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Home > Cats > Can Cats Remember Abuse? Feline Memory Facts

Can Cats Remember Abuse? Feline Memory Facts

It’s natural to be curious about what kind of life your cat lived before you brought them home, and this curiosity becomes especially strong when your cat seems to be particularly skittish about certain types of people or objects. Could this indicate that your cat was previously abused? Do cats even remember abuse? As a general answer, yes, cats that experience trauma are thought to be able to remember it for the remainder of their life. Here’s what you need to know.


Can Cats Remember Abuse?

Cats are intelligent and social creatures, capable of recognizing and feeling far more complex emotions than they’re often given credit. Cats that experience trauma are thought to be able to remember it for the remainder of their life. This can make it more difficult for your cat to trust after abuse, and it can make them uncomfortable with situations that remind them of their abusive situation. This can be anything from people wearing certain types of clothing or specific sounds to things that are less specific, like loud noises or shouting.

Your cat may heal from their trauma, and as time goes on, it may forget some of it; however, it’s likely something that will always be a part of how your cat acts.

close up of an abused cat
Image Credit: mochawalk, Pixabay

Will My Cat Remember If I Accidentally Hurt Them?

The good news for those who have accidentally kicked their cat when they’ve gotten underfoot is that your cat is extremely unlikely to remember these experiences beyond a day or two. This is likely due to something similar to how people form memories. You’re unlikely to remember a time that your sibling accidentally knocked you down, but you’re very likely to remember significant traumas that have happened to you.

For all of the times you’ve accidentally injured your cat, they likely realized, on a basic level, that it was not intentional on your part. Even if they ran off and hid from you after the event occurred, your cat will likely move on quickly with love and affection to remind them that they’re safe and cared for.

Can I Help My Cat Forget Abuse?

Unfortunately, there’s not really a way to help your cat forget that abuse has been inflicted upon them in the past. However, you can make your cat feel safe and comfortable in the present. Over time, your cat may begin to forget some of their abuse, or they may simply become less reactive to the triggers that may have reminded them of their abuse before. We have no real way to know if a cat has forgotten their past abuse since they can’t tell us what they’re thinking or feeling.


In Conclusion

Cats are complex animals that can definitely remember abuse that has occurred in their past. They are unlikely to remember brief accidental incidents that didn’t lead to notable injury, though. It’s impossible to know if cats ever forget their abuse eventually. The best thing you can do for your cat is offer them the best life possible. A life full of patience, love, and safety will help your cat learn to love and gain confidence, allowing them to live a happy life with you.

Featured Image Credit: ruggeri, Pixabay

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