Reputed to be more independent than the dog, the cat often raises questions about the nature of its attachments. Is it possible for a cat to forget about its household members if they are away for long periods of time?
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I'm away for a long time,can my cat forget me?
Cats are often perceived as solitary animals that do not need the constant company of their owners. However, the reality is much more nuanced. Cats have the ability to form strong emotional bonds with members of their household. These bonds develop over time and are based on trust, security and familiarity.
But are cats able to remember their owners after long absences? The answer is generally positive, according to Hugues Martinat, a feline behaviorist. "A prolonged absence may lead to some stress due to a new adjustment period, but it usually does not erase previously established emotional ties."
Cats have above all an episodic memory that allows them to remember specific moments of their lives. For example, they may remember a visit to the vet that may have been stressful. When you have a close relationship with your cat for an extended period of time, chances are they will remember the important moments you shared together.
In addition, their highly developed sense of smell plays an essential role in their orientation and ability to move. This is why some cats are able to return to their homes even several years after a move. This sensory capacity allows them, even after an absence of several months, to recognize their master.
This highlights the importance of creating moments of sharing with your cat. They are sensitive animals and the quality of their lives depends largely on the environment and the interactions you offer them.
"Finally, it is important to remember that our cat friendssleep about15 to 17hours a day, which occupies them a large part of the day. " It is not uncommon to find your cat at the end of the day in the exact place where he was in the morning when you leave for work. "Although he has a notion of the length of your absence, it is not perceived in the same way as you."
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Why did my cat change his attitude when I returned?
My cat sulks, is this normal? For Hugues Martinat, this behavior is quite classic: "By nature, cats are quite routine beings. A change in habit can easily disturb them and it affects their behavior."
After 12 days of absence, Tristan saw his cat become much more clingy, forcing him endless cuddle sessions. "Philae monopolized me as soon as I came back... She started 'patouring' in my neck, then embarked on a biggrooming session, including me in it!"
According to Hugues Martinat, this type of behavior is quite common in cats close to their owners. "During his master's absence, Philae must have experienced a significant drop in stimulation, which possibly led to boredom. It is therefore normal that she asks for a greater investment from Tristan in her than normal."
Mathilde has already noticed several times the distance of her two cats after several days off. "As soon as I pick them up from my parents, where they stayed during my absence, Felix and Patacel avoid me, flee and hide. Which doesn't make it easy for me to bring them home." But for the feline behaviorist, this attitude is not necessarily related to the absence of Mathilde. "This may be a way for the two cats to show their owner that they simply do not appreciate the transport at the checkout."
Finally, certain behaviors, such as vomiting or urine accidents, reflect a state of anxiety, fear, anguish or stress. It is important to remember that when you are away, your cat tries to adapt to this new situation, and this can take time. They can put mechanisms in place to cope with your absence, but your return can disrupt this new routine and generate a new wave of stress. That's why it's important to take a progressive and caring approach to help your cat adapt to these changes.
Read also10 ideas to make your cat happy while you are away
How can I prevent my cat from "sulking" when I return?
Agitation, open suitcase, the cat understands very well that his master will be absent. "It is important not to redouble your affection before this absence. It is recommended to have a calm and reassuring attitude so as not to stress your cat, "says the behaviorist. Cats love routine. Try to maintain habits for your cat as much as possible, including times of feeding, play, and resting.
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If you are absent regularly, consider using a cat-sitter, or your entourage to take care of your cat in your absence.
When you return, be patient if your cat seems sulking or distant. Give them time to adjust to your feedback. Let it come to you and reward it when you notice positive behavior. Offer treats or caresses to reinforce these moments.
If your cat continues to ignore you or show signs of stress when you return, consider seeing a veterinarian. There could be underlying issues that require professional advice.
For Hugues Martinat, "in addition to medical problems, a cat too dependent on its master is often subject to this type of behavior. Its lack of autonomy usually leads to discomfort, stress and anxiety." In this kind of situation, it is preferable to consult a feline behaviorist to offer stimulation alternatives to the cat and encourage its autonomy vis-à-vis its master.
Every cat is unique, so it's important to tailor these tips to your feline's personality and specific needs. The main thing is to create a safe, stable and loving environment for your cat, so that he can feel confident and happy in your absence and when you return.