close up of a ginger tabby licking a grey tabby

Do Cats Remember Their Siblings After Being Separated?

Do cats remember their siblings or mothers after being separated early in life? What about their owners? Do they recognize their owners after being seperated? The short answer is that they do. Read on to learn more…

Cat owners spend a lot of time looking at the things their cats do on a daily basis. Sometimes, cats might appear to dream – and some days they might appear to be more lost in thought than they would normally be. 

It leads cat owners to have a lot of questions about what might be going on in the minds of their pets.

The question at the top is one of the most common questions that cat owners might have when they see their cats dream, or when they introduce a new kitten to their household.

Cats who have been taken away from their mother or siblings too early might show signs of stress throughout their life. That is why it is not recommended to rehome cats too early in their lives. 

Wondering about how cats remember their early memories and fur family later on?

Most cat owners do!

Here’s what pet owners should know about the relationship between cats, their feline relatives, and how they remember them.

Do Cats Remember Their Siblings Or Mother? 

Yes, and yes.

That’s the short answer.

Cats will remember their siblings and mother throughout their lives. Memories from their early life will stick around, and many cats will remain attracted to (or even afraid of) some things they encountered in the first few weeks of their lives – like smells, fabrics, or sounds.

A cat’s siblings and mother are ingrained in their long-term memory. 

a mother cat lying down on a fluffy blanket with two very young kittens

Owners might even notice that cats can recognize each other (and their owners) even if they have spent time apart for several years.

How Long Will Cats Remember Their Siblings Or Mother For?

There is theoretically no limit to how long a cat’s long-term memory will last.

Cats can (and will) remember their family for years. Even if cats have been rehomed, they might still have memories of their families and owners when they move on.

It’s common for cats to experience stress or trauma when they have been moved to other homes. This is why it’s recommended for cat owners to never separate a mother and her kittens too early on.

Usually, older cats will adapt to new environments over time.

When Should Kittens Be Separated From Their Mother? 

Kittens should never be separated from their mothers or families while they are still in the early nursing stages. Usually, mother cats will reject the attention of their kittens after a few weeks (about six to eight) – and this is the natural point at which they become easier to separate without serious traumatic effects.

If kittens are separated from their mother too early, it can lead to trauma and self-soothing behavior displayed by the cats for the remainder of their lives. 

When cats are separated from their families too early, they might have a lifelong need for comfort and prefer to stay closer to their human owners regardless of what type of breed they might be. 

orange tabby kitten been clasped to woman's chest

Do Cats Remember Their Owners?

Cats remember many things, including their owners, in just the same way that they might remember their mothers or siblings.

A cat can remember its owner years after they have last seen one another.

There are many inspirational stories of owners being recognized by their cats after a long separation. It doesn’t matter whether months, weeks, or years might have passed – a cat’s memory of their families or owners doesn’t fade away.

Do Cats Have Names For Other Cats Or Their Owners?

Research done on the topic shows that cats develop individual names for their kittens (and often for their owners). Listen carefully when your cats are vocalizing and you are likely to notice small variations in their tone depending on whom they might be referring to.

While experts aren’t sure how to decode everything cats say just yet, we know enough to say that cats definitely have names for others! 

Will Cats Recognize Their Owners, Siblings, Or Mothers Later?


Even after a long-term separation that might last for years, cats recognize those they have bonded with when they were smaller.

This recognition will last for life. 

Cats might experience flashbacks to earlier memories, too.

Do Cats Have Dreams? 

a tabby cat sleeping on a radiator

For cats, sleep occurs in several different stages just like it does for humans. Cats dream just like most other mammals during their sleep cycle (even though the majority of cats sleep during the day instead of at night).

What do cats dream about? 

Sometimes they might dream about the hunt (as is obvious when they bite or run in their sleep), although we have enough reason to believe that cats might also dream about their earlier memories of family and owners, too.

While we’re talking about it, cats can also have nightmares. See a vet if you suspect that your cat is having bad dreams – a professional can recommend which adaptations or treatments could lessen the stress on your pet.

Will Cats Miss Their Siblings Or Mothers? 

Cats can experience longing or loss just like most other mammals do. A cat might miss its owners, siblings, or mother if their separation has been recent (or if their separation was traumatic at the time).

Stress relief is key for cats who are going through a difficult time. 

Pet owners who notice their pets are showing signs of stress should be sure to give plenty of attention and time to the cat in question. From there, it’s also advised that you take your cat to a vet for their recommendation.

Do Cats Experience Separation Anxiety? 

Cats might experience separation anxiety if they have been split from their owners (or fur-families) for more than a few hours to weeks at a time. If the separation is permanent, separation anxiety might last for a couple of days to weeks while they settle into another environment.

With enough time and love, cats can usually learn to adapt or deal with separation anxiety better. See a vet if you are not sure how to help your cat deal with their anxiety.

Pair Of Calico Cats Grooming Each Other

Do Cats Experience Sadness Or Depression?

Should your cat experience signs of severe emotional stress, it might indicate depression. Depression can be a long-term condition that might require a vet’s intervention to help.

Do Cats Experience Conditions Like Dementia? 

Dementia is a condition that causes the degeneration of brain cells and often affects memory. If it appears like your cat is having trouble recognizing things or people that they should be used to, it can be a sign of early dementia onset. 

See a vet. Cats can experience conditions like dementia at any point in their lives, and an early diagnosis is a key to taking the best care of their health if this is the case. 

When Should I See A Vet?

Responsible cat owners should always know the contact number for the closest vet and at least one backup (if the original vet is unavailable or cannot be reached). It’s just a general good idea to stay in touch with your vet.

See a vet at least once every six months, and anywhere you suspect that there might be a health issue (either mental or physical) with your pet.