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Home > Cats > Why Do Cats Thrive on Routine? Vet-Approved Facts & Tips

Why Do Cats Thrive on Routine? Vet-Approved Facts & Tips

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lorna Whittemore

Veterinarian, MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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There are many differences between cats and dogs, but both pets thrive on routine. There are several reasons why cats need a routine, and a consistent routine can help increase their feeling of safety and boost their confidence.

So, if you’re living with a cat, do your best to establish a routine that works for both of you. You’ll likely start to notice both subtle and drastic positive changes in your cat’s behavior.


Why Cats Thrive on Routine

Cats are creatures of habit and like to know what to expect. Predictability may be boring to some people, but the ability to anticipate events gives cats an increased sense of security. The following are some common reasons why cats thrive on a routine.

white cat with the owner
Image Credit By: New Africa, Shutterstock

Increases Feeling of Safety

Cats need to know that they’re in a safe environment and that their needs will always be met. Because we can’t verbally explain to them that they’re safe in our homes, we must show them safety through our actions, which is why cats need a routine.

Predictability reduces stress and helps cats trust their owners to provide for their needs. Not worrying about getting fed and having a clean litter box will reduce a cat’s anxiety. Cats will also appreciate knowing what parts of the day they can have to themselves so that they can rest without any disruptions.

Reduces Destructive Behaviors

When a cat feels safe, you’ll see a reduction in destructive behaviors. Establishing a routine where a cat can be active and release energy can also prevent boredom and unwanted behaviors. If a cat knows that you’ll consistently play with it at specific parts of the day, then it’s more likely to engage in those play sessions and exert more energy.

Although it may sound counterintuitive, structure can help cats feel less boredom. A good routine will provide ample opportunities for cats to participate in both physically and mentally engaging activities.

Bored cats have extra, pent-up energy, and will eventually resort to destructive behaviors if they don’t get the stimulation they need. They can start to groom excessively, engage in compulsive pacing, become more vocal, develop depression, or show more agitation or aggression.

Creates Healthy Boundaries Between Humans and Cats

Many cats like having their own space and will appreciate knowing they can always retreat and have time to themselves. When you create a predictable routine, your cat will have a better time anticipating when it can spend time with you and when it can retreat.

For example, if you set specific times throughout the day to sit and relax on the couch, your cat will know that these are times when you’re approachable. Having scheduled play sessions can also help you and your cat enjoy bonding time.

cat snuggling with owner
Image Credit By: cottonbro, Pexels


How to Create a Routine with Your Cat

Fortunately, you don’t have to restrict yourself to rigid time blocks when establishing a routine with your cat. You can stick to general timeframes and focus more on the sequence of events. So, start your day by making breakfast for your cat and yourself. Then, follow it by getting ready for work and squeezing in a play session before you leave for work.

The time you do these things can change slightly, so you don’t have to worry too much if you accidentally sleep in a little. Just don’t change up the order of how you do these things.

The only time-sensitive part of a schedule is returning home from work at around the same time each day. Your absence is one of the more significantly unpredictable aspects of your cat’s life. So, coming home at a consistent time can help reduce anxiety and stress.

cat sleeping on owner's lap
Image Credit: Karpova, Shutterstock

How Long Does It Take to Establish a Routine with Your Cat?

It can take cats several weeks to become accustomed to a routine. So, do your best to plan ahead of time to avoid any drastic changes while you’re establishing the routine. It’ll also be helpful to do the same things on weekends since cats don’t differentiate between workdays and weekends.

Eventually, your cat will get used to the routine, and you’ll probably notice some changes in your cat’s behavior. It may look more relaxed and act less reserved or less clingy. You might also see a reduction in other unwanted behaviors.

Once you and your cat have a solid and consistent routine, you can slowly loosen up your schedule. You can start to change what your weekends look like or return home a little later than expected. Your cat will learn to identify and adapt to different kinds of routines if you introduce them incrementally.

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Conclusion – Why Do Cats Need a Routine?

Cats thrive on routine because they like predictability. Routines can help reduce boredom and anxiety, and they can strengthen the relationship and understanding between cats and humans. It’s never too late to build a solid routine for you and your cat. It’s another excellent way for you two to bond and live harmoniously under the same roof.

Featured Image Credit: U__Photo, Shutterstock

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