page title icon Do Cats Remember People?

by Linda Mathews Last Updated January 20, 2022

The awesome film about Hatiko and the way the dog remembers his owner forever touches people’s hearts. But what about a cat’s memory? Can they remember their pet parents, other animals, situations, etc.? Yes, they can!

Let’s dive into this topic to get the detailed answer to the question: “Do cats remember people?”. Here you will know if the felines get attached to their owners, recognize faces, and keep in memory different good or bad events.

Do Cats Remember People?

Do Cats Remember People?In comparison with many other companion animals, felines have both short-term and long-term memories. It means that some of the cats’ brain cells are responsible for recalling “here and now” situational events that are kept in mind for a rather long period. And at the same time, kitties obtain the opportunity to collect long-term memories.

So, how good is a cat’s memory? Many scientists have been still analyzing the abilities of the feline friend. It is worth noting that the long-term and short-term memories are not likely to depend on the breed. This is about the cat’s life, nature, and brain processes.

Short-Term Memory of a Cat

Short-Term Memory of a Cat

A cat’s short-term memory is based on associations. It means that the kitty can recall something with the help of the latest situational backgrounds. For example, you split a cup of coffee in the morning.

Your feline pet remembers this situation thanks to the strong associative memory. Your pet might even be afraid of new noises and your dudgeon the next time you take a cup and switch the coffee machine on.

But short-term memories are limited to time. These associative flashbacks are recalled only for 15-16 hours. It is worth noting that most animals have shorter short-term memory (up to 15 minutes). At the same time, cats remember a person, food, atmosphere, and other details almost the whole day.

Long-Term Memory of a Cat

Long-Term Memory of a Cat

All the brain processes that recall memories from the past are managed by the feline long-term memory. Do the cats remember their owners forever? There are studies that they really do. Like the human brain, the feline’s one can recall some episodic memories about positive and negative experiences.

For example, there are many Instagram stories about the long separation of a cat from its owner.
Note that feline selective memory can help kitties to remember:

  • The owner’s face, voice, movements, habits;
  • Taste of food, situations, animal companions at home;
  • Abuses, some negative flashback;
  • Sounds, toys, other arrangements.

Most cats are in love with their caring and loving pet parents. That is why they store different moments in their long-term memories. Cats miss us, but they can forget some unnecessary things like the smell of the meals they got used to eating several years ago.

The same way kitties forget other cats, dogs, and pets if they have lacking situational and associative memories.

How Long Does a Cat Remember Long–Term Memories?

How Long Does a Cat Remember Long–Term Memories?

There is no single answer. It depends on the physical and mental health of the feline body. For example, a lost cat will hardly forget this experience and might be afraid of crowded streets all his/her life.

But the cat’s brain resembles a human’s with the ability to displace bad moments. The kitty will collect new flashbacks to change both long-term and short-term memory experiences with positive episodes to remember. If your pet is happy, the working memory will rule the cat’s behavior.

Moreover, some felines are not lacking in dogs’ superior ability to recognize everyone and remember everything! The LiveScience study proves the fact that both these animals remember people.

If dogs have sharper missing emotions when the owner comes later or stays longer on vacation, cats like human beings obtain extremely bright homing instinct:

  • The cat’s long-term memory stores memories about the episodes when the feline feels safe.
  • Instinctive behaviors about the litter box, food, love, and care humans provide.
  • The place where the feline lives in a secure environment, etc.

At the same time, some family cat buddies can forget about kittens, other pets, and some episodes that seem unimportant for kitties.

Spatial Memory

Spatial Memory

Do cats have a good memory? Sure, they do. Spatial memory is responsible for the here-and-now reactions. How to catch a mouse or climb a tree. But some scientists still consider that cats possess a rather short-lived working memory though.

The study of Laura Geggel (the cat behaviorist and the author of the articles in the LiveScience magazine) proves that felines can hardly find the hidden object in a short period (kitties were watching at the objects of their interest for 1,2 minutes before these things were hidden).

Nevertheless, this research might become true anecdotal evidence because there are many reasons why cats did not manage to find something:

  • boredom;
  • stubbornness;
  • laziness.

The same trick can be done with the beloved toy mouse or favorite treats of the kitty. And the memory check result will be more than excellent!

Visual Memory

The feline visual sensor is extremely developed. That is why cats remember a person with the help of these receptors as well. Your pet observes your face, the way you move, your habits every day. The longer you live with the cat under one roof, the more chances that your feline will remember you forever.

For example, a new cat after adoption starts to accumulate memories about his/her owner. The standing pets in the family know well all the behavioral peculiarities of their caring parents. To summarize, the question about visual memory: “Do cats recognize faces and their owners?” can be answered with “Yes, they do!”.

What Do Cats Commonly Remember?

What Do Cats Commonly Remember?

All the short-term and long-term memory reservoirs are the results of the selective processes in the bewhiskered head. That is why some kitties forget something, other cats remember these episodes on the contrary.


Marne Venture presented an awesome book Kunkush: The True Story of a Refugee Cat about the true story of how the cat missed owners while being hopelessly lost but remembered them forever. When the Iraqi family with volunteers found their pet and communicated via Skype with the bewhiskered friend first, the kitty recognized all the members – their voices, faces, and intonations.
Does a cat forget the owner? It might happen. But in most cases, cats recall information about the important people for the feline. Some homeless pets remember well who feeds them every day. They recognize these people and are happy to see them.

Friends (Other Cats and Animals)

Friends (Other Cats and Animals)

Some feline owners are still asking the question: “Do cats remember their kittens?”. Some kitties really feel bad during the separation from babies. Feline parents will recognize their children the next day from other fluffy kids. But then, nature blocks these memories about children not to hurt she-cats and he-cats.
At the same time, there are many stories when bewhiskered buddies remember other pets they used to live with together in one house. Do cats miss other cats? Usually, those felines who had some romantic or friendly relationships with other animals get attached to four-pawed buddies as happens with humans.

Bad Experiences

Do cats remember abuse? It is likely that the answer is “Yes”. It goes without saying that cats remember traumatic events. After the awful situations provoked by people like victimizing the feline, bewhiskered friends stop trusting humans.
But at the same time, the feline brain can displace all these cruel flashbacks to protect the mental health of the cat. It is difficult to predict the reaction of the pet for abusive episodes.

Important Locations

The ability to remember the location like the house the cat living in is about the problem-solving background for felines. But the kitty who has never left home would hardly find the destination where loving pet parents are located. That is why the memory of all the important venues is more about instincts.



Most cats and dogs are able to remember fast where their food bowls are located. A small kitten or puppy can find the treats in the habitual environments in 1-2 days after the first meal. This is also about living instinct, problem-solving, and the feline or dog’s spatial memories.

It is worth mentioning that older cats can forget the smell and the taste of their favorite food. This problem is caused by the feline age-specific brain’s deterioration. Some kitties can cast minds back with the help of some treats (ex-owners, former living conditions, etc.).

Does Your Cat Miss You?

When some routine schedule is changed (you came back later, you had a night out, etc.), your pet can be in anxiety about this situation. That is why it is possible to state that bewhiskered friends miss you, but in their own murr-purr way.

Does Your Cat Hold Grudges?

All the cats have a grouse when owners punish them or act in some way they dislike. But the short-performing memory allows kitties’ brains to be free from all the negative emotions and disappointments very fast.

But how long do cats hold grudges? From 10 minutes and up to 10-13 hours. And this is the maximum term.

Do Cats Experience Memory Loss?

Any cat is not immune from memory loss and other disorders like Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. One of the similar health issues is feline cognitive dysfunction. This problem often develops when it comes to senior bewhiskered pets.

In most cases, the syndrome takes place when the felines lose brain cells. Many instincts, regular behavioral patterns, including memories are ruined.

Signs of Cognitive Dysfunction

  • Spatial and temporal disorientation;
  • Urination and defecation issues;
  • Strange vocalization;
  • Aggression and avoiding any contact with anyone;
  • Increased appetite;
  • Problems with self-serving;
  • Aimless pacing and a vacant eye.

Senior cats with diabetes and renal failure are at the highest risk of CDS. These are the most dangerous triggers for cognitive dysfunction syndrome. Additionally, all the aging changes can turn into the development of CDS.

Final Word

How good is a cat’s memory? This is the riddle wrapped up in an enigma. Each animal has different potentials when it comes to long-term and short-term memories, including associative, spatial, and other brain reactions.
Scientists continue to explore this mysterious topic of feline memory to rescue some cat buddies from the CDS and memory loss in seniority.

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