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Do Cats Remember Their Mother?

Most cats are separated from their birth mother as a kitten. When I look down at my beautiful furbaby, it gets me thinking, does my cat remember his birth mother? Does he miss her?

Unfortunately, most cats do not remember their mother.

Although cats may be familiar with the scent of their mother, they won’t be able to make the connection between the familiar scent and their mother.

Do cats remember their mother?

As strange as it seems to us humans, cats do not remember their mothers. In fact, when a kitten is separated from its mother, it tends to forget her rather quickly.

If a cat were to reunite with its mother, it wouldn’t recognize her face. Cats don’t remember others by vision; instead, they remember them by scents.

They are simply drawn to the smell

When they are young, cats exchange scents with their mother and siblings. So, the scent of a cat’s mother may be familiar to them.

However, the scent alone will not make a cat realize it is actually meeting its mother. 

You might see videos online that show a grown cat meeting its mother years after separation, and those videos tend to show cats seemingly overjoyed over the reunion.

This is likely due to the cat being familiar with the mother’s scent and not necessarily because they know the cat they are meeting is their mom.

Scents can be misleading too

Just because a cat is familiar with its mother’s scent doesn’t mean it will take to her. There are instances when cats don’t even get along with their mothers.

As a cat experiences new environments growing up, they pick up many different scents. The likelihood they will remember the scent of their mother is very slim. They have only smelt her as a kitten.

If you think about it, it would be hard for anyone to remember their mother if they only knew them as a baby. It’s kind of the same thing!

Do mother cats remember their kittens?

On the flip side, what about the mother cat? Does the mother remember her kittens when they are all grown up?

This is a valid question since a mother cat is an adult, so it leaves one to assume she would remember all she did for her kittens.

Well, I’m afraid the answer is going to disappoint you.

A mother’s bond with her child is strong, filled with love and affection. Cat mothers are no different. They spend lots of time caring for their litter by grooming, feeding, and teaching them how to survive!

It seems hard to think a mother cat that has done that much for her kittens will forget them.

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Even so, mother cats also face the same reality as their kittens. They don’t remember their kittens when they are grown up!

Since cats rely on scents to remember each other, mothers will forget their kittens shortly after being separated. Once a kitten leaves and is no longer with its mother, it picks up new scents.

The new scents make it difficult for a mother cat to remember her kitten. It is then hard for her to identify him or her if they were to cross paths.

How much do cats remember?

If a cat doesn’t remember its own mother, what does it remember? Surprisingly, cats actually have a great memory.

When it comes to short-term memory, cats can remember a great deal, especially when it comes to food! Their short-term memory comes in handy when remembering where their prey or cat food typically is.

They also are great at remembering when food will be available. Have you ever noticed your cat is already on the mat, waiting when you are about to feed it?

That’s because they remember when it’s grub time! 

Cats can also remember things that have happened to them in the past. In cases of abuse and negligence, cats tend to remember or even bear grudges. This is why you might see a cat that was abused be afraid of people that are similar to their abuser.

For example, if a cat is abused by a man, it might not trust other men easily in the future. 

Memories that have made an impact on a cat’s life can undoubtedly be recalled by a cat. These occurrences could be good or bad, but they leave a lasting impression on a feline!

Cats can remember people who treat them well and feed them. If you have a member in your household that normally gives your cats treats, they remember this!

Unfortunately, a cat’s mother just isn’t an easy thing for them to remember. To put it this way, you likely don’t remember everything that happened when you were younger.

However, you are more likely to remember something traumatic that happened even if you were really young. The same thing goes for kitties!

Does my cat think I am her mother?

If cats don’t remember their birth mother, it seems fitting to wonder whether or not cats believe we are their mother.

Cats don’t actually think we are their birth mother. However, they typically treat their owners similarly to how they would treat their mothers.

A cat owner will feed, play, groom, and nurture their cat. This gives cats the understanding that their owner is their caregiver.

do my cat think I am her mom

Cats will then show affection towards their owner in a way similar to how they showed their mother.

Cats show their love in different ways. Affection can be shown by rubbing against us, head butts, and even kneading.

You will often find cats cuddling next to their owner and kneading. Kneading is a practice kittens do when they breastfeed.

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When cats knead, they are reminded of the comfort they had during nursing.

Because of all the care and affection from the cat owners, cats associate all that affection with a mother and naturally imprint it on us.

Not surprisingly, cats view their mothers as someone they are safe with. Cats also view their owners the same way, which can contribute to them viewing us as mother figures. Cats may not remember their birth mother, but they do remember their owners!

What is initial separation like between a kitten and its mother?

Even though cats don’t remember their mother, they shared a very close bond with their mother as kittens. When young kittens are adopted, it is a big adjustment for them to be away from their mother and previous environment.

If kittens are separated from their mother too soon, this can cause many problems. 

Kittens that are taken too early are likely to get sick because they weren’t able to get nutrients from their mothers’ milk. They may also have difficulty adjusting to their new home, which can cause behavioral problems.

However, even when kittens are separated at an acceptable age, it may still be difficult for the mother and the kitten.

It’s common for newly adopted kittens to go through separation anxiety. It’s crucial to deal with a kitten going through this with tact. This will allow him or her to adjust to this new lifestyle change.

The same goes for the mother cat. While she might not remember her kittens a few weeks later, it can be hard for some cats initially after the separation.

After adjusting, cats will be able to get over that sadness and bond with their owner.


It seems sad, but the reality is cats don’t remember their mother. They don’t remember because they don’t recognize other cats from their faces.

They use their sense of smell to determine if they remember another animal’s scent. It could be that your cat is familiar with its mother’s scent. 

This doesn’t mean a cat will remember their mom. It only means that the scent is something familiar to them, and they won’t be able to make the connection between that scent and their mother.

Other than that, cats actually have a good memory. They can remember certain things in their life if they leave a big impression on them. 

While cats don’t remember their mothers, they tend to view their owners as their moms. They treat owners similarly to the way they treat their birth mother.

Even though cats don’t remember their mother, it doesn’t mean they don’t feel upset when they are first separated. Cats aren’t emotionless; they are just different from humans, which is probably why we like them so much!

Cats aren’t emotionless