Will My Cat Forget Me When I Go To College? (This Will Surprise You)

cat forget me when i go to college

Leaving for college can be an exciting time for many young adults. It is time for meeting new friends, partying, getting away from naggy parents and of course learning new things.

There is one thing that can make leaving for college very difficult and that would be missing your cat while you’re away. But will your cat really forget you when you go off to college?

Although cats might seem aloof in nature, they are very capable of forming a strong bond with their owners. One important thing to know is that cats remember their owners mainly via smell and sound. So it would be beneficial to renew these triggers regularly.

In this article, we will be sharing more about the workings of a cat’s memory and how to keep the bond alive when you are away at college.

How Does Your Cat Remember Things Or People?

Every now and then in the news, you would read about a cat that has gone missing for years but only to show up at the owner’s doorstep one day.

It is news like this which makes me wonder if cats have an elephant’s memory or are these stories as rare as a unicorn.

Let us dig a little deeper.

Short Term Memory

A cat’s memory span can be categorized into two segments, short term memory and long term memory.

Short-term memory in cats would be similar to us trying to remember the name or phone number of someone new that we just met. Think of working memory as the RAM in your computer where it stores random stuff temporarily.

Cats use their short-term memory to solve problems and has an average memory span of 10-24 hours. Cats will use this memory to remember where to find prey, how to get to a particular part of your house or where the litter box is.

Prolonged usage of this memory will cement what they are trying to remember which can then transform into a long term memory for the cat.

Long Term Memory

The long term memory of a cat is similar to that of a computer’s hard drive whereby the memory can be accessed at will.

Long term memories can be formed when the cat is just a kitten and when the cat associates something good or bad with the memory.

This is how some cats can suffer from post traumatic stress disorder because of something bad or negative which happened to them many years ago. This could be due to previous owners who were abusive or the cat getting involved in an accident with a car or lawnmower.

Your cat’s associative and selective memory isn’t always bad.

Your cat is capable of associating feel-good emotions towards the family members who have been treating it well over the years.

How Do Cats Remember Their Cat Owners?

how cats rememeber their owners

I’ve heard some funny comments about cat owners who claim that their cats won’t even know if they’re dead. I guess that has always been in line with how the media has portrayed cats as compared to other animals like man’s best friend.

However, I’m sure many cat owners can also attest to the fact that they find their cats waiting at the door and acting all affectionate after a period of absence.

Cats don’t remember us like the way we remember things which is predominantly by sight. Cats tend to remember people or objects by the sound it makes and how it smells.

To a cat, its surrounding is a smorgasbord of odors for its keen sense of smell. Cats remember places and people by rubbing their own scent on them and also by collecting scent profiles. This is how cats remember their siblings in a litter which is by exchanging scents on a regular basis.

That is why cats enjoy rubbing themselves on people and things with their faces and paws. They have scent glands all over their bodies which enables them to mark their scent wherever they go.

Cats also have one of the best sense of hearing in the animal kingdom which allows them to hear a wide frequency range. It is said that our cats can even recognize the footsteps of the people they live with.

Don’t be surprised to also know that cats are capable of forming strong bonds with their owners. As a cat owner myself, I know somewhere in my cat, he does love me as a:

  • Butler
  • Toilet cleaner
  • Personal groomer
  • Manicurist
  • Massuer

I’m sure many other cat owners would rather have this than have their cats forget about them. Our cats not only see us as a provider but as a source of comfort and security.

Awww…that’s sweet.

Will My Cats Still Love Me When I Leave For College?

Rest assured that you can leave for college in peace knowing that your cat will still love you when you are back home to visit.

If you have always been showing your cat love and caring for it, there is no doubt that your cat will remember who you are based on its long-term memory.

Its short term memory might struggle to place you when you meet again but you will be as familiar as its favorite napping spot once its long term memory kicks in.

Here is proof that cats can still remember their owners after a long period of absence.

What Can I Do To Help My Cat Remember Me?

Even though the chances of your cat remembering you are high, there are certain things that you can do to cement your memory in your cat’s fickle mind.

Out Of Smell Out Of Mind

Cats are good at recognizing people from the way we smell. It might be difficult for humans to grasp this concept but if you have a nose like a cat, names are no longer necessary.

Your cat will be able to still pick up your smell at home while you are away but your smell at home will start to fade after some time.

You can mail home a used t-shirt and let your cat use it as a bed. This allows your cat to refresh your scent profile in its mind. Make sure to do this once every few weeks just to keep things ‘fresh’.

Get In Front Of Your Cat Digitally

You might not be able to give your cat personal human interaction but that doesn’t mean you still can’t meet your cat digitally.

Schedule a video call with your cat just to let it hear your voice and see you. This helps to cement in your cat’s mind that you still exist. Doing so also helps with separation anxiety if your cat has always been very close to you.

My cat will come over and rub its head on the phone whenever I’m on a call with grandma. He recognizes granny’s voice and is trying to show affection by rubbing his face on ‘her’ via the phone.

Should I Take My Cat To College?

cat carrier

When emotions are running high before you leave for college it might seem like a good idea to take your cat along with you to college.

As good an idea as that might seem at that time, I wouldn’t recommend it unless there isn’t anyone else at home to look after your cat.

Bringing your cat along with you means that it has to get used to an entirely new environment again. Cats can adapt but they still prefer to stick to their boring old schedule.

Furthermore, heading off to college would mean that you will have a much busier social and academic schedule. This would mean that you might not have the time available to give the best possible care and attention to your cat.

If you still have family members that can take good care of your cat, it would be better to leave your cat at home and focus on your college life for now.

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