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How Do Cats Recognize Their Owners?

Updated: August 11, 2022 by Kristen Chapple

There’s a known fact that cats are predators and they use their senses a lot more than we humans do. While hearing is the sense that prevails more than anything else when it comes down to the way cats recognize their owners, they actually use a combination of all their senses to find out who’s who.

We mostly see our surroundings, but cats, they sense them. They sense everything around them, from objects, other animals and humans to their very owners. Quite an impressive feat, right? Well, there are some drawbacks to this as well.

Through Sight

Most people would tell you that cats can see in darkness. That’s both true and false. They can’t see in pitch black. Cats have a good sight in very low light, but that comes at the expense of their vision in daylight, which suffers a lot. The part in their eyes responsible with nighttime vision is called ‘tapetum lucidum’ and it seems to direct or reflect light to the back of the retina, which helps them see more in the dark.

During the daytime though, they have a blurriness to their sight, but that’s compensated by the fact that they can discern even the slightest movement. More than that, your little furry friend has an incredible depth of field perception, helping him to calculate distances better than you. At least until he falls between the table and the window sill because he couldn’t see the glass.

Though not that good, sight is still one of the ways cats recognize their owners.

Through Smell

While sight isn’t their best of abilities, smell is definitely superior. You’d be surprised to find out that besides the nose, your little feline friend also uses its mouth to… yeah… smell things around. Cats have something called the Jacobson’s organ, a second system for smell on the roof of their mouth, which also plays an important part in how cats recognize their owners.

So when you see your cat rubbing on you, know that she’s leaving her scent on you – yeah, marking her territory that is – to be able to smell her own scent later and recognize you as the owner. Actually, as her property, but hey, don’t take it personal.

Through Hearing

Looking at how big compared to the rest of the head a cat’s ears are, you can judge that hearing is their most developed sense. They can perceive sounds that humans cannot. They can sense the slightest noise and know right away where it’s coming from. This is the reason why in past conflicts, some troops used to have cats with them at night in guard posts. A sudden sharp move of the cat’s head and the soldier would know that there’s something out there.

And speaking of the ways cats recognize their owners, the voice and tone of one’s voice is the most important part, because they can recognize all that with a lot more accuracy than us, humans.

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