General Question

Jude's avatar

Do you feel that our kitties miss us when we're gone?

Asked by Jude (32098points) October 18th, 2010

I was gone for the weekend and left my wee Frankie at home alone. He had lots of fresh litter, water, and plenty of food. My place was cozy and warm.

Upon my return, I was greeted at the door by a super affectionate kitty. Rubbing, purring (so much so that he was drooling), a few head butts, and he bit my chin.

Usually, he sleeps at the end of my bed, but, last night, he was nuzzled under my arm pit. This morning, when I got up, he followed me everywhere (even into the bathroom when I was having a shower and he hates going in there because of the running water). I ate my breakfast and he was up on my lap purring away. I picked him up, turned him over and held him like a baby (I swear, I am not a crazy cat lady ;-)), and he stayed there, motionless for a good 3 minutes, purring loudly/eyes closed.

Do they miss us?

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39 Answers

psychocandy2's avatar

All signs point to yes.

john65pennington's avatar

Absolutely. animals have feelings just like humans. they feel loss and when you are gone, they grieve over you.

My border collie is prime example. when my wife and i are gone, he does not eat or drink water. his ears go back, when we tell him goodbye and that we will be back. we know he understands loss. its obvious all over his face.

Like you, returning home is one of the high points in your pets life.

All is now right with the world.

Aesthetic_Mess's avatar

Well I have a dog, but I think the same thing goes. I agree completely with @john65pennington. Even when we are home, and one of us is depressed, our dog will act depressed too. He will lay under a tree and do absolutely nothing, but when we are happy and having a party, he will be wagging his tail and kind of ‘smiling’. When we went to FL for a week my sister said he would barely eat, or go fetch his ball. So they miss us. And I miss him.

choppersangel's avatar

No question that they miss company, care and attention. At risk of sounding preachy, perhaps really best not to leave Frankie with no visitors at all for such a long time…

If you imagine that a ‘weekend’, is at least two periods of night-time, an animal perception of one’s absence is likely to assume that you’ve gone permanently. One cycle of day and night is usually just about as much as a pet could manage, without company or some interruption from a human.

For a real eye-opener about our pet’s perceptions of us, our absence and our affection for them, take a look at Rupert Sheldrake’s work here He is a scientist, with a willingness to look further than the test tube for questions and answers.

Our bengal cats Suki and Raj rarely treat us with such affection as dear Frankie, more general disdain if we leave them for too long!

Aster's avatar

How adorable and obviously thrilled to have you home again! So , yes!although I don’t have a cat.

CMaz's avatar

No. You just represent food.

But it is ok to believe that.
If you did not come home, instead, I walked in. I would have gotten the same response.

We humans feel/operate best when needed and loved. Even if it is just in our heads. ;-)

Aster's avatar

@ChazMaz I have often wondered how much they’d change if we didn’t feed them. Good point.
Sad, but good.

nebule's avatar

I don’t have a cat either but I look after my sisters’s cats sometimes and they definitely miss her… the older one stays at home and is normally not affectionate at all but when my sister is away and I go round to feed him, he is very affectionate…and more so with my sister when she returns home. The kitten stays with us and she is not so bad I think because she at least has some constant company even though it’s not her real ‘mum’. Yes, they do have ‘feelings’ and I’m pretty sure that they miss that comfort and company. Touch is the language of all animals after all.

CaptainHarley's avatar

LOL! Of course they miss us! I was gone for a little over two weeks recently on a motorcycle ride. WHen I got back, the dogs ( 2 of them, a Golden Retriever/Cocker Spaniel mix, and a Scottie ) heard the bike and were having hissy-fits by the time I got it parked. When I got in the door, I got down on my knees to hug them and we were an inditinguishable tangle of golden and black fur, and human skin and clothes! Even our little cat joined in and was climbing all over me! Did they miss me? Oh hell yah! : D

marinelife's avatar

Of course they do. When I was gone for a weekend, I would have someone come in to feed my cats so they had human contact. Especially if you have an only cat, he will get very lonely while you are gone.

Austinlad's avatar

They do, no doubt. I’m sure they’re aware the person they trust more isn’t aorund.

lemming's avatar

ChazMaz I don’t think it’s true that the cat would have welcomed you the same way, we’ve had cats at home for years and they really tend to be frightened of strangers.

diavolobella's avatar

Yes, I definitely believe they do. As soon as I pull in the driveway, I can see my cat rush to look out the sidelight. She will meow and paw at the window until I get inside and then she’s all over me. The longer I’ve been gone (such as over the weekend), the more dramatic her behavior. She has constant access to abundant food and water, so it has nothing to do with that.

