Do cats have memories?

Do cats have memories?

The cat knows how to find its way, even several kilometers from home, it responds to its name, remembers the usual location of its bowl, even when it is no longer there.

Is this a sign that he has a memory, or is it just instinctive gestures? We are going to try to answer it by taking into account the latest scientific advances in this field.

Cat’s Short-Term Memory

Various scientific studies show that the cat’s short-term memory is around sixteen hours. Beyond this period, it would retain only important information.

This short-term memory, also called working memory, is used in everyday life. It allows him to memorize general information about his immediate environment in order to guarantee his survival.

Cat’S Long-Term Memory

At present, there are no studies that can accurately assess the duration of long-term memory in cats. However, some experiences suggest that your four-legged friend could remember certain events for about three years.

This memory is selective and only the events having a certain importance are kept. Studies have also shown that a cat’s cognitive ability deteriorates with age, usually from the age of twelve.

Spatial Memory Of The Cat

Cats have a spatial memory allowing him to locate the objects for which he feels an interest in his environment. For example, he will be able to find the location of his bowl, even if you have removed it.

He memorized this place as being where he feeds. It’s the same for her litter. It has memorized its location and if you move it, there is a good chance that it will relieve itself in the place it has memorized, even if it is no longer there.

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It is also this memory that allows him to find the way home when he is outside.

Episodic Memory

In a 2017 study, scientists wanted to know if cats had episodic memory, that is to say if they remembered events experienced according to their context (when, what and where). To do this, they placed in a room four bowls filled with food of different sizes and shapes.

The cats were placed individually in the room where they had access to two bowls. The results reveal that the cats chose their bowl randomly. They were then taken out of the room for fifteen minutes and then brought back in.

The cats then headed preferably towards the bowl which they had not touched and therefore having a greater quantity of food. The experiment reveals that cats remember “where”.

In the second part of the experiment, the researchers filled two bowls with food, an empty bowl and another containing an inedible object. They introduced different cats into the room which, during this exploration phase, randomly went to a bowl containing food.

After being removed fifteen minutes, they were reintroduced into the room and they headed for the most filled bowl, completely ignoring the empty one and the one with an object. This demonstrates that their behavior is not random and that it would be a choice on the part of cats.

This experiment made it possible to determine that the cat remembers “where” and “what”, two components of episodic memory, very useful for its daily life.

Cat Memory And Learning

If we do not yet have an exact estimate of the memorization capacity of the cat, one thing is certain, it is able to learn from events it has experienced, pleasant or not.

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A cat that has been knocked down will be more suspicious when it hears a car coming, or if it has accidentally fallen into the pool in the middle of winter, it will avoid approaching it in the future…

We still have a lot to learn from the cat and how its memory works. But you can be sure that cats remember past events and are able to learn from their experiences.

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