Do Cats Remember People?

Growing up, there were always cats in the house. My dad was an avid cat lover, while my mother sort of just tolerated them. When I left for school and came back on holidays

My cat would always greet me with such excitement; meowing and rubbing its body against my legs. This is when I knew my cat would always remember me.

Whether they think of their owners throughout the day when they are not around is up for debate. Fast forward to twenty years later.

When my husband goes out of town for work, one cat will walk around the house meowing and search for him periodically. This will go on for about a day, and then it mopes around the house until my husband comes back home. 

Each cat has their own traits and personalities, but I would like to think they all remember certain people which they have a fondness. Let’s dig into this aspect a little more scientifically.

A Cat’s Memory

There are many studies debating on how long a cat can remember certain things. Some research states that cats have a sixteen-hour time frame for short-term memory.

Other studies state that for short-term memory, it depends on what and how you are coaxing them to remember things.

Cats are food-driven, so if you do a study that involves food, chances are the cat is going to play along and remember what it was you showed them in order to get to the food.

A cat’s long-term memory has been studied for years and has shown that cats have the ability to remember and recognize people and other animals years after they have been separated. It seems cats remember the people with whom they had the strongest bond with.

They also have the tendency to remember abuse they may have endured from simple reminders, such as loud noises, yelling and even certain smells. 

Use of incidentally encoded memory from a single experience in cats – Science Direct

Memory loss in cats

Similar to humans, cats can also experience cognitive difficulties. It’s common in cats over the age of ten and usually starts off subtle. A cat may have trouble going to the litter box and may soon have accidents throughout the house.

You might notice a change in your cat’s mood and behaviour. Your once affectionate feline may show signs of aggression and anxiety.

If you notice your cat wandering around aimlessly, not sleeping or eating then it’s a good idea to consult with your veterinarian to rule out other causes besides memory loss. This condition can be treated much more efficiently with an earlier diagnosis. 

Do cats remember specific events?

A study from the journal of Applied Animal Behaviour Science in 2020 reports that both cats and dogs could remember a series of events, with only twenty percent not being able to, as stated by their owners.

Cats are social animals and even though they are quite independent, they rely on their owners to nourish and care for them. They form long-lasting attachments to the people who care for them, much in the same way humans do.

They might not need their owners in the same way humans need each other, but they can definitely remember those who care for them the most.

Pet memoirs: The characteristics of event memories in cats and dogs, as reported by their owners – Science Direct

Do Cats Miss Their Owners?

Research has proven that cats get lonely and some even have separation anxiety if their favorite person leaves, or if they are left alone.

If living in a household with multiple people, a cat will generally gravitate towards one person a little more than others. It might still be friendly and playful towards other people, but at the end of the day, it will find itself in the lap of the human it favors the most.

If this person leaves for an extended amount of time, the cat may become depressed and anxious to where they may stop eating and drinking.

An experiment relating to separation anxiety in cats has been categorized into three different levels of attachment and listed below.

Attachment bonds between domestic cats and humans (

Secure Attachment

The cat and its owner were placed in a room together. The cat is shown to feel comfortable enough to explore as long as its owner is nearby.

Ambivalent Attachment

In this experiment, the owner leaves for a short time. When the owner comes back, the cat appears to be somewhat stressed and clingy.

Disorganized Attachment

 This shows the cat stressed at being left alone. When the owner reappears, the cat is shown to remain stressed and upset that its owner had left and does not want any attention at the moment.

Do cats remember places?

There have been cases where cats have gone missing just before moving. Sometimes, these moves were to another city, and months later the cat shows up.

There are some cases that have resulted in years of separation, and then suddenly, a cat finds its way back home.

How is this even possible? There are only a couple of documented studies on how a cat can find its way back home after an extended period of separation.

A professor named Frances Herrick published one of those studies in 1922. He states cats can find their way back home because of their amazing homing ability.

The scientific reasoning behind this remains a mystery, other than theories of a cat’s keen sense of smell and their ability to sense the pull of the earth’s magnetic field.

Homing Powers of the Cat on JSTOR

Lost Albuquerque Cat Found In Chicago – YouTube

Final Thought

If you are worried that your cat may forget about you, you can rest assured that likely won’t happen. As discovered in this article, cats have an excellent memory, especially with those that they have created a bond with. They seem to remember those who have treated them well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Posts