Cat owners everywhere are familiar with their feline’s uncanny ability to somehow tell the exact moment they wake up in the morning.
You open your eyes, and the first thing you see is Kitty staring at you and waiting impatiently for breakfast. This daily occurrence may have you wondering: How do they do that?
Cats know when their caregivers are awake by hearing the slightest changes in their sleeping movements. They can hear when their owner’s breathing rhythm changes as they are closer to waking up. Cats are also creatures of habit. They become accustomed to their owner’s schedules and know when to expect them up.
A cat’s extraordinary senses, well-developed internal clock, and preferences for sticking to a routine are more likely the reason behind knowing you have just awoken.
Although we keep the door to the bedroom closed every night, our own cats are there waiting for us outside the room every morning. They can often be heard scratching at the bedroom door as soon as we wake up if they’re especially hungry!
We’ve discussed how cats known exactly when you wake up in more detail below.
They have a highly developed sense of hearing, enabling them to hear frequencies far beyond the range of humans. Cats also can hear faint sounds at far distances – up to four or five times the distance of humans.
Cats have better hearing than many other mammals. Their ears have evolved to capture and amplify even the faintest sounds. They can rotate their ears up to 180 degrees to help pinpoint the exact location of the tiny sounds their prey makes.
Your cat may seem to be able to read your mind or anticipate your actions, but much of their uncanny knowledge is explained by their incredible hearing. For example, how does your cat always seem to know when they are about to be fed?
You may not realize it, but you probably do a similar routine each time you feed Kitty – first moving to the cabinet to get a bowl, then moving over to the pantry or refrigerator to get the food.
Your cat can hear these movements and can tell where you are in the kitchen and how far along in the process of getting its food.
By the time you lean down to place the bowl on the floor, kitty is already there waiting.
When you sleep, you go through several different stages, which are repeated in a known sleep cycle. Your breathing may vary with the different stages, but in general, it is slower and more regular than when awake.
They have come to recognize the different ways you breathe while sleeping and while awake. Once they hear the change, they know to get in place to welcome you to the morning.
Their hearing is so acute they can hear the soft sounds you make through closed doors. Many owners find their cats waiting for them just outside their bedroom doors first thing in the morning and wonder how they knew to be there.
Your cat can hear the rustling of you moving about in bed and has learned to associate those sounds with you soon being awake.
A consistent daily routine also helps them to know when their owners are about to wake up. While you may think your cat has some type of extra sense to tell when you are about to wake, in actuality, you may have a very predictable schedule.
Cats prefer a set and predictable routine. The organization and pattern to their day helps them to feel safe. They want to eat, play, and sleep at regular times. Small changes that may not seem like a big deal to you may seem enormous to your cat.
Cats are also more likely to get sick when their daily routines are changed or unpredictable. Cats may also begin to show behavioral problems due to the stress of irregular routines. They may dig, bite, scratch, lick excessively, or stop using the litter box.
It is best to adhere to a consistent schedule to prevent stress-related problems.
Your cat is waiting for you by the door when you come home. Or even before you enter the kitchen to feed Kitty, they’re already there waiting for you. A cat quickly comes to learn the routines of the house they live in. But how do they do that?
For example, as the sunlight changes throughout the day, so do the shadows that may be cast upon the wall. When the shadows reach a certain point, Kitty has learned their owner will soon be home.
Ways that your cat knows it’s almost time for you to wake up may include:
- The changing amount of sunlight
- The sounds of birds in the early morning
- The predictable noise of the paper delivery
- Household noises such as the heat coming on or the coffeepot starting up
However, this is not quite an accurate description. Cats are actually crepuscular. This term describes animals who are most active around dusk and dawn.
For cats, these two times of day are ideal for hunting. There’s enough light to see, but it’s also dark enough to hide them.
Cats can hear the changes in your breathing and notice the changing light levels. These clues all let your cat know that you’ll soon be up, and breakfast is not far behind!
While you may think your cat has some sort of particular skill to predict when you wake up, it is more due to their senses and need for routine. A cat’s ability to pay attention to and perceive the smallest sights and sounds is what lets them know that you will soon be awake.