Greetings, two-legged readers. I understand you just celebrated a most important holiday called “Memorial Day.” It’s a day when you honor friends and family who are no longer living. How can we compare such a tradition with what cats remember?
Some people think we cats do not remember anything, but that is not true. We have both long-term and short-term memories. You might find this amazing — a cat has the ability to remember something for up to 10 years at least.
Of course, we do not have as many or varied memories as you two-leggeds, but we do not live nearly as long.
Our time here on earth seems short compared to your lives. What we do remember will of course contain different things than your memories, as we do not place importance on the same things as you. Nor, since our lives don’t last nearly as long, our memories of things don’t go back as far as yours.
However, our memories do exist. We have emotional centers in our brains very similar to yours. Thus, many of our memories have become attached to the emotions that we had when the memory first began.
A Powerful Sadness
My CCL (Cantankerous Cat Lady) told me about an incident she observed that had its base in some very powerful memories. She talks of her black cat, Sam, from her Spruce Island days, and of his mate, the little Siamese, Lou. The two were a pair that had bonded for life.
Sam died of an illness; thus, Lou lost her mate. Oh, she grieved! Such memories are bittersweet. She would come to the kitchen to eat her meals, but then she would return to the bed in the loft that she had shared with her mate.
Though Sam was no longer there, Sam’s smell in their shared bed remained, and now that odor became the last trace remaining of her true love.
Lou kept up that behavior for days. Then, one evening, CCL played with Lou’s sister, Poo, in the kitchen, using a tempting wand toy. From her loft bed, Lou could watch them play. After a time, she couldn’t remain apart any longer. She came down the stairs and joined in the play.
After that, CCL played with both cats regularly for some days, until Lou finally returned to her routine of exploring, hunting, and playing on the beach. Her grieving was replaced with some fond memories. Life went on.
Some Lucinda Memories
As for me, Lucinda, I will share a few of my memories:
My earliest remembrance comes from the time when I still nursed at my mother’s breast. I remember the softness and warmth of her body and the sweetness of her milk. My paws kneaded her breast to bring on the magic flow.
Now, in memory, I still knead with my paws on something soft as I go to sleep.
I remember wild hunts when I located my prey by stealth and then pounced upon the hapless victim before he could run away. Victorious again! Not only do I recall those wonderful hunts, but I also remember the places where the hunting brought much success.
I remember certain visitors who come by our house. I know they will play with me and give me sweet cuddles, and I come to greet them in anticipation of our interaction.
My notorious nose helps me remember a particular scent of a food I really like. My CCL knows she will get an enthusiastic response from me if she offers this taste treat. Ah! I can almost taste it now…
Not All Memories Are Happy Ones
Of course, we cats might have some sad and scary memories. If our two-legged abused us or mistreated us in some way, we will remember and perhaps withdraw our trust. Sometimes a cat has had so many bad experiences that he will run and hide from everyone.
Sometimes cats can become depressed, too. I think when Lou lost her mate, she might have suffered a bit of depression, until CCL drew her out of her sadness and depression with play.
However, unless we have become trapped in a sad, bad memory and can’t seem to regain our emotional balance, we tend to live always in the moment. Our memories may bring us a moment of sadness, but since our time focuses on now, we will draw our strength from the present.
Here’s a reminder: Be kind to your cat. If the cat seems traumatized or upset, try to find out why. The cat may be grieving some loss, or perhaps remembers some negative event.
We cats can remember things for a long time, so do help us to build positive, happy memories.
New Research Finds Cat Memory Genes
CCL showed me an article from petkeen.com that states that a house cat’s memory proves better than that of a wild cat. Scientists have found specific genes in house cats that deal with memory formation. Wild cats do not have these genes.
CCL remarked on this information. She has always felt that if a two-legged interacts regularly with her cat; talks to kitty; plays with him; it can help improve the cat’s intelligence. Memory-building becomes a nice trade-off for moving into domesticity.
So, now you know. We do remember things, sometimes for a long time. We don’t have memorial holidays as you do, but we still recall many things, and we still feel the emotions that accompany that memory. We will remember you, our two-legged, for a long, long time.
Here is a video about cats and memory that you might find enjoyable.
Here is a link to the article about cat memory genes: