Do cats have good memories?

A dog owner would scoff at the idea that cats are more intelligent than dogs. How would it be possible when generally cats would not even have the intelligence to learn tricks? Studies have proven that cats have a kind of memory that is about 200 times more retentive as compared to the memory of dogs. Although rather unbelievable, cats indeed have good memories.

The cat’s intelligence oftentimes becomes the butt of jokes. When brains were handed out a large chunk was claimed by the elephants thus these animals are noted for their strong memories. Cats were the last in line thus all these animals got were leftover (and believed to be defective) brains. Are cats really dumb animals? Does kitty have a poor memory?

The physical structure of a cat’s brain is very similar to humans. Just as with human brain, cat’s cerebral cortex has the same lobes. Cerebral cortex is known to be the brain’s seat of intelligence. It is therefore presumed that cat brain functions in the manner that human brain does. Studies have further proven that cat’s intelligence and memory is comparable to the intelligence and memory of a monkey. It was further noted that cats’ retentive memory is 200 times better than what dogs have.

Studies have proven that cats have good memories but these animals would only remember what they want to remember. In a nutshell, cats have selective memories. This explains why cats are not good at remembering tricks. Apart from the selective memory, the personality of these animals has to be considered as well. Dogs live in a hierarchical society. Influenced by canine social instinct, a dog would need to be submissive to the alpha male. A dog’s eagerness to please whoever has higher ranks makes these animals easier to train. Dogs have good memories too but their eagerness to cooperate makes the training easier. Cats are solitary animals. Being submissive is not a personality of cats. Cats are in fact very independent animals. This is why cat owners would be heard joking how the pet owns them instead of the other way around. Training the cat would be difficult not because they have poor memories but because these animals simply do not wish to remember what was being taught.

As mentioned, cats would only have memories of the things they choose to remember. If dogs are motivated by the attention that will be given by the master, cats will be motivated to remember things and objects that are important to their existence. For instance, the food bowl will be associated by the cat to dinner time. The cat would know that when the owner enters the door after the day’s work, food would not be far behind. These are examples of the cat’s immediate memories. What of long time memories…do cats have the ability to remember incidents, places and objects that were experienced and used in the past? Surprisingly, cats have long time memories. After getting lost, many cats are known to find their way home. Research has shown that cats have long term spatial recall. While dogs have only about 5 minutes spatial recall, cats have the ability to remember its environment for about 16 hours. There are even instances when cats would go back to the former home after the family has transferred to another. Cats that were lost and found new homes can still recognize the former owners. Cats that were loved and treated with kindness tend to remember the owners so that if ever they were separated from the family they would make all the efforts to get back home. Cats would have memories of the cruel treatments they receive. The sight of the abusive person will make the cat scamper away.

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