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I lost my Maine Coon four years ago. I believe I have found him but he's not trusting to come to me. Is that normal for a cat not to remember me.

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    Either remembering you or not remembering you could be "normal". How long you had the cat might make a difference.
    – keshlam
    Commented Sep 18, 2016 at 22:18
  • Cats are more likely to remember places than people. Have you moved house since you lost him?
    – Mick
    Commented Oct 14, 2016 at 8:09
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    How long have you had him? I would think that a cat you've had for 12 years will remember you better than a cat you've had for 1 month. In general, a cat's behavior derives from its past experiences, so you need to consider how much of its life (as a % of its current lifetime) it has spent with you. E.g. our cats (born in the wild and lived wild for 6 months) have acted notably better once they had been pets for longer than they'd been wild cats, because their memories are no longer dominated by having lived in the wild.
    – Flater
    Commented Oct 9, 2017 at 11:00
  • If you are sure it's yours cat invest your time and patience to build trust to you again. It may take significant timespan like months or a year even. Commented Apr 25, 2018 at 7:52
  • you can also invest the time and effort if you are not sure, anyway ;) Commented Apr 25, 2018 at 8:51

2 Answers 2

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A kitten the age of 1-6 months will probably not remember you after 4 years. They are a little like human babies before the brain is fully developed. The memories might get lost or not stored the right way.

A cat at the age of two years+ will remember you, the owner, if the cat has bonded to you. Tests on the long term memory of cats show cats to have a long term memory span of 16 hours, but as a cat owner, I can definitely say cats remember for way longer than this.

If an adult cat gets lost, it will remember you for several years given it has bonded with you before it got lost.

There are examples where cats have been found after many years, and they have jumped straight into the owner's lap.

Cat's memory do not function like the human memory. The cat remembers places and dangerous or safe areas. So if you take a cat to a place it has been before and it gets scared, it might run to the tree you removed last year because it was a safe spot the last time it was there.

Link #1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cat_intelligence

Link #2 https://www.cuteness.com/article/cats-remember-owners-after-years

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It is hard to give a conclusive answer, because memory, remembrance or even bonding might work differently for a cat.

Your smell or voice might feel familiar to the cat, even after years. This familiarity, if forged by affection, might make your cat feel at ease in your presence. This does not necessarily mean that the cat remembered you, but he/she recalls that your smell or voice is associated with nice things in the past.

The familiarity vanes with time and after four years, especially if he/she had dealings with other people with smell or voice similar to yours.

Another way to think of this is comparing cat intelligence with that of a child. Usually, cats are assumed to be as intelligent as a 1-4 year old child. Even though children have a great memory, they don't necessarily have the organisational skills we do to manage this memory. I have read tales of war orphans adopted by the military officers who raised them as their own, disregarding their native identity. The ones adopted around the age of 1-2 years usually remember nothing of their past lives and even if they remember something, the brain corrects the gaps and contradictions in a way it feels logical. As the age of adoption goes up, they first realise there are hard to solve gaps and contradictions in their memory, some familiarities that they can't explain. Children above the age of 6 usually remembers their native identity and the fact that they are adopted. Do not use these information on their face value, some parts of it might be wrong or misleading. Instead, extrapolate them to guess about the memory of a cat.

I had several personal experiences with my cats that might help. I visit my hometown once or twice a year, but the cats there always seemed at ease with me. I believe this is because they trust my parents who are at ease with me, whom the cats trust unquestioningly, rather than them remembering me. This is better for me because I like some rough play that they sometimes complain.

I was away from my cat for three weeks and after which he ran straight to me and refused to stay away from me. He is a wandering cat so he had other houses that took care of him, but other than staying with the he followed me 1.5 km to my temporary accommodation and spent the night with me. The same cat however wasn't that affectionate after we were two months away.

The bottom line is that the cat might feel comfortable/indifferent or cautious in your presence. These all depend on the reinforcements he/she had after you were estranged. I would suggest trying to establish a relation from scratch and hope that the cat's prior experience with you speeds the process.

I hope this helps.

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