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Can cats recongnize family after being seperated?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
My cat's mother lives accross the street and her uncle live next door. She will tolerate her mother and really doesn't like her uncle. Does she tolerate her mother because she is a female, or because she know that she is her mother? She hasn't seen her mother in a while, but used to often. Can a cat recognize family?
post #2 of 12
If they have been completely separeated, with absolutely no contact for about a month or two, they will likely lose memory of each other as family members. But, if they continue to have sporadic contact, they will not lose that memory.
post #3 of 12
They not only recognize family under the condition that they see each other from time to time, but they also recognize humans they have been fond of, although they are likely to retain memories of the territories they once inhabited (down to the houses they once cadged food from).

I had a brother and sister, totally wild, who ate next door, but eventually came to eat at my house and slept anywhere they could find in the tool shed or on the big porch. I sometimes tried a small pat on their heads when they were eating, but that was all. After a year, the female (Tipper) wandered off and I saw her at various houses and bottom up in various dumsters in the neighborhood for years after. The male, however, decided after that year to stay with me, and, having made a clear choice to stay instead of following his sister, he gradually became a very sweet in-door cat. About 3 years later, he suddenly decided to go and wander with his sister, which he did for 2 years. Both cats, however, always ran up and rubbed my ankles when they happened to see me in the street.

Suddenly this winter, the male cat came in through the cat's window and reclaimed his place on one of the bookshelves and became, again, a house cat. He does not follow his sister anymore, but occasionally goes up to the fence to touch noses with her, and perhaps the rare times he disappears overnight are spent in her company.

I think that cats have instinctive priorities (finding a food source, a safe place to sleep, and a territory within which they can hunt without being in too much danger from dogs or people), and then different cats react differently to relationships. And that is what makes them much like people. Most you can take or leave, and you forget the names and even the faces after a few years if you don't keep the relationship alive. But most of us have a small number of cherished friends who we remember even if we have not been in touch for many years. There is some kind of chemistry that flows in good and lasting relationships. And my own observation says that it is the same with cats, and that researchers are wrong when they say that cats don't have long memories.

Catherine
post #4 of 12
Thread Starter 
So is it possible that she recognizes her mother. She hasn't seen her in about six to eight months, but did see her periodically before that. The mother always came over to my house on her own. My cat won't go out front of the house, but the other cat will come out.
post #5 of 12
So do an experiment -- reintroduce them, since they are just across the street from each other. Eight years is a long time, but I had cats who spent their first year with me and still come up to me in the street after six or seven years of living somewhere else. They rub against my legs and talk to me -- no doubt telling me all the news -- and then scamper off back to their new friends. Let us know if there is recognition after such a time. It would be interesting. Just remember to give them a little while to look each other over, and be there quietly to separate them if they suddenly decide that they don't know each other after all..... Catherine
post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 
I might just try that. I'll have to check and see with the owners first. I'll try to do that.
post #7 of 12
Cats are very smart, but their eyes(and what they see) are only a part of what is taken in by the brain to tell them what is going on around them.

Some cats, when put into an environment not known to them, will not recognize their owners- no matter how close they were, even 1 hour prior. That's why a cat when lost, might not run to you, when you call him. Many times they run in the other direction. And you might think, "the heck with you." But poor kitty is scared and has more to worry about than trying to figure out who you are, or what your intentions are.

Other cats might come right to you. There might be others things in play, that make them go your way. Like trust of all humans; it just happened to be lucky that it was you.

Each cat is different, and for different reasons they react in ways different than what we might expect- who knows, maybe some cats eyes are well developed and they do recognize their master. But most likely the other senses and the comfort zone plays into the outcome of most cat behaviors.

In their own environment, and in normal circumstances, they most likely know that you are their caretaker. That's why it's so important to watch cats closely, and assure they remain in their own safe worlds with you as their caretaker.

Remember cats don't have the same vision we do. They don't see us, like we see them. So keep them safe from danger...
post #8 of 12
Mother cats can know their babies(sometimes just by smell that they excreted on them, or via the milk they give them) and babies can learn who their mother is by the sounds mother makes, and smells and hormones produced. If the mother is still not fixed, she may still be making the mother call(different from the mating call). But also, the cats might be able to smell each other from a distance and know who each other is. They might even just remember, or feel, that the other is approachable. In life, everything is possible, even if they don't remember each as a family member, they might know or remember they are connected in some way.

My cats that I rescued 2 years ago, know exactly who there mother is when she comes around, and she knows them. If after a seperation out of the environment, and a chance meeting in the future occured, I'm not sure if they would remember each other as family. Just like us, I couldn't tell you who my daddy was for sure, until my mom told me who he was. So the same might be true in the wild, maybe they talk and we just aren't intelligent enough to know it.

As far as the uncle not being liked as much. Cats are like people, they are fickle. They simply might not like males, but females they like. Or vice-versa. All in all, we will never know anything for sure. Just be happy that they will live, loved by you...
post #9 of 12
Mother cats can know their babies(sometimes just by smell that they excreted on them, or via the milk they give them) and babies can learn who their mother is by the sounds mother makes, and smells and hormones produced. If the mother is still not fixed, she may still be making the mother call(different from the mating call). But also, the cats might be able to smell each other from a distance and know who each other is. They might even just remember, or feel, that the other is approachable. In life, everything is possible, even if they don't remember each as a family member, they might know or remember they are connected in some way.

My cats that I rescued 2 years ago, know exactly who there mother is when she comes around, and she knows them. If after a seperation out of the environment, and a chance meeting in the future occured, I'm not sure if they would remember each other as family. Just like us, I couldn't tell you who my daddy was for sure, until my mom told me who he was. So the same might be true in the wild, maybe they talk and we just aren't intelligent enough to know it.

As far as the uncle not being liked as much. Cats are like people, they are fickle. They simply might not like males, but females they like. Or vice-versa. All in all, we will never know anything for sure. Just be happy that they will live, loved by you...
post #10 of 12
I know when Funny Face shows up at our place on rare occassion she will hiss at her two children Stryker and Cleo and they will growl back. She has been gone from here for quite sometime now, and I believe that unless they have constant contact they will lose that identity factor that cats have. Plus, she is now living with another family and has picked up all new smells. So she just eats and goes home.

Even the latest rescues Taz and Squirrel are losing their touch with McKenzie. They ran into her at the barn the other day and treated her as a perfect stranger. So again, if they have contact every so often to keep the bonds alive, then they remember. But most feral moms will push their kittens away after they are grown.
post #11 of 12
Reuniting after seperation is entirely possible. Too much time might be painful on the memory.
post #12 of 12
I have lived in the country for 10 years, and in that time we have developed a number of cat matriarchs in our "barn" (feral) community. Generally in feral cat populations, the females will bond with each other, and I sense that they recongnize family lines. It is rare when a mother/son or brother/sister bond with each other over time, and when separated, a son will reject his mother or sister and vica versa. I have taken in a lot of male cats from our matriarch "Mom-cat", and none have recognized her even after a few weeks or months separation.

The females on the other hand, work together to raise litters, even going so far as nursing each other's kittens when one mother is out hunting and gathering for her brood. They will even bring mice back for each other's kittens. The females in the brood hang out together for years, and even when they wander off for periods of time (which is actually a regular occurance when you have all the open land like we do), when they come back, they are still close with their mothers/siblings.

So.....males ignore as they fight for territory. Females bond to protect their young.

My humble insights and opinion on the matter.
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