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: March 8, 2015, 9 a.m. EST

Printer Friendly

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.
Printer Friendly

 Give us your opinion on
Can My Cat Tell Time?

Submit a Comment   Join Club
Earn 1,000 points! What's this?
Reader Comments

Carol    Cincinnati, OH

3/8/2015 10:10:25 PM

My cat gets me up every morning at 5 am, when the time changes I do have to tell her that the time has changed. I will tell her 'Trigger tomorrow we need to sleep an hour later, or get up an hour sooner' or she will come at the wrong time. I can tell her that we are sleeping in tomorrow and she will go with that too. She is an amazing little baby.

heather    International

3/8/2015 1:25:23 PM

My cat couldn't care less. He's happy curled up in his bed thats inside the hall closet. His personal hangout. But he will come and get treats when i shake the bag and call his name. It takes him a bit to get out of his bed as he is old with arthritis but ge still comes

Lisa    Kanab, UT

6/20/2014 7:52:04 PM

My cat gets me up every day at 6 am, whether I need to work that day or not. I don't need to set an alarm but just do as backup. Time changes don't matter either, still the same thing. If I'm not getting into bed by 11:00 pm she is getting antsy, jumping onto the bed and looking at me. Once I get into bed then she usually feels content to go outside to her cattery. She knows breakfast is at 6:30 am, lunch is at noon and dinner at 4 pm. After I brush my teeth she knows she's suppose to get her Greenies that are good for her teeth. If cats can't tell time, they've got me fooled. It has pretty much been this way with any cat I've ever had. Once they get my pattern down they're dead on with the time schedule. Is it freaky or cool???

Dave    International

10/31/2013 3:06:46 PM

My cat comes and lies on my knee at 10pm every night. He doesn't lie on me at any other time. It is not feed time or going out time, he just lies on me until I move.
How does he knows it's 10pm???

View Current Comments

Top Products