Can cats recognize their relatives?

We usually find ourselves wondering a lot by observing our four-legged friends. For example, we ask ourselves if cats are able to recognize their mother, father or siblings, not only as "life companions", but also in the sense of family. Here's what the experts think.

According to John Bradshaw, a behavioural expert from the University of Bristol in the UK, most animals will never have a chance to meet their grandparents. This aspect is rather obvious, considering that many owners of dogs and cats are not even aware of the genealogy of their animal, especially if it comes from the street or from shelters and kennels.

That is not all. A very interesting fact is that Bradshaw focuses mainly on the male line of the family, therefore fathers and grandparents. According to the ethologist, no cat will ever be able to remember these figures.

Indeed, feline colonies, as he said "are based on multigenerational cooperation between females - grandmothers, daughters and kittens". These take care of their offspring, feeding and supervising them until they are ready to be independent. Males, on the other hand, have a marginal role and are rarely involved in the growth of kittens.

In any case, "once the kittens are separated from the mother," explains Bradshaw, "they seem to forget about her quickly and in most cases can't even remember if they ever knew each other".

However, many cats can also react differently when meeting their mother or siblings. Their smell, in fact, remains etched in their memory, one of the most important distinctive features for animals, with a phenomenon called "primary association".

Thanks to smelling, they will be able to reconstruct an alternative form of family, associating the smell of the mother or relatives to a rather precise timeline, in which these figures are certainly placed in the first moments of their life and therefore are very important.