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 when it comes to memory. 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 yet remarkable feelings seem to leave an imprint mark in a cat's mind.
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 barking dogs and nurses that stick thermometers up their behinds before getting repeatedly punctured by a vet that had a bad day. 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 worse resorted to hurt them.
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.
An interesting factor somehow related to memory is a process called "imprinting". Breeders are familiar with such term. Imprinting is the process of handling small kittens (even days old) for the purpose of getting them socialized and familiar with humans. Intense bonding may therefore, be formed when the kitten is handled during some crucial phases of its life. When done properly, impriniting 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, and very well indeed?
While most cats seem to remember easily demonstrating a good ability to recollect events well and associate facts with happenings, long term memory may seem challenging to prove. However, I can attest to that from personal experience.
My feline Persian cat of 10 years old lived with me in Italy with my parents and I, for a good 5 years. Upon getting married, my hubby receiving orders to move to Germany with the Army and it was a sure fact that my dear kitty had to come with us. We spent a good 3 years in Germany for the whole length of the assigment and then we were sent back to Italy.
It was hard to believe that once back to Italy, once my cat was thirsty, after 3 years being away from that home, she went straight to her water bowl which was right under the table in the kitchen. Uncertain if this was a coincidence or not, I had to believe myself again when she had to go potty and she headed right out the balcony and went inside the covered box that was left as is, from 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.
It was unbelievable. The fact that she remembered well was further proven by the fact that she was very comfortable. 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 even 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 therefore, 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 a 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..