How Do Domestic Cats Respond to Daylight Saving Time?

Daylight saving time (DST) is upon us. In the UK, daylight saving time in 2019 begins at 1 o’clock in the morning on Sunday 31st March. The clocks go back.

How do cats tell the time?

Domestic cats have an internal clock.

There are pros and cons to DST. A lot of people like it because, for example, it makes the evenings longer so they can do more. Other people, like me, dislike it because we believe that there are swings and roundabouts, there are pros and cons, and they cancel each other out. The downside, therefore, is having to adjust all your clocks and watches which is an irritation. It can also disturb your routines.

Cats Not Consulted

However, does DST disturb the routines of the domestic cat? That is a far more important question! Obviously the existence of DST is to improve the lives of humans. The domestic cat was never consulted and was never in the minds of the experts and the authorities who decided to create this artificial timeshift.

I’ve been thinking, while dictating this, asking myself whether domestic cats will actually feel any difference when the clocks go back on March 31 in the UK. There will be a little bit of adjustment required because their owner will be doing things at a different time. If their owner sticks to specific routines and does things at certain times every day then DST will affect that and the domestic cat will notice it. It won’t be a big deal but it will be a slight change.

We Do Things Later

I always find changing the clocks difficult to comprehend. With respect to DST, in putting the clocks back, it means that we will do things one hour later. This is because if we do something at 5 pm in the evening, that time will suddenly become 4 pm and we won’t do that particular task until one hour later. Therefore we do 5 pm tasks at 6 pm. That’s correct, isn’t it?

Therefore, if we feed our cat at 5 pm every day, she will have to wait an extra hour! Not a big deal but if you give your cat a very special treat at 5 pm in the evening and it is something that she really looks forward to, she may feel the difference.

She may ask for the treat over the intervening hour. You will have to explain to her what DST means and why in general people think that it is a good idea! Not an easy task because I don’t think you can convince me that it is a good idea!

Cats Can Tell The Time

In October of last year, I wrote an article entitled, “A part of the domestic cat’s brain can measure time“. I said that domestic cats have an internal clock like humans and therefore they can measure time. The discovery was based upon a study which focused on a part of the brain called the medial entorhial cortex (MEC). It is the part which deals with memory and navigation. The cells in this part of the brain store information allowing them to measure the passage of time.

If this is true, domestic cats may be more sensitive to DST than we believe. Of course, it depends on how accurate their internal clock is.


It is not inconceivable to imagine that DST may result in an accident for the domestic cat. Cats ignore DST. Therefore, if a domestic cat goes over a road to visit a friend and neighbour who she visits at 7 pm, the actual time will be 6 pm during rush hour and therefore there may be more cars on the road which would increase the likelihood of her being hit by a car.

I am stretching the imagination in finding a reason why the domestic cat may be affected by DST. It may affect her in a different way. Let’s say a cat visits a neighbour regularly at a certain time as they do, that person might not be in their home because of the introduction of DST on that day.


The Animal Rescue believe that DST leaves pets feeling a bit “jet-lagged”. They are using a human term to describe what I’ve described above, namely that the human companion’s routines have to be adjusted to meet DST and domestic cats will notice this but its effect will be minor and they adjust quite quickly.

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About Michael Broad

Michael is retired! He retired at age 57 and at Aug 2018 is approaching 70. He worked in many jobs. The last job he did was as a solicitor practicing general law. He loves animals and is passionate about animal welfare. He also loves photography and nature. He hates animal abuse. He has owned and managed this site since 2007. There are around 13k pages so please use the custom search facility!


How Do Domestic Cats Respond to Daylight Saving Time? — 1 Comment

  1. So I guess it’s different between the U.S. and U.K. Over here we “spring forward”, meaning we move our clocks ahead now. Sorry I didn’t just look it up now, but I’d rather get my important info from P.o C.

    Yes I think cats adjust their lives to what we do and where the sun is or was. They can’t read a clock, I’m pretty sure.

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