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Welcome, Crazy Cat People!
So the time has come where you must leave your cat at home alone. You may be going away for a few days or going on vacation, wherever you are going this can be a time of stress for both humans and felines alike.
We know that we are going to have to leave our little fur babies and we often wonder if our cat misses us when we’re gone or are they glad of the break?
In this post, we discuss the behaviour of cats and their feelings. I did some of my own research to answer your questions.
In general, the behaviour of a cat when its owner is away from home shows that most cats do miss their owners. When you return home your cat may show signs of affection towards you and be clingy however, some cats may show signs of agitation and stress which could be an indicator of separation anxiety.
So there are a lot of signs to look out for to know if your cat has truly missed you.
Remember that cats are extremely routined animals who gain comfort, security and safety from knowing when they will be fed and that all their needs are met.
When we go away for a few days their routine is totally changed so they may miss you being around and also worry that they may not be getting their next meal. You are the centre of their little universe, always remember that, so of course, they will miss you!
Please stick around for the rest of this post as we will look into more detail regarding cats feelings, their memory and also some Need to Know Tips if you are ever in the unfortunate position of having to re-home your cat.
Do cats miss their owners? – An in depth look
There is a major misconception about cats and that is that they are completely independent creatures and very solo animals.
This may be the case for wild cats who are historically solo hunters and spend a lot of time in solitude but what we have to remember is that cats have been domesticated animals for nearly 10,000 years now.
In this time they have got used to the companionship of humans and they have become reliant on humans to meet their basic physiological needs of food, water and play especially if they are indoor cats.
So why would cats not miss their owners or the things that we provide for them and the love and care that we give?
When it comes to the research about cats missing their humans the opinions are very divided.
This 2015 study from the University of Lincoln says that cats don’t miss their owners the same way as dogs do because of their independent nature and their lack of need for security from humans.
While this research and study published in the journal of current biology showed that cats form attachments to their owners that are similar to those that dogs and even babies form with their caregivers.
The way I see it is if cats form attachments to us humans then they must miss us if we are away, what we have to remember though is cats are very much like humans. Their personalities vary and some cats may well be more self-sufficient and independent than others and some cats a little needier!
With cats, their body language can often be harder to read than canines and fellow humans so we don’t always know how they may be feeling moment to moment, this is one of the reasons I have always loved cats. They are mysterious creatures!
My cats behave very differently when I return home from being away!
Lenny, my little boy is normally the first to come over to me for cuddles and he is ALWAYS straight at the food bowl when I return even if he has been fed a lot that day by my cat sitter.
Isis however is a totally different ball game, she is often really annoyed with me and will sniff me but look quite angry when I go to stroke her, not always the greeting you want as a pet owner! After her initial disgust and anger the next day like clockwork she is following me everywhere I go, even to the toilet!
So I decided to do a little poll on good old Facebook and ask people in a popular cat group how their cats reacted when they had been away from home.
Question: When you have been home for a few days and you get back is your cat?
A) Really Clingy for a few days and glad to see you
B) In a mood with you for going away
C) Act no different from what they normally do
18 people responded and below are the results!
|Really Clingy / Glad to see you||In a mood because you went away||Act no different than normal|
So the results of my poll show that 55% of people said their cat was glad to see them and extra clingy for a few days, while 28% said their cat was not happy and in a mood!
What does this type of reaction show us?
Well, in my opinion, it shows us that cats do genuinely miss their humans otherwise why would the majority of cats act this way and only 17% act no differently upon their owner’s arrival?
Seperation anxiety in cats
Some cats may miss their humans that much that they experience what is known as separation anxiety.
This can occur while you are on vacation and also while you go out for the day to work, separation anxiety occurs in a number of felines but is common in cats who are orphaned and taken away from their mother too early.
Signs to look out for
- Vomitting frequently
- Trying to escape the home
- Destructive behaviur
- Not using the litter box but instead using the carpet
- Excessive grooming
- Not eating or eating very fast
- Excessive meowing and crying
It is very important if you see changes like this in your cat’s behaviour to consult a vet to rule out any other health problems!
One little suggestion is pheromone plugins, these plugins release synthetic hormones similar to the hormones cats release through their scent gland to mark their territory, they help to really calm your cats right down and relax them!
If your cat is urinating outside the litter box, then ALWAYS see a qualified vet!
I can’t stress how important this is, urine on the carpets can be so smelly and soul-destroying! Live Pee free sell a range of products that really work to get rid of odours – 8.3X more effective than the leading enzyme brands and 10X more effective than fragrance & detergent products.
Do cats miss their owners when rehomed?
In general, cats do tend to miss their owners and their previous homes. Cats may miss their owner’s scent, their familiar routine and the love and care given to them by their previous owner. A new environment can be highly stressful for cats and it can take a while to adapt to their new surroundings.
I know this may not be what you are wanting to hear if you are in a situation where for whatever reason you need to re-home your kitten or cat but as we found out above cats do miss their owners when they are gone.
To add to that the stress of moving into a new home with all the changes your cat will have to get used to then understandably your cat may not be in the best of moods!
I know it is very hard to let your cat go and I personally know how you feel.
I once had a cat called Jake, he was a beautiful little boy, pure black fur and he was a really cheeky little chap. One of his little quirks was if I forgot to feed him on time he would jump up at me and give me a little nibble on the arm.
At the time I lived with a friend in a bedsit accommodation, we had a 5-mile country park at the back of us and this was Jakes territory!
He absolutely loved it and was a typical outdoor tomcat who regularly brought back ”presents”, finding half dead frogs on the carpet was a regular occurrence.
