Daylight Saving Time starts close to the same time as the beginning of spring, and as we humans grumpily “spring forward” and lose an hour of much-needed sleep, some of our feline friends are equally annoyed. Pets tend to be creatures of habit. They don’t look at the clock to schedule their day. They have a circadian rhythm, a biological clock that tells them when to eat, sleep, or exercise. When this rhythm is disrupted by our waking up early or arriving home from work while they’re still taking their afternoon nap, it can cause a lot of anxiety. Here are some ways the start of Daylight Saving Time can affect your cat.
Many cats get dry food in the morning that they can nibble throughout the day and may not even notice when the bowl is refilled an hour earlier than usual. But if your kitty gets fed regular meals at a certain time of day, the time change can drive them wild. Cats get used to eating at specific times even more than dogs, so when their food comes before they’re hungry, they may tend to be a bit more rambunctious. They might be confused about why their meal is early and turn up their nose, which might mean that their food will no longer be fresh from the can or fridge by the time they’re ready to eat. On the other hand, they may eat their food quickly and still meow for food at the time that they’re used to out of habit. Their digestion cycle might be thrown off by the early meals. Adjusting regular meal time suddenly can have a big impact on your cat’s regular schedule, which can make them pretty grumpy.
If your cat is diabetic and takes medication at a certain time of day, it might be a shock to the system to get it early. An hour usually shouldn’t make much of a difference, but depending on the individual cat’s medical needs, it might have an effect. Early medication can cause a change in your cat’s energy level as their body adjusts to the new schedule of insulin. Some other medications, like those for heart failure, can cause problems if they come too early. It’s important to consult your vet if your cat has any of these problems or takes regular medication before you change the time for giving your kitty their meds.
While many cats are independent and get along just fine without you for an extra hour, some cats are more social and depend on your human contact. Pets get used to you leaving home at a certain time, and when you suddenly leave a whole hour early, it can cause a lot of anxious behavior. Also, if you’re waking up while kitty wants to sleep later in the morning, you might find a cat getting irritable, acting out, or meowing grumpily after the alarm goes off.
What You Can Do About It
You can take some steps to reduce the effects of the start of Daylight Saving Time on your cat. The best way to go about preparing for the time switch is to start a few weeks early and alter your schedule by a few minutes at a time. A gradual change of a couple minutes each day is far less noticeable than changing everything by an hour all at once. Try offering food a few minutes earlier every day. Consult your vet on how to go about changing the time of medication delivery. Leave for work a few minutes before you have to so kitty gets used to you leaving the house before the usual time. Most importantly, stay in touch with your cat’s needs. If kitty seems anxious or nervous, do your best to provide comfort and support and make adjustments as needed. And don’t forget to set your clocks forward!
Does your cat lose their mind during the Daylight Saving Time switch? Do you have advice for other cat owners? Let us know in the comments below!