Pet Keen is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Home > Cats > Do Cats Understand the Changing of the Seasons? What the Science Says

Do Cats Understand the Changing of the Seasons? What the Science Says

calico cat on window staring at snow

The changing of the seasons can be an exciting time for humans. The transition from hot to cold or wet to dry could entail adjustments, such as a change in wardrobe or the use of air conditioning or heaters. Differences in routine and behavior are also necessary responses to seasonal changes.

As humans are aware to the seasonal changes, you may wonder if cats are aware of these changes as well? If so, how do they respond to these transitions of seasons? Here, we will discuss what cats go through as they experience the different seasonal changes throughout the year. The short answer is yes, cats have a sense of the changing seasons.


Cats Are Sensitive Creatures

To get to the point, YES, cats do understand the changes in seasons and experience their own changes during these periods of transition.

Cats are sensitive creatures. Their senses are generally much more sensitive than that of humans. When the seasons change, the temperature, colors, humidity, and even the level of light changes. Cats’ acute senses can also be more sensitive to changes in the atmosphere, which allows them to detect changes in weather. Regardless of if they are feral, outdoor cats or indoor cats, they go through both behavioral and physical changes in response to seasonal transitions.

Behavioral Changes

playful cat playing with crumpled paper balls on office desk in sunlight
Image Credit: Bondar Illia, Shutterstock

When the season changes, you may notice differences in your cat’s behavior. They can be more active during comfortable seasons, when the temperature is just right—such as in the spring or fall. They may be sluggish, hanging around indoors on cool surfaces during the summer heat, while seeking out warmth during the cold winter.

You may also notice sudden behavioral changes as a result of changes in season. Such sudden changes that may indicate the transition of seasons is approaching include:

  • Sudden irritability of a usually calm cat
  • Hiding in places they don’t usually stay in
  • Preferring to stay indoors or outdoors more than usual
  • Sudden bursts or drops of energy

Take note that not all cats are the same. Your cat’s response may be different from your neighbor’s cat. As cat parents, it is important to know your cat—to take note of what is normal and unusual of their behavior. This can help identify what your cat needs during these changes throughout the year.

Change in Appetite

You may also notice changes in your cat’s eating habits. Cats tend to eat more during the colder seasons, such as in fall and winter. You may notice your cat increase their appetite during the transition from summer to fall, or decrease during the transition from winter to spring.

These changes in your cat’s eating habits can also mean they quickly gain or lose weight during these transitions. It is important to continue to monitor your cat’s weight by maintaining a healthy and balanced diet. If you notice unusual weight gain or weight loss, do not hesitate to schedule a visit with your veterinarian and ask for recommendations.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

cat in the snow
Image Credit: Sandra Kapella, Unsplash

Aside from temperatures dropping during the winter months, the days also get shorter as the nights get longer. This drastic daily change can affect people’s mental health, which can lead to a condition known as seasonal affective disorder. Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that is consistent with the changes of the seasons, which can also be experienced by our feline friends.

Cats experiencing seasonal affective disorder exhibit these signs:
  • Lack of energy and excessive fatigue
  • Drastic changes in fatigue
  • Distant behavior
  • Night-time restlessness
  • Excessive irritability


What Can I Do?

Sunlight is found to be extremely helpful for cats experiencing depression. Try moving your cat’s bed near a window and encourage your cat to spend time outside. Engage your cat by playing with them, and promote exercise while still maintaining a healthy and balanced diet.

Physical Changes

snowshoe cat on grass
Image By: Anna Krivitskaya, Shutterstock

Aside from behavioral changes, cats also experience physical changes during the transition of seasons. Just like their feline ancestors in the wild, cats are versatile and can adapt to changes in their environment. Most notable is the changes in their fur, which adjusts according to the temperature in order to maintain cats’ body temperature.

Changes in Coat

Cats change their coat of fur around twice a year. Cats shed their old fur to make room for the new coat, a change that is brought on by the temperature changes during seasonal transitions. During the transition from summer to fall, they shed to make room for the thick fur that gives them warmth during the cold months. By contrast, this thick fur sheds to make room for the thin summer fur during the transition from winter to spring, in preparation for the warmer months of the year.

As cats are independent creatures, they usually take care of the shedding themselves. But as cat parents, it is recommended that they are gently brushed throughout the shedding process for a beautiful and healthy coat and to facilitate growth for their new coat. This can also serve as a bonding activity for your cat, which they can also enjoy!

During this coat shedding process, it is also recommended that your cat has a nutritious diet filled with amino acids, omega fatty acids, and even Vitamin B.

Itchy Skin and Dandruff

black and white cat scratching itself
Image By: Opel_pw, Shutterstock

Due to the changes in the air quality and humidity in the environment, your cat may also be susceptible to skin irritation, which may cause your cat discomfort and even affect the shedding process of your cat’s fur coat.

Should you notice any skin irritations, flaking, or excessive itching from your cat, it is always safe to seek consult from your veterinarian for recommendations. Your veterinarian may advice use of gentle moisturizing spray or ointments to help relieve the discomfort experienced by your cat. It is our responsibility as cat parents to be vigilant and inspect for any signs of skin irritation for immediate intervention before it gets any worse.



Cats are sensitive creatures with heightened senses compared to humans, allowing them to experience the subtle changes in the environment during seasonal transitions. They can experience changes in their behavior, as well as physically adapt to the changes in weather throughout the year.

As cat parents, it is important to familiarize ourselves with our cats’ habits and behavior. This allows us to identify what is normal and unusual, just in case our cat babies need our help. Changes in seasons can be overwhelming for our cats, but with the right knowledge and information, we can help them get through it!

Featured Image Credit: Kristi Blokhin, Shutterstock

Our vets

Want to talk to a vet online?

Whether you have concerns about your dog, cat, or other pet, trained vets have the answers!

Our vets