Know Your Cat’s Body Clock

Cats are amazing creatures and not a day goes by when I look at my cat and wonder how it does what it does.

There is one thing that has never failed to amaze me and that is how well my cat can keep track of time.

My cat knows when I have to get off my sleeping butt to feed him breakfast. He sleeps and wakes up at the same time during the day and night. He knows when it is time for his evening meal.

And he does all this perfectly well even without a watch.

In fact, I think my cat keeps track of time a lot better than most people I know.

But the question is, how do cats do it?

Cats Have A Good Sense Of Time

Your cat might not be able to tell time or have the latest iWatch strapped around his little paws but your cat has a good sense of time.

Cats are creatures of habit and they have this timetable ingrained into their system. This schedule differs from cat to cat, depending on their owners and family members too.

Your cat will keep track of your movement and form a blueprint of its own schedule around it.

I kid you not that my house can be dead silent in the morning until a few minutes before 7am or when my cat hears the ‘beep’ of my switching off my aircon.

He then knows that I am awake and will camp outside my bedroom door meowing at the top of his lungs for his food.

Internal And Eternal Cues

Cats are able to approximate time in the human world by observing external and internal cues. A cat has no idea what 8am means but they know that’s the time that it feels hungry and that coincides with the wake-up time of the owner.

Cats can piece together these cues to roughly tell what time it is and for what purpose.

It just seems so timely because they do such a fine job.

Cats Are Crepuscular

If you have never heard of the term crepuscular before, you are not alone. Many cat owners themselves don’t know what it means either.

Some even thought that it was some species of crustacean.

I highly doubt that our cats evolved from crabs.

Like humans, cats have their own natural body clocks too. There are times when they feel naturally awake and they will be times when sleep is the top priority.

Humans are known to be diurnal which means we are active during the day and we sleep at night. Being crepuscular, cats are known to be active during dusk and dawn.

And there is a good reason for this.

Cats evolve to have this certain body clock that helps them to hunt and survive better in the wild.

Cats are active during dawn and dusk because the prey that they feed on like birds and small mammals feed during these times too.

This makes it easy for cats to hunt for their food.

Our cats are ferocious hunters but they no definitely no match for bigger predators like bears and wolves.

When these predators are out hunting, most cats will be asleep somewhere safe to avoid being detected.

A Good Mix Of Body Clocks

There is a reason why cats make such good and suitable pets for us humans. Our body clocks though different are a good match for each other.

Most of us need to get up early in the morning for work and that is when our cats are awake and hungry.

Once we have served our feline masters their early morning meal, we will be off to work and our cats will be off to bed.

Most cats sleep the day away as per a cat’s sleep schedule.

By the time we get back from work in the evening, our cats are awake and ready to eat.

Why Do Cats Sleep So Much?

Ask any cat owner what their cat’s favorite activity is and it’s got to be sleeping. I’m a big fan of cat cafes and I love going to one when the cats are asleep.

There is something very peaceful and relaxing about seeing so many cats fast asleep in weird positions.

Most cats sleep between 12 to 18 hours a day. There’s nothing more than cats love than finding a comfortable warm spot at home and heading off to dreamland.

Older cats tend to sleep more due to a drop in their activity levels.

A cat with an underlying medical problem can also be sleeping more than usual. This could be due to feline diabetes, hyperthyroidism or anemia.

It would be best to bring your cat to the vet for a thorough checkup if you find it sleeping a lot more than usual.

Different Stages Of Cat Sleep

Cats experience the same sleep phases as humans do. They will go through non-rapid eye movement (NREM) and rapid eye movement (REM).

During NREM, most cats will asleep but are still alert. Most of us will call this phase cat napping and you can tell from your cat’s sleeping position.

A cat sleeping in the ‘loaf position’ or with its head on the paw is still aware of the sounds around it. You can even see your cat’s ears react to sudden sounds.

After NREM, the cat will enter the REM phase. This is when the cat is in deep sleep. Cats in the REM phase will be sleeping on their backs, curled into a furball or sleeping on its side.

The REM phase is important for the cat as this is when the body repairs itself. You might also notice your cat twitching during this time.

Why Do Cats Sleep So Much?

The main reason that cats sleep so much is for them to recharge their energy levels. Hunting in the wild for their food is tough and serious work.

A cat can’t afford to go without food for too long or it can lead to liver failure.

By having their energy at max levels, it gives them the best chance of catching their prey. Both wild and domesticated cats spend a large portion of their day sleeping.

How To Influence Your Cat’s Body Clock?

Even though our body clock fills in the gap of our cats, there are times when we need to fine-tune our cat’s sleep schedule to be more in line with ours.

When I first brought my cat home, his body clock kept him awake from 3am onwards which in turn kept me up too.

He would meow outside my door, run and knock things over and scratched my bedroom door till I woke up.

The one mistake I made was to entertain his demands for attention at his own fancy.

Things got better when I learned to ignore his cries and only tended to him when I woke up for work. Ignoring your cat’s demand for attention at such weird hours will teach him to cut back on his nocturnal activities.

It will be difficult at first but he who blinks first loses. So just hang in there. Your cat will be fine.

If you are at home during the daytime, make it a point to schedule more playtime with your cat. Don’t just let them spend the whole day sleeping.

Keep them active every now and then so that they will feel tired when it is your bedtimeknow ty and sleep through the night.

With enough training and perseverance, you can manipulate your cat’s body clock. This doesn’t mean that your cat sleeps less each day but the sleep curve is pushed forward.


I hope that you found this article helpful when it comes to trying to appreciate and understand your cat’s body clock.

Cats are biologically different from us so don’t expect them to have the same body clock as you even after some training.

Trying to mess up your cat’s circadian rhythm too much can have an adverse effect on its health.

Make sure to still allow your cat to get its required hours of sleep.

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