do cats have sense of time

From what research has shown, cats do perceive time, as like all living things, they have a circadian rhythm, and part of perceiving their environment is also interpreting time. Although they don’t use time for the same purposes that we do (they don’t have work deadlines!), they do rely on general awareness.

Why Does My Cat Know Exactly When It’s Mealtime?

do cats have sense of time

Your cat will know when it’s time to poop, so there’s no need to ring the dinner bell. Getty.

Your cat’s startlingly accurate sense of when it’s dinnertime can be explained in two words: biological clock.

According to Pankratz, “a number of ‘biological clocks’ can assist with their ability to determine the passage of time.”

The most well-known is the circadian rhythm, also referred to as the “24-hour” cycle, which frequently reflects the day’s light and dark periods. The “zeitberger” is another mechanism that establishes the biological clock and, in its absence, results in jet lag and other phenomena. The pineal gland, drugs, light, and atmospheric pressure are a few examples of zeitbergers.

These internal mechanisms and external cues from the environment — like their owner stirring in bed — can signal to your pet that it’s time to eat. Mikel Delgado, a cat expert at Feline Minds, lists some of the most common environmental signals that indicate breakfast time for cats:

  • Changes in light and temperature
  • The smell of coffee brewing
  • Their human walking toward the kitchen

You might be inadvertently creating a “alarm pet” in your cat if they wake you up early for meals and you reward or tolerate that behavior, according to Pankratz.

“It is ill luck for the owner who gives in even a single time.” These cats gain from automatic feeders because it takes the owner out of the cat’s incentive to eat, according to Stelow.

Another, simpler explanation is that your cat is simply hungry.

A cat will typically eat 10–20 small meals a day in the wild, so when we only feed them a few times a day, they are genuinely begging for food at that hour, according to DeVoss.

Can Cats Tell Time As Well As Humans?

do cats have sense of time

The evidence on time perception is insufficiently clear to say whether cats or humans can tell the time. Getty.

But it’s more difficult to determine if cats can tell time as precisely as people can. There are a few different ways to approach this question.

The first way: determine whether cats have better or worse “temporal perception” based on how fast they see the world, i.e., in frames per second (yes, like a camera’s frame rate). Inverse consulted Kevin Healy, a zoology researcher at the University of Galway, to discuss whether cats perceive time better or worse than humans based on his prior research. Smaller animals and predators tend to have faster time perception, but that’s not the case with cats.

With a frame rate of 55 as opposed to our 65, Healy claims that humans can perceive time a little more quickly than cats.

The second way to answer whether cats can tell time as well as humans has to do with whether cats have episodic memories, which are memories of specific events in time. The ability to form episodic memories may be central to what cognition researchers call “mental time travel” — the ability to mentally project forward and backward into time. It’s long been thought humans are alone in our ability to mentally time travel, but that might not be the case after all.

Daniel Dombeck is an associate professor in Northwestern University’s department of neurobiology who has researched time perception in mice. He says it’s “unlikely” humans have a unique gift for mental time travel, though it’s probable humans can remember farther back in time and in greater detail than rodents.

“We cannot say that animals understand time the same as humans,” Dombeck tells Inverse. “Rodents, for example, have representations of time in their brains, and neural activity patterns have been observed that suggest that they too can imagine different past or future events.” ”.

According to Crystal, in order to demonstrate whether cats have episodic memories, tests that rule out alternative theories, such as a biological rhythm informing them when it’s time to eat, would need to be carried out, which is challenging.

Although Crystal prefers to use the term “animal model of episodic memory,” he states that “there is no doubt that many animals have the content of episodic memories.” ”.

A 2017 study found that cats indeed contain “episodic-like” memories, but the lead researcher on that study, Saho Takagi, isn’t sure whether cats really need episodic memories for time perception.

“My research has shown that cats form episodic-like memories, but it is difficult to prove whether or not they do mental time travel with current technology,” Takagi says.

In conclusion, more research on animal cognition is needed before making a firm decision. Ideally, this research will focus on cats.

Takagi continues, “A lot of research has demonstrated that animals can sense time intervals, but I do not think that this results in animals having the same sense of time as humans.”

Different Perception Of Time

Our feline friends’ long-term memory is incredibly remarkable, even though their short-term memory may not be the best. Cats are able to easily adjust to a new environment at their own pace because they can recall past knowledge and apply it to their current situation. They are able to decipher information about “what” and “where,” but they might not be able to recall “when” particular events occurred in the past. According to PetMD, cats typically retain emotional content and significant memories for extended periods of time. For example, your cat is able to recall where her food bowl and litter box are.

A feline’s recording of events seems to be particularly relevant when associated with pleasure or pain. Another interesting fact is smaller animals live in a slow-motion world. A recent study published by Animal Behavior shows that body mass and metabolic rate determine how animals of different species perceive time. Time seems to pass more slowly for smaller animals with faster metabolisms.


Do cats have a sense of time when you leave them?

Cats have a sense of time, but they cannot tell time. The difference is that cats cannot read a clock or calendar to know what time or season it is. They don’t know the days of the week. But, they know when they’ve been left alone for a long time and they know when dinnertime is!

Do cats miss their owners?

The short answer is yes, cats can get sad when you leave. They’re relatively social beings who can get attached to their human (and furry) family, just like other pets. It’s best not to leave your kitty home alone, and instead welcome a loving cat sitter to keep them company while you’re away.

Do cats know when their time is up?

Cats May Understand Their Body’s Natural Progression They may also have an innate understanding of what their bodily changes mean, including those indicating their final days are approaching. For instance, they might not be able to tell exactly what’s wrong with them and what they need to fix it.

How long does a day feel for a cat?

A week in cat time is a week – seven days. Unfortunately, there is no way to measure a week or even a day in cat time, at least not using our way of measuring time. A cat measures time by natural events, such as dawn and dusk, and human routines, but they don’t seem to know one day from the next.