Here’s What Cats Really Do During The Day

Ginger cat sitting on floor in cozy living room. Pet walking at home. Interior decor

If you own a cat, you’ve probably wondered what they do while you’re at work or school. You may have envisioned them having parties and inviting all the neighborhood cats over. While we can’t confirm or deny that, we can give you an inside look at what cats do during the day!

During the day, cats will sleep, eat, and venture around the house. Cats are creatures of habit and tend to do the same activities daily. You want to ensure they have opportunities for playtime while you are gone so your cat doesn’t get bored or stressed out.

In short, your cat is living their best life, and we should all be insanely jealous of their carefreeness. If you’ve been scratching your head about what your best buddy is doing while you’re gone, you’ll enjoy learning more in this article about what cats really do during the day.

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Cats Sleep A Lot During The Day

Cat sleeping on woman's knees

Oh, to sleep like a cat. Cats sleep, wake up, turn around in a circle, sometimes clean themselves, and then go back to sleep. What a life!

According to the National Sleep Foundation, cats sleep between 12 and 18 hours, with about 40% sleeping more than 18 hours. In addition, older cats tend to sleep longer than juvenile cats. However, newborn and young kittens will rival the senior cats for the most sleep, similarly to humans!

A cat will sleep in shorter amounts throughout the day, hence the term “cat nap.” For example, an average cat nap for a feline is just shy of an hour and a half but sometimes longer. Despite the shorter stretches of sleep, cats will go into a deep sleep at various times throughout the day.

Just like humans, cats need their beauty sleep. A nice nap gives cats the time to recharge and helps conserve energy.

If it seems like your cat is sleeping more than usual, you should follow up with your veterinarian to ensure there is no underlying issue causing the extra tiredness.

Cats Are Most Active At Dawn And Dusk

If your cat sleeps all day while you are away, does that mean they are nocturnal? While your four-legged buddy might enjoy waking you up at night, cats are not nocturnal.

Here’s a term you may not have heard before. Cats are crepuscular, meaning they are most active at dusk and dawn.

If your cat was initially a stray, there is a good chance they like to wander during the night. Strays tend to look for prey in the middle of the night, so your rescue cat may be mimicking their former life.

If you don’t want your cats to be energetic at night, ensure you are amping up their behavior during the day so they want to sleep at night.

Having a routine helps cats understand when it’s playtime and when to sleep. Like humans, cats will operate better if their schedule doesn’t differ much from one day to the next.

How To Keep Areas Off Limits To Cats During The Day

If any areas of your house are off-limits while you aren’t home, the easiest thing to do is close the doors. While some cats are clever, most felines cannot open a door. Although if yours can, that’s pretty awesome.

A pet or baby gate isn’t going to keep your cat out of a specific place, as they can quickly jump over the hurdle. So, you will find it difficult to block off an entire section of our house if there is no door to close.

If you are trying to keep your cat away from a specific spot, check out our article on the 10 Scents That Cats Hate And How To Use Them. By spraying natural scents around your house, you will help deter your pet from entering specific spaces.

Here are a few other places you might want to keep your cat away from and how to keep them cat-free zones.

How to Keep Cats Off Your Counters During The Day

Cat jumping from the kitchen table to the kitchen counter

Regardless of whether you are cooking dinner or not, you probably don’t want your cat walking along your kitchen counter. Cats like to jump, so it should come as no surprise when you find them up on the counter or even on top of your fridge.

However, that doesn’t mean we want them there. If you are at work all day, you likely will want tactics in place to discourage your cat from invading your counter space.

Here are a few methods to deter your cat from jumping up on the counter during the day:

  • Attach aluminum foil to your countertop with tape. Cats don’t love the sound of the foil on their claws. (Who can blame them?) Ensure you tape the foil down on the counter; otherwise, it will fall to the ground, and your cat will prevail.
  • Keep Food Away. If your cat knows your countertops are a haven for crumbs, they won’t hesitate to search for an afternoon snack. Instead, make a habit of cleaning the countertops down daily, especially when you will be gone for the day.
  • Check for leaky faucets. A leaky faucet is like a water fountain for a cat. Your cat may enjoy the fresh water instead of the standing water that has been in its bowl for days. Ensure you are giving fresh water daily, and avoid a continuous water flow from your faucet.

You can also take a look at our article on using common houseplants to keep cats away from areas!

How to Keep Cats From Scratching Your Furniture During The Day

Cat scratches sofa with his claws

There isn’t much worse than buying a new couch, and then your feline buddy gets their claws on it. Cats naturally like to scratch things, you aren’t going to get around that, but you can try to save your couch.

Here are a few methods to try to prevent your cat from clawing away at your couch during the day:

  •  Apply double-sided tape around the bottom of your couch. Cats tend to use the sides of the sofa as a scratching post, and before you know it, your couch looks like it was in a fight with a pair of scissors. However, cats don’t enjoy the sticky feeling of tape, so applying it around your couch can serve as a significant deterrent.
  •  Place a scratching post next to the couch. If the cat scratcher you bought is sitting in the corner of your family room, it’s time to bring it closer to your couch. You want to teach them to go for the post and not your beloved piece of furniture.

It’s also wise to reward your kitty when they go for the scratching post instead of the couch. The PetnPurr Cactus Cat Scratcher makes an excellent post and doubles as a fun home décor piece.

  •  Keep your cat’s nails trimmed. You want to ensure your cat’s nails are properly groomed so they can’t claw into your furniture. In addition, you might consider getting a pair of Cat Nail Caps to prevent your cat from scratching your furniture. The safe, non-toxic caps prevent your cat from clawing while you are away.

Finally, it’s highly recommended to start trimming your cat’s nails when they are kittens to get them used to the process. The Gonicc Pet Nail Clippers are easy to use and have a safety stop blade to ensure you don’t clip the nails too short.

