Can Cats Get Jet Lag?

Can cats get a jet lag?

Cat jet lag. Briefly summarized cats and jet lag. Many people take their cat on a trip; this can be by car, plane or perhaps by bus. If you travel as a person and have to deal with different time differences, you can get jet lag. However, what if you take your cat or several cats on a trip? Do they also have symptoms of jet lag?

Can cats get jet lag? Yes, of course, cats can get jet lag. Although cats can deal with time and jet lag more easily, they will still experience certain symptoms. The basic reason why the jet lag of a cat is different is that cats sleep well all day, no matter where they are. Although cats sleep a lot, they still follow a daily rhythm that is influenced by alternation between day and night. So when it is dark, they tend to have a deeper sleep pattern than when they sleep during the day. Also, regardless of the current local time at your destination, cats are used to getting their meals at the same time each day, so they still expect it even in the middle of the night.

In this post, you can read what jet lag is exactly and why cats can have jet lag. I also explain the symptoms and how you can prevent the symptoms. There are maybe medicines you can give your cat, and I explain how you can make a long journey as comfortable and pleasant as possible.

Can Cats Get a Jetlag?

Though our cats seem to have an easier time with jet lag, they will still experience a certain rate of these symptoms. The basic reason cat jet lag is a bit different is that our cats are very good at napping throughout the day, no matter where they are.

However, why does jet lag affect cats? Even though cats do nap quite a bit, they still follow a daily circadian rhythm (a daily sleep and wake cycle influenced by alternation between day and night). When it’s dark, cats tend to have a deeper sleep pattern than when they nap during the day. Also, regardless of the current local time at your destination, your cat is used to getting its food at about the same time every day. So also it is in the middle of the night they will still be expecting the food.

Usually, cats will have an easier time recovering from jet lag when traveling to the west. It is easier to adjust to a longer day than to a shorter day.

A tired cat lies on a bed

What Is a Jet Lag?

A jet lag is a temporary sleep-wake disorder that occurs after long-haul flights where different time zones are crossing. Jet lag occurs when you go to a place on earth in a short time, for example, by plane, where it is earlier or later according to the local time than at the place of departure. Your biological clock can then become confused with the local time.

A jet lag is not linked to the length of a flight. But to the number of time zones that are crossing and in which direction you fly. As a human being, you have more problems with jet lag when you fly from west to east than vice versa. You lose time. For example, if you fly from Amsterdam to Bangkok at 2 o’clock in the afternoon, you arrive in Bangkok at around 7:00 am local time. You then missed a night for your feeling.

Cause of a Jet Lag

The cause of jet lag lies in the inability of the body to adapt immediately to the time in another zone.

Our body has a kind of internal biological clock that follows a 24-hour cycle. A small part of the brain acts as an alarm clock to activate various body functions, such as hunger, thirst, and sleep. It also regulates body temperature, blood pressure, and the level of hormones and glucose in the bloodstream.

To help your body tell the time of the day, fibers of the eye measure the amount of light and dark. So, if the eye observes sunrise or sunset many hours sooner or later than usual, the hypothalamus can activate stimuli for which the rest of your body is not yet ready and creating jetlag.


There are several symptoms associated with jet lag. The most important thing is to take care of your cat and yourself. Apart from jet lag, your cat may feel unwell after a long flight with the plane; this is due to the altitude during the flight.

Potential symptoms you might observe in your cat’s behavior:

  • Malaise
  • Painful muscles
  • Dehydration/moisture shortage
  • A headache
  • Fatigue
  • Disorientation
  • Reduced energy and concentration
  • Decreased appetite
  • Diarrhea
close up sleeping cat


At the moment, there is no means for jet lag. There are no medicines that can prevent jet lag beforehand. Some researchers experiment with different new medications. These medicines may prevent jet lag in humans and animals in the future. Some preventive measures can facilitate the transition to a new time zone. Most cats are probably one step ahead of their owners. Flexible sleep patterns make the transition easier.

Prevent Symptoms

If you have jet lag, there are a few things you can do to alleviate those bad feelings, like spending time in the sun or enjoying a dose of light therapy. Stay hydrated, so drink enough and walk occasionally. These activities will be good for your body, and your cat will probably enjoy them too.

There are also a few other things you can do with your cat to prevent some of the cat jet lag symptoms. The most sensible thing is to start by slowly shifting eating and sleeping patterns. You will get used to the upcoming time change. Give your cat the food a little bit earlier or later than usual. This will ensure that you get closer to the mealtime of the time zone you will be in their new home. Make sure that the changes are gradual. First, start with 30 minutes to an hour, different from the standard schedule. If you succeed, you can build this up until you are roughly or completely in the country’s time zone. Do the same when your cat is going to sleep normally. If you usually put your cat in a basket before going to sleep, then adjust that time. If you can apply this, this will also help you with your jetlag.

Another option is diet. It appears that animals, including people, have a food clock in addition to a time clock. With this handy system, animals can extend their schedule if they can not find food. Once the food is founding, it is time to overeat. As a human being, you can do this too. So for your journey, you eat little or nothing, and at your destination, you eat enough. Different types of food can also help to increase your energy or make you more tired.

Stay hydrated

Also, the most important of all is, drink enough water. Experts recommend giving your cat enough water to keep your traveling cat hydrated. So give your cat the chance to drink water before and after the trip. These suggestions also help people with jet lag, so keep them in mind for yourself.

Do Pets Get Jet Lag?

Different types of animals respond to the circadian cycle in different ways. Animals with a strong sense of smell are encouraged to have an active nightlife, while the animals that are very dependent on vision are very active in the morning light. When you arrive at your destination, the response you see may depend on what is normal for the animal. For example, cats and dogs have shown to be less dependent on a daily circadian rhythm. In contrast, other animals such as chickens and monkeys seem to have circadian rhythms that are more like humans — making the latter group more sensitive to jet lag. Most people probably are not traveling with chickens or different monkeys.

Tips for Make a Long Journey Comfortable

Below are a few standard tips to make a long journey with your cat more comfortable. These tips can, of course, be extending but this depends on how you travel.

  • Offer your cat food and water before the trip
  • Keep your cat in a carrier
  • Bring fun toys
  • Travel safely
  • Make sure your cat has tags and a microchip
  • Prepare for messes
  • Make stops along your route about every 2-3 hours
  • Talk with your vet about the options to treat the anxiety or motion sickness
  • Talk with your cat
  • Give your cat sometimes a candy to reward and distract
Cat jetlag img flip


To answer the question, can cats get jetlag? Is the answer yes! Cats can get jet lag. Cats are less susceptible to jet lag than people, but after a long journey, especially through different time zones, a cat can get jet lag symptoms. You can not prevent this altogether, but you can take steps to reduce the symptoms—both before and after the trip. However, do not let it stop you from taking your cat on a trip. Because your cat can generally handle it easily and quickly get used to the new time zone.

If you like this post, you might also like the post can I take my cat in a plane cabin as hand luggage?

Hopefully, you have learned something about cats and a jet lag. Also, when you know someone who likes to know more about Can Cats Get a Jet Lag then feel free to share this post. Additionally, did your cat ever had a jet lag?

By Marleen

Marleen van der Leest is a truly madly deeply cat lover and founder of That Is for My Cat. She wants to share her knowledge about cats with other people who like to know more about cats.

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