How does the cat’s memory work?
How to explain that he does not respond to his name? That he knows perfectly how to recognize his way even at kilometers from his house?
The cat’s memory is located in a very specific part of its brain. Neural availability plays a big role in the memorization process and in the ability to think and act.
The cat has 300 million neurons while the dog only has 160 million. His ability to remember is therefore better. In the short term, the cat is able to remember events within an average limit of sixteen hours. Long-term memory is formed solely from information that is vital and useful to the survival of the animal.
The memory of felines for learning
From the first weeks of its life, the cat observes its mother. He already identifies certain situations that will serve him in the future.
This process allows him to:
- recognize the danger,
- learn to feed
Trust the people or animals who wish him well.
The cat sorts in its memory in an instinctive way the things with which it can benefit and the others for which it will not be able to find a particular interest.
Cat memory over time
Researchers have great difficulty assessing a cat’s memory capacity over time. Some studies and experiments indicate that the cat is able to memorize an event for about three years.
The greatest certainty about the cat’s memory is that it is endowed with a formidable ability to remember spaces and its territory. This ability allows him to locate useful places such as the litter box, the rest area or even recognize his way.
How does Feline Memory work?
Just like in other animals and humans, Feline Memory resides in one of the brain’s lobs. A cat’s brain takes up less than 1% of its body mass, but when it comes to its memory and intelligence, it’s the number of neurons that makes the difference.
The mechanism of feline memory
Studies have reported that the cat’s short-term memory is around 16 hours. This allows him to remember what has recently happened. However, for these events to pass into long-term memory, they must be of vital importance to the cat. He is thus able to sort and keep this information as being “useful for the future”. The exact mechanism by which this sorting takes place remains unknown to this day.
The memory of this homebody feline, in addition to being selective, is also episodic. That is, he is able to remember where things are, certain people, routine, positive and negative events etc.
He lives them according to the intensity of the sensations felt during these experiences, they keep or not the memory in their cerebral cortex.
Does the cat’s memory allow it to learn?
Observation and own experiences are those that will allow the cat to learn everything it needs to live properly. How does he benefit from these things observed and experienced? Through his memory which selects what will be useful to him and allows him to react appropriately, in his interest, and to reproduce it the next time a similar situation arises.
Learning from an early age
Cat memory works this way for both homebodies and feral cats. From a very young age, he has observed his mother to learn everything he needs. This process of learning through memory is linked to the sensations that the cat feels during an experience, whether good or bad. In this way, he will be able to react to the stimuli that he will relate
- At meal times,
- fleeing from certain things or certain people,
or in the face of other animals that would have tried to harm him.
This system allows the cat to stay safe and sound and to protect itself from possible dangers. At the same time, he will know how to recognize his masters and he will remember all the positive things in connection with them: moments of tenderness, good food and play.
What is learned by the cat is directly related to the benefits that it can derive from this learning, if it considers that it will not serve it. It is most likely that he eliminates it when sorting short-term memory.
This is why it is so complicated to make them stop climbing the curtains, or scratching the wallpaper: because he considers it useful. Although it is quite possible to teach a cat to use a scratching post , sometimes it will be complicated to educate it.
What is the limit of the cat’s memory in time?
No study has yet been published on the subject. It is not yet known how far the cat is able to remember in time. Over time, it is possible that his memory will become cloudy. Some research has mentioned the figure of 3 years. But some humans with a cat notice that their cat adopts an attitude today in relation to a significant event that it will have experienced years ago.
However, there is currently no certainty in this regard. The only thing that is certain is that he is able to remember situations that can serve him, whether positively or negatively.
He knows if he should:
- start again or not,
- react to these situations
- remember the identity of people and other animals around them.
- What we can say is that he has a spatial memory.
Thanks to this spatial memory, the cat is able to learn easily:
- the place where the objects are in the house,
- the way home,
- the location of any other objects that he would find interesting and useful, such as his bed, his litter box, his toys.
- Note that he will immediately notice the presence of any new object that was not there yesterday.