Do Cats Remember People?

And what about their owners? 👀

Do you ever leave to go to work and come home wondering if your cat even remembers you?

With how aloof she can be, you might sometimes question if she even knows you.

The Dodo reached out to Dr. Jacob Hawthorne, a veterinarian and founder of Thank Your Vet Organization, to find out the answer to whether or not cats remember people, including their owners.

How long is a cat’s memory?

Adult cats are typically thought to have excellent memories when compared to other companion animals.

“It is common for cats to remember you even if they haven't seen you for years,” Dr. Hawthorne told The Dodo. “It is important to note that kittens will typically have worse memory recall compared to adult cats, which is a similar thing that happens in human babies.”

Do cats have short-term memory?

Short-term memory refers to your capacity to store information for a short period of time.

When it comes to short-term memory and your cat, cats do have short-term memory and are known to recognize and remember humans (as well as other animals) even after only one interaction.

“Cats' short-term memory is thought to be longer than other species, such as dogs, but the exact length requires further studies to understand,” Dr. Hawthorne said.

While we might not know what the exact length is, it’s widely suggested that a cat’s short-term memory can last as long as 16 hours, which is significantly longer than the average span of 27 seconds seen in most animals.

It’s also been found that cats use their short-term memory to remember things of importance, like where they hunted the night before or where their new food bowl is located in the house.

Like anything else in your cat’s life, she’s very selective and finicky — even with her memories.

Do cats have long-term memory?

Long-term memory refers to storing information over a long period of time, like years.

When it comes to long-term memory and cats, cats are typically thought to have an even better long-term memory compared to their short-term memory.

A cat’s long-term memory will come in handy when out on a hunt and needing to find her way home, or when seeing a person again and already remembering whether she likes them or not.

Do cats remember their owners?

Since cats are typically thought to be much more independent and self-reliant compared to other companion animals (such as dogs), some people believe that cats don't miss their owners when they’re gone.

But this isn’t necessarily the case.

“Some cats won't instantly run up to you when you come home, but that doesn't mean they don't miss you or remember you,” Dr. Hawthorne said. “This will depend on your cat’s personality and friendliness, but it is thought that most cats do miss their owners when they leave, and we do know that they will remember their owners because of how strong their memory is.”

So while your cat might not always show you that she misses you, just know that deep down she’s totally happy you’re home.