Cat Psychology: Routines and Schedules For Your Cat
Category: Cat Behavior
Just like with humans, routines and schedules are an integral part of how our cats behave. They have biological clocks of their own, not all of which adhere to modern life. And we certainly have schedules that rule our lives, so we can't be missing out on precious sleep while our cats roam rampant, or need to be tending to them if we're working from home. So what can we learn about the way our cats think, in order to help offer them the best lives possible?
If human psychology isn’t already difficult enough, cat psychology is less researched, less funded, and generally less understood, making it feel nearly impossible to understand our furry friends. Not only are we a different species, but cats aren't quite intelligent enough (as far as we know!) to let us know what their experience is like, so how can we expect to understand their needs?
Thinking about the psychology of cats may seem like a difficult measure, but fortunately, it’s much simpler than we think - we're already practicing it when making necessary, everyday decisions for the wellbeing of our cats! Additionally, we can refer to our veterinarians or other expert opinions on the subject matter. We know that cats thrive on routine, and that can help guide our decision-making.
For cats, routines and schedules are a crucial way to stay grounded and understand how things work in the household. In fixing a handful of cat psychology-related issues, you'll find experts suggesting routines and schedules to help your feline grow accustomed to what's expected of them.
Establishing daily meals, sleep routines, trips outside on the leash, and the like will help your cat behave the best way possible at the right times as they begin to understand what's to come. So if you’re looking to resolve any potty problems, biting, or other undesirable kitty crazies, offering routines and schedules for your cat is the most effective way to create lasting, behavioral change!
Here are some helpful tips on establishing routines and schedules for your cat!
Establish a Feeding Schedule
Perhaps the most significant example of an important routine is your cat's feeding schedule. Evaluating feeding times will affect your cat's energy levels, behavior, and sleep schedule.
If you're like most owners, you may have a loose schedule when you typically feed your cat, even if it isn't at the exact same time each day. Some use timed feeders to regulate the times their cats eat, which can be beneficial or detrimental; while having them on a set schedule is super helpful, part of the importance for your cat's routines is the bonding and relationship-building you both perform during this time, so it's important to be present for at least a couple of your cat's feedings per day if you can. And, needless to say, it most likely isn't best to resort to chaos and feed your cats at any given time on any given day, although as long as they're fed each day, cats are pretty resilient and will probably be okay
Establishing a feeding schedule for your cat will help them understand how the day works in your house. By default, most other behaviors or routines tend to occur around your cat's feeding schedule, since food is what motivates them the most. This makes it easy to structure your cat's day around food, and you can use this to help them understand when it's time for the next activity.
Concentrating your cat's playtime is also a great way to help your cat feel comfortable going crazy at a safe, suitable time of the day! Routines play a major part in the perfect playtime for your cat, and certainly their playtime habits will tell you a lot about their needs. A few times a day, play with them inside or outside, either with their favorite toy or simply with the surroundings. Pay attention and see what you notice - are they enjoying certain toys more, or are they liking certain trees or areas in the backyard?
What you'll find is a growing relationship with your cat where you can begin to understand what their preferences are, and by using your day-to-day schedules, you can see more clearly when they’re acting abnormal or with concerning behavior. This also reinforces positive sleep behavior and sleeping at night, reducing the amount of rest hours you lose in between workdays.
Many cats get a burst of energy after eating, since their bodies are processing calories which give them that energy - it's the same way with humans. As a result, many cat parents like playing with their cats and/or taking them outside either before or after they eat.
Take Them Outside (On a leash, if you can!)
While most cats would love to roam free outdoors, part of the importance for your cat's routines and schedules is simply the bonding time you gain with them by offering them regularly-timed activities. On top of that, keeping your cats on a leash keeps them safe and reduces their threat to other local wildlife like birds, rabbits, squirrels, etc.
So yes, if you can, take your cats outside! Giving them some time to roam will expel extra energy and help them tame that hunter's instinct. And doing so at the same time or times every day is a huge bonus! You'll see a marked difference in their behavior, sleep patterns, and ability to tone it down when it's time for the family to relax.
Whatever their normal habits, many owners find success by bringing their cats outside on a leash for some playtime before or after feeding. Many cats, especially kittens, love to run around outside and “hunt” local wildlife. None of us want them bringing in animals either, though, so it's best to keep them on a retractable leash (we prefer an extra-long leash for added effect) so they can run around and simulate hunting, without threatening birds or other populations. Outside play also allows you to concentrate their energy to confined times during the day, and they'll begin to want to relax around the house when you’re doing the same.
Share Your Schedules with Your Meowtel Sitter!
When you leave town and use a Meowtel sitter, be sure to share the ins and outs of your cat's day-to-day schedule with them so they can accommodate them as best as possible! When you share your cat's routines with them, they’ll be able to prioritize your cat's typical day and will have a better idea about what they're normally like. Even if they can't be at your house at 100% of your specifically-scheduled times, they may be able to be there at some, and communicating this information with them will help them generally understand your cat's demeanor at a given time of day.
Whatever you do, give your cat attention!
No matter how you decide to schedule your cat's days, playing with them frequently and generally loving them will be the biggest factor in learning how they think. Building a bond with your cat allows you to get to know their specific behaviors, and the more attention you devote to them, the more they'll trust that they can rely on you. Using schedules to do this can be even more fruitful, and will even help you take breaks from your own busy life!
Schedules and routines for your cat will help reinforce their good behaviors, and will give them things to look forward to as they begin to understand how things work. Feeding rituals, play times, and outside time are all ways to help your cat understand the flow of the day, and it'll help keep them happy and healthy too!