don't have to get up if I don't want to but my 8-year-old adopted cat "Samantha" is really persistent in getting me up at seven every morning. She jumps all over me, clawing the covers. Treats don't help. Then, in the evening she does the same thing in reverse, starting around eight. She actually saved my life one dark morning when the power suddenly went off; I'm dependent on supplemental oxygen. She made sure I got up to turn on the emergency tank, groping in total darkness. She also makes sure I take my shower in the morning, leading me to the bathroom.

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