Do Cats Remember&Miss Their Parents/Siblings/Kittens?(Not Quite)

Mother and their kittens are very sweet together when they are nesting just after birth. But, what happens after they are separated? Will the cats miss each other and is there any chance of them recognizing each other if reunited?

Do Cats Remember Their Kittens after being separated

There is no doubt that mother cats can be very attentive and protective when taking care of their young. During those crucial first weeks of their life, she will have them grow and develop, teaching them as much as she can to help them survive. This all stems from natural instincts in wild cats, and you see a lot of similar behaviors in big cats like lionesses. There is, therefore, the assumption that there s a very strong bond between mother and kitten that cannot be broken, even through times of separation. However, this isn’t the case as mother cats will easily forget their kittens when separated. Cats rely on the scent of smell a lot, so when her kitten doesn’t have a familiar scent, the mother cat won’t remember the kitten as her own. 

Do Cats Recognize Their Kittens After Being Separated

This reason for this lack of recognition comes down to the importance of scent in a cat’s world. Cats leave their scent on everything and everyone to send messages. Cats will, therefore, recognize their kittens by scent. When the familiar smell goes away, so does the recognition.

The next most important sense is hearing. Mother cats will recognize the specific sound made when their kitten mews at them. She has that instinct to run towards any sound of distress.

You may have seen this sort of close bond continue with cats that grow up in the same household, adult females can still remain close with their attentive mothers. So, this only strengthens the idea that a mother cat would continue to recognize and show affection to their kittens if separated. However, mother cats will struggle to recognize their kitten when they are grown up because they don’t have the same smell or the same call.

This also highlights how unimportant visual recognition is to mother cats. The kitten may look pretty much the same, especially if they have any distinctive marking. But, this won’t be enough to trigger that memory in the parent cat.

How Long Does It Take For a Mother Cat to Forget Her Kittens

Sadly, it doesn’t take long for this to happen. Once you separate the cat from her kittens, it might take her a few days to get used to it, but that’s about it. Then your cat will forget the kittens and get back to her normal life. After all, it is her main mission to wean her kittens and let them go. Breeders could remove a cat from its mother, give it to a new home, and then reunite them in two weeks with no recognition. The new smells are enough for them to seem like strangers. Therefore, once you take a kitten away from a mother, there is no going back.

Do Cats Get Sad When Separated From Kittens

This can be stressful at first for both the mother and the babies and they can miss them for a short period. It isn’t uncommon to see mother cats searching for their kittens to see if they are nearby. They won’t understand where they have gone. Similarly, kittens may be distressed not to have their parent come to them when they call. This will ease if they have a new caregiver in a loving home. But, new owners should be prepared for a little adjustment period where the kitten seems a little distressed or off its food.

Also, it doesn’t take long for the mother to go back to her old self. It is important to remember that in the wild, they would encourage the kittens to leave and start their own lives, before meeting up with a male again and having another litter. Females might stay close and form family bonds, but it isn’t a guarantee. Male kittens will be long gone.

Do Cats Get Sad When Separated From Siblings

The situation is similar for kittens taken from their mothers and littermates. There is no way for a kitten to maintain that recognition of the other animals it shared that nest with. You could introduce them to their brothers or sisters later on and not get much of a response. If they become close or are immediately tolerant of each other, family ties will have little to do with it. Siblings that are raised together can go on to have strong ties because that initial bond isn’t broken. Cats can mourn the losses of those that they remain close to across their lives, but they aren’t going to miss their parents or siblings.

Do Cats Get Sad When Separated

There is also the risk that cats will become sad when separated from those they live with continuously. If you chose to raise siblings together, and then one is taken ill, your other cat could become stressed out and start to miss their sibling. When the cat returns, they should recognize each other easily because of their smell, although there may be some initial caution if something isn’t quite right.

Can Male Cats Recognize Their Own Kittens

Things get more complicated when it comes to the father of the kittens. There is a good chance that a male will encounter his kittens and have no idea that they are his. They may have mated with the female and had nothing more to do with them. Or, you may have a male and female in the same household with an intention to breed them. In the first instance, with outside or feral cats, the litter of kittens could all have different fathers. Even then, there is no guarantee that a ginger male will father a ginger kitten, so visual recognition isn’t going to play any major role here.

Can Cats Miss Their Owners?

Finally, what about us? will cats miss us if we aren’t around? There may be some unnoticed separation anxiety from cats that get attached to their owners. They are less vocal and destructive than dogs so it goes unnoticed.


In short, cats can get very attached to the cats and people in their lives on a more permanent basis. You will often see mothers and daughters or siblings with strong bonds in adulthood. But, cats won’t remember each other when separated after birth.