Do Cats Remember?
I am not sure about you, but I have always wondered if my cat can remember things. Does he remember the house we first lived in when we rescued him? Does he remember my mother who used to take care of him when we went on holidays? Does he remember our other cat Lewis who was a friend and companion to him for so many years before passing away? So, I thought I would investigate this a little further and find out more about the memory of a cat.
I found a research paper from Behavioural Processes that reported on an experiment where cats were given food in certain containers and were then asked to revisit 15 minutes after the full containers were replaced with empty ones and the empty ones were replaced with full ones. The cats seemed to have remembered which containers they ate from in the past and investigated the other ones to search for more food.
Cats have also been found to have a better long-term memory than short term and a memory and it is 200 times longer than Dogs. It was also observed that cats do grieve the loss of caretakers, companions and other animal friends. Cats have also been found to have memories of how they were treated in the past, which is why there are certain stories of rescue cats getting agitated around humans that remind them of their previous abusers.
Understanding certain things about our pets like this can bring us closer to them. When we lost one of our cats, I could tell there was something wrong with our other one for a few months afterwards and I wondered if he was grieving the loss in his own way. The photo below was captured in August 2011 at the funeral of a Navy SEAL Jon Tumilson. His faithful companion Hawkeye laid up in front of his casket showing his loyalty to the end…
While they of course animals don’t have facial expressions like we do, paying attention to changed behaviour, posture and mood can say so much. I also believe that it goes both ways, while we can pick up on our animal’s feelings they can also pick up on ours. Have you ever been home sick from work with a horrible flu stuck in bed and your cat comes and plops down on your belly? You can just tell he is understanding your pain. While I still have no clue how far back my cat’s memory goes, I do know that he remembers. Our loving furry friends really aren’t that different than us!