That the behavior of cats does not have much to do with that of dogs is not news to anyone. However, who would you say has a better memory? If you have ever lived with a feline, you will know of their ability to learn and remember what interests them. But to what extent do cats have a good memory?
The studies collected to date on the brain mechanisms involved in the construction of memories in cats coincide in the features of their short-term memory, but not in the long-term. It is unknown how it develops, but it is known that feline memory exceeds canine memory.
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How do cats learn?
The assimilation of information and its subsequent storage takes place in the brain. As with the rest of mammals, the brain of felines consists of 4 lobes (frontal, temporal, occipital and parietal). Through the 5 senses they receive the information that is sent to the brain neurons through the nervous system.
There are no differences between domestic and wild cats. To learn and build memories, they draw on observation and imitation. Vital relevance, understood as the utility they can extract from that information, will do the rest. From puppies they dedicate their first weeks of life to observe their mother to learn from her.
You will remember it when we discuss the age at which kittens learn to hunt. Everything that is relevant to them to survive, for example, the location of the feeder, the drinker or the sandbox, as well as the lessons obtained from lived experiences help them to discriminate what is useful and, therefore, valuable to be filed in their brain.
Do they really have a good memory?
Do you know that biologically cats have better remembering conditions than dogs? Their brain barely reaches 1% of their body mass, but it mobilizes 300 million neurons compared to 160 million for dogs . In fact, it has been found that kittens have a greater ability to remember than dogs.
Research carried out on the intelligence and memory of cats conclude that they are capable of remembering events and experiences that occurred up to 16 hours ago. This is easy to verify with domestic cats that have little difficulty internalizing their routines, the location of their belongings and those with whom they live.
Their survival instinct encourages this short-range learning to pass into the so-called long-term memory, although there are no conclusive data on the latter. The few studies that exist estimate that this long-term memory brings together memories from 3 years ago, but it is not definitive and research continues on it.
The Neural Combination Theory
We can affirm, therefore, that their memory is selective and episodic and that the received stimuli and their corresponding responses elaborate a code of conduct that is stored in parts through neural associations or combinations. These connections vary as the cat goes through new experiences.
Depending on the intensity of these experiences, the pussy’s brain will decide to file it or not, as well as to resort to one part or another. Something similar happens with the internalization of the people and pets with whom they live. How they make you feel and the intensity of these emotions participate in the recognition of your identity .
Thus, your pet associates you with positive aspects because you feed him, take care of his hygiene and provide him with pleasant moments of play and caresses. Likewise, he knows what your routines are and those of those with whom he shares his territory and he will not like changes because it will undermine his need for control.
Feline memory in old age
Like us humans, as cats get older they see their cognitive abilities diminish. For this reason, it is common for many kittens to have cognitive dysfunction after 12 years of age that we could equate to our Alzheimer’s .
It will be difficult for you to remember where your feeder is, your litter box, how it should move, etc. All this, in addition to reducing quality of life, will contribute to aggravating other possible underlying ailments and will require you to dedicate more time to it. The way to prevent it is by not skimping on moments of play with him.
Intelligence and interactive games are ideal for stimulating your mental capacities, inherent in learning and building memories, while allowing you to exercise and feel accompanied by reinforcing your bond.
Cats remember, encourage their retentiveness
In short, research, and your own experience as a cat owner, leave no doubt that they are capable of learning quickly and remembering what they can profit from, for example, to avoid a dangerous situation in the future or to get you to play with him. They remember what is relevant to them and that they have already tried.
In this sense, our advice is that you do not hesitate to reserve time to play with him and that you provide him with enough toys of his liking to promote the brain activity necessary to stay balanced and healthy.