Our feline companions are known for being independent and curious by nature, but did you know that a cat’s memory is somewhat similar to ours? While we might have underestimated their memory, especially during times when they aren’t responsive when we call their names, for example, studies show that a cat’s memory allows them to recall things such as their owners, their environment, and other cats and animals for long periods of time.
Yes, our feline companions’ memories are quite similar to ours, save for some differences that arise from functional and structural differences in the brain. So how does memory in cats work, and what do cats remember exactly?
Read more: Understanding Cat's Body Language
- What is the Duration of a Cat’s Memory
- Can Cats Remember Traumatic Events
- Do Cats Remember People and Know Their Names
- Whether Cats Remember Other Cats
- Do Cats Remember When They Were Kittens
What is the Duration of a Cat’s Memory
So, how long do cats remember things? The answer varies depending on the classification of the information that they process. Scientific studies, however, show that the long-term memory of cats is highly developed, with the capability of remembering things for years. Below are some scientific sources to share information regarding the topic:
- In a 2006 study published in "Animal Cognition", results showed that cats have short-term memory, which declines as more seconds pass.
- A 2011 study that was published in the journal "Animal Cognition" tested 16 domestic cats and found that they were able to recall where hidden toys were located even after 10 minutes.
- In a 2008 study that was published in the journal "Behavioral Processes", the 20 domestic cats that were tested were able to remember where the treat was located even after 16 hours.
- Regarding long-term memory, a 2013 study that was published in the journal "Behavioral Processes" found that cats were able to recall the voice of their owners for up to 10 years, even after long periods of not seeing each other.
In general, the studies above suggest that cats are able to retain memories for long periods of time, from minutes to several years, depending on the classification of the information that they get.
Read more: How Many Lives Does A Cat Have?
Can Cats Remember Traumatic Events
Some evidence suggests that cats are able to recall traumatic events to some extent. A study published in the "Applied Animal Behavior Science" journal found that cats that went through something traumatic (in this particular study, the cats were caught in a trap) were more likely to show signs of anxiety and avoidance when they were faced with similar situations after that incident.
Meanwhile, have you wondered, "Do cats remember going to the vet?". It turns out that they do. This study, also from the same journal above, showed that cats that were taken to a veterinarian had elevated stress hormones that lasted several days.
The findings show that cats can remember traumatic experiences, and remembering such events can have a lasting effect on their physiology and behavior.
In the case of emergencies involving trauma in cats, along with other health emergencies, having the assurance that your pet will be given proper care is essential. Services such as Petcube’s Pet Emergency Fund have both you and your pets in mind.
The fund protects up to six pets in a single plan, with coverage of $3000 a year. There’s no payback, unlike pet insurance, and there are also no restrictions as to the age, breed, or medical history of your pet. Apart from this, a subscription also gives you access to an Online Vet service, allowing you to consult with certified veterinarians anytime and anywhere.
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Do Cats Remember People and Know Their Names
As cat owners, we have reason to believe that our cats can remember and recognize us. But from a scientific perspective, do cats recognize their owners? And while there is relatively limited research in the area, some scientific studies suggest that cats can remember people and recognize their names.
One of the few studies regarding the topic is a 2013 study published in the "Animal Cognition" journal. The findings of the study show that cats can recognize their owner's voices and more positively respond to their calls than to voices that they aren’t familiar with. The study, however, was not able to conclude if they could recognize their names or if they were just responding to the sound.
Another is a 2015 study published in the "Behavioral Processes" journal, which found that the long-term memory of cats is impressive as they can remember people and experiences that they have encountered in the past. You might be wondering, "Do cats remember their owners after being away from each other for a period of time?".
Researchers in the study found that the owners were recognized by their cats even after a period of being separated. These findings suggest that cats have a good memory of their owners or people that they’ve already met.
To conclude, even though there is limited evidence on the subject, the findings suggest that cats can remember and may be able to recognize people that they’ve met before. More research is needed, however, to better understand the cognitive capabilities of cats as well as how they are able to remember their humans.
Read more: Is My Cat Bored? Signs of Boredom in Cats
Whether Cats Remember Other Cats
You might be wondering, "Do cats remember other cats?" and "How long do cats remember other cats?" In a 2004 study published in the "Applied Animal Behavior Science" journal, the findings suggest that cats can recognize the cats they’ve previously lived with, even after being separated for a period of time. It was observed that cats were more likely to go near and interact with cats they knew than with cats they hadn’t met.
In another study that was published in the "Behavioral Processes" journal in 2013, the findings showed that cats can recognize whether they know or don’t know a cat based on their scent. It was observed that the cats took more time examining the scent marks of cats that they didn’t know than those that they were already familiar with.
While findings suggest that cats are able to remember and recognize cats that they’ve met before, more research is needed to better understand a cat’s social memory and how it affects their behavior towards fellow cats.
Do Cats Remember When They Were Kittens
Do cats remember being kittens? Studies suggest that they do. One of these studies is the 2008 study that was published in the "Developmental Psychobiology" journal and shows that cats are able to remember their experiences from when they were still kittens. It was observed that the cats were able to recognize the scent of their mother as well as that of their littermates even after being separated for a period of time.
There was another study in 2011 that was published in the "Animal Behavior" journal, with findings that show cats being able to recognize their littermates up to 2 years after being separated. It was observed that the cats preferred the scent of their littermates more than that of cats that they didn’t know.
Read more: Why You Should Adopt Two Cats At Once
In conclusion, a number of studies have shown that cats are able to remember people, the environment, experiences, and other cats that they’ve met before. However, further research is needed to fully understand feline memory, how it affects their behavior, and how they relate to others. Ultimately, being more aware of the memory capabilities of our feline companions may help us care for them better.
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