Do Cats Miss Their Owners When They Are Away?

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We’d all like to think that we have the strongest possible bond with our furry family members. After all, many pet parents dote on their feline friends, providing the tastiest and healthiest food, offering loving cuddles, and getting them veterinary help when they’re feeling under the weather.

But, no matter how strong our bond with our cats, do they really miss us when we’re not there? Or do they forget us the moment we walk out the door?

Let’s see if we can find out!

Are Cats Loyal To Their Owners?

There’s no disputing that many cats love their owners, and some are very loyal. However, loyalty seems to be a trait that a lot of cats struggle with. Perhaps stemming from their independent nature, cats are easily tempted by the prospect of something better.

This can lead them to wander into neighbors’ homes or even have multiple families some distance apart. Sometimes, it’s tastier treats or a comfier bed to sleep on that draws cats away, but often they’re just hedging their bets and getting the best of both worlds!

Let’s not get the wrong idea about cats, though. Cats have special people in their lives, and if you’re one of their favorite people, it might be like having an extra shadow.

If you are your cat’s favorite, they probably choose your lap and your attention over every other family member or guest. So, cats can be loyal. Even if the guarantee of an extra meal takes their attention for a while, cats often form a loving bond with their owners and can be very affectionate.

Do Cats Miss Us When We Leave the House?

Some cats feel anxious when their people are away, something that can lead to destructive behavior.

You might think that only dogs and children suffer from separation anxiety, but that’s not the case. Cats can also develop anxiety symptoms when you leave them. Some cats will meow loudly when left alone, although you might not know that unless you have a pet webcam.

Other cats will scratch carpets or do other destructive behaviors because they’re distressed. You might even come home to unpleasant surprises like poop in your shoe or a patch of pee on your bed. These are all signs that your cat is anxious while you’re away, and you should speak to a veterinarian or certified animal behaviorist for advice on how to improve this.

Even if they’re not too distressed, you might find that your cat waits at the window for you to come back. They might also pop up on your driveway or garden path to greet you when you return home. These are signs that your best buddy has missed you and is glad you’ve returned!

How Do You Tell If Your Cat Misses You?

No one wants their cat to have separation anxiety when they leave the house, but it’s nice to feel wanted and that your cat has missed you while you’ve been away. Far away from the extreme of separation anxiety are the sweet and endearing signs that your cat likes having you around.

For example, if they follow you to the door when you pick up your keys and give you that look that they know you struggle to resist, it’s clear they’d rather you stuck around. Or perhaps they follow you to the car to see you off, then wait precisely where they are until your return. Maybe it’s more their behavior when you come home that lets you know they’ve missed you.

For instance, if they recognize the sound of your car engine and appear from the garden five doors down to race you back to the house. Or they weave in and out of your legs in the hallway, rubbing against you and purring. All of these signs let you know that they care and that they enjoy your company.

How Long Does A Cat Remember A Person?

The more positive time you spend playing, talking to and feeding your cat, the longer she will remember you.

Memory is an interesting concept, and the ability of various species to remember things varies. Everyone knows the common misconception that goldfish have a three-second memory. In actuality, a goldfish’s memory is much longer than this, being more like several months.

So, where do cats fare on this scale? Do they have a reasonably short memory span like goldfish? Or a much longer memory span, like humans? Depending on the situation, cats can have memories of up to 10 years.

However, cats’ memories work by association rather than remembering specific facts or information. Therefore, they store memories based on associated experiences that were particularly positive or negative or them.

Therefore, if you spend lots of time with your cat, building positive memories by feeding, playing, and interacting with them, they’ll be able to remember you for up to 10 years. Similarly, if they had a very negative experience with someone, for instance, if they were injured, chased, or otherwise distressed, they would remember this person, too.

On the other hand, if you don’t spend much quality time with your cat and have very few specific interactions, it’s unlikely that they’ll remember you.

Conclusion

Being a pet parent to a cat is very different from owning a dog. In fact, a funny observation is that people own dogs, but cats own their people! But, just because your relationship with your cat is different doesn’t mean that they don’t love you and enjoy your company.

Cats are sometimes fickle creatures, and some are easily swayed by the promise of an extra meal elsewhere. However, they still have their own unique ways of making you feel important. Perhaps knowing what we know about separation anxiety and stress in cats, we wouldn’t wish our cat to miss us, but it’s nice when they show us they care.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do cats get sad when you leave?

Sometimes, cats get anxious when their owner leaves. This separation anxiety could cause them to scratch furniture and carpets or pass urine or feces outside of their litter tray. Stress in cats often leads to other health conditions like cystitis and sore skin due to overgrooming.

Therefore, although it might be nice to consider your cat missing you, the reality is that stress is serious. So, if your cat doesn't seem too bothered when you're gone, don't take it personally, be pleased that they’re content and carefree.

Do cats have a favorite person?

Many cats have a favorite person. This could be the person who spends the most time with them, feeds them, and plays with them. However, sometimes they choose another family member as their favorite. Strangely, their favorite could even be someone who doesn’t like cats that much! It’s all about who gives off the best vibes and makes them feel calm, safe, and secure.

How long does it take for a cat to forget its owner?

If your cat goes missing, or you go on a long trip and leave them behind, you might worry that your cat won't recognize you when you see each other again. However, cats have a longer memory span than you might think. As long as you’ve made positive memories with your purry pal, they could remember your face for as long as 10 years.

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About Dr. Joanna Woodnutt, MRCVS

Dr. Joanna Woodnutt (MRCVS) is a small animal veterinarian and writer who is passionate about helping owners to learn more about their pets in order to improve animal welfare. She loves to write and wants to empower owners to make the best decisions for their pets by giving them all the information they need. In her spare time, she takes consultations on the small island of Guernsey.

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