My cat, Gabriel, doesn’t recognize me, initially, when we are both in a room of the apartment with which he does not associate me. Then he’ll smell me, after which, he’ll recognize me and associate the place with me. What is going on, and what do I mean by being associated with a certain room?
I spend a lot of time with him in the main bedroom and the living room. When I am in bed or sitting in a certain chair in one of these rooms he’ll immediately recognize me. If this is not the case, he is more cautious, initially.
This implies that cats recognize people partly by the circumstances under which they find themselves. We become part of the whole and whether we are judged as friendly depends on whether the cat recognizes the whole scene and remembers it as non-hostile.
That is how I read this behavior. It is interesting also that when he comes into the kitchen to eat he does not see the new food in the bowl. I have to point to it and he’ll only use his sense of smell to find food in the kitchen. This is from a few feet away.
I don’t believe this is significant but it may indicate an eyesight problem, which may be linked to what I have described as his way of recognizing me.
However, I have a feeling that all cats recognize a person as friendly or not partly based on the circumstances and environment in which they find us.
If I am correct, why should this be?
Well, I am not sure. However, I believe it is linked to hard-wired behavior concerning home range and territory. The cat has a good memory for his territory. He can spot changes and strangers within the territory. The memory is: stranger + my territory = trouble.
There is a natural link between the environment and who is in it. This linkage between animal and the background results in the cat less able to isolate the animal or person from the background.
However, over time a domestic cat associates the whole home with his/her cat caretaker and therefore the condition fades.
As Gabriel had a semi-feral early life he may be more sensitive to friendly versus hostile animals and so this interesting behaviour is more pronounced.
This is just a theory. Have you experienced this?