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Can Cats Recognize Faces? Let’s Find Out!

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Many of you must have had this question if your cat actually recognizes you. And what does she think of you?

Do Cats Recognize faces

Pet minds work differently, Dogs have a good memory when compared to cats. However, cats can differentiate between people, their brain can map physical behavior, smell, and sound and can also remember specific things like, what time we eat or go to sleep.

They can probably differentiate between you and other people, but they don’t care. We can say that they consider themselves royal.

Can Cats Recognize Faces?

The answer would be yes, cats can recognize faces. They do know their owner’s faces, but except for vision, other senses are also working here, such as smell and sound. Our felines greatly rely on our body language, they can remember the patterns or routines that benefit them and will be able to recognize you if you give them food and snacks daily.

A cat can distinguish your smell and voice from other people around. Their nose contains way more smell receptors than ours, hence they can smell each and every human distinctively.

However, cat eyes can only focus up to 20 feet (ca. 6 m), so they might not recognize you just by their vision.

In an experiment conducted in 2005 at the University of Texas, kittens were trained by their handlers for choosing between different types of patterns and object discriminations for about 6-7months.

At about 9 months of age, they were tested on 2 alternative forced-choice testing apparatuses, where cats had to decide between the visual discrimination of their handler’s face and an unfamiliar face.

They picked their handler almost 54% of the time. However, in the experiment where they had to pick between the face of familiar and unfamiliar cats, they selected familiar cats for about 91%.

How Do They Remember Us?

Have you ever noticed your cat rubbing her head all over you? Or meowing at you suddenly?

How Do They Remember Us

All cats have scent glands on their cheeks, lips, forehead, and tail. They are marking you as their property or territory, so when you come back from outside, they can smell and recognize you before even looking at you.

According to an experiment conducted by the University of Tokyo, cats are able to recognize their human parent’s voice. Some would even respond with changes in their behavior. In some cases, cats would even respond vocally.

Does Your Cat Recognize Your Happy Face?

Well, I have two cats, and I was wondering if my dog is wagging tails when I smile, what kind of reaction would my cats give…? I tried, but both of them left the room… However, the next day I tried again, but this time I added some petting and gentle scratching on their chin and forehead. They absolutely loved it…!!

Does Your Cat Recognize Your Happy Face

It turns out that they don’t recognize a smile, but when you add some physical touch & some sweet words, they tend to react to it. Their tails start swaying, and they start headbutting or showing some affection in return. This happened with my fur kids, I am not sure if this will happen to your cats too, as their personalities might not match.

Cats can recognize their owners through picture cut-outs alone, according to a study by the Pennsylvania State University in 2005. They learned that cats are able to identify the faces of other felines, even when the faces are presented as picture cut-outs, indicating that cats do, in fact, recognize faces.

Cats behave differently around people showing different facial expressions”, according to the research performed by Oakland University in 2015.


Can cats recognize human emotions?

Yes, Cats can recognize our emotions, but not as much as dogs perceive.
According to research conducted by the University of Bari Aldo Morothey, they claim that “Cats are sensitive to conspecific and human communicative signals.”.
In their research, they learned that cats happen to change their behavior according to the intensity of our emotions.

Can cats recognize humans without looking?

Yes, cats can recognize us without even looking. A cat has around 50-80 million odor-sensitive olfactory receptor cells in its nose, while we only have 6 million cells.

Your cat can smell from far away, recognize you, and come to claim you as their territory once again. Another factor is their ears, They can hear far better than anyone of us, in fact, they can hear better than dogs. So when you are walking towards your home from your driveway while talking on a phone or talking to anybody, your cat knows that it’s you from far away, you’ll find them sitting by the main door.

Do Cats Think Humans Are Cats?

Cats might think of us as bigger cats, however, they do not care what species we are, and will show us the same level of affection as they would give to other cats. Some of you might have experienced your cat kneading.

It’s simply because your cat is receiving the same level of affection as they would from their mother, and this makes them feel very comfortable around you.


Studies have proved that cats do recognize our faces, smell, and sound. The moment we enter our place we can find them waiting for us and how can we forget the beautiful moment when they greet us with cuddles?

Sometimes cats won’t be able to differentiate between human faces, they are least interested in your facial characteristics, but they do differentiate these between their own species.


  1. Vet Q&A: Do pets recognise people? (2020, October 1). PDSA. Retrieved September 7, 2022, from – PDSA
  2. PetMD Editorial. (2022a, August 16). Do Dogs and Cats Have Long-Term Memories? PetMD. Retrieved September 7, 2022, from – PetMD

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