Can Cats Get Jet Lag?

If you are on a long flight and you get to your destination jet lag can be the absolute worst since you will feel tired the whole day. If you bring your cat along you might be thinking if they are going through the same thing as you.

The truth is that yes cats can get jet lag but they get over it much quicker and get it much less severely than humans do. Lets go into detail on why that is.

What Is Jet Lag?

Jet lag is a temporary physiological condition that alters the circadian rhythms caused by traveling long distances. Your circadian rhythm is dictated by light and dark.

During the daytime (or if exposed to artificial illumination), the light triggers a reaction in the special pigments of your eye, which triggers a response in the neurons of the hypothalamus, which then starts a number of different biological processes that you body needs to do through out the day.

Your circadian rhythm does more than regulates sleep but it also does other things like maintains your blood pressure, digestion, urine production and many other things your body needs to do to stay alive.

So when you are in one country that is day time and your immediately in another country that is night time it can really throw your body off. Luckily, symptoms typically go away within a day as soon as your cat gets accustomed to the timezone. 

Cats And Jet Lag

Some animals are actually immune to jet lag but cats are unfortunately not one of them. They do however have a much better time getting over jet lag and will recover from it much faster than a human will as cats sleep all day anyway especially if they are traveling west.

Cats sleep a lot through the day but they do have a daily circadian rhythm just like humans do. Cats are “crepuscular” which means they are mostly active at night. This pattern has also been confirmed in radio-telemetry studies and the trip can potentially affect that pattern.

This is especially true if they are afraid of traveling which is very common in cats. If your cat is scared during the trip the entire time they will most likely loose sleep. As a result they will get jet lag.

Symptoms of Jet Lag In Cats

Though cats deal with jet lag a lot better than humans they also get symptoms of it like we do. Here are some of the most common ones that your cat will most likely experience.

  • Malaise 
  • Sore Muscles 
  • Dehydration
  • Headache 
  • Fatigue
  • Disorientation
  • Decreased appetite
  • Diarrhea or digestive problems

How To Prevent Jet Lag?

Unfortunately there isn’t really a way to fully prevent it other than to (obviously) not travel at all. There also isn’t any type of medicine that you can give your cat either as they don’t really exist at the moment though doctors have experimented with medicines so there may be one some time in the future.

Other things that you can do to help with your cats jet lag include:

Regulate Light Exposure: Regulating light exposure can help with jet lag a lot for your cat.  Exposure to light in the evening helps you adjust to a later than usual time zones (traveling west), while exposure to morning light can help you adapt to an earlier time zone faster (traveling east).

Change Sleep Schedule Before Traveling: If you can get your cat to somehow to do this it can make traveling really long distances a lot easier and will reduce jet lag. You should also feed them food adjusted to this schedule as well.

Keep Them Hydrated: Being dehydrated can actually make jet lag worse so make sure to give your cat a lot of water.
Sleep: If you can get your cat to sleep through the whole trip it can help a lot with jet lag.


You probably won’t have much of a problem with jet lag with your cats but if you happen to have this issue this article will help a lot with this problem.