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Cat Intelligence – All You Need to Know About a Cat’s Memory

Just like other animals, cats may not remember every little insignificant detail like what color dress you were wearing last day. However, feline prove to have a good recollection of events when it comes to memory. Their memory mostly depends on various factors starting from the significance of the information to how they have acquired it. Has it ever occurred to you that your cat will forget you if you’re gone for months, say for college? Learn the truth about a how long is a cats memory, is it cat’s short-term and long-term.

How Long is A Cats Memory?

Short Term Memory

Newly obtained information, such as an address, is kept in a repository called short-term memory. This short-term memory is the working memory of a cat that keeps it alert throughout the day. Cats use associative memory to keep the information, which means that your feline friend will associate you with things like food, shelter and love or a particular type of sound with danger. This associative memory helps a cat make her move, predicting what will happen next.

The time for which a cat can retain her memory depends on what benefits she would get or the means of acquiring that memory. It is said that a cat can retain information in her short-term memory for 16 hours, provided it is beneficial for her. This means that after the first meet, a cat will remember you for around 16 hours.

Long Term Memory

You may wonder do cats have long term memory? Anything and everything in the form of information is not meant for long-term memory. For cats, long-term memory span varies and depends on various elements starting from trauma to preference. For example, if a cat is scared or reacts to a particular type of noise, it has something to do with events that had taken place when they were much younger.

Studies and real-life examples have shown that cats possess long-term memory where they could recognize their old homes, the cozy places where they would sleep and so on, after not being there for years. Long-term memory classifications for cats can stretch further. Since cats have long-term memory, highlighting individual cases would let you get a better picture.

Spatial Memory VS Visual Memory

The memory acquired from positioning or moving the body concerning the tangible surrounding is called Spatial Memory. On the contrary, Visual Memory is acquired from sight. Cats have very strong spatial memory as compared to their visual counterpart. An experiment was conducted with hurdles where two cases were related to spatial memory and the other to visual memory. Results showed that cats are exceptional in retaining information from movement and positioning and are weak at retaining information of things they see.

Pain Vs Pleasure

Upon recalling a memory associated with pain or pleasure, a cat’s reaction is very relatable. These opposite feelings leave an imprint in a cat’s mind. For example, if you bring the carrier to take your cat to the vet, she will try to run away or hide from you. This is because your cat has a vivid memory of pain caused by the thermometer or the discomfort caused by the presence of other animals. Similarly, your cat would expect you to bring her food whenever you return from the supermarket, provided you have been doing the same for a long time.

Do Cats Hold Grudges?

Anyone having long-term memory is capable of holding a grudge. For example, think about a notorious guy who regularly annoys and tries to scare a kitten. By the time the kitten grows up, it would hold a grudge against that guy. This will be reflected in her behavior, her preference for humans, etc. Usually, grudges held by cats are associated with something negative that has happened to them in the past.

Do Cats Remember Humans Better Than Dogs?

Do cats remember people?, A study shows that cats have far superior long-term memory compared to dogs. Since dogs are very good at remembering their human friends, by default, a cat should also remember her family. But cats are usually very selective about what to remember and whom to remember. In short, they are more inclined towards remembering things that would benefit them.

Hence, despite having lesser long-term memory, dogs are better at remembering humans than cats. But this does not mean cats would not recognize their family members returning from college after a full semester or family members who have been away for services in the military or navy. You may worried do cats forget their owners? Cats can also show affection towards their human friends when they get back home after months or grieve at deaths or losses.

Do Cats Remember Other Animals?

Experts say that cats can remember other animals, though they are unaware of the period. If the other animal has something to do with a trauma that the cat has been through, she could remember it forever. The scars embedded by a traumatic event can stay lifelong, even though it has something to do with another animal. Young kittens exchange scents for recognizing one another in case they get separated. Cats mostly use the same trick throughout their lives, depending on the relationship’s gravity.

Do Cats Experience Memory Loss?

There could be two possibilities reasoning a cat’s memory loss – Age and Illness. Cats tend to lose their memory as they grow old. They tend to lose brain cells with growing age. A quick solution to this could be the inclusion of omega-3, fatty acids and antioxidants in their diet. These can slow down or postpone the deterioration of the brain cells. Extremely old cats can suffer from a condition called feline cognitive dysfunction. The symptoms and signs could be similar to that of dementia in humans and canines, but it affects the brain is very different. In this scenario, you should consult a vet who excels in dealing with cats. Explore for more cat caring tips from our pet experts.


Now, since you have a clear idea about how good is a cats memory, these are the things you should remember before adopting a cat. A new family member being a feline friend is a great thing, but there are certain things you can not avoid. For instance, you can not stop a cat from losing memory with growing age. You can most delay this process by taking the measures mentioned above. Nevertheless, a cat could be one of the sharpest animals you’ve come across. If you do not believe me, adopt one to find out.