A Day in the Life of a Cat

Discover what your cat really does when you're out at work.

Mar 22, 2023byDonna Hobson
cat playing with feathered prey toy

Cats are enigmatic creatures who have fascinated us for millennia. Have you ever wondered what your four-legged companion gets up to while you’re out at work? Or what they do when they jump out of bed in the middle of the night?

Wonder no more as we explore a day in the life of a cat. From hoarding secret treasures to exploring different scents in their environment, here are some things your cat enjoys doing throughout the day.


cat outside at dawn rising sun
Credit: Image by Berkan Küçükgül on Pixabay

Cats are crepuscular creatures, meaning they are most active during dawn and dusk. In the wild, this is when a cat would usually hunt, so they can become increasingly active at these times and will often give you an early morning wake-up call to provide them with food. If you get up and feed your cat, this will encourage them to continue the same behavior, which is fine if you’re an early riser, but not so fun if you like to sleep beyond 5 am.

You can combat these early morning wake-up calls by providing self-serving food for your cat. Timed feeders work exceptionally well for distributing food at the right moment. Alternatively, you can set up a puzzle feeder or snuffle mat the night before to give them access to snacks if they get hungry before you wake up.

Humans Leave for Work

cat exploring hiding under sofa

Cats are curious creatures, so the first thing they’ll do when you leave the house is to explore and see what you’ve left lying around. When you go, your cat will stay still, sniffing and listening for a few minutes to check that the coast is clear. Once they’re sure that they’re alone, they’ll begin their exploration mission.

As they walk around your home, your cat will look for anything new or interesting that you’ve dropped on the floor and stash them away in a secret place. Don’t believe us? Try pulling out your couch or chair, and you’ll no doubt discover a hoard of “treasures” your cat collected during these missions.


cat playing with feather toy hunting prey
Credit: Image by Dorothe on Pixabay

Your cat may be tame, but they still possess the wild instinct to hunt for prey. If you have a cat flap, your feline will love to run and chase prey outside. Still, if you’re among the growing number of owners choosing to keep your kitties inside, there are numerous ways for them to satisfy this urge.

String toys, feather toys, and laser pointers are all great ways to keep your cat’s mind and body active. Aim to play with them for a minimum of half an hour a day to allow them to satisfy this urge and increase the bond between the two of you.

Still, providing enrichment materials is essential when you’re away from home. The good news is that companies are developing more innovative ideas for our feline friends, such as toys triggered by your cat’s movements or those that spring to life at a set time.

For example, the Petlibro smart electric mouse is touch-operated and obstacle avoidance to stimulate your cat while you’re away. At the same time, peek-a-boo toys can work on a timer or automatically switch on when your cat is within a certain distance.

Eat. Sleep. Clean. Repeat.

cat grooming licking paw

When it comes to cats, naps aren’t just for the afternoon; they’re for any time of the day – and some cats can sleep for as many as 20 hours in a single day. The reason for this is evolutionary; in the wild, cats sleep for large amounts of time so that they can conserve their energy to chase, hunt, and kill their next prey.

Light sleep accounts for around 75% of your cat’s total sleep, with just 25% of time devoted to deep sleep. You can tell if your cat is in a light or deep sleep by checking their response to external stimuli. During a nap, the eyes often remain slightly open, and the ears twitch and turn toward noises.

When awake, cats can spend up to 50% of their day grooming themselves. This behavior is encouraged from birth when the mother licks her kittens to remove the amniotic sack and stimulate their breathing. Once her kittens start nursing, the mother continues to lick her kittens to stimulate urination and defecation – and these aren’t the only reasons why cats groom themselves.

The behavior is an instinctive way to soothe inflamed or wounded areas. In addition, licking stimulates the glands on their tongue to produce sebum which helps to get rid of dirt and parasites. And cats don’t have sweat glands, so coating their bodies in saliva can help them to cool down on hot days.

Wait For the Humans to Return

cat at window waiting for human to return

Cats often have a reputation for being aloof, so we can underestimate their social and emotional attachments to us. Still, research published in Current Biology shows that the attachment bonds between cats and their humans are similar to those between dogs and their humans. The most significant difference is how cats express their emotions.

Signs that your cat loves you include:

  • Headbutting or rubbing their face on you.
  • Jumping onto furniture or countertops so that they can be closer to you.
  • Curling up on your lap.
  • Grooming you.

Another sign that your cat loves you is if they wait to greet you when you return home. This indicates that they’ve missed you during the day and are looking forward to spending quality time with you in the evening.


cat sleeping on bed

In general, your cat will sleep peacefully through most of the night, but in some circumstances, they can get night zoomies. This often happens if your cat does not receive enough stimulation during the day and becomes more nocturnal. If this happens, they may play on furniture, nibble you, or yowl through the night. The best way to prevent this is to provide plenty of enrichment during the day and offer play sessions to expend energy.


Donna Hobson
byDonna Hobson

Donna believes that keeping a pet is the key to a happy life. Over the years, many creatures have passed through her home - Sooty the cat, Millie the rabbit, Stuart (Little) the guinea pig, and Trixie the tortoise, alongside her pet goldfish, Zippy, who lived to the grand old age of 24 years! She currently resides with her black kitten Jinx and an aquarium full of fish and snails to entrance them both. When she is not looking after her pets, Donna enjoys researching and writing the answers to all your pet-related wonders.