Do Cats Remember Their Owners?

More Meows is an Amazon Associate. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. We may also earn commissions if you purchase products from other retailers after clicking on a link from our site.

Cats are often dubbed as mysterious animals because it is so hard to comprehend how they feel, what they understand, and, particularly, what they remember.  So, do cats remember their owners?

Yes, cats do remember their owners.  Cats remember their owners using stimuli from eyes, nose, and ears.  Cats have a short-term memory that allows them to remember for up to 16 hours, and a long-term memory likely tied to the frequency of an event happening, such as how often a cat sees its owner.  

So, there is good news – your cat does and will remember you. Yes, your cat remembers all the times you smothered it with love and petting, even the time you accidentally stepped on its paw or tail!

Cat Memories

Cats remember people. Cats also remember faces, voices, activities, rewards, abuse, and punishment. Actions that caused it pain or discomfort are quick to embed itself onto the cat’s brain.  The same goes for memory on food and other things that give a cat comfort and security.

 Cats also remember other cats via exchanged scents, but the memory is contingent upon the nature and duration of the interaction.

Do Cats Remember People? 

Cats do remember their owners as well as others that are important, such as pet sitters and other felines.  Cats remember with a combination of the three main sensory organs: ears, eyes, and nose.  Even though cats may remember people, they may still be aloof towards them 

The more the cat employs these senses to connect it with strong stimuli, the stronger is its memory of its owner.

How Long Will a Cat Remember its Owner?

Cat memory can last up to 16 hours – much longer than a dog’s. It is comparable to a two or three-year-old child.  Cats show remembrance via purring, rubbing their bodies against you, or even jumping on your lap the moment you come home after a long day out.

Do Cats Love People?

Many people think that cats are indifferent and do not feel love in any regard to people unless it is for the hunt for food. But this is not true. Cats remember owners for a long time and these memories help them continue to love people. 

The outward indifference in cats is sometimes due to their solitary nature – some cats thrive alone, not in packs or groups. 

Do Cats Miss Their Owners?

Cats miss their owners when they are separated. Sometimes cats may react adversely – attack, get cranky, etc. But these can be the ways a cat expresses their separation anxiety that they miss their owners.  One way to address a cat that misses their owner is to get them another pet for company. 

Do Cats Remember Abuse?

Cats can also remember abuse, including abusive owners, and begin to treat humans with distaste and danger as a result of past traumas.  The best way to address needs of a cat that has suffered abuse is to come up with a plan with your veterinarian to rebuild trust with humans for your cat. 

Will My Cat Remember Me After 1 Year?

Your cat may forget you after one year.  Scientific American states that cats may forget things that they used to know if they have been separated over a long period of time.  This may also be true with people, such as cat owners.  

So, if you are planning a long trip that will take you away from your cat, you may want spend some quality time letting her get to know you again when you return!

How Does My Cat Remember Me?

Cats remember you because they leave marks on their owners – thanks to their Jacobson’s organ. The glands on your cat’s cheek and paws release a scent when it rubs against you. Cats can remember you through these residual particles.

When cats rub against you with their head it is commonly known as “cat head butting” or “cat head bumping.” Hearing their owners and seeing them every day heightens the experience.

Kitten Memory

A kitten in its learning phase possesses some cognitive and associative memory. A kitten’s short-term memory lasts about 16 hours, and they are usually too young to have permanent or long-term memories.  Repetitious actions will help a lot in teaching your kitten and helping it remember. 

This is especially true of harsh behavior or punishment- kittens don’t hold grudges.

Since the learning stage determines how much your kitten will remember in the long run, it is best to perform repetitions at this stage to make it accustomed to you. The first 2-7 weeks are very important for laying the foundation – the warmth of a mother’s love, playful antics with its siblings, and exploring new places and activities from this age remain in their minds for a long time.

How Does a Cat’s Memory Work?

Cats usually associate memory with survival – what to eat, where to live, etc. Cats remember selectively but do remember well. Cats can differentiate between human faces, voice, pleasant and unpleasant experiences, and so on. Cats remember in ways that are different from dogs.

Can Cats Lose Their Memory?

A cat’s brain cells decrease in number with time, and hence, there is an inevitable decline in memory. However, indoor cats remember better than outdoor cats due to better food, warmth, protection from diseases, and better overall living conditions.

You can feed your cat diets rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids to improve their memory.

Dementia in Cats

Most cats older than 16 years and 50% of cats between 11 and 15 years old suffer from feline cognitive dysfunction, a condition similar to human dementia. Mental deterioration in cats is visible by irritability, less sociability, disheveled appearance, and worse recognition of places, people, and environment.

The pain of arthritis, neurological hamper, or failing organs, especially kidneys, in older cats are visible in their loss of appetite, disrupted sleep patterns, not using the litter box, etc. Sadly, you can’t do much except for giving it nutritious food and consulting a good veterinarian.