Unfortunately, my friend passed away and I had to move into a new home which was an apartment 15 stories high in a tower block!
I couldn’t take Jake with me which was heartbreaking and I left him with a new responsible owner who I knew would take care of him. Luckily this lady had other cats who Jake already knew and she lived two doors down from where we had once lived.
So he still had access to the country park!
It still breaks my heart to this day and I often wonder how much he has grown and what he is like as a fully adult cat and if he misses me as much as I miss him.
What if your cat is moving to a totally different area not familiar to them?
At first, your cat may look around for you in their new home which is understandable. Cats can form extremely tight bonds with their previous owners and an adjustment period will be needed before they settle in.
One thing to make sure is that the home your cat is going to is one where they will be cared for, loved and have all their needs met. It also needs to be a good match for your cat.
Do they have children and is your cat used to being around children?
Have they cared for cats before in the past?
Are there other pets around such as dogs that your cat may not be used to?
Are they good cats owners and do they have other cats and will this pose a problem for your cat?
Tips for cat re-homing
- Supervised visits to the new home – You may wish to visit the new home with your cat and let them explore while you are thier on a couple of occasions to help them get used to the new environment
- Take home a towel or item of used clothing from the new home – The item of clothing or towel will contain scent from the new home and this can be left with the cat at your house so they get used to new smells before their departure.
- Advise new cat owners on the type of food they like – Also advise the new owners of your cats feeding schedule to make sure they are fed at the right times. If this is not possible then it is a good idea to adjust your cats routine and type of food prior to the move.
- Use pheromone plugins at the new home – These plug-ins produce synthetic hormones that signal a cat to relax and calm down, making the transition easier for your cat.
- Make sure you send toys and unwashed cat beds to the new home – this is important as the familiar smells will comfort your cat while she adjusts.
- Make sure your cat is kept to one room for a few days in the new home – A small room with their toys and plenty of food and water is required for a few days until your cat can explore the rest of their new home to reduce stress and to settle them in slowly.
Now your cat is re-homed it is time to focus on caring for yourself!
It is going to be hard and there will be times when you may burst out crying. Be easy on yourself, you had your reasons for needing to give your cat away to a new home.
Remember that you are grieving the loss of your cat with who you formed a strong bond so allow yourself time.
I am sure if they have gone to a good home that they will be looked after well and you may even be sent some regular pictures of your cat to see their progress.
How to keep my cat happy while I am away from home
We all have commitments and at times we all need to be away from home. Whether it’s a long day at work or maybe we need to travel across the country to see friends and family.
Longer trips away will require either a cat sitter to come in, a friend who lives local to the area or a trip to the local cattery.
Personally, I would recommend if possible keeping your cat in their familiar surroundings so as to cause as little stress as possible. Taking your cat into a place where they do not know anyone with lots of new smells can cause them to be very stressed and if you know they are stressed how are you supposed to enjoy your vacation?
Sometimes you have no choice but to take your cat to a shelter while you are away especially if your cat has special medical needs but generally a cat sitter who they are familiar with works best.
I love my cat sitter, she even sends me lots of photos every day while I am away and she spends an hour or so playing with my cats too.
These are the qualities you must seek out from your regular cat sitter, someone professional, reliable and trustworthy! A fellow crazy cat person is always the best option!
What if you are just going to work for the day and you want to make sure your cat is entertained and not bored?
The first thing I always advise fellow cat people to do is if they can afford it, get another cat.
Sometimes it can be hard introducing two cats to each other but it is worth it because they will keep each other company if you are out of the house for a long time. Please make sure that you have the time and money to look after two cats before taking any other fur babies on board!
A lot of people don’t realise the cost of keeping a cat, an article you may find interesting on my blog is called ”How much does it cost to look after a cat (the real truth)” – I look at everything cat related and how much it costs per month and annum! It is worth a read.
Also making sure there are plenty of toys around is always a good idea, try to rotate their toys on a frequent basis so they do not get bored.
There are so many interesting ways you can keep your cat entertained and some of them you may have never thought of!
If you haven’t already you must check out my article ”13 Fun ways to keep cats entertained for hours” – for some super cool tips including how to Skype your cat! Whoever thought that one day we would be able to say hello to our little bundles of joy while we’re working away at the office!
How long do cats remember a person?
Cats have a short term memory of up to 16 hours which means they will remember you for this amount of time if they meet you just once, they are also more likely to remember you if they interact with you. Their long term memory is not as easily accessible but they can use it if required and when needed.
It is super difficult to say how long cats can remember people by using their long term memory.
According to this article by modkat, a cat’s long term memory may last up to 200 times longer than dogs!
Now that is fascinating!
There are so many stories out there of cats remembering their owners after an extended time away such as a cat called Kunkush who was separated from his family in Greece. His family were eventually located and they did a Skype call and the cat was looking around desperately trying to find his beloved family behind the laptop!
Watch the full heartbreaking true story in the video below by Random house kids on Youtube!
So what conclusions have you come to after reading my article?
From the studies that I have done the only conclusion that I can come to is that cats have feelings just like us humans. Cats have the ability to feel happy, they get depressed and they can get moody so why on earth would they not also miss their humans who shower them with love and affection on a daily basis.
The fact that they have such a good long term memory suggests to me that cats also have feelings and will miss you when you go away and they certainly won’t forget you.
Make sure Kitty has lots to do when you go out, lots of cool toys to play with and in my opinion, two cats are better than one but that is a decision that you must make yourself!
As always look after yourself and look after your little fur babies too.
Mark (The crazy cat man)