How do cats remember? Their memory is quite interesting

Hangai Lilla

2024. January 16 - Photos: Getty Images Hungary

To answer the question posed in the title, we need to separate the perception and experiences of cats and humans. Both cats and humans have memory, but it functions a bit differently for each species. This is because we have access to different sources. Human memory largely relies on verbal information, while cats acquire data through their senses.


In our next article, we present the thoughts of Jackson Galaxy, the cat daddy, and Dr. Mikel Maria Delgado, an animal behavior expert and cat behavior consultant. The memory of cats hides such secrets.

We wonder what’s going on in their pretty and weird little heads?

Memory in cats: short and long term

Short-term memory is momentary, fleeting. Something happens in a given moment, we perceive it, and then it disappears. Long-term memory is stored information that we can retrieve when needed. However, the two are interconnected. When something happens in a moment, and we deem it important, we can store this information in long-term memory.

There is a crucial difference between cats and us in this area. We value different things. Ancient instincts still operate in them as strongly as ever. For this primal cat, two things are truly important: eating and staying alive. Based on this, when our pets discover, for example, an area teeming with mice last night, that information transitions from short-term to long-term memory.

According to a study from 2006, data in a cat’s short-term memory is stored for a maximum of 60 seconds, but more likely 0-30 seconds. However, when this information is related to movement – for example, navigating obstacles – memories can be stored for up to 24 hours, as demonstrated by another study in 2007. Moreover, with repetition, this memory can be even more strongly imprinted.

It’s beautiful to see how short-term and long-term memory work to help the animal survive. However, it’s worth noting that a cat is not a robot, and its life is not just about eating. Tests show that, like us, if the situation lacks stimulation, no information is stored. This is the principle behind clicker training, connecting something initially unexciting for the cat with something interesting – food.

Cats’ memory and the relationship between their relationships

Of course, as a pet owner, you are part of your pet’s long-term memory, for many reasons. Every happy and pleasant experience that comes to you and
to the relationship between the two of you
will guarantee that you become part of your cat’s long-term memory. Whether it’s the food, shelter, toys or cuddles you provide.

Jackson Galaxy explained that if there is a household where the cat will not accept one or more family members, one tactic always helps to change that. The favourite person, the chosen one, must be involved in caring for and petting the cat. In short, you need to stop spoiling your pet for a few weeks. Your role will be taken over by the person you love less. The cat will now associate him with positive events and the distant behaviour will disappear.
The method is foolproof.

As with humans, it is true that traumatic experiences become part of their lives, i.e. part of their long-term memory. Unfortunately, negative experiences are stored as thoroughly as positive ones.

Another aspect that unites us humans and cats:
memory deterioration due to ageing
. Unfortunately, brain cell degeneration and loss affects more or less all of us.

Their human has a rented place in their long-term memory.
cat memory Experience Jackson Galaxy perception Study trauma

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