Are cats confused by putting the clocks backwards or forwards for winter and summer time?

In the UK, and I expect in other countries, the clocks are put back and forwards at certain times of the year because it is believed that this makes it safer and better for people going to work and school children going to schools.  One cat expert said that winter and summer time adjustments confused cats but I would argue that it does not for the following reasons.

Cats do not read the time. They are not concerned with clocks. They are concerned with the natural rhythms of light and darkness, day and night.  And therefore their lives are distanced from the human watch and clock.  If dawn arrives a bit later or a bit earlier and if dusk arrives later or earlier the domestic cat will simply move his activity levels to fit in with those events.

The cat will not be confused by this change because he’s naturally in tune with nature. It is the changing of the clocks which goes against the rhythms of nature and, as it happens, often confuses us because we forget to adjust our clocks and have, of course, got used to certain times of day so when they are changed artificially it can be temporarily confusing for us.

The only possible way that putting clocks backwards or forwards could confuse cats is because we are more active at a different time; say, in the morning we might get up earlier as a consequence. However, this is unlikely to confuse our cat because we are active at different times to our cat therefore, strictly speaking, we are out of sync with our cat’s activities.

So for example in the morning our cat gets up and starts being active well before us and in the evening, while we are chilling out after a day’s work, our cat wants to be active because it is dusk. Therefore any changes to the timing of our activity levels as a result of a one-hour adjustment in time has little impact upon our cat.

If we come home an hour earlier or an hour later than usual because the clocks have been adjusted then that might have a minor impact upon our cat who might be waiting for us but that is about as bad as it might get with respect to our cat becoming confused, in my opinion.

13 thoughts on “Are cats confused by putting the clocks backwards or forwards for winter and summer time?”

  1. Monty is on Daylight Saving Time and always has been. He was born during that time. It’s nice after the change back to it because he isn’t waking me up quite so early for breakfast.

    He does always go to bed quite early. We usually do, so that set the pattern for him. But whereas we might stay up late on a weekend, or have friends over who stay late, or go out and stay out late, Monty always goes to sleep at the same time. So he is always ready for breakfast at the usual time and has no sympathy for those who did not go to bed at the usual hour.

  2. I just did some research to find the laws about cats, and all I saw was that outdoor cats must be neutered and have ID.

    What laws have you discovered?

    There is a huge feral problem since many people leave their cats when they move, and the weather permits cats to live easily. Also, no predators to threaten populations.

      • We’ve got feral cats aplenty in Wisconsin and our weather is worse than yours, Michael. Maybe people in the UK are less likely to just dump an animal they no longer want. There’s this mistaken idea here that a cat can take care of himself, especially out in the country, so it’s ok to just let him go outside. Some of the cats my mom had as a kid were ones tourists brought with them on vacation (my grandparents owned a small resort on a lake) but left behind when they went home. Once a tourist took one of my mom’s cats. My mom saw it in their car, but Grandpa wouldn’t let her say anything, because if she was wrong it would be so offensive to have accused them that it could have been bad for business. My mom was right though. There’s just a general disrespect for the cat here in the US that goes back a very long time.

        • I have heard about people in America on vacation leaving their cat behind in a lodge or some other holiday hotel/chalet. Horrible and callous.

          It must come down to attitudes as you say. All the stories I read about of feral cats milling around in colonies just does not happen here.

          There are feral cats here but it is almost impossible to spot them.

          I guess you killed off my argument about the weather!

  3. I lived in Hawaii, on the Big Island from 1983 to 1993. I adopted 2 female siblings. I didn’t know about any laws regarding cats, except that those coming in had to be quarantined for 3 months. That has been changed to about a week, if they have rabies vaccine recently.

    They were indoor/outdoor. I always lived on large acreage, way above sea level, near coffee and macadamia nut farms.

    My son lives on Oahu, so I’ll ask if he knows about these laws, since he recented adopted a cat.

      • These plans/laws affect feral cats or kept feral colonies. I thought you were referring to laws regarding pet cats. I think these TNR goals are unreasonable to attain by 2020 or even 2025.

        Hawaii as a paradise is only a fantasy. Some of the facts that you don’t hear about.

        Lowest wages and highest cost of living.

        A slow pace means it’s hard to get things done in a timely manner.

        Many who have degrees (Phd, etc) are working 2+ menial jobs to survive. Most of the jobs are tourist related as in hotels, charters, retail, etc.

        The air quality on the BigIsland is worse than smog in L.A. because of the volcanic particles in the air….VOG. At times, sunsets aren’t even visible. Those with respiratory conditions have problems breathing.

        Many people who move to “paradise” don’t stay. They’ve only seen Hawaii as a tourist staying in a condo, and have no idea of the reality.

        Women especially don’t take well to the insect population, which becomes part of the household.

        There is a lot of mistrust of “white men” by the locals, and for good reason.

        Yes, it’s beautiful and warm, although I lived on the mountain where it was cool, and I had a fireplace! I had many exotic fruits on the land, and a huge banana grove.

        Even though much of the fruit falls from the trees and rots, you’ll pay top dollar for bananas, mangos, papayas, etc.

        I was fortunate to have started a well needed business that supported several people and my sons. I never got “island fever”, as some people do.

        It was the place I started doing photography because there was so much beauty all around that I had to find a way to isolate it.

        It definitely worth a visit, but be prepared for an expensive vacation.

  4. I agree with the idea that animals just adjust to the seasons as they always have.

    My cat always seems to wake earlier than I do,and meows at me, even though I wake by 5am. She mostly sleeps through the night, but sometimes I hear her use the litter box, since it’s in my bedroom.

    When I lived in Hawaii, we didn’t change the clocks, and I liked it a lot better!

  5. When the clocks go forward next weekned, some cats might be pleased to have their breakfast and other meals an hour earlier than usual.

    I’m curious to see how the stray cat and wild birds I feed respond. Will their internal body clock mean they turn up an hour late until they adjust to the new feeding schedule? Or are they opportunists who’ll be hanging around anyway and recognise the signs that dinner is on the way? I’m especially curious to see how it affects the 2 crows I’ve been feeding in my lunch-break at work since last summer. (At present they arrive within minutes of me stepping outside my office door.)


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