Ask the Vet - Dr. Whitehead • Dr. Forsythe


Setting the cat back one hour

Daylight Savings Time. Most of us don’t really understand why we are subject to stay-at-home jet lag twice a year, but cats can’t fathom it. I’d love to devise a way to get our darling cat of 12, Mauka, to understand that 6 a.m. is now five a.m. It’s not time to get up, it’s not time to eat and it’s not time to MEOW!

Mauka  has an insistent “rarOW” when the situation is  not meeting his expectations, like when we are not in bed by a certain time at night, or if we seem to have disappeared outside to mow the lawn. It stimulates my memories of “Lassie” episodes when Lassie alerts everyone that the world is ablaze. like Tara in Gone with the Wind, and that only by following her will you live to the next commercial.

Since I have known pets that have saved their owners from a house on fire, my mind tends to jump to the worst. Tuesday, the second day of our society-wide circadian rhythm sideswipe, Mauka started his wake- up call while it was still dark.

“Rah- rahow.” I checked my watch. 6 a.m. Still dark. Wasn’t the benefit of this wretched Daylight Savings Time supposed to be that it’s light in the mornings? Mauka!  “Mer-ohw!”

There was no light coming under the door, meaning my husband, who is sleeping on the couch these days, not for snoring but for recovering from shoulder surgery, was not up, and being the army early bird he is, is usually awake by six. Since he was quiet and the cat was loud, there must be some other problem. Between the catterwalling I listened for crackling sounds. It was just too quiet for the house to be on fire. I tiptoed out to the living room,  Mauka tripping me every other step, and watched quietly for signs of breathing. He’s not snoring….. but he is breathing. Phew.

On to the coffee pot, and despite my concern that the gurgling would wake my beloved from the best sleep he’s had in a week, I punched the button. Then I looked at the kitchen clock. 5:05 a.m. Arrgh.  I had forgotten to change my watch. “Aroohow,”  Mauka!  I sat down and called him over.

As I scratched his ears, debating what to do with my “extra hour” I realized the big disaster the cat thought we needed to be alerted to: We were SLEEPING! Oh MY! Cats just don’t understand this thing called Daylight Savings Time, and since they do not benefit from the virtues of Wikipedia, most assuredly never will.

— Dr. Abbey Whitehead

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