Do cats have long term memory?
You constantly tell your cat not to play on your kitchen counter top, or to stop smacking at your blinds... but five minutes later... there he is again.
This begs the question: do cats have long term memory?
Let's take a look.
Mr. Fluffy Prince's Brain
A cat's brain, while smaller than yours, is a lot like it. Mr. Fluffy Prince has frontal, temporal, occipital and parietal lobes just like a human brain. The same five senses send information to his brain. The most accepted theory about how your cat remembers things is called neural combination theory. He has connections between the neurons in his brain. Each neuron stores a part of a memory, and when the right combination of neurons is activated, Mr. Fluffy Prince will recall a memory.
Mr. Fluffy Prince's Memory
In one test of where to find food, cats' short-term memory lasted about 16 hours, compared with only five minutes for dogs. (So, for those that think dog's are smarter than cats... boom.)
Long-term memory for a cat is more powerful. Although a cat might lock only a few people or places into his long-term memory, he can remember them for years. Mr. Fluffy Prince can remember certain places or people for most of his life; the most impressionable age is 2 to 7 weeks old. If a feral kitten has no interaction with humans during this period, he might never trust them! This is also the period when a domesticated feline learns to trust and depend on his human companion.
Mr. Fluffy Prince's Learning Ability
A cat's decision making is close to that of a human toddler. They learn by observation - they learn to hunt/groom by watching mom. They can learn how to open doors by watching their human do it again and again.
Mr. Fluffy Prince can also solve puzzles. When he hops on 7 different objects to reach the top of the fridge to take a snooze, you've witnessed this ability.
Senior Mr. Fluffy Prince
As Mr. Fluffy Prince enters those twilight years, his brain function will decline. Feline cognitive dysfunction is a disease similar to Alzheimer's in humans. It is caused by deterioration of the brain itself, leading to reduced cognitive functioning.
Symptons and signs of this condition will be the struggle to get around (because he becomes disoriented easily), accidents outside his litter box are likely (because he might forget where it is or what it's for), and becoming more anti-social (retreating to spend long periods to himself). Just as with humans, his memory won't be as sharp as it was in his youth.
So, in summary, a cat has long term memory, and they most likely don't listen to your rules because, well, they don't care.
via Melissa Schindler of The Nest
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