Do Cats Know When They Are Abandoned?(Yes, Indeed)

Abandonment in cats is all too common and a difficult subject for a lot of owners. While it is often the last resort, owners don’t always appreciate the impact abandonment can have on a cat.

Do cats know when they are abandoned? Cats seem pretty independent, yet there is a good chance your cat will feel their abandonment deeply on an emotional and physical level. Consider surrendering your cat to the shelter instead or try to find them a new owner. It will be easier for the cat to forget being abandoned in a safe loving environment.

Therefore, it is essential that cat owners take the time to understand the implications of abandonment on a cat. Are cats aware of what is happening? Also, how will abandonment affect them physically and emotionally?

Do Cats Know When They Are Abandoned?

Cat’s will know when they are abandoned and some will feel it very deeply. This could lead to great distress and even depression. Some abandoned cats will struggle on their own without help. Many will return to the family home, confused about their owner’s absence. This is why abandonment should never happen when there are so many other options for surrender. So, what is abandonment and how could it affect a cat?

When Is A Cat Considered Abandoned?

A cat is abandoned when it is left to fend for itself, such as out on the streets or in the countryside. This often happens when owners are no longer able to take care of an animal, or if they unexpectedly end up with a litter of kittens. Then there are cats deliberately left behind at properties when owners move away. Passers-by and rescuers may come across these cats in boxes or wandering around on their own. But, that doesn’t mean that any cat roaming the streets is abandoned. So, you need to be careful before claiming a “street cat” as your own.

You may find a cat out in your neighborhood night after night, perhaps even visiting your garden. If they appear to be malnourished or distressed, this could be a sign that they are struggling due to abandonment. If not, they may simply be outdoor cats with your yard as part of their territory.

If you ever take in a cat and consider adopting it, you need to be sure that there isn’t an owner out looking for it. Put posters up in the area, share images on social media, and go to the vet to check for a microchip.

Is It Bad To Abandon A Cat?

Yes. There is no reason to abandon a cat to fend for itself alone when there are so many other options available. Abandoning a cat and surrendering a cat is not the same thing. Surrendering a cat means that you appreciate that you can’t give your pet the care they deserve and will give them to someone that can. This could mean giving them to family or friends with space and financial resources to cope. It could also mean giving them to a shelter.

Unfortunately, some people feel such guilt and stigma about rehoming a cat this way that they might abandon them instead. There is also a misconception sometimes that surrendering a cat is too expensive. If you need to rehome a cat but are worried about costs, check out our other guide on surrendering a cat for free.

What Happens When A Cat Is Abandoned?

This is why abandoning a cat is such a bad idea. You could leave them alone and never know what becomes of them. In an ideal world, some kind soul may find them, take them in, and give them a second chance. But, that isn’t a guarantee if the cat lies low and doesn’t go searching for help. There is also the chance that the cat will try and find a way to get home. The consequences of this action are so uncertain that it doesn’t make any sense for you or the cat when you could be sure of putting them in a secure home with a smooth transition.

Do Abandoned Cats Miss Their Owners?

Outdoor cats could try and find familiar places and seek their owners out. This is common when cats are left at their homes when owners move away. They stick around in the hope that their family will return. Abandonment issues are a big deal for cats that have strong bonds with their families and some even get sad if you go away on holiday. So, abandonment can be devastating.

Do Cats Feel Abandoned When You Give Them Away?

There is still the risk that cats will feel similar feelings of abandonment and grief when they end up in a new home due to surrender. They could show signs of stress or depression for a while as they get used to their new situation. This is lessened in homes with familiar faces or where previous owners can visit. Either way, this is much easier to deal with in a loving home with veterinary support than if a cat is left completely on its own.

Can An Abandoned Cat Survive?

With so much physical and emotional distress to deal with, it is no surprise that some abandoned cats die. Their chances depend on the cat and its previous experience. There are some cats that will be able to manage on their own. These are more likely to be the outdoor cats that have a better idea of how to handle terrain and weather conditions.

These cats may also be better equipped to hunt and feed themselves. A will to survive, the right skills, and an independent streak could pay off. However, indoor cats that lack these skills or any knowledge of the world beyond their home won’t make it without human intervention. They could struggle to get enough food and may not be street smart enough to handle the traffic.


In short, there is a good chance that the cat will feel their abandonment deeply on an emotional and physical level. They could stay around an empty home and remain distressed by their owner’s absence for a long time. Those without the skills to survive could perish. This is why it is so important to surrender a cat to a loving home for a second chance if you can’t continue to keep them.