Do cats know their siblings from different litters?

As a human being, family is one of the most important aspects of our lives, giving us a sense of belonging, identity, and love. And yet, as we grow older, we often drift apart from our family for work or study purposes, losing touch with our siblings. Whenever we meet each other, happiness starts falling from our eyes.

But what about our furry friends? Do cats recognize their siblings from different litters? Or do they see each other as strangers or rivals? Or is there something more complex at play? So if you’re curious to explore the mysteries of cats and recognizing their own kin, read on.

Can cats recognize their siblings from different litters?

So, do cats know their siblings from other litters?? Well, the answer is quite dependable. 

If your cats are raised together, and not being separated, they can recognize their siblings. But if your cats are isolated from them for a long time, then they can forget each other.

Cats recognize their family or relatives by their smell. Mother cats act differently toward their own kittens if they are from different litters or outsiders. And siblings get along well even as adults. But if they live apart from kittenhood, then there is a slightest chance to remember each other because their smell changes.

Scientific studies on the topic

Hmmm… so it seems that our felines may or may not recognize their siblings for different litters. Let’s have a look at what scientific studies say about their familiarity recognition. 

Scientists have done several studies to find out whether cats can recognize their family or anything familiar to them. In one study, performed by researchers at the University of Lincoln in the UK, they found that cats could recognize their littermates by sensing their scent. In this study, scientists present a cat with a cloth that had been rubbed on another cat’s head, either a familiar or an unfamiliar one. 

Another study, which was done at the University of Tokyo, researchers found that cats also could recognize their littermates based on visual and auditory cues. In this study, they test cats with four different stimuli. One is their owner’s voice and face, a stranger’s voice and face, another cat’s voice and face (either a familiar or an unfamiliar one), and a control stimulus (a string of numbers and a geometric shape). 

However, these studies show that cats can recognize familiar scents. So, there is a possibility that our felines may recognize their siblings from different litters, unless they were separated too early in kitten age. 

[also watch this video Do Cats Recognize Their Siblings After Being Separated?]

How do cats recognize their siblings?

So, you’re wondering about how cats recognize their siblings? Well, let me tell you, it’s like finding a needle in a haystack. You know it’s possible somehow, but man, does it seem like a mystery.

  • Olfactory cues: Olfactory cues, can also be called the power of smelling sense. You know how strong cats’ senses are !! They use this superpower in their every work. Such as, communicating with other cats, identifying familiar objects or their owner, checking their food, and so on. But when we talk about cats recognizing their siblings, they may be able to tell if they share the scent of their parents, especially their mother. 
  • Visual cues: Visual clues, which also help cats to recognize their siblings, along with olfactory cues. This includes things like their physical appearance and body language. Kittens from different litters may share some physical characteristics that can help them identify each other, but it may not be that reliable.

As cat owners, we often ask ourselves, “Will my cat recognize me if we meet after a few days or weeks??? Is it only a give and take type of bonding we are sharing ??? To get answers to all these questions, visit our post Do Cats Recognize Their Owners?

  • Behavioral cues: And finally the behavioral cues. Cats may be able to recognize their kin through vocalization, play behavior, and grooming habits. 

However, all these uses can be dependent on some factors. Not all cats are going to recognize their siblings from other litters when they grow up. 

What factors affect cats recognizing their siblings?

Recognition is like a puzzle that we are constantly trying to solve. And when we think we’ve got it, it changes just right before our eyes. Well, guess what? Just like us, cats’ ability to recognize their siblings can be affected by various factors. So, let’s put on our scientist glasses and explore what can cause our furry friends’ recognition skills to go fuzzy:

  1. Age at separation: When cats are born, they share a strong bond with their mother and littermates. But unfortunately, this bond can be weakened or disappear if they are separated too early. For example, cats who are separated from their siblings before 8 weeks old are less likely to recognize them later in life than cats who stay with their siblings longer.
  1. Socialization: Another factor is socialization, which helps cats to learn how to interact with other cats and humans. It usually occurs between 2 and 7 weeks of age. Cats who are well-socialized with other cats during this period are more likely to acknowledge their brother and sister. But those who are isolated or poorly socialized, recognizing becomes difficult for them. 
  1. Time spent together: Finally, the amount of time they spent with each other. If cats are raised with their siblings for a long time, they start to develop bonding and familiarity with them. As a result, it helps them to know one another even after being separated for a while. However, this can be faded if they got adopted in a different home at a very early age. 

Do cats form social bonds with their siblings?

So, do cats form social bonds with their brothers and sisters?? Well, as we said, they build a strong bond during their kittenhood. Some of them continue this bond till they grow up, whereas some of them do not. It’s totally impossible to assume that they will remain close or behave friendly once they grow up after being separated. 

But if they are raised together or grow up in the same litter, they develop a strong attachment to each other. They learn to communicate, play and groom each other, which helps them to maintain their social bonds.

However, cats who get separated from their siblings, it becomes difficult for them to re-form that bond. However, some cats can keep their relationship after they recognize each other or if they have similar temperament and characteristics. 

Can cats recognize other cats from the same litter?

So far we have talked about whether cats can recognize their siblings from different litters. But what about knowing each other from the same letter? 

Yes they can! Cats can recognize their siblings from the same litter easily, rather than from a different litter. From the moment they are born, kittens start to survive together, they keep themselves warm through cuddling, getting nursing in groups from their mother. As a result, they have a keen sense of smell, and acknowledge their littermates after being adults.

Yeah, sometimes they may seem to be wrestling or being aggressive with each other, but it’s okay… it’s a way of saying hello to one another.. So, if you are lucky enough to have a litter of kittens, then cherish the moments when they snuggle up together, and help to build a sweet bond between them.    

Is it important for cats to recognize their siblings?

You may be wondering if it is significant for cats to recognize their siblings or littermates. The answer is yes, especially when they are young and developing their social skills. But how is this important? Let’s see-

Influence on social behavior

Cats, after being born, spend the first few weeks of their life close to their littermates. They learn how to interact with other cats by playing, grooming, and communicating with their siblings. This can influence their social behavior and personality as they grow up. For example, cats that recognize their brother and sisters may be more playful, curious and have more positive interactions. But those who do not know can affect their behavior, causing stress or fear.

Impact on future relationships

Recognizing their siblings can also impact their future relationships with other cats. Cats that grow up with their littermates may be more tolerant and friendly towards unfamiliar cats, while cats that are separated from their siblings may be more territorial and aggressive. This can affect their ability to form bonds with other cats or live in a multi-cat household.


In the end, we can say that cats can recognize their siblings from different litters, but only if they have been in contact with them before and have exchanged their scents. Cats that have been separated from their siblings for a long time may act like strangers or even enemies when they meet again. However, they can know each other if they are from the same litter, and it’s important to recognize each other to maintain their social behavior and future relationships. 

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