Do cats remember specific incidents with humans?
Do cats appreciate human help?
I have syringe-fed Marty and Mom has bathed his bottom countless times since he arrived from the colony as an orphan with severe diarrhea.
Even with all that interaction, after he got old enough to eat on his own and explore the house, he did not make any special effort to approach me or seek out petting.
One evening when he and the other kittens were roughhousing on the cat tree and cat shelves Marty unexpectedly fell about 3 feet off the cat tree and hit the carpet pretty hard and not on his feet.
I saw the whole incident and could tell he was not hurt. Still, I could also tell by the way he sat motionless that the unexpected fall had scared him pretty bad, so I went over and picked him up and held him and petted and comforted him for about 10 minutes until his fear had passed and he was ready to get back in the frackus with the other kittens.
From that day forward, Marty decided that I was his best friend.
Marty began actively coming to greet me every time I entered a room and he follows me around and wants me to pick him up and hold him. He loves lying on my lap for extended periods of time and cuddles and purrs loudly.
All of this affectionate behavior only began after I had comforted him when he fell. Before that incident and that bonding moment, he had never had much to do with me.
I have similar “critical moment” stories of incidents with other cats that have also resulted in lasting specific behaviors by that cat afterward.
So YES, cats remember specific incidents and YES cats can appreciate when they have been given help or comfort, so please take care about how you treat them.
One rash incident with a cat can have a lasting negative impact on its relationship with you, just as one supportive incident can have a lasting positive impact on its relationship with you.
Just ask Mighty Marty.
And of course, the same applies to our actions and the impact they can have on our relationships with other humans.