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Why Do Cats Need a Routine? The 5 Surprising Benefits

Ed Malaker

By Ed Malaker

cat owner feeding her pet cat

Many experts recommend getting your cat used to a routine while they’re still a kitten and only changing it when necessary to help them feel more comfortable and secure. However, many people aren’t sure how a routine helps their cat, so keep reading as we explore this topic to explain why cats need a routine and how you can help provide it.

Why Do Cats Like Routine?

If you are a long-time cat owner, you know that cats like to follow a daily routine and seldom deviate from it. While no one can be certain, the behavior likely relates to their predatory instinct. Learning where and when your prey will be at a certain place and getting there first can give you a big upper hand, so as much as their routine matches yours at home, it likely stems from how their prey would behave in the wild. Any deviation from the routine would cause the cat to go hungry, which can explain why they get so upset if you change your schedule, even a little.

russian blue cat sitting near feeding bowl
Image by: slawomir.gawryluk, Shutterstock

How Does Routine Help My Cat?

1. It Helps Them Feel Safe

One of the biggest benefits of keeping your cat on a tight schedule is that it helps them feel more secure. Your pet will remember what they did yesterday, and since everything went fine then, it will likely be the same today. However, when your routine continuously changes, your pet won’t know what to expect, which can frighten them.

grey cat scratching the wooden door
Image by: Ruslan Zagidullin, Shutterstock

2. It Reduces Aggressive Behavior

Cats can turn to destructive behavior if they feel frightened, so getting them into a routine will help make them feel more comfortable. A routine will also help your cats from becoming bored, which often results in destructive behavior. Bored cats will often chase around other house pets and scratch up furniture, curtains, and other items.


3. It Keeps Them Healthy

Ohio State University conducted a study with 32 cats, 20 of whom were sick with feline interstitial cystitis,1 a painful disease that affects the lower urinary tract. They found that when you change the cat’s routines or their environment, the healthy cats got sick 1.9 times per week, while the cats with FIC got sick twice as often. However, the frequency returned to normal when they left the environment and routine intact.


4. It Reduces Aggressive Behavior

Cats can turn to destructive behavior if they feel frightened, so getting them into a routine will help make them feel more comfortable. A routine will also help your cats from becoming bored, which often results in destructive behavior. Bored cats will often chase around other house pets and scratch up furniture, curtains, and other items.

cat playing with owner
Image by: Dora Zett, Shutterstock

5. It Creates Boundaries

Another reason to get your cat on a routine is that it can help create boundaries, so the cat doesn’t become an annoyance when you are doing other things, like sleeping. Setting up specific times throughout the day to play or relax can help keep the cat busy whenever you are, and it will make your time together more enjoyable.

How Do I Create a Routine With My Cat?

Setting up a routine for your cat is not as difficult as you might think, and it doesn’t need to be down to the minute. Instead, it is more about how you do things at certain times of the day. If you wake up each morning and make breakfast, then pet your cat for a few minutes, that is what your cat will expect you to do. You can wake up a bit earlier or later without disrupting the routine. However, if you wake up late for work and run out without eating or petting the cat, they might get upset about the change. Try to set up a daily routine for yourself that works for you, and stick to it as closely as you can. Your cat will adjust in a few days to a few weeks.

woman watching and talking to her cat
Image by: VH-studio, Shutterstock

What If I Need to Change My Routine?

Unfortunately, we all need to change our routines from time to time. If you need to switch shifts at work or are moving to a new location, you might notice your pet starting to get upset at the altered routine. If possible, try to keep part of the original routine in place to give your cat a chance to feel safe. We also recommend using this time to reassure your cat with extra attention and treats to communicate with them that you know that they are upset. Try to set up your new routine as quickly as possible so your cat can adjust.

In Conclusion

Cats require a routine to feel safe and secure in their environment. When a cat has a routine, they know what to expect and are confident that you will feed them and that they aren’t in any danger. Keeping your cat in a routine can also help keep them healthier, as there is evidence that cats get sick more often when their routine changes frequently. Routines also help prevent your cat from getting bored, which can lead to aggressive behavior. Get your cat into a routine by getting on one yourself and sticking to it.


Featured Image by: Milles Studio, Shutterstock

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