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It’s a widespread myth that cats are too independent to care about much at all. They’re assumed to be un-emotional creatures that domesticate themselves for one benefit only, food.

However, anyone kitty parents will know that this just isn’t true. As companions, cats are dependent on us for their wellbeing. However, does this mean that they remember us and their experiences? If so, for how long?

Cats are animals of remarkable intelligence. They relate to us using all of their senses, creating an image of us and internalizing it in their memory. Cats are also animals of routine. For these reasons, cats get to know their environment and those who inhabit it very well.

They’re extremely observant and if something changes, including separation from their owners, cats will know. This is why it can sometimes be difficult when owners go away on vacation. Sometimes, it can be obvious that a cat has even missed us. 

Do cats remember people?

Surprisingly to some, cats have a remarkable long-term memory. There are many incredible stories of cats being reunited with their family after years of being lost or with another family.

We recommend hunting down videos of cats being reunited with their owners, there’s plenty on Youtube to make you sob. 

Cats can remember their feline companions, their loving owners, and even those who wrong them. This may be why cats have such a brilliant talent for holding a grudge.

Studies have shown that a cat’s long-term memory is up to 200 times better than a dog’s memory. However, they remember different things.

Dogs are great at remembering their owners and greeting them with affection when they return home after being away, but it’s also been proven that cats have the ability to differentiate between human faces. 

Do cats remember trauma?

Behavioral issues caused by abuse are often seen in rescue cats. This can be mistaken for aggression, when really your cat may have been triggered by a negative experience in the past.

Some cats can be more scared of men than they are of women and some cats can even fear beards.

Cats can even recognize scents, sights, and other stimulations.

If you notice that your cat is particularly triggered by a certain thing, you can visit a vet or behaviorist who can give you information on how to care for a cat who has experienced abuse. 

Do cats remember where they live?

Unlike many dogs, cats have an incredible ability to live freely both in and outdoors.

Cats are great at finding their way home and their independent nature allows them to go about their day outdoors and return home when they please, much like your average teenager.

We trust that our cats will find their way home when they want to, and they usually do. This homing instinct isn’t always reliable and cats can sometimes get trapped or lost.

This is especially likely if you’ve recently moved house, as cats are known for attempting to return to their previous addresses, often to no avail. 

It’s safe to say that cats remember where they live, but for how long?

There’s one particular cat in Australia named Howie, who once traveled 1,000 miles across the Australian outback to return home when he was taken on vacation. It took him 12 months, but he got there.

So this kitty’s year-long struggle is proof that they have a great homing instinct and can remember where they live for long periods of time. 

Do cats remember other cats?

From birth, cats are engineered to remember the scent of their siblings in the litter just in case they ever got separated. This use of scent to identify other cats is a skill the kitten utilizes later in life too.

Street cats can differentiate their enemies from their pals, but this will be dependent on how well they know them. However, their ability to remember their companions comes with its consequences.

Cats are known to grieve the death of other cats and humans. During these times, the cats may lose their appetites, miss the litter box repeatedly and even lash out at their humans. 

How good is a cat’s short-term memory?

Also known as working memory, it’s what allows us to remember small amounts of information over short periods of time. This is used when memorizing phone numbers or license plates for example.

Short-term memory is crucial for problem-solving and is required for survival, for both humans and animals. Cat behavior expert Mikel Delgado, Ph.D. says that particularly when it comes to food, cats’ memories may excel.

“This type of memory may help cats remember where to find prey and whether they have already patrolled a particular haunt that night,” she explained, according to Live Science. 

It hasn’t been confirmed that cats have a short-term memory. Some studies lean toward the idea that most animals don’t have a well-developed short-term memory.

Humans have incredible short-term memories, making them great at problem-solving tasks, survival situations, and achieve academic intelligence. However, cats don’t have this ability. This is because they don’t need it to survive. 

Can cats experience memory loss?

Much like humans, cats’ memory will decline as they grow older.

Around 50% of all cats aged 11-15 and 80% of those aged 16-20 suffer from feline cognitive dysfunction. It differs slightly from dementia, but a lot of the symptoms and effects are the same.

It’s a good idea to feed older cats food with high antioxidant content and with plenty of Omega-3 fatty acids. These are known to reduce the speed of brain deterioration in senior cats.

If your cat appears to be losing their memory, look into feline cognitive dysfunction and talk to a professional who specializes in cats.

You can extend your cat’s life and make her senior years a happier experience with a few small adjustments.

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