Do Cats Remember Places?

Yes, cats remember places. Outdoor cats, and some indoor cats, have very precise geographical knowledge. Official studies have been inconclusive on whether cats remember places, but anecdotal evidence indicates that cats do remember places.

Can Indoor Cats Find Their Way Home?

Yes, indoor cats are capable of finding their way to a nearby home.  Indoor cats do not have the geographic knowledge that outdoor cats have, but they do have the skills to help them find their way home.  A cat’s vision, hearing, and sense of touch make them powerful beings capable of knowing directions.

Do Cats Have a Homing Instinct?

Yes, cats have a homing instinct, proven by various experiments. Professor Frances Herrick, in 1922, showed through research that a mother cat separated from its kittens came back, as the distance varied between one and four miles.

Most people actually attribute the homing instinct to scent glands on their paws, their furs, and their urine, which is used to mark their territory.

Cats and Mazes

German researchers placed cats in mazes and discovered that cats came out of exits closer to homes.
Mazes can help show how cats find their way home. Most theories, in trying to explain why cats return home, usually make use of magnetic locations or even cat smells.  

However, all lost cats don’t find their way back, and this is why you should keep your cat in close quarters. Indoor cats have a lowered sense of going back home but are far less likely to get lost since they are inside the home. 

6 Cat Safety Steps:

  1. Indoor Cat:  Keep it indoors when you move to a new place for at least a month. Cats often have the urge to go back to previous homes.
  2. Toxic People and cats: Check if your neighborhood is free from people who dislike and may even harm cats. 
  3. Toxic Plants and cats: Check your neighborhood for toxic herbs and plants.
  4. Stray Cats: Keep stray and abandoned animals away from your cats. Stray cats may sometimes get embroiled in nasty fights or have diseases.
  5. Cat Leashes: Use cat leashes and harnesses when going on walks, and don’t allow your cat to stray very far when in the garden or outdoors.
  6. Cat Identification: Consider getting your cat microchipped and keep identification information on her collar.

Do Cats Know Their Names?

Yes, cats know their names. Although cats only barely respond when their owners call out to them, a recent study confirms that cats recognize their names being called out by their owners.  My cat Charlotte does come to me when I call her name. 

However, it takes me saying her name about 30 times in rapid succession for her to get up from where she is at and walk over to me.  I will say that when she shows up after I’ve been calling her name she is ready for pets and is already purring.

Do Cats Actually Recognize Their Names?

Yes, cats recognize their names. In research, cats showed various degrees of visible responses to their names being called out. Some cats moved their ears, twitched the whiskers, meowed, tilted their heads, shook their tails, etc., which clearly showing signs of familiarity.

Atsuko Saito, a behavioral scientist now at Sophia University in Tokyo, conducted experiments on more than 70 cats, all of them belonging to people or particular animal homes, trying to figure out their memory linked to their own names, identity, and the voices they hear. The owners called out the cats by their original names after muttering some other unknown words repeatedly.

When the same name was called out by a stranger, the cats displayed little to no reaction.

Cats actually don’t find the names to be a part of their identity. Instead, they associate it with another activity – reward or punishment. Owners call out their pets for snuggles, cuddles, food, etc. Hence, the recognition is linked to that.

Do Cats Know Their Names Like Dogs?

No, cats do not know their names like dogs.  Cats are not as prompt at learning new words, recognizing them later, and are less open to instructions and commands like dogs, who can learn very easily.  Cats do learn their names but are not as responsive to their names as dogs. 

And even though cats do absorb information and learn words, they may not express it. Don’t be disappointed if your cat has a blank look on when you call out to it.

Do Cats Miss Their Owners When They Leave?

Cats often miss their owners, however, many cats are known to be fine and not experience separation anxiety.  Some cats will experience separation anxiety when their owner leaves them.  Cat owners should do their best to keep their cats comforted while they are away. 

Research, from the University of Lincoln, that adapted the Ainsworth “strange situation” test concludes that when placed in an unfamiliar environment, cats have little regard for its owner or caregiver. It will also not miss the owner if the owner leaves the room.

Outdoor cats can survive independently, unlike other animals like dogs who need reassurance and need protection from their owners.

3 signs of cat separation anxiety:

  • Affection:  They will purr for more rubbing when the owners return home. Other signs of affection include cuddles, rubbing themselves against you, following you around, and more. These are signs that they crave your attention, time, and love.
  • Aggression:  Aggressive behavior can also be an indicator of a pet cat’s underlying loneliness and depression. They may cry, weep, mope around or even seem clingy and irritable. They’re just missing you. Some cats may show a greater range of emotions like scratching, biting, not using the litter box, etc.
  • Illness:  Physical illness may be a sign of isolation and its effect on your precious cat. Not taking food, being lethargic, and so on are signs to look out for. Check on your cat regularly to avoid a greater problem in the future.

