Does My Cat Think I’m His Mom? The Answer Might Surprise You…

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Our cats are an integral part of our family, and as cat owners, we often wonder whether our pets see us as their mom. It’s something we are all curious about, and it’s unlikely that cats see us in the same way they would their feline birth mom. But it is possible that they see us as surrogates, and much of their behavior and affection towards us indicates that they see us as part of their social group.

Do Cats Think Owners Are Their Parents?

We will never truly know what our feline family members think of us, but science and research can help us to understand our relationship with our pets a little better.

We will never truly know what our feline family members think of us, but science and research can help us to understand our relationship with our pets a little better.

Feline behavior expert John Bradshaw has spoken often about his research into what cats think about us. Cats show the exact same body language and behaviors toward us humans as they do toward their fellow felines. Whereas dogs interact completely differently with humans than they do with other dogs.

When a cat feels safe and comfortable with another cat they will rub around their face and body, just as they do with us rubbing themselves around our legs.  And this is a behavior that develops from their interactions within social groups in the wild. In their own family groups, a kitten will rub on its mother, whilst females rub on males.

Smaller cats will rub themselves on bigger cats. So there is some evidence of power dynamics here, which could be the same in the way they interact with us. We are bigger than our cats, and a female might be more likely to show this type of behavior toward us than a male cat.

Also Read: What Does It Mean When A Cat Rubs Against You?

Do Cats See Us As A Mother Figure?

Cats know that they depend on us for food and affection, and they respond to the loving behaviors we show toward them.

John Bradshaw’s research and ideas might be the first evidence to suggest that cats might think of us mothers, as they treat those around them just like other cats and don’t see much difference between themselves and us.

How do I know if my cat thinks I’m his mom?

Cats know that they depend on us for food and affection, and they respond to the loving behaviors we show toward them. As their caregivers, we provide food and shelter as well as love and affection. Cats recognize this, and if there is one person in the family that spends more time at home with the feline family members then your cat might form a particularly strong bond with them.

This is known as imprinting, and once it’s happened, your cat will show a preference for you as opposed to other people in the house. That person might be the one who feeds, plays with, and nurtures the cat, so they will reward us by offering us the same.

1. Vocalizations

Any cat owner will know how intelligent these animals are, and they can prey on our emotions just like a human baby.

Any cat owner will know how intelligent these animals are, and they can prey on our emotions just like a human baby. Many of their vocalizations are reserved for their human family members and are not actually used when interacting with other cats. Cats don’t actually meow at other cats, but they meow at us, and it triggers our emotions as it sounds just like a baby crying.

So, we immediately give our attention, therefore our cats might often get their way! Vocalizations are an important way for our cats to let us know they need something from us, but it’s also a clever way of tapping into our natural maternal instincts and emotions! But it does not mean they see us as moms, just that they use our maternal instincts to encourage us to meet their needs.

Also Read: 10 Reasons Your Cat Won’t Stop Meowing At Night

2. Body Language And Habits

Several behaviors cats display towards us are developed from their interactions with their feline mom as kittens.

Several behaviors cats display towards us are developed from their interactions with their feline mom as kittens. Cats often knead us with their paws or lick and nibble us. This is a behavior used to obtain milk from their mom and has no use to them as adult cats, but scientists think they might knead humans as it reminds them of the comfort they had as a kitten nursing from their mom.

So, cats do treat us like their mom sometimes and gain comfort from the bond we have with them. Our feline family members depend on us for food, happiness, company, and security, and as they cannot talk they use their body language to communicate with us.

Also Read: How To Take Care Of A Kitten: The Complete Guide

What About Kittens

Cats don’t maintain a close bond with their mom in the wild as they are generally solitary and territorial creatures.

Once kittens are weaned, the mother cat will naturally distance them. Cats don’t maintain a close bond with their mom in the wild as they are generally solitary and territorial creatures.

But if a kitten is weaned too soon from its mom it might see us as a surrogate. Kittens will often want to be close to us to feel safe, warm, and secure. They also knead us and sometimes suck on our skin if they are not fully weaned. This is not necessarily them seeing us as their mom, but more them recognizing us as their caregiver and craving our care and security.

Also Read: Weaning Kittens: Tips For Successful Weaning

Do Cats Think Of Us As Their Family?

We know that the behaviors cats show toward us mean they are likely to see us as the same as them rather than treating us differently than they would other cats.

Whilst cats are unlikely to see us as their mom and more likely to treat us like surrogate moms, they do treat us like part of their social group or family. We know that the behaviors cats show toward us mean they are likely to see us as the same as them rather than treating us differently than they would other cats.

Signs that your cat recognizes you as their family might be –

Also Read: Why Do Cats Show Their Bellies?

Final Thoughts

do cats like hugs?

As pet parents, we all see ourselves as our cat’s mom, but it’s unlikely they view humans the same way they do their birth mom.

Cat behavior is a fascinating subject and one we are still learning a lot about. As pet parents, we all see ourselves as our cat’s mom, but it’s unlikely they view humans the same way they do their birth mom. However, research suggests that cats interact with humans in the same way they do with other cats, suggesting that they see us as the same or at least part of their social group.

Cats do recognize us as their caregivers and will show us plenty of love and affection in return for us providing company, food, and safety. Many signs of affection from our feline family members are behaviors they learn and develop as kittens whilst bonded with their own mom and are habits they continue into adulthood as a means of bonding with their human family.

Also Read: How To Have A Better Relationship With Your Cat

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if my cat thinks I'm her mom?

There is no specific sign that your cat thinks you are her mom. But your cat will show affection for you by rubbing around you, lifting its tail, and purring to show they are bonded with you and to gain your attention.

Do cats see their owners as their mothers?

Cats don’t see us the same way they do their birth mothers. But we do know cats treat humans the same way they treat other cats. So, they recognize us as their caregivers in a similar way they would their feline mom.

How can you tell if a cat has imprinted on you?

Cats might develop a strong bond with a favorite person, known as imprinting. Your cat might show a preference for you, or show more affection by vocalizing, purring, and rubbing around you to demand your attention more than they do for other family members.

Is my cat imprinted on me?

Cats imprint on you if they develop a strong bond with you and consider you their favorite person. They will show more affectionate behavior towards you and demand more of your love and attention.

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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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