Do Cats Have Good Memory?
While Snowball may not remember what dress your were wearing yesterday or the last American Idol winner, cats surely can prove to have a good recollection of events importantto them. There are many testimonies to this if owners of cats watch their feline friends closely.
A cat's recording of events seems to be particularly relevant when associated with pain or pleasure. These two opposite feelings seem to leave an imprint in a cat's mind.
Cats' Memory of Painful Events
Let's take a look at how painful or stressful events remain vivid in a cat's mind. For instance, the majority of cats will go absent without official leave upon seeing their owners grab their carrier. This is because cats have quickly learned to associate (thanks to memories) the carrier with something unpleasant like being carried out of their familiar territory.
Cats may be become tense upon going to the vet. Most cats will remember that is the place full of dogs that bark, and nurses that stick thermometers up their behinds and puncture them with needles. Your cat may also hide under the bed upon seeing you open that pill bottle ready to throw that nasty-tasting tablet down the cat's throat.
Cats may also remember that uncle Joe dislikes him or her and will never forget getting pushed away from the couch when they tried to approach him purring. Abused cats may seem to remember, through fear, owners that mistreated them or hurt them.
Cats' Memory of Pleasant Events
Good memories are obviously much more pleasant to cats. Your cat will remember that when you come home from the market (which cats perceive as your "hunting session") you will bring home some great canned goodies and that when you turn the can opener very likely some tuna juice will follow.
Your cat will also remember that Aunt Rosie loves to exchange some nose kisses and that nice little pats and scratches on the ears will follow. Cats that are leash trained will remember that the leash is something positive that allows them to get some fresh air and see the chirping birdies.
"Imprinting," a term familiar to breeders, is closely related to memory. Imprinting is the process of handling small kittens (even days old) for the purpose of getting them socialized and familiar with humans. Intense bonding can form when the kitten is handled during some crucial phases of its life. When done properly, imprinting will cause a cat to accept humans and trust them throughout their lives. Isn't this, after all, a great example of how cats remember?
While most cats demonstrate a good ability to recollect events and associate facts with happenings, it may seem challenging to prove that cats have long-term memory. However, I can attest to that from personal experience.
My Persian cat years lived with my parents and me in Italy for a good five years. Upon getting married, my hubby got orders to move to Germany with the Army and my dear kitty had to come with us. We spent a good three years in Germany for the whole length of the assignment and then we were sent back to Italy.
It was hard to believe, but when she came back to her home in Italy after three years, my cat went straight to her water bowl under the table in the kitchen. Uncertain if this was a coincidence or not, I had to believe again when she headed right out to the balcony to go potty and went inside the covered box that had been left as is when we left. She also remembered her favorite sleeping spots, and occupied once again that nice area right where the sun rays hit the couch.
She was utterly comfortable, which further proved that she remembered well. I knew from experience that when we moved into a new, unfamiliar home, she would cry and hide under beds and refuse food for the first days. Here instead, it was as if she knew she was back to her home sweet home. Sometimes I wonder if perhaps she was able to pick up her old scent left around in that building after those long three years.
She further surprised me when I went to what once was my old room and opened my jewelry box to pull out an old chain necklace I used to drag around to play with her. She perked her ears straight up and left her soft couch ready for a game full of action, just as in the old days.
Cats are surely remarkable and fascinating animals to study. Just when we think we know them so well, they will surprise us with their smart acts suggesting a higher-than-expected intelligence. I am sure cats have both short-term and long-term memory, and that if given the opportunity, they may be able to prove it, whether you believe it or not.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.