ARE CREATURES of habit. In the wild, they follow a daily and nightly routine which is dictated by the quality of light. They patrol their territories in a systematic way, stopping at selected places to rest or observe the scene. They are very sensitive to changes in their environment which may mean disturbance or danger.
The taste for routine persists in domesticated cats. They like today to be like yesterday and tomorrow to be like today. This applies not only to feeding times but also to times for play and rest, times to be cuddled and stroked, times to be groomed and times to be let out or called in. They are sensitive to time and quickly learn when it is time for food, for the family to get up, for children to leave for and return from school, and for people to settle down in the evening. They are also sensitive to any unusual activities in the home such as preparations for moving house or going on holiday and the absence of familiar members of the family. Events of this kind can cause stress which may be expressed in lack of appetite, hiding away or even disappearing from home. They can be reassured by being given extra attention and affection at such times.
Of course, you cannot be expected to let the life of your household revolve round your cat, but you should, whenever possible, take into account its need for the security of routine and familiarity.
Another aspect of routine is consistency in the way that you and your family treat your cat. It is confusing if it is all right to sleep in an armchair one day but not the next, or if one member of the family turns the cat out of a room when the others do not. Most cats are willing to accept restrictions on where they can go, but they cannot be expected to observe rules that are not consistent.