Cat lovers know that kitties can hold a grudge, but to do that, cats need to remember exactly why they’re mad in the first place. Well now a scientific study has shown that cats do actually remember events better than you might think. So next time you deny your cat that treat she’s been begging for, don’t be surprised if she commits it to memory to get back at you later.
Scientists have looked at the brains of dogs and known about their capacity for memory for some time now. They are able to remember both the “what” and “where” aspects of an experience, much like humans do. This goes beyond simple behavioral memories like remembering how to do a trick to get food; they have episodic memories of actual specific events. This new study set out to see if cats have the same capacity for those types of memories.
The experiment put the feline subjects in front of four bowls. Two of the bowls had food, one was empty, and one had an inedible object. The cats went for the food, but were only allowed to eat from one bowl. Then they were removed from the bowls for a short time. Afterwards, the cats were placed in front of the same bowls and, usually, went straight for the bowl that they remembered had the uneaten food in it. This shows that cats remember both the “what” and “where” associated with episodic memories.
You may be thinking, “So what? I already knew my cat could remember things like that.” You may be right, but now it is documented with a scientific experiment that could lead to other conclusions. Perhaps other mammal predators share this capacity for complex memories. But for now just remember to never cross a cat. They’ll remember exactly who to get back at.
Are you surprised by this research or did you know it all along? What kinds of things do you think your cat remembers best? Let us know in the comments below!