She is even more attached to my daughter. Whenever my daughter leaves, she will sit by the front door waiting for her to return. When she does, the cat follows her around and will sit on her any time she sits down. The cat sleeps on her bed and obviously loves her the most, although my daughter is not the person who feeds her or takes care of her other basic needs.

When a stranger comes in my home, my cat hides. Even when a person comes in my home who is there frequently and the cat is familiar with, they never get the same reaction. The cat will ignore them.

CMaz's avatar

@lemming – That frightened state is nothing more then “change of environment.”

I, not being as familiar to them. Some animals cope with it better then others.

And when we leave, their environment has been upset. Our pets preferring to be part of an intact pack. Again, Some animals cope with it better then others.

diavolobella's avatar

Cats are not pack animals.

CMaz's avatar

Ever hear of a pride? ;-)

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Oh they certainly do! If we leave for a weekend, I have two kitties that won’t stay off me as soon as we return. They are not our pets; we are their humans. When their humans leave, they are sad!

diavolobella's avatar

@ChazMaz You are confusing wild big cats with domestic felines. Apples and oranges.

Rubrica's avatar

In general, I think cats do.

My cats, on the other hand, become depressed when they see me.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

Yes,but if I’m gone too long,they take it personally and will leave one in my shoe. ;)

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chyna's avatar

Yes crazy cat lady. Kitty missed your presense and not just the food source. Kitty missed your warmth, your touch, and your love. @ChazMaz is just silly.

Coloma's avatar

Sure they do!

Animals live in the moment and don’t lie around actually ‘thinking’ of you and missing you. BUT..when you show up again they ‘feel’ those expressions that they can not think. lol

I have quite the greeting committee over here, geese start honking when I am at my mailbox a ¼ mile away. They hear my car!

Cats always come running within minutes of me getting home.
They recognize you were gone, but they don’t have the ego of humans that make up all kinds of stories while you are away! haha

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CMaz's avatar

I’m sorry. How could I be so cruel. :-)

They not only miss you. They sit home worrying about you. Wondering if you will come home this time. Will you bring a toy or a treat? And yes they do have a good idea as to what toy or treat they will be expecting. They daydream about what you will have for them. Do not disappoint them.

When you leave, it is dark and quiet. They are afraid that someone is breaking in and they just can’t seem to dial the phone for help. Their tummy is hurting from eating a spider that was nice and crunchy but a bit sour. They wish their mommy was home to rub their belly.

They are board, cant turn the TV on and the AC is not cool enough. All day they can’t wait for you to come home so they can have fun and excitement again.

But then again, they have no idea where you went and when you will be coming home.
And so… When you walk in the door all they can think of is how much they missed you, and they love you and they hope (and pray) you never leave them again.

But you will and you do. Tomorrow.

MissAnthrope's avatar

I think it’s silly and misinformed to suggest that animals don’t have emotions. Granted, they’re likely simpler and not the same kind of wide range that we have, plus, of course, they have a limited range of expression. I’ve studied animals, taken animal behavior, spent hours observing them and taking notes, all of that. I can tell you that my scientific-spidey sense tells me quite clearly that animals do feel things, from happiness, to fondness (if not love), joy, fear, anger, playfulness.. and that’s at the very least. Here is a source to back me up.

To answer the original question, I definitely do. I notice huge behavior changes in my cat when I’m gone for even 5 or 6 hours at a time, which means there’s an interruption in our normal routine, where I’m around most of the time. When I’m here and hanging out, the door is open and she goes out for 1–3 hours at a time with no thought to me because she knows I’m home. When I am gone for several hours and I come back, she is far more clingy and chooses to hang out inside with me rather than go out.

I was apart from her for 3 months this summer, the longest separation we’ve ever had. She had loads of stimulation, love, great care, and everyone loves her. She had toys, affection, and acres of land to wander around. It should have been like summer camp!

When I went to pick her up after I got back, she was gaunt. She had plenty of food and water (in fact, her caretakers wanted to spoil her), but she still lost weight. She was obviously miffed at me for having been gone for so long and when I first arrived, she kind of acted like she didn’t know me, quite the opposite of the ‘running across the field toward each other in a cinematic reunion’ fantasy I’d had about seeing her again. Instead, she gave me the cold shoulder for a while, but went nuts over my flip-flops and acted like a freak, rubbing all over them.

