Today we “spring forward” changing our clocks to allow for an extra hour of daylight during spring and summer. This time change is difficult enough for humans who can rationalize the reason for the change; even so scientists say it takes some people up to two weeks to ”adjust”. What about our fur babies? Does the change on the clock affect them? Of course it does.
Humans have a biological clock and so do cats; it is called the “circadian rhythm”. This internal clock tells us we need to wake up, when to eat and when its time to get back into bed. Does your cat know exactly when its time for treats? When you get home from work? And, when to get up in the morning for breakfast yums? That’s your fur baby’s internal clock at work.
Everyone has heard that cats are creatures of the night - active during the hours between sunset and sunrise. This was true at one time, but one of the consequences of allowing our felines to adopt us as their caregivers is that their clock has become synchronized with ours. They have gotten used to lights being turned on and off at the flick of a switch, alarm clocks demanding we (and they) wake up, needing to have breakfast in time to get to work and going to bed after our favorite television show or late night news broadcast is over, usually hours after sunset. Then, just as they get adjusted to our schedule what do we do but have the nerve to change our clocks. We can’t explain it to them – they just follow behind us and wonder why we are out of sync all of a sudden.
This can cause stress in some of our pets. They wonder why you are up and about before they had their morning cuddles and scratches. Don’t you get a little grumpy too? Feeding time can be the most stressful so if you find your cat is confused try preparing for future time changes gradually. Adjust their feeding in increments of five minutes to get them used to the time change coming whether it is “spring forward” or “fall back”. This makes it a little easier for them to adjust.
Do the same with sleeping schedules although it may mean missing the last few minutes of your favorite evening program or forgoing the next chapter in the book you are reading.
It is especially important to begin adjusting medications that are time sensitive such as insulin injections and antibiotics. Slowly adjusting to the coming time change will prevent any shock to the system that a change to 11 or 13 hours could produce.
Try having a little extra playtime with your cat. Extra fun can distract them and help them ease into the change in other routines.
Who knows … helping your cat adjust to Daylight Savings Time might be doing yourself a favor as well and help you adjust more easily?
On the bright side?
We are one hour closer to spring!