Researchers who study the feline species find that a cat’s memory is over 175 times that of a dog’s memory. Cats do as they please and remember what they want to remember. The feline species are wise and beyond intelligent, probably far beyond a human’s memory.

Will My Cat Forget Me?

I have been in cat rescue for over 30 years. Caring for cats taught me a lot about the life and memory of cats. I have experienced many instances where there was no doubt in my mind that cats remember people, places, other animals, and good and bad situations in their lives. I have to strongly agree with cat researchers that the following is true.

  • Cats have an incredible long-term memory.
  • Cats remember the person and what that person did for them, good and bad.

Some of the things that cats sharply remember are,

  • Animal friends, siblings, parents, and their enemies
  • Cat human parents
  • Cats remember people they like and trust and those they know do not want them.
  • Cats remember where their home is and can find their way back home.

It is not likely that your cat will ever forget you. For this reason, it is best to make your cat’s memories of you unforgettably good. Never be a cat owner who mistreats or annoys your cat because it remembers all the bad things and how badly you treated it. Scientific evidence points to the fact that cats remember other animals and people, and if any person or cat should die, cats definitely grieve the same as you or me.

If you have to go away for a while, possibly up to five years, your cat will remember you. Researchers do not know if it is actually facial recognition versus your scent that brings your memory to light for the cat.

Mama Beebe Came in Like a Streak of Lightning

Our first rescue in 1992 was a short-haired white fur baby named Beebe. This was before we installed a six-foot-high privacy fence around our property. I did not know much about cat care and never thought twice about letting Beebe outside when she wanted to go. For the record, never think for one minute like I did that a six-foot fence will keep a cat at home!

One day after I let Beebe outside for a spell, she did not come home. We scoured the neighborhood calling her name and letting neighbors know to contact me if they saw her. Our efforts were to no avail. Beebe was gone for over two months.

One morning, I opened the front door to go to work; this little white kitty flew through the door like a lightning bolt. It was Beebe. I was shocked and overjoyed to see her. She did not look too bad other than she had lost weight. I believe that she was confined somewhere and could not get out, or someone had picked her up. I will never know for sure. The important thing was my Beebe was finally home. She never had any desire to go outside again.

I gave Beebe long-overdue hugs and kisses. She ate like a logger after a long day’s work, then curled up on her blanket for a long peaceful nap. I believe she went to sleep with a smile on her face. Wherever Beebe had been for over two months, she never forgot me, our family, or her home. Throughout the next 19 years, Beebe displayed her fantastic memory, abilities, wisdom, and intelligence to us. If a cat is missing and does not come home, it may be because it cannot come home due to an injury, capture, or worse, death.

How Long Does It Take Cats To Forget Their Owners?

Studies on cat memory and behavior find that cats remember human faces and can tell one person from another. However, the question that arises from most cat parents is how long a cat remembers humans that took care of them.

Research finds that a kitten has a short-term memory of about 16 hours. Science also notes that the memory of cats goes back to when they were kittens. A cat’s brain can take years of stored up memories and can pull out this information easily whenever they desire.

Influences of a Cat Forgetting a Person

How important the person is to the cat and how that person treats the cat is of the utmost importance to the cat’s memory bank. If your cat’s memories are good, their memory of you spans years. If your actions towards your cat are not good, the cat also remembers and tends to hold a grudge, and if your cat is missing in action, it undoubtedly seeks out a more loving household. Cats can also hold grudges if you are not good to them.

The question is not how long it takes for cats to forget their owners, but for how many years a cat remembers its owners. From all I have read, the answer seems to be forever. Cats have five and most likely six senses, far exceeding human senses: taste, hearing, vision, smell, touch, and intuition. I am saying that a cat is far more sensitive to many things than a human, such as memory.

I have taken in stray cats for over 30 years, and while most had fantastic behavior, a few had behavior issues. When a stray has behavior issues, it could stem from how a previous owner treated them. Perhaps they were abused and lost all trust in the human populace. Cats are stubborn, and it takes a long while to earn back that trust. Cat behaviorist professionals can help your cat overcome bad experiences that you probably will never know.

When Mama Beebe Lost Her Only Daughter

Mama Beebe had two litters of kittens, one baby the first time and three the second time. The second litter was Jimmy, Vesta, and Pudge. When her kits were five years old, Vesta went into renal failure and had to go to the hospital. Vesta died after a week there. When Vesta did not come home, Beebe was grossly angry and noticeably upset. It shocked me because I never thought that this would have such an effect on another cat. It saddened me and I will never do this again.

Mama Beebe knew that something terrible had happened to her girl. It is recommended that when a cat is bonded with another cat, and one dies, the other should be allowed to see them. This last viewing helps the survivor cat with their grief process. I learned my lesson.

Lil’ Luke and His Free-Running Friends

Our last rescue in March of 2018 was a black fur baby with a white bowie at its neck we call Lil’ Luke. Luke will be four years old in August 2022. He is in training to stay indoors. When Luke was outside, he would hook up with a well-taken care of gray cat that runs free in our neighborhood. It had been one month since Luke was outside. I looked out the front door one afternoon, and this gray cat sat looking at our front door with sad eyes. It was as though he was asking if his friend could come out and play. In some ways, it broke my heart. If Luke happens to get outside, I believe Luke looks for Mr. Gray. I don’t know if it is to play or beat the crap out of him.

When Luke was out, it looked as if Luke stalked this cat, and you could tell that there might be a fight, and we would have to go get Luke. However, maybe not. Maybe they were simply playing. At any rate, Luke does not go outside anymore unless it is by total accident, as he is always on high alert to sneak away.

*As cats age, they are as susceptible to dementia and memory loss the same as a human. Be sure your cat receives a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants to help nourish the brain cells. When you apply the correct interventions, you can help make your kitty’s golden years wonderful and continue to have a sharp memory.

Author

I created and currently run Kitty Cat Tips, the website that you can go to when you have questions about your cat's behavior. It's my hope that you find Kitty Cat Tips to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your cat. You can read more about me and my website here.