If 1 cat year is 7 human years, does a cat feel alone for 70 hours while you are at work?

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The commonly held belief is that one cat year is the equivalent of seven human years. That’s not quite accurate as this simple formula has been refined over the years. The formula isn’t “linear” (click for a good discussion on this). But for the sake of this short discussion let’s assume that one cat year is seven human years because the cat has a much shorter lifespan than humans.

This begs the question whether when you leave your cat alone in your apartment all day while you’re at work, they feel like they’ve been left alone for 70 hours (10 hours times 7). It’s quite a neat question but I don’t think there’s a neat answer. Certainly, I don’t think anybody has actually asked and answered the question until this moment.

The answer can only revolve around feline perceptions by which I mean how the cat feels about the passage of time because mathematically the passage of time is generally constant according to the theory of general relativity. And it can’t be reversed.

Let’s assume that time is constant. Therefore, the cat who is left alone in an apartment for 10 hours is actually left alone for 10 hours.

So how does a cat feel about the passage of time? We don’t know the answer. We don’t know a lot about how the cat’s mind works. How they think and perceive things.

I’ll have to guess and crudely philosophize. Perhaps the first point to make is that cats have a sense of time, which has been established in a study. It has certainly been established in the homes of millions of people because cats know when you are about to come home. There are several reasons how they can sense this; one of which is daily routines but one reason is that they can sense the passage of time as can humans.

And they can do this in various ways, simply through life experience and through the way day and night comes around. The awakening of the dawn and the beginning of the night which is linked to their hunting and circadian rhythms. The cat can observe these and gains a sense of the passage of time from those ‘markers’. They can therefore sense the passage of time of one daylight day.

The reason why one cat year is seven human years is because the cat’s lifespan is much shorter than that of the human due mainly to a higher metabolism – burning energy faster. The cat’s lifespan is not about how a cat perceives time and therefore can’t be used to inform us how cats sense time. The difference in the speed of aging is a different topic to the perception of the passage of time.

Consequently, I don’t think the formula of 1:7 changes the perception of cats to the passing of time. They know when dawn arrives and when dusk arrives. They know when you go to work and when you come home. They feel the interval of time between those two points. That feeling is exactly the same as the feeling that we have. Although they don’t consciously think about these things. It does not occur to them. Cats are not obsessed with the measurement of time as humans are.

PS – I think you could equally argue that for cats and dogs, 10 hours alone is speeded up by a factor of seven. They might perceive those 10 hours as 1/7 of what they are. Just a suggestion. After all, a cat’s life is speeded up by a factor of seven.

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