Do Cats Remember Their Mother?

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When I look down at my beautiful furbaby, I wonder about the things that go through his mind. It gets me thinking, does my cat remember his birth mother?

Does he miss her? Most cats are separated from their birth mother as a kitten.

From the minute they are born, kittens are being nurtured by their mother. All that grooming, feeding, and nurturing results in a close bond between a kitten and its mother.

Years later, when kittens are no longer kittens, do they remember their mother? It’s a question I need the answer to.

So, do cats remember their mother?  Unfortunately, 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 of the familiar scent to their mother.

Do Cats Remember Their Mother?

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

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

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 that they are meeting their 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 that the cat they are meeting is their mom.

Just because a cat is familiar with the scent of their mother doesn’t mean they will take to her. There are instances where cats don’t even get along with their mothers.

With new environments that a cat is met with growing up, they pick up many different scents. The likelihood that they will remember the scent of their mother that they have only smelt as a kitten, is very slim.

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?

do cat mothers remember their kittens

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

This is a valid question since it may be hard for a kitten to remember their mother when separated at such a young age. However, a mother cat is an adult so it leaves one to assume that she will remember all she did for her kittens. 

A mother’s bond with their child is a strong one filled with love and affection. Cat mothers are no different.

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They spend lots of time caring for their litter by grooming, feeding, and teaching them how to survive! It seems hard to think that a mother cat that has done that much for her kittens will forget them.

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 forget their kittens shortly after being separated. Once a kitten leaves and is no longer with their mother, they pick up new scents.

The new scents make it very hard 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 their own mother, what do they 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 that food will be available. Have you ever noticed when going to feed your cat that he or she was already on the mat, waiting?

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. You might even see a cat that was abused be afraid of people that are similar to their abuser.

For example, if a cat was abused by a man, they might not be trusting of other men. 

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 leave a lasting impression on a feline!

Cats can remember people that 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 that we are their mother. Cats don’t actually think we are their birth mother however, they typically treat their owners similar to that of their mother.

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

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

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

Because of all the care and affection that cat owners give to their cats, they associate all that affection to that of a mother. 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 Their Mother?

Even though cats don’t remember their mother, as kittens, they have a very close bond with their mother. 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 mother milk. They may have difficulty adjusting to their new home and 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 important that dealing with a kitten that is going through this with tact to allow him or her to adjust to this new lifestyle change.

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

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


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

They use their sense of smell to figure out if they remember the scent of another animal. It could be that your cat is familiar with the scent of their mother. 

This doesn’t mean that 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 to that scent and their mother.

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

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

Even though cats don’t remember their mother, it doesn’t mean that 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