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How Long Does It Take a Cat To Forget You? Surprising Facts

Jessica Kim

By Jessica Kim

ginger cat with the owner

Humans can remember their past cats long after they’re gone. However, it’s uncertain just how much a cat can remember in its lifetime. The reason for this uncertainty is that more research has to be done in this area.

As cats are completely different animals from humans, their memory is going to be wired in a way that benefits their own survival. So, cats are able to form strong bonds with humans and have associated memories of them when those bonds are connected with survival. We just don’t have enough research to definitively say exactly how long it takes cats to forget you. However, it’s still a fascinating topic to explore. Here’s what we know so far.

A Cat’s Memory

Cats are capable of having several different types of memory. One type of memory that’s been studied is short-term memory. This memory study shows that cats have some capabilities of short-term memory.

The cats in this study were given time to memorize the location of where food was located. Then, they were removed from the space for 15 minutes. This study revealed that cats are able to remember new information for short periods of time, especially when it comes to food.

A study completed in 2008 revealed that cats also have pretty good spatial memory. Again, this study used food to test a cat’s spatial memory. The results revealed that young cats have very good spatial memory, but that this type of memory fades with age.

blue smoke maine coon cat lying on the couch
Photo Credit: Okeanas, Shutterstock

What Cats Remember About Humans

Interestingly, cats may not identify their owners by their appearance. A study completed in 2005 showed that cats may not readily recognize the face of their owner. Instead, they rely on other things, such as the owner’s scent and voice, to identify them.

So, while a cat may not be able to recognize you if it just saw you, it would be able to remember who you are after it’s able to hear your voice. However, just like humans, a cat’s memory will start to decline as it ages.

A cat’s ability to remember its owners will depend on their shared relationship. Kittens form memories that shape their behavior as they grow into adulthood. Adult cats also keep learning and absorbing information from their environment.

Based on past research, there’s a good chance that a cat will have stronger memories if a human has an association with food. So, if you’re the one in your family that feeds your cat, your cat may have developed a stronger memory of you. This would mean that it would be difficult for your cat to forget you.


Cats have a good memory, especially if the memory has to do with food. However, more research has to be conducted to determine just how a cat’s long-term memory works. So, it’s still uncertain as to how far a cat’s memory can go.

This doesn’t mean that we’re uncertain about cats valuing humans. Cats may not use memories for the same purposes as humans do, but they’re still able to form strong bonds with people and have deep memories of them.

Featured Image Credit: Yuriy Seleznev, Shutterstock

Jessica Kim

Authored by

Jessica is a freelance writer who spends most of her day researching and writing while her fluffy Cavapoo, Nora, naps beside her. She loves and appreciates pets and animals because there’s so much to learn from them, and they do so much for people. As a dog mom, she understands the special connection that pet parents have with their pets. So, she loves sharing helpful information that people can use to better understand...Read more

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