Rehoming a pet cat isn’t an easy decision. Many pet owners are left with no choice but to give their cats away to those who can give them a better life. With the deep bond you have with the cat, you will surely wonder: will my cat miss me when I give him away? Below, I discussed the truth.
Do cats miss their former owners when rehomed?
Yes, cats will miss their previous owners when they are given away. This is especially true if you and your cat had been together for years and have formed a strong bond.
Cats are beings of habit, so a sudden change will stress them out. And when cats are stressed, they seek comfort beside their owners.
Giving the kitty away is stressful for the animal itself. And when you’re not around to alleviate that stress, your cat will miss you. This is what happens when you give your pet away.
Many cats that have been rehomed will escape to track their previous owners. This is the reason why many rehomed cats get lost after running away. If your cat’s new home is not far from yours, don’t be surprised if the kitty will pop at your doorstep.
This is because your cat misses its old schedule and environment. They also long for your scent and presence.
What science has to say
On the scientific aspect, experts are divided as to whether cats miss their owners or not. Some support the idea that cats experience separation anxiety from their owners while others don’t.
However, each cat is different, and so is their response to being given away. Some cats will have a strong bond with their owners but act normal when rehomed. This is because the cat is used to its owner going away and coming back each time.
In a study conducted by the University of Lincoln, researchers concluded that domesticated felines don’t consider their owners as the only source of protection.
The study headed by Professor Daniel Mills concluded that the bond between a cat and its owner isn’t as secure as with dogs. Among the cats and owners they’ve studied, no substantial sign of strong attachment was seen.
On the other hand, cats with an insecure attachment to their owners will likely be more stressed when given away. Insecure attachment occurs when the kitty is afraid of losing sight of its owner. (Learn more here why does my cat want me to watch her eat)
When given away, cats with insecure attachments will show signs of severe sadness. Accidents will also occur even if the kitty is litter trained.
This is somehow supported by a study published in Current Biology. The researchers found that cats form strong attachments to their owners, almost similar to those of dogs. They used the strange situation tests commonly performed on parents and their infants.
During the study, cats show both secure and insecure attachments. This is potentially the same reason why cats will have varying reactions when they are given away. Some will appear to miss their owners while others will be more relaxed.
Will my cat run away from its new home if it misses me?
Running away can be due to a lot of things, but it’s highly observed on rehomed cats. If you’ve given away your cat, it will run away from its new home because of the following:
- It misses you. Your cat seeks your presence because of the bond you formed.
- Discomfort. If your cat’s new home has some kind of discomfort, it will run away to find its old home. Such discomforts can be sounds, smell, and the presence of other pets. please read here what smell does cat hates the most
- Territorial issues. Cats are territorial, so running away may not be about missing you, but more of longing for its old territory.
Take note that visiting or letting the cat find you isn’t going to help it adjust to the new home. If you’re planning to give away your cat, make sure that your decision is final. You should avoid having physical contact with the kitty because it will sabotage the new home’s adjustment process.
How long does it take for a cat to forget its owner?
According to studies, cats have a short-term memory of 16 hours. For example, if you met a cat for the first time, it will forget about the interaction in less than a day.
In the case of well-bonded cats and owners, it’s not easy to determine how long a cat can remember its old owners. Dogs are known to remember their owners even after years of not seeing each other. However, this is a different case with felines.
A kitty’s long-term memory can last anywhere from a month to a few years based on cat owners’ accounts. You can give your cat away today, and it can totally forget about you in two months. However, there are some felines that can still recognize the scent of their previous owners even after a year.
Take note that the length of a cat’s memory is dependent on how impactful a specific person or event was. Most of the time, cats remember abusive owners longer than caring ones due to the pain and suffering they’ve gone through.
What is the best way to give a cat away?
If you’re planning to give up your cat, it’s best to bring it to a local shelter or a rescue organization. Trying to rehome the kitty on your own has lower success rates than going through proper pet adoption. Please also read How old do you have to be to adopt a cat
Rescues and shelters often perform home visits to potential adopters. This is to ensure that they are fit to bring the cat home. It ensures that your cat will go to a loving family.
Aside from that, the shelter and rescue staff can advise you about the process. It will give you peace of mind and reduce the stress to your pet.
By choosing a local shelter, you’ll be saved from the hassle of screening adopters on your own.
What do you do with a cat you don’t want?
First of all, you should never get a cat if you’re not ready to commit. Never buy or adopt a cat just because you find them cute. Over time, this fondness will fade, and you’ll end up disliking the animal. (learn here how old do you have to be to adopt a cat)
If the cat isn’t a perfect match for you, there are various options you can explore. The most practical is surrendering the kitty to a local shelter. If you purchased the cat, you can contact the breeder and discuss the possibility of sending the kitty back.
Whatever option you’re going to choose, make sure that it’s in the best interest of the cat. Never ever abandon the cat on the streets or, worse, throw it away. I once have a friend who worked on a recycling center, and they once found a cat placed inside a sack together with collected garbage. This is irresponsible and inhumane.
Do cats remember where they live?
Cats have a fairly excellent long-term memory so that they can track down their old homes. They also have a keen sense of smell that they use to trace their way back.
Remember that cats love roaming, with some having a vast territory. They mark their tracks so they can go back without getting lost. This is rooted in the wild cousins of domestic cats that travel long distances to hunt for food.
However, if the cat is given away to a distant place, it will be impossible for it to remember its home for long.
Will my cat miss me when I give him away? There are divided opinions about how cats form emotional attachments to their owners. Despite that, one thing is for sure: rehoming will be stressful for your kitty. It may try to find you for comfort since you’ve been its caregiver for some time. With a careful adjustment period, your cat will slowly accept its new environment and new owner.