Do Cats Remember Their Siblings?

No, cats do not remember their siblings unless they are never separated.  Kittens will often be separated and go to live with new owners where they will forget their siblings.  If a cat continues to live with a sibling they will recognize each other.  

Do Cats Forget Their Owners In 3 Days?

Cats do not forget their owners in 3 days.  Cats spend a lot of time with their owners and will continue to recognize them even when separated for three days.  Cats have good memories for their owners, especially when they see their owner often. 

Can a Cat Remember a Person?

Yes, cats can remember a person.  Cats have good memories that are enhanced through scents that cats will place on people they spend time with.  These scents help a cat remember a person.  Routinely seeing someone helps a cat remember a person. 

How Do You Know if a Cat Remembers You?

You will know when a cat remembers you because they will meow at you, rub against your legs, or adopt a position on the ground for you to pet them.  Cats are friendly and social creatures that want the people they remember to pet them and treat them nicely. 

Do Cats Remember Their Owners After 2 Weeks?

Cats will remember their owners after 2 weeks provided the owner has owned the cat for a long period of time.  If the cat owner continuously sees their cat every day, the cat will remember the owner after a 2-week separation.  After 2 weeks apart, the cat will want pets and playtime with an owner. 

How Good is a Kitten’s Memory?

Kittens are believed to have worse memories than adult cats.  Young kittens may have worse short-term memories and need more repetitive events in order to remember something longer.  Kitten owners should spend a lot of time with their kittens to reinforce their memory of them. 

Do Kittens Have a Bad Memory?

Kittens do not have a bad memory, but they do have worse memories than slightly older cats.  One way to help a kitten’s memory is to associate a good habit, like litter training, with a positive reward, like a treat.  This will help a kitten retain a positive memory.  

Do Cats Remember Traumatic Events?

Yes, cats will remember traumatic events.  Cats that have experienced trauma will form strong memories that will be hard to forget.  Cats that have traumatic memories may need the help of a cat behaviorist to help improve their lives. 

How Long Do Cats Remember Abuse?

Cats can remember abuse for the rest of their lives.  When cats experience trauma they often form strong memories that will stick with them.  Cats that remember abuse may need the help of a cat behaviorist to improve their lives. 

How Long Do Cats Remember Their Owners?

Cats will likely remember their owners forever assuming they see their owners often.  Cats that do not see their owners much may forget them after a day.  Cats that do see their owners often will likely always remember them due to their excellent cat memories

How Long Do Cats Remember Things?

Cats will likely remember things for about a day unless they see those things repetitively.  For example, a cat that experiences a hotel room for a day will forget it quickly, but a cat that lives indoors at home will remember its home for a long period of time. 

How Long Do Cats Remember Each Other?

Cats will likely remember each other for one day or less unless they repetitively encounter each other.  Cats that see each other often, such as two cats that live together in a home, will always remember each other.  


Cats, being mammals, are similar to humans in brain function and health. So, they do remember their owners to an extent.  Separation is just as hard for cats as humans. You can make separation easier for your cat by minimizing the time spent away from each other. Habituate it to a routine and don’t mess up the routine. Keep it busy with activities and toys during your absence.

Give your cat easy access to clean food and water before leaving. Make sure to leave behind treats. Get a cat sitter if you must who is as doting upon your cat (or close) as you are. Nothing substitutes your presence –spend ample time with your cat to make up for any time lost.

Here are some of my favorite cat products

In addition to checking out some other More Meows articles, I hope you’ll check out some of my favorite cat products as well.  These are affiliate links, so if you end up using them, I’ll get a commission at no extra cost to you.  These are the products I really do find most helpful.

Litter Box:  I started out with normal, traditional litter boxes for my cat.  Then, I tried this automatic litter box on Amazon (affiliate link), which helped reduce the litter upkeep.  Finally, I am now a believer in the Litter-Robot 3 Connect on Amazon (affiliate link).  This robotic litter box is not for everyone based on the price tag, but for me the benefits (very little upkeep, works efficiently, clean, mobile app) far outweighed the cost. 

My Cat’s Litter-Robot 3 Connect (with night light on) – See the link above the photo!

Cat Tree:  I have purchased a couple of this Amazon Basics Cat Tree on Amazon (affiliate link).  My cat spends a lot of time on and around this cat tree, which I position near my sofa.  She uses the scratching posts on this cat tree multiple times a day, which means she is not scratching the sofa instead.

Cat Water Fountain:  I love this cat water fountain on Amazon (affiliate link).  There are three main benefits to having a water fountain like this for your cat.  The first benefit is that it keeps water running so that your cat doesn’t need to drink still water.  The second benefit is that it filters the water.  The third benefit is that it will keep your cat hydrated!

Christopher Carlson

I have an Domestic Shorthair Tabby named Charlotte. She is full of energy when she isn't sleeping most of the day. I share what I learn about cats on this site.

Recent Posts