Friday, November 30, 2012

Will My Pet Remember Me Forever?

By Julia Williams

Anyone who’s forged a deep bond with a pet has likely asked themselves that question or a similar one. We want to believe that the bond we share is so unbreakable, so life changing not just for us, but for our pets, too. We want to think that if we were ever separated, no amount of passing time could dim our pet’s memory of us. We want it to be true for them, as it certainly is for us.

We never forget our pets; no matter how many months or years go by, the love we shared is always fresh in our minds. We smile remembering all the things they did that made us laugh. Our hearts swell thinking of the endearing way they curled up to sleep in their favorite spot, or gave us that quick little lick on the tip of our nose. We could never forget the happiness they brought with them when they came into our home.

The saying “pets leave paw prints on our hearts” is oh so true, and those paw prints are forever. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if it could be the same for our pets? That the gentle hands that gave them loving pats every day could imprint on their heart till the end of time, and the voice that soothed was remembered forever?

We know our pets have the mental capacity to remember us for short periods of time. There’s plenty of evidence of that – one only has to search YouTube to find hundreds of examples. Perhaps you saw the heartwarming video that went viral, of the pup running out to greet her “Daddy,” a soldier who had just returned home from Afghanistan. That dog’s excitement and joy is palpable; clearly, this pup did not forget the one they loved.

You may have experienced your own happy reunion with a pet. I had a cat that practically mauled me when I returned home from a 3-week vacation. She was so excited to see me that she drooled copiously, rubbed her little body on my pant leg, meowed loudly and constantly, and followed me throughout my home. There was no doubt she not only remembered me, but was overjoyed that I was home. And though some people joke that cats only like their humans for the noms, I never doubted that I was much, much more than just the “dispenser of the FELIDAE cat food” to her.

So we all believe that pets surely won’t forget us after just a month or two. But how long could their memory of us last? A year? Two? Three at most? And if they did forget our face, would they still remember the feeling of our love? No one knows for sure, and we never will.

I want to believe that my “heart cat” Belle could never, ever forget the special time we share each morning after breakfast… the petting, kissing, brushing, drooling (Belle, not me!), and loving on each other as if our very survival depended on it. But I just don’t know.

Does it matter? Not really. What matters most to me is that while I am here, my sweet cats feel safe and loved. What matters is that every day, I take the time to give them the attention and adoration they deserve. If I could not do that, I wouldn’t have them, for to do any less would be so unfair.

I show them affection every single day so they will know, in the moment, that they are cherished. How great it would be if the feeling of that moment could last forever in their hearts. But if it’s not to be, I’m content just knowing that every day we are together, my cats feel loved.

Photo by Torbakhopper

Read more articles by Julia Williams


  1. I do believe dogs remember us years later. Our golden retriever sees our son once a year at Christmas, and he goes nuts when my son walks throught that door for the first time. I also had a roommate who lived with us for the first few years of this golden's life, and they were especially close.. The dog is now eight years old, and when the ex-roommate stopped by recently after several years, again it was obvious our dog knew exactly who he was. He was so happy and excited, while our newer dog, who had never met the roommate, hung back.

  2. My peeps DID experience a reunion with a dawg that they cared for (Fostered) for one year... it was 3 years LATER when they were in a park and... this dog BROKE AWAY from his "new" mom and went RUSHING to my peeps... who were walking the OTHER DIRECTION and did NOT see Him Coming... He was all over them ... AFTER THREE YEARS in a VERY VERY happy and Loving new home.

  3. That was beautifully written, Julia. I, too, would like to think our cherished pets would remember us forever. But you're absolutely right. What matters most is that we show them each and every day that they are so, so loved. :)

  4. I once read that cats never forget those who were unkind to them, or hurt them in anyway. So why wouldn't they remember those who loved them deeply? I think they do remember. Years ago, we had a cat (when I was just a kid) who liked to roam around, and he went out one autumn day and didn't come back, we did all the usual lookings for him, but couldn't locate him or anyone who had seen him. A year and a few months later we heard a noise on the porch and there was Kookie, waltzed right it on Christmas Eve! We all had a big laugh about him coming home for Christmas, but he never left again! I have heard that cats don't have the kind of excellent noses dogs have and can't find things like our pups do.


    Jo, Stella and Zkhat (who is a housecat only)

  5. I also agree that our animals remember us. I had a cat disappear for 3 months and one day just showed up. They know who we are but I have to agree with Julia, that no matter what, I just want my animals to be happy no matter if they remember us or not. That was a good post.

  6. I like to think my babies have knoiwn I loved them and returned the sentiment. I have been deeply bonded to two kitties since the kids are gone and there is no competition with the boys for their attention :-) and that is Admiral and now Katie. I can tell both loved and love me. Will they over time? We, as you well wrote for us, don't knw really but some circumstantial evidence point to yes, they remember.

  7. I know that the memory is there....always!

  8. Eh, one food provider is much like another, as Jack London taught us in "To Build a Fire."

  9. I have a friend I am only able to see a few times a year and she has a dog that I LOVE to pieces. I just saw them yesterday, and the dog bowled me over like he could not believe I was finally back to say hello. I was with other people and his exuberant greeting was reserved for me... I know he remembers me and it was such a special feeling!

  10. My uncle was gone in the service for years ad our dog loved him. When Uncle Paul came home and just put his hang in our mail slot and wiggled his fingers - a thing he did for our dog. Micky went nuts, barking, crying and so excited - he knew exact;y who was on the other side of the door.

    Thank you for the get well wishes.

  11. We have no doubt that pets remember us for years because we have experienced it. We leave prints on their hearts too. Isn't it the way it should be?

  12. I LOVE this piece!
    I believe this is true!
    I had two dogs that no matter how long I was away for, they always remembered me. My partner would say that 10 mins before I pulled into the drive, they would be waiting at the window. I would go away for months at a time and I still have no idea how they knew that that was the day I was coming home. :)
    Unfortunately my two dogs have now passed - hit and run at the same time :( but they really do leave paw prints on your heart and you leave prints on theirs.
    I found an iphone app called "remember my pet" which is truly beautiful.
    such a beautiful blog.


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