Will My Cat Forget Me?

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Cats can be fickle. We have all seen a cat that is grumpy and sometimes downright mean to people in general.  Sometimes they seem so detached, you wonder if they would even miss you if you were gone. So I wondered, if I leave for vacation or go away for awhile, will my cat forget me?

Despite it sometimes aloof behavior, a cat will not forget its owner. Cats actually have extraordinary memories, even their short term memory is good compared to some other animals.

When you think that your cat has forgotten you or are worried that if you leave for a long period of time that they will forget you, remember one thing.  Cats will make you pay for doing something they don’t like.  We love cats and we know you do too so you know it is true.

How Long is a Cat’s Memory?

In terms of memory, cats have a good one and that goes to both long term and short term memory.  The question really is, how long that memory is.  That answer really depends of the type of memory we are talking about.

As with people, cats have short term memory and long term memory.  As long as the cat is exposed to something repeatedly the person or event will become imprinted on the long term memory. 

Short Term

A cat’s short term memory can actually be quantified. The length of the short term memory bank for most cats is generally 16 hours.  If you meet your new cat one time for the initial meeting and come back in 16 hours or less they will remember you.  We think that is pretty cool.  The same goes for that mean kid down the street.

If your cat has a negative experience and it is limited to only one time then it will not stick around in the long term memory.  But if there is something is happens over and over that your cat doesn’t like then they will remember it forever and likely make someone pay.

Long Term

The quality of a cat’s long term memory is absolutely incredible and can rival some human memory banks.  Their memory is far superior to that of a dog’s and may, in fact, last up to 200 times longer.

That being said, if you have ever met a cat before, you know that they are incredibly selective in all areas of their lives and memory is no different.  They are not only selective about what they remember but they are also selective on how they act on any given memory.

Did My Cat Forget Me?

There is no way to really be certain if your cat forgot you or not.  There are however ways to tell the difference between anger and memory lapse. If you are a seasoned cat owner then you are likely to know the difference between the two but for the new cat people out there, we will break it down for you.

Keep in mind that every cat is different and has a unique temperament along with special preferences. The information we are giving you is generally true for most cats but maybe not all of them.

Angry

There are some pretty distinct behaviors that you will see in your cat if he is angry.  This can be a range of things depending on what they are mad about and of course your cat’s natural temperament.

  • Flicking the tail is signal number one that they are not pleased with something that is going on.
  • Growling or hissing in your direction. This is one of those unmistakable signs of irritation and anger. If you are the cause of this emotion in them then they will definitely let you know.
  • Peeing on your bed or other furniture can be a sign of urinary issues but if that is ruled out or there are no other symptoms then it is likely your cat is mad at you. This is a common problem when owners bring a new pet home, move, or get married and the new spouse moves in.  Those are not the only times but they are pretty common circumstances that incur the wrath of your feline roommate.
  • Facial expressions for some cats and say everything they need to say about the situation. Cats aren’t always super expression with their faces but if you have had a cat in your life that gives you the evil eye then you know what we are talking about.

Forgot

If your cat really did forget you then there really isn’t a set of behaviors you will see that send that message.  I would encourage you to think back to when you first met your cat and how they behaved towards you.  If they are showing the same behaviors, they may have forgotten you.

It is not common at all for cats to forget because even if they forget you by sight they will likely remember you by smell.  If you are concerned about being gone long enough for them to forget you, it might help if you leave something that smells like you.

This could be a shirt, blanket, hat, or any other soft object that holds scent.

Do Cats Miss Their Owners?

Cats, even though they may seem fickle and aloof, they really do bond well with their owners or families.  They form deep attachments that are not easily forgotten.  If you leave for a long period of time, your cat will likely miss you and may show physical signs of being sad that you are gone.

Some of the signs that may be seen are loss of appetite, weight loss, increased shedding, becoming moodier than usual, and possible aggression towards replacement caregivers. They will probably calm down and bounce back with a little time and extra attention so they know they aren’t forgotten.

When you do come back from your business trip or vacation your cat may not be happy to see you at first.  At least they may not act like they are happy to see you.  Don’t take it personally, your cat is probably mad at you.  They will get over it, once you are satisfactorily punished for your absence.

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