Anyway, I’ve been back a couple of months and Kali’s filled out again, back to her normal, healthy weight. So, yes, I’d say she missed me.

CaptainHarley's avatar

Do they miss us? Read this and then tell me they don’t. : )

n33k0luv's avatar

Of course they do! My cats are always all over me at the end of a work/school day when I come home. The more we include our pets in our lives, giving them attention and playing with them, talking to them, treating them like a member of the family, the more that our absence affects them.

I believe that dogs left outside all the time, and only get attention during feeding times, etc, are more just animals than “pets” and “family members.” Thus all they act like is an animal and they don’t develop their own real personality.

I am currently going to my friends apartment twice daily to feed her cat. I fee him in the morning and evening, and in the evening I play with him as well. I have watched his mood grow from content to depressed over the past five days. He got tons of attention from his owner before she left on vacation and I can tell he his missing her. The second day I came up to see him he just stared out the door as I opened it, as if waiting for her to appear. The fourth day he was so depressed he did not even go straight to his food bowl like he had always been doing. Last night he was so distressed that he did not eat until I pet him a few times. After eating instead of playing with him immediately, he stared at me until I cuddled him and gave him some love and hugs.

Thankfully she will be back either tonight or tomorrow. I am excited for him, because he really misses her. It has been an interesting and sad thing for me to watch, but I was at least glad I could provide him with company a couple times a day even if it was only for 10–20 minutes at a time.

Next time you are out for more than a day, I would send someone in to check on the cat, just for human contact. :)

CaptainHarley's avatar

Now just imagine how older people feel who have been dumped in nursing homes and get a visit once a month, if THAT often. It’s a very real and very sad truth of modern life.

downtide's avatar

When I was a kid we had a cat. We went on holiday for a week once, and left the cat in the care of the next door neighbours for a week. When we got back, the cat totally ignored us, and refused to come inside, for precisely one more week. I swear it was revenge.

aprilsimnel's avatar

I think so. I only base this on when I had a kitty as a teen. Once I went to uni, I couldn’t take her with me. She stayed at the house. When I’d call there, my aunt would put her on the phone, and when she heard my voice, she’d meow like crazy. When I was there during school holidays, she never left my side and she would cry when I’d leave again.

ETpro's avatar

Spoony THE Cat certainly shows very clearly that she does.

augustlan's avatar

My cats cry when my husband leaves. The minute he walks back in, my older cat is all over him, begging to be picked up and placed in his lap, her favorite spot on earth. When they hear either of us coming up the walk, they’ll sit in the window meowing like crazy til we get in the door. Sometimes, one of mine cries when I’m in the freakin’ bathroom! I have to talk to her through the door, so she knows I’m still in there… silly cat. :)

Yes, without a doubt.

choppersangel's avatar

Very interesting seeing how many people agree, and the very few that don’t, citing ‘animal behaviour’ as different from humans… We have bred our domestic animals from those that showed certain traits.

With cats, the domesticated aspect of their nature is now inherent and a great deal of indulgence in breeding, is attached to how they look. But, and this is something which will follow us Humans to our own extinction if we don’t get a grip: all animal life has the same root.

Whether or not you accept evolution as fact or not, every one of those kitties, kittehs, kittens, kittie-cats, katty-kits has its’ biological roots somewhere in the small mammals that outlived the dinosaurs. As do we. (For creationists, maybe Adam and Eve had kittens… Or Eve had them when she realised what the apple business was about).

There are links that we are only just discovering. Humans relate to sentiment and call it ‘love’, our animals relate to us through smell, routine, care, affection and continuity. We have chosen them for these traits, and yes they feel abandonment, quite keenly it seems. It is a big mistake to treat any animal as though it cannot ‘feel’ emotion, or cannot make sense of our world, it dishonours them and us.

We are all made of the same stuff and motivated, essentially, by the same needs. It behoves us to take much better care of all our animal companions. This is not sentimentality either, read anything written by Temple Grandin and that will be apparent.

I rather wonder why this question has been posted as something personal, the argument going on is obviously bigger. Do animals experience what we label emotion? Of course they do, we just happen (humans that is) to be the ones doing the labelling.

Oh, and the ones feeling guilty when we leave our cats alone for too long, and they choose to tell us.

GracieT's avatar

My husband and I have two cats. The older one greets everyone at the door with his paws in the air in order so that we will have no choice to pet him. He also has to sit on or near us. I would be willing to bet that they do indeed miss us!

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