Newsday Tuesday – How Do Cats Recognize Us

As you know I spend my days writing stories involving interesting cats in all sorts of situations—funny, hilarious, crazy, frightening, harrowing, suspenseful, unusual—we’ve got ‘em all. Last week, as I was writing a scene where Rags was reunited with a young girl he hasn’t seen in a while, the question came up—yes, there are always questions as I write—would he recognize her? How do cats recognize people?

So I did some research. Guess what? It isn’t so much through sight. Although cats have excellent vision when it comes to the tiniest bug on a wildly colorful, floral print fabric or dark-colored carpet. You know that. You’ve seen your cat watching something flying around in the room and you can’t catch even a glimpse of it. But do they really see the critter or is part of their knowingness in the hearing of it?

Anyway, I did some research, which I do often while writing. I learned that, while cats have excellent sight, they don’t recognize the details in a human face all that readily. They recognize us primarily by the sound of our voice and our scent. I’m pretty sure that they also go with familiarity. I mean, if you usually sit in the same place at a certain time of the day—office chair, recliner chair, sofa—your furry sidekick is pretty certain that the person sitting there that time of day is you. Hmmm, now I want to experiment with putting someone else in that place at that time of day. I wonder what the reaction would be.


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