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How long is your cat’s memory span?

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Have you ever wondered how much cats can remember? It might actually be more than you think. If we compare it to dogs, a cat’s memory is thought to be at least 200 times (take that, dogs!) better. But what can they remember exactly? And how long?

Before we can answer this question, we have to make a distinction between short-term memory and long-term memory. This is also known as “working memory” and allows humans to remember a phone number somebody said for a few minutes. In case of cats, this will for example help them remember where they have already been when they are hunting in the garden. Studies have shown the short-term memory for a dog is about five minutes, while cats can remember up to 16 hours. Of course this is just an average and can be different for every cat.

Thinking cat My Purry Friends

Long-term memory is harder to determine. Unfortunately, we can’t ask cats if they remember anything. If cats go on an adventure in their neighborhood, they are always able to find their way back home. Experts believe long-term memories will last with extremely positive or extremely negative events. Knowing where they can relax and where they can do their thing is a good memory and they won’t easily forget their favorite spot. If a person did something bad when they were just a kitten, you can be sure they will remember this for the rest of their nine cat lives!

Cats and most animals use associative memory to remember things that will help them later to survive. This means a cat will remember something by associating a specific activity with a certain smell, sound or something they see. They will also associate this with a negative or positive experience. The specific sound of getting out the bag of cat food will immediately alert them it’s time to eat. Even when it’s not dinner time and they hear another bag, they will run to the kitchen.

As you probably already know, cats seem to be selective and only remember what they think will be useful for them. Cats may not be able to remember specific interactions with us, but they will associate us with food, shelter and love. Those three things are pretty hard to forget, so don’t worry your cat will forget about you!

Memories or not, at the end of the day, we will love them no matter what!

My Purry Friends


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