15 Signs Your Cat Has Imprinted On You

Imprinting is the process by which cats form strong bonds and attachments with specific people during a critical period in their development. This typically occurs between 2 and 7 weeks of age when kittens are still with their mother and littermates. During this time, kittens begin socializing and becoming acclimated to human contact and interaction. When kittens receive frequent, positive experiences with a caregiver through feeding, playing, petting and caretaking, they often imprint on and develop preferences for that person.https://www.thewildest.com/cat-behavior/can-your-cat-imprint-on-you

Cats that have imprinted on a person will treat them differently than others by displaying signs of recognition, affection and comfort in their presence. This bonding can be incredibly strong and have lifelong effects on how cats relate to their imprinted people. When cats imprint, it signals they feel safe, secure and cared for by this individual. For cat owners, bonding so closely with their kitty can be a very rewarding part of having a close, loving feline companion.

Follows you around

One of the most obvious signs that a cat has imprinted on you is if they start following you around the house constantly. An imprinted cat will act like your shadow, moving from room to room to stick close by your side [source]. This loyal behavior shows the cat has bonded closely with you and sees you as a source of security and comfort. Imprinted cats tend to feel anxious when separated from you, so they’ll trail after you to maintain constant contact.

This following behavior often starts as soon as the cat hears you walking around or senses you’ve entered a room. The imprinted cat comes running to greet you and then doesn’t stray too far, keeping track of where you are. Some cats may follow at your heels so closely that you have to be careful not to trip over them! This clingy behavior demonstrates the cat has imprinted and thinks of you as their most important person.

Greets you at the door

One of the main signs that a cat has imprinted on you is when they eagerly greet you at the door when you return home. Imprinted cats get very excited and meow loudly when their favorite person comes back after being away (The Wildest, 2023). You’ll often find them patiently waiting by the door, and they may even paw at the door or make other noises when they hear you arrive. This behavior shows their strong attachment, as well as their anticipation and longing for your return (Meow Connection, 2023). An imprinted cat wants to be the first to welcome you back and receive your attention.

Sleeps near you

One sign that your cat has imprinted on you is if they insist on sleeping as close to you as possible, including on or beside you in bed. Imprinted cats enjoy snoozing next to or on top of their beloved owner to feel comforted, protected and relaxed. Your scent and the soothing sensation of your breathing helps ease anxiety in imprinted cats.

Kitties who have imprinted tend to wait outside the bathroom for you, position themselves against you on the couch or bed, and even try to curl up on your lap at every opportunity. It brings them joy and security to sleep near you. An imprinted cat may pace, meow, or even swat to communicate their desire for closeness at bedtime.

Constantly seeks attention

One of the most telling signs your cat has imprinted on you is if they constantly seek your attention. An imprinted cat craves interaction and physical contact, like petting, being held, and playing. They may meow or chirp frequently to get you to engage with them. Some cats will headbutt your hand or rub up against your legs to get pets. Imprinted cats often want to be in close proximity to you and will follow you from room to room just to be near you. They love attention and don’t want to miss an opportunity for affection from their favorite human.


Recognizes Your Voice

One of the clearest signs your cat has imprinted on you is if they recognize and respond to your voice. Imprinted cats perk up and pay attention when they hear their chosen human’s voice, even if they were previously asleep or distracted. According to Quora, cats can recognize their owner’s voice if they live together for more than five years. The daily repetition of hearing the same voice imprints it in the cat’s memory.1

An imprinted cat may come running or meow when it hears your voice, especially if calling its name. These felines get excited upon hearing your voice after you’ve been away from home for a while. Some imprinted cats even recognize their person’s voice over the phone or in videos! If your cat perks its ears and pays attention whenever you speak, it likely has imprinted on you.

Sensitive to your moods

Imprinted cats seem to sense their owner’s moods and emotions. They may become anxious when you’re stressed and extra cuddly when you’re sad. According to The Wildest, imprinted cats tend to mirror their owner’s facial expressions and energy levels. If you come home in a bad mood, your imprinted cat may become cranky too. But if you’re happy and upbeat, your cat is likely to be playful. This emotional sensitivity shows just how in-tune imprinted cats are with their chosen humans.

Dislikes strangers

One way to tell if your cat has imprinted on you is if they act wary or aloof around strangers. Cats that have imprinted tend to view their owners as family and outsiders as potential threats. According to research, imprinted cats are extremely territorial and will be visibly uncomfortable when unfamiliar people come into their space (Source).

Signs your imprinted cat dislikes strangers may include:

  • Hiding when visitors come over
  • Acting skittish or scared around strangers
  • Growling, hissing, or swatting at unfamiliar people
  • Refusing to interact with or allow strangers to pet them

Imprinted cats see their human family as their protector and safe space. They will retreat to their comfort zone with you when feeling threatened by strangers. Pay attention to your cat’s body language and reaction to visitors – it’s a telltale sign they have imprinted if they react negatively and prefer isolating with you instead.

Excessively vocal

One of the most notable signs that your cat has imprinted on you is if they become excessively vocal, especially in seeking your attention. Imprinted cats will frequently meow, chirp or trill specifically when you are around in order to get your attention. This vocalization is a unique behavior that imprinted cats reserve just for their chosen person.

According to https://www.thewildest.com/cat-behavior/can-your-cat-imprint-on-you, imprinted cats often exhibit a specific vocalization, like a special meow, that is a signal to their person that they want attention or companionship. So if your cat has a unique meow just for you, it’s a sign they’ve imprinted.

Cats are more vocal with their imprinted people than with other cats. This exaggerated vocal communication is an adaptation to get the attention of their human companion. So if your cat meows frequently, especially when you are around, it likely means they have imprinted on you and see you as their special person.


In recap, some of the main signs that your cat has imprinted on you include following you around, greeting you when you get home, sleeping near you, constantly seeking your attention, recognizing your voice, being sensitive to your moods, disliking strangers, and being excessively vocal. An imprinted cat has formed a deep psychological bond with their human caregiver, one that brings comfort, familiarity and strong feelings of trust. This bond is built through dedicated care, affection, and quality time spent together. An imprinted cat sees their human as a source of safety and security. If your cat exhibits many of these signs, it’s likely you share a special connection. The imprinting process helps create a lasting human-feline friendship.

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