Does My Cat Know I’m Gone In The Daytime?

We want to think our cats miss us while we are gone. While they are asleep for most of our absence, they can sense that you are not there.

Cats have an internal clock, similar to humans, and will eventually pick up on your daily schedule. For example, they may learn that you leave right after being fed.

In addition, they will probably sense the time of day when you return. If you always come home at 5 pm, you will likely see them sitting in the window waiting for you. So, how’s that for a welcome home! You can even add a Cat Window Perch, so they have a reserved spot for sightseeing.

While people associate bonding with dogs, cats bond with their owners and can develop separation anxiety if they are not prepared to be away from you. In addition, a cat will show a reaction when its owner leaves a room versus a stranger doing the same action.  

In addition, a cat’s stress level has been proven to go down once its owner returns home. The good news is that cats’ attachment to their owner lasts through adulthood. So, you are buddies for life.

Finally, ensure you engage your cat when you get home after a long day! It will be just what they need after being away from you.

Is My Cat Bored While I’m Gone During The Day?

Cat sleeping

How can a cat be bored if they are sleeping all day? Well, they can. Your cat needs some stimulation during the day, regardless of whether you are around.

Cats can get sick if they are under constant stress. Stressors include inconsistent schedules, unfamiliar caretakers, discontinuation of playtime and treats, and lack of socialization.

Leave plenty of toys around for your cat to interact with to prevent stress while you are gone. While they are often sleeping, they need some entertainment for their waking moments.

If your cat is home alone during the day, consider placing cat-appropriate toys around the house. For example, the Petstages Cat Tracks Toy will help mentally engage your cat while you are away. The colorful balls will reel in your cat’s attention and prevent them from running amok around your house.

Finally, if you will have a pet sitter take care of your cat while you are gone, ensure you introduce them around you first. This will allow your cat to become familiar with them with you around.

Does My Cat Purr When I’m Not Home?

We know our cats give out a good purr while cuddling, but does the same sensation occur while we are gone?

Cats purr when they are in a relaxed environment, but they prefer the comfort of a human or another cat while they do so. Think of a cat’s purr like a human’s smile. You probably don’t often smile when no one else is around, just like a cat doesn’t continually purr when it’s not in good company.

However, cats also purr when they are in danger or sick. For example, when a cat purrs, they are helping with cell repair. How awesome is that?

So, while they save their best purrs for you, they may let out a few during the day if they aren’t feeling their best.

Ways To Keep Your Cat Happy During The Day

Cat playing with cat toy

Cat owners who are gone during the day should ensure they leave a happy, calm environment. A relaxed cat during the day will translate to a comfortable cat when you get home.

Here are a few things to do daily to ensure your cat is content while you are at work during the day:

  • Leave a clean, full water bowl. You should always provide fresh water every morning before heading out for the day. If you have a particular cat, consider getting the PetKit Water Fountain. The ingenious water fountain has a quiet pump and dispenses filtered fresh water.
  • Ensure the litter box is clean. Before you head to the office, clean out the litter box to make it more desirable for your pet. Your cat is less likely to go to the bathroom elsewhere if they have a clean litter box.
  • Put fresh food out. Cats don’t necessarily eat their whole bowl of food like dogs. So, before you leave the house, ensure your feline buddy has fresh food and enough to get them through the day.
  • Scatter toys around the house. Cats have playful times during the day, even if you aren’t there. By leaving a few cat toys around, you also prevent them from playing with things they shouldn’t. You don’t need anything fancy either. For example, the Youngever Cat Toy Assortment Set offers 24 different things for your cat to play with, including an awesome tunnel with hanging toys.
  • Play with them when you get home. Your cat has missed you during the day, so don’t forget to give them some affection when you get home!

Why Cats Do “Zoomies” During The Daytime

Cat-owners are probably very aware of the “zoomies.” At certain times of the day, usually in the morning or evening, cats start going crazy. No, seriously.

Your sweet little buddy will start running around the house quite frantically. But what causes this crazy hour or hours in some cases?

According to Cats Protection, zoomies usually are exhibited in young cats or indoor-only cats. Most cats enter this tumultuous time of the day because they are frustrated or under-stimulated.

While cats don’t need to go on walks, they do some stimulation during the day. So, if you are home, you can make sure to set aside times to play with them or engage them with toys.

That’s A Wrap!

While we should all be so lucky to enjoy unlimited amounts of cat naps during the day, we need to leave the ultimate dream to the cats. So, just what do cats really do during the day?

Cats spend their days eating, sleeping, and enjoying watching the outside world. While it may not seem like it, cats understand schedules and catch on to when you leave and come home.

To prevent your cat from becoming stressed out during the day, ensure you leave out plenty of entertainment to keep them occupied. While they don’t need much, you don’t want them to become over-stimulated and destroy your house!


Chu, Shu-Chuan, and Pei-Wei Tsai. “Computational intelligence based on the behavior of cats.” International Journal of Innovative Computing, Information and Control 3.1 (2007): 163-173.

Eriksson, Matilda, Linda J. Keeling, and Therese Rehn. “Cats and owners interact more with each other after a longer duration of separation.” PLoS One 12.10 (2017): e0185599.

Schwartz, Stefanie. “Separation anxiety syndrome in dogs and cats.” Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 222.11 (2003): 1526-1532.

Stella, Judi, Candace Croney, and Tony Buffington. “Effects of stressors on the behavior and physiology of domestic cats.” Applied animal behaviour science 143.2-4 (2013): 157-163.

Vitale, Kristyn R., Alexandra C. Behnke, and Monique AR Udell. “Attachment bonds between domestic cats and humans.” Current Biology 29.18 (2019): R864-R865.

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