A cat feeling indifferent to its owner is a fallacy. Humans that do not like cats will claim that felines only care about being fed. If this were true, no cat would miss, or even remember, a previous owner.
Cats are adaptable creatures, and very independent. This has no impact on whether miss their owner when rehomed, though. We will look at which ways cats miss their owners when they are separated.
- 1 Do Cats Remember Previous Owners?
- 1.1 How to Tell if My Cat Misses Its Previous Owner
- 1.2 Will My Cat Miss Me if I Give It Away?
- 1.3 Will My Cat Hold a Grudge Against Me if I Give It Away?
- 1.4 Do Cats Miss Their Owners When They Die?
- 1.5 Do Cats Miss You When You Travel?
- 1.6 Do Cats Miss Other Cats That They Lived With?
- 1.7 Can Cats Grieve and Feel Depressed?
- 1.8 Further Information About Cats:
Do Cats Remember Previous Owners?
Cats have a slightly complicated relationship with humans. Felines do recognize their owners, but not by sight. All people look the same to cats. They do, however, forge a bond based on scent and sound. Your cat will know what you smell like, and the sound of your voice. This is especially likely with young cats, which are open to forging relationships with humans.
The upshot of this is that cats remember things that are important to them. A cat will remember their territory, for example. A cat may not visit their first home for ten years, but they’ll remember everything they need to know. This include where to find a comfortable bed for a nap, where mice and birds tend to congregate, and where to get a cool, refreshing drink from the tap. Perhaps most importantly, they’ll remember what public territory contains food. If a human forges an emotional bond with a cat, they become meaningful and thus memorable.
It’s crucial to know what constitutes an emotional bond for cats. These animals do not need humans, in the same way as other household pets. Sure, a cat would prefer to be fed and petted. Likewise, they are happier having a range of cushions and heat sources. If a human did not provide these things, however, they would find them for themselves. That fact an owner does provide them goes a long way to making a cat enjoy their company.
This means that a cat that is separated from their human will retain memories of them. Hopefully positive ones. If a cat is rehomed but comes across their former owner, they will likely remember them. They will typically express this through body language. For example, curling the tail upward – this is cat-speak for, “Hello, it’s good to see you again.”
If a cat licks a former owner, it’s another sign that they remember them. This is the cat asserting that the human is part of their family. Finally, a cat will often rub themselves against the shins of a former owner. This a display of ownership. The cat is ensuring that their scent is all over you. They don’t want any other smells on your person.
How to Tell if My Cat Misses Its Previous Owner
Cats are curious animals. They don’t enjoy revealing their emotions to humans, possibly seeing this as a sign of weakness. This means that a cat will not necessarily pine in a visible, vocal way. If you do not understand their mentality, a cat may seem wholly indifferent to switching owners.
There are warning signs that a cat may miss their former human, though. We cannot be entirely sure that cats act this way because they miss their owner. They may be discombobulated by a change in routine. Given that cats forge emotional bonds, however, these behaviors could be attributed to missing an owner:
- Constantly wandering, and struggling to settle in a new home.
- Growing very vocal with a new owner, as though trying to explain that things are different.
- Regularly returning to its previous territory.
- Having accidents, such as missing the litter tray. This could be accidental or deliberate.
- Destroying furniture or other property.
- Growing indifferent to affection or play.
- Showing less affection to a new human than their previous owner.
- Always staring at doors or windows, as though expecting their former owner to return.
A cat will adapt, sooner or later. They may well miss their previous family though, and react accordingly. This is especially likely if the rehomed cat is young, or was adopted as a kitten.
Cat brains are like sponges between the ages of 2 and 7. This is when a feline is most likely to forge a strong emotional bond. Older cats may be a little more indifferent to being rehomed. It’s still possible for an older cat to miss their owner, but they may adjust faster.
Will My Cat Miss Me if I Give It Away?
If you had an emotional bond, then yes. You will be able to tell if your cat misses you if you cross paths again. If you come to visit, the cat will likely demand attention and affection. They may follow you around the house, and sleep in your bed if you spend the night.
It all depends on how well you got along – and how welcoming a new home is. If it’s at all possible, try to rehome your cat with somebody familiar. This will make the transition easier.
The most important thing is that a cat is treated kindly, and follows a familiar routine. Sooner or later, they will adapt. There is nothing to stop you retaining a bond though, even if you don’t live together.
Will My Cat Hold a Grudge Against Me if I Give It Away?
This depends on the circumstances of your cat’s departure. As we have established, cats forge long-term memories based on emotion. If a cat was mistreated, they would remain afraid of the person that harmed them. Likewise, abandoning a cat without access to food means they’re unlikely to remember you with affection. Whether you consider that to be a grudge is down to you.
