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Do Cats Forget Their Owners And Do They Miss Them?

Do Cats Forget Their Owners And Do They Miss Them?

Since cats are independent and self-sufficient, many people would say they aren’t even so fond of their owners. Some will instantly answer yes to the question: Do cats forget their owners?

I disagree with this. Cats might remember us, but this could depend on our relationship with them, and on some additional factors.

So, it’s possible your cat won’t forget you, even if she will be separated from you for some time.

Let’s first take a look at some general information on the cat’s memory.

Cat’s Memory

woman strokes cat's head

Cats have been domesticated for many years now, but they still have strong survival instincts. This means that they are always looking for protection, food, and water. 

So, your cat will immediately memorize where her food and water bowls are, and she will remember this both in the short and long run. Since you’re the person that provides her with essential things for her to survive, your cat isn’t likely to forget you. 

And, if there is an emotional connection between you two, chances are even bigger your cat will remember you even if she goes to live in some other place!

Short-term Memory

Thanks to short-term memory we can remember certain information someone has provided to us for hours afterwards.

Felines use this type of memory for problem-solving. Sylvain Fiset and François Doré [1] conducted a study on the duration of cats’ working memory for disappearing objects.

Study results showed how cats do have short-time memory when an object is hidden from them, but, as more seconds passed, they started to forget where the object was hidden.

According to Sarah Davis, cats’ short-term memory can last up to 16 hours, but only if it’s about information that’s beneficial for them

Felines have a very good short-term memory, especially compared with other animals, whose short-term memory lasts for 25 seconds on average.

Long-term Memory

Cats can remember some experiences, people, and things for a very long time. Just as much as they will remember pleasurable moments, they also won’t forget unpleasant experiences.

Memories that felines store in their long-term memory are most likely things and people that directly affect their needs, such as food, water, feelings of comfort, love, and support – basically everything related to their survival. 

Although cats can retain information for up to 10 years, they are usually selective about the things they want to remember. 

So, do cats forget their owners?

Your cat is more likely to remember you if you’re treating her right, and if she’s seeing you as the person who keeps her safe, protected, and loved. 

Still, cats will also remember people who treated them badly. This is why felines with trauma symptoms will have a hard time trusting people – since they had a bad experience in the past.

Do Cats Miss Their Owners When They’re Gone?

cat sitting in front of the bedroom door

You can expect your dog to be waiting excitedly at the front door, wagging his tail and licking you as soon as you step into the house.

Obviously, a dog is doing this to show his owner he has missed him. On the other hand, cats aren’t likely to show this type of behavior. 

This can lead many people to think that cats are actually irrelevant about our absence. Do they even notice when we’re gone? Do cats miss their owners?

Matilda Eriksson and her associates [2] investigated whether there’s a change in cats’ behavior when their owners are gone for a certain period of time.

Study results showed that cats were perfectly fine with being alone, but they still showed some behavioral changes. Cats that were left alone for a longer period of time showed an increased level of social contact with their humans.

This means that cats do need their owners, and miss them when they are gone, especially for some longer time. 

Of course, cats can’t use words to share their emotions with us, but we can read their body language to guess their feelings.

What To Do For A Cat To Keep You In Her Memory?

woman holding a savannah cat

Keeping a cat happy and satisfied doesn’t seem to be too difficult, right? Giving her food, water, and toys should be enough.

Well, not exactly. Each cat is different. If you want to make sure your cat will always remember you, you need to recognize her needs, and the things she enjoys, as well as the ones she’s not a fan of.

For example, you might think your cat dislikes you cuddling her, but, maybe you’re just not doing this in the right way. Read our article on the cat petting chart to become successful in cuddling your kitten!

Your cat needs both physical and mental stimulation. This means you should provide her with interactive toys, as well as some nice tall cat trees, and scratching posts.

Most important of all, give your cat your attention and your time. They might seem aloof and independent, but cats need their humans to feel secure and loved. 

If you do this, your cat won’t forget you, no matter how far away and for how long you are from her!

Do Older Cats Forget Their Owners?

woman cuddling with her cat

Many people will have poorer memory as they age. The same thing might happen with felines.

Some elderly cats might suffer from Feline cognitive dysfunction, which is a disease similar to Alzheimer’s disease in humans.

Lilach Zadik-Weiss and his associates [3] explain how this disease causes behavioral changes in felines, such as disorientation, and change in social interaction with humans. Some cats might not recognize their owners.

This disease usually affects cats over 11 years of age. Unfortunately, there isn’t a treatment for this type of memory loss in felines. 

Still, there are some things you can do to keep your cat as comfortable as possible. For example, give her some medications prescribed by your veterinarian and put her on a diet high in antioxidants that will enhance her brain function.

Of course, you should also make sure your cat has plenty of rest and be there for her if she’s no longer able to use the litter box or to groom herself.


woman pets cat

We can’t actually read our cats’ minds and tell what things exactly they will remember.

However, I’m sure that cats don’t forget their owners, especially when they make strong, emotional bonds with them.

If you truly care about your kitten and spend a lot of time with her, she will not forget these memories. 

So, what can you do to ensure you’ll always be on your cat’s mind? Play with her, give her some belly rubs, buy her favorite treats, and make sure she’s perfectly comfortable and safe in your home.

This way, even if you will be separated for some time, your cat will certainly recognize you the next time you two see each other!


[1]  Fiset, S, Doré, FY. Duration of cats’ (Felis catus) working memory for disappearing objects. Anim Cogn 9, 62–70 (2006). DOI, Retrieved May 11, 2023. 

[2] Eriksson M, Keeling LJ, Rehn T (2017). Cats and owners interact more with each other after a longer duration of separation. PLoS ONE 12(10): DOI, Retrieved May 11, 2023. 

[3] Zadik-Weiss L, Ritter S, Hermush V, Asher N, Avital A, Or R. Feline cognitive dysfunction as a model for Alzheimer’s disease in the research of CBD as a potential treatment-a narrative review. J Cannabis Res. 2020 Dec 17;2(1):43. DOI, Retrieved May 11, 2023.

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