Make daylight savings time less stressful for pets (c) 2009-2018 Frania
Shelley-Grielen all rights reserved

In New York City a Sunday in the fall or spring is usually the beginning or end of
daylight savings time. This mechanism for bringing more light to farmers and
children waiting at rural bus stops leaves us city dwellers off to work and back in the
dark.  Daylight savings time means scheduled activities are set back one full hour in
autumn or forward one full hour in spring, including the set times we may feed our
pets.

This change may be upsetting to companion animals that are aware only of a sudden
shift in feeding times. The disruption in schedule may no doubt stress your animals
and pets, most notably some dogs and most cats, will actively “petition” for meals at
their “normal” hour.

Cats and dogs are crepuscular animals, which means they are naturally most active
during twilight or dawn and dusk compared to humans who are diurnal, meaning
most active during daylight hours. Domesticated animals being dependent upon us for
food become accustomed to our diurnal routines. We feed according to our own patterns
of when breakfast and dinner should be. Dogs being famously more obliging usually
appear less put off by timing changes. While the change may be vexing for them the
accommodation for their humans is usually more apparent.  Why felines are more
affected by waiting for a meal may be due to a number of factors. During the history of
our domestication of the cat we have depended on this animal to partly procure its own
food whether for utility, nourishment or for its own sport. Cats are focused predators
with superior hunting skills.  Cats hunt for mice to "help" us alleviate a rodent
“problem”, for a meal or for the fun of it.  

Focus and anticipation carry over to meal time expectations. When observing
stereotypic behavior in captive tigers (an indicator of poor welfare) pacing prior to
meal times is not classified as being stereotypic rather as “anticipatory.” This behavior
is also apparent in the intertwining anticipatory dance your own cat may do while you
open food cans or fill kibble bowls.

Now if you are leaving dry food down for your cat at all times your cat and yourself
can be blissfully oblivious to the whole spring forward fall back routine. For the rest of
us it will soon become apparent that your cat just did not get the memo about daylight
savings time. Depending on whatever hour kitty expects breakfast expect a reminder
at the pre-daylight savings time hour, you know the reminders: the pat on the cheek,
the plaintive cry, the books toppling off the bookshelf.

Ease yourself and your pets into this new routine by adjusting feeding times gradually.
For instance, depending on whether you have lost or gained an hour begin with the
same time minus the time change to make your adjustment.  So, if dinner is usually
served at 6 PM start serving at 5:15 PM for two days followed by two days at 5:30 PM
then serve two days at 5:45 PM and finally at 6 PM. A breakfast feeding at 7 AM can be
adjusted by serving two days at  6:15 AM then two days at 6:30 AM followed by two
days at 6:45 AM until you are serving at 7  AM.

A little flexibility for your pets in when you are serving and scheduling mealtimes
during this transition will make the change less nerve-racking for your pets and less
demanding for you.

(c) 2009-2018 Frania Shelley-Grielen all rights reserved
Pet feeding
times and
Daylight
savings times
Roger Goun
"This change may be upsetting to only
of a sudden shift in feeding times.  The
disruption in schedule may no doubt
stress your animals and  pets, most
notably some dogs and most cats, will
actively “petition” for meals at their
“normal” hour."
Ask for an individual consultation
Frania Shelley-Grielen
info@animalbehaviorist.us
212-722-2509 / 646-228-7813

Entire website copyright Frania Shelley-Grielen


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