Even though cats are renowned for their independence and for their ability to endure loneliness, it is still questionable whether they really realize the passage of time. And if so, can they tell the difference between one hour and several hours, for example? Answers!
The signs that cats see the clock ticking
It is not uncommon for cat owners to express their astonishment at the punctuality of their feline. For example, some cats take care to wake their human at the same time each day. In this case, they often try to make him understand that it is time to eat.
Likewise, our feline friends may have a habit of waiting for their human at the door at the same time every day, as if they know when they are coming home from work.
Finally, they can be particularly cold and distant when their owner comes home after a long absence, especially when returning from a weekend or vacation. As if they were sulking, in a way.
In this sense, it seems rather obvious that cats have some notion of time. They would even have an internal clock responsible for evaluating the duration of events, for “measuring” time. However, their perception of time is obviously not as accurate as ours. Especially since time passes more slowly for them, as for other small animals, their metabolism being faster.
How do they measure time?
In order for cats to have an internal clock, they must be able to measure time. So of course, they can’t tell the actual time. But there are other ways of finding one’s bearings in time: the orientation of the sun, birds singing in the morning … Thus, cats could rely on environmental factors to have an idea of the passage of time.
In addition, their sense of routine can also be a good way to find your way through time. Indeed, by observing all our habits, they understood that certain events recurred at the same time every day. They therefore have an idea of the general rhythm of the day. And it is this consistency that reassures them.
Indeed, we can see that when their routine is disrupted, it can cause them a lot of stress. For example, one study showed that cats left alone for long periods of time for several days in a row tended to be particularly anxious. This anxiety was characterized by meowing, compulsive licking or even uncleanliness.
All the more reason to entrust your cat to someone instead of leaving it alone for a weekend!