Cat Memory: Do Cats Have A Good Memory Span? Do They Remember Things?

Regardless of their whimsical and often misunderstood ways, cats are actually more intelligent than we give them credit for.

Just because they’re capricious doesn’t mean they can’t grasp what they’re told. Or that they can’t remember what’s good and what’s bad. They see the world in color (no, cats aren’t colorblind) and can recall memories of images, sounds, odors, and situations that occurred years ago!

Cats can comprehend different words, sounds, and intonations. As such, you can easily teach a cat its name.

Furthermore, you can also teach it how to perform tricks and respond to commands. Sitting, jumping, giving a high five – all of these and many other tricks are easily carved inside a cat’s memory for years to come. Of course, getting the cat to carry out the commands is the tricky part, but it’s not impossible.

Felines of all breeds have excellent cognitive skills.

However, as with human beings, cat memory is affected by age and some cat breeds are just naturally more intelligent and more susceptible to training than others.

Cat Memory 101

How A Cat’s Brain Works

The feline cerebral cortex, which plays a crucial role in memorizing, has a surface of around 83 cm2. For reference – the human one is 2,500 cm2. Cats are mammals just like us and their brains function on the same basis as ours. Just like us, cats can also benefit from diets that are healthy for their brains.

High quality cat food manufacturers focus on Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, vitamins, and taurine as they’re fundamental for cat memory and for the kitty’s overall health. Without such brain performance-boosting essentials, furballs of all breeds and ages will suffer from reduced brain activity. Thus, their ability to recall memories will also worsen.

How Cats Memorize Things For The Long Term

Cats in general are outstanding hunters. They have enviably heightened senses, such as smell, hearing, and eyesight. Even though they have been domesticated for centuries, they still carry the inborn instincts they’ve inherited from their wild ancestors.

Felines use these instincts, as well as all of their senses, to analyze, comprehend, and remember various details about any given situation, so that they can recall those memories at a later point in life.

Depending on what the cat is associating a certain memory with (a positive or negative experience), it will be easier or harder to make the furball memorize or forget something. For example, if your cat associates playing with another cat with something traumatizing (due to cat bites or other unpleasant consequences), it will be harder for you to erase the bad memories and to help the cat memorize that socializing is something good.

Cat puzzles and interactive play sessions help develop the cat’s senses and boost brain performance, thus also improving the kitty’s memorizing abilities.

Kitten Memory

Young kittens, especially newborn ones, haven’t developed their full brain potential, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t making memories. They are memorizing everything – from the warmth of their mothers’ bellies to the playful fighting techniques of their siblings. These memories also help them develop survival instincts.

For kittens of all breeds, the first 2-7 weeks are the most essential ones for building the foundation of their memories.

The curiosity, playfulness, and willingness to explore everything help kittens create a wide base of memories early in life. These memories, along with inborn instincts, will be of intrinsic importance throughout the cat’s entire lifetime.

Adult Memory

As cats get older, their memory worsens. Senior cats find it difficult to recall things they knew from when they were younger, similarly to elder humans.

Of course, if you’ve been away from your senior feline pal for a few weeks, it won’t forget you just because it hasn’t had any interaction with you. However, elder cats lose brain cells. This results in the loss of memories and also affects the ability to analyze new things and memorize them. Some studies have shown that advancing age affects a feline’s short term-memory more than it affects its long-term memory. In other words, it would be easier for seniors to recall something from the past rather than learn something new.

Some diseases like feline cognitive dysfunction can also affect adult feline memory and overall behavior to the point of making the cat lose its litter box habits, sleeping routine, and willingness to socialize.

Brain Stimulation To Boost Memory

Truth be told, every single situation your cat finds itself in offers some sort of brain stimulation. However, there are ways to boost your furry pal’s brain activity – even when it’s playing with the pet camera alone at home.

Dietary Supplements

You can increase your kitty’s brain performance by switching to nutritious, high quality cat food that is rich in Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, taurine, selenium, and vitamins C and E. Not only do these ingredients help prevent brain cell aging, but they also have strong antioxidant properties.

There are supplements for feline brain health, many of which are available online or in pet pharmacies. What’s great about these supplements is that they come with instructions regarding the correct dosages, are moderately affordable, and you don’t need a special prescription to buy them. Despite the latter advantage, it’s always safest to consult with a vet prior to giving any supplements to your furball.

Natural Stimulants

Instead of using dietary supplements, you can also opt for all-natural ways to boost your cat’s brain and memory.

Training the cat to learn new things is a great way to exercise its brain. It can be something as simple as the command “sit down” or something as challenging as walking on a leash. Either way, making the kitty learn and remember something new will boost its cognitive performance.

Don’t allow your pet to become overweight. Not only does this lead to health problems, but it also provokes the cat to become lazy. And we all know a lazy kitty will prefer napping instead of making efforts to use its brain.

Lastly, fight off boredom. Sense-stimulating toys, DIY obstacles, daily play sessions, and social interaction are efficient all-natural ways to prevent brain cell rudiment. Come up with new entertaining things for your cat to explore. Sometimes something as simple as helping it make a new feline friend can do wonders for its mental stimulation.

Emily Parker

Emily Parker is the Content Manager at Catological. She's passionate about helping cat parents love their cats better by providing the best information and recommendations about everything you'll need to know about your cat, from kitten to senior years. She believes natural, biologically-appropriate products are best...why wouldn't you provide the best for a member of your family?!