Do Cats Miss Their Owners When They Die?
Pop culture is littered with tales about cats devouring dead human owners. This is another layer to the theory that cats do not care about their owners. Do cats shrug and find a new food source if their owner passes away? Of course not.
Cats do not have a logical and empirical understanding of death the way that humans do. They will be confused as to why their human is no longer around, though. They will possibly still eat heartily, and patrol or wander as before. They may even play among themselves in a multi-cat household. Throughout this, however, cats will be aware that something has changed and somebody is missing.
It’s likely that cats will miss their owners when they die. They will constantly expect them to return, and remain alert to any sign of this. Over time, they will adjust to life without their owner. Cats place survival above all else, and will feel that they have no choice. That does not mean that they are indifferent to their former owner’s passing, though. The cat may actively grieve, and appear to keep one eye out for their favorite human.
Do Cats Miss You When You Travel?
Cats will undoubtedly notice if you are away for a period of time. Whether or not they actively miss you is a matter of debate.
Cats love routine – that’s no secret. The absence of a regular human owner can disrupt this routine. On paper, it doesn’t matter who provides dinner provided it’s at the same time every day. In reality, a cat will notice if somebody different is doing this.
Traveling cat owners will arrange for somebody to feed their pet, and clean their litter tray. Cats notice this, and forge an emotional bond with that person. Despite this, cats do not have a finite amount of affection. A feline with a renewed love for a pet sitter does not suddenly disregard their owner. They will be excited to see you when you’re home.
Put bluntly, cats see their humans as part of their family. This means that they are happiest when the entire family unit is together. Cats feel secure when they can sense their owners, regardless of whether they choose to interact. They will cope perfectly well while you’re away, there is no doubt about that. Just don’t be surprised if they won’t let you out of their sight when you return. A study published on PLOS ONE confirms that cats and owners interact more after a separation.
Do Cats Miss Other Cats That They Lived With?
A cat will not automatically miss a feline companion. If cats don’t get along, it’s possible for one to enjoy not having the other around. This is why some cats end up rehomed, after all. Likewise, a hugely territorial cat may prefer having the run of the house to themselves. Sharing food, toys, and beds doesn’t come naturally to some cats.
However, cats can often miss another pet, especially if they are parted suddenly or unexpectedly. Felines love routine, and another cat no longer being around can disrupt that. Even if the two animals fought constantly, it might still leave a hole in their life.
Like humans, cats sometimes struggle with a lack of closure. If you lose one pet to sickness, another may want the chance to say goodbye. Cats could even nuzzle their deceased companion, if there is no risk of infection. Just be aware that some cats will not react well to the smell of sickness.
If you do lose a cat from a multi-pet household, don’t attempt to replace them immediately. Your other cats – or dogs – will need to process the absence of their companion. Introducing a new animal to this scenario will aggravate and elevate their stress. Wait for things to settle down before visiting a shelter, or adopting a kitten. This could take six months.
Can Cats Grieve and Feel Depressed?
It’s possible that a cat will grieve the loss of their owner or fellow feline. As International Cat Care explains, there is no fixed rule about how they deal with loss. Some cats do not like to show their feelings. This is a result of their independent nature. It may appear that the cat has not even noticed that something has changed. With cats, however, things are rarely as they appear on the surface.
Some signs that a cat is missing a companion could include:
- Loss of interest in eating.
- Lethargy and loss of interest in play. Some cats may stare at the wall.
- Inability to settle down, constantly pacing. The cat may be looking for their companion.
- Becoming much more vocal than before.
- Behaving uncharacteristically aggressive.
If your cat appears to be living with grief, attempt to engage with them more. However, do this in their terms. Wait for your cat to approach you, rather than forcing them to interact. If your cat appears to seek comfort, however, offer plenty of reassurance and petting. Also, keep to their established routine.
There is no default answer as to how long your cat will grieve. Like humans, it takes time. Allow your pet this luxury, consulting a vet if sadness appears to be impacting their health. A cat refusing to eat, for example, can become dangerous.
Cats are famously adaptable, perhaps more so than any other animal. Given enough time and affection, they will settle in a new home. This does not mean they forget, or grow indifferent to, former owners. It’s quite possible that they’ll miss them.
Much like a happily married human still remembers their first love, cats remember their first owner. Felines are not as expressive about their feelings as other animals, but they do have them. If you take in a rehomed cat, you may have to be a little patient with them. Sooner or later, they’ll learn to love you as much